This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.Timothy Egan, also writing at The New York Times, explores why Americans are becoming more liberal but are still avoiding the "liberal" self-identification:
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election.
What’s going on here, demography and democracy seem to be saying at the same time, is the advance of progressive political ideas by a majority that spurns an obvious label. Liberals have long been a distinct minority; liberalism, in its better forms, has been triumphant at key times since the founding of the Republic. [...] For at least a generation’s time, liberals in this country have been afraid to call themselves liberal. Was it the excesses of their creed, from race-based preferential programs that went on far too long to crude speech censorship by the politically correct and humorless (one and the same) that soiled the brand? In blindly embracing, say, the teachers’ union in the face of overwhelming evidence that public education needs a jolt or in never questioning the efficacy of government programs, the left earned its years in exile. [...]At The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer haz a sad:
Which brings us to the fascinating self-portrait of the United States at the start of the second half of the Obama era. A tenuous center-left majority wants to restore some equality to the outsize imbalance between the very rich and the rest of us. If a tenuous president can lead that coalition, without overreaching, he might be remembered among the greats.
In its simplest form, this will involve raising taxes at the high end and reforming entitlements enough to ensure their continued success and sustainability. Much of that, an accountant could do. But it takes a gifted politician for the heavier lifting. That leader will have to make his still-fledgling health care act work and earn his premature Nobel Peace Prize on an issue like climate change. In the process, he could restore the good name to traditional liberalism.
Why are Republicans playing the Democrats’ game that the “fiscal cliff” is all about taxation? [...] Where is the other part of President Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach”? Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health-care trio) and Social Security?Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post brings much-needed attention to the climate change crisis:
Social Security is the easiest to solve. [...] And draining the Treasury, as 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. Yet that’s off the table. And on Wednesday, the president threw down the gauntlet by demanding tax hikes now — with spending cuts to come next year. Meaning, until after Republicans have fallen on their swords, given up the tax issue and forfeited their political leverage.
You might not have noticed that another round of U.N. climate talks is under way, this time in Doha, Qatar. You also might not have noticed that we’re barreling toward a “world . . . of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions.” Here in Washington, we’re too busy to pay attention to such trifles.Michael O'Hanlon at The Los Angeles Times stands up for UN Ambassador Susan Rice:
We’re too busy arguing about who gets credit or blame for teeny-weeny changes in the tax code. Meanwhile, evidence mounts that the legacy we pass along to future generations will be a parboiled planet.
I am no blind supporter of Rice. She is my friend and former colleague at the Brookings Institution, but I advised Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2007-08 primary campaign, while Rice co-led the Obama foreign policy team, and I supported the surge in Iraq, while Rice opposed it. Despite these battle scars, I consider Rice a person of high integrity and intelligence; she has a strong work ethic and a clear commitment to this country's security. There may be a valid debate as to whether Rice, or Sen. John F. Kerry, or someone else (Adm. Michael G. Mullen and another Clinton come to mind) should succeed Clinton as the nation's next top diplomat. But Rice is a solid candidate and would be a fine secretary of State.Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Newt Gingrich on the fiscal cliff and legislative process:
Well, I think this whole fiscal cliff language is designed to maximize a sense of fear that's nonsense. The very same people, the Congress and the president, who invented the fiscal cliff -- this is all an invention -- could break it down into 12 foothills, or 15 foothills or 20 foothills. They could tackle one problem at the time. [...]CNN is bringing in NBC's Jeff Zuker to try and turn around things at the cable news channel. Alex Pareene at Salon explains why the hire is another bad decision by CNN:
Well, I think there are a lot worse things than going over a man-made cliff that I think is entirely artificial. [...]
my only point is, you know, if we had a game, and every time the term fiscal cliff came up, people had to donate a dollar to something, you'd be amazed in the course of a week or two how often this has been repeated like a mantra. I compared to a great essay by Tom Wolfe called "Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers" in which people chanted and made noise in order to get their way.
I think we ought to recognize this entire fiscal cliff is an artificial invention of Washington, created by people in the Congress and the presidency. And it can be broken down by them into a series of steps that can be taken without having to be rushed into one gigantic, last- minute, little understood, with no hearings, one vote up or down -- I think it's a terrible way to govern the United States.
Who better for the job of turning around CNN than the man who took NBC from first to last? Jeff Zucker, the brain behind TV’s “Joey,” is going to be the new president of CNN Worldwide. The decision basically confirms that CNN, and Time Warner, have no clue what’s “wrong” with their struggling channel, nor the first idea as to how to fix it. [...] Zucker is theoretically capable of reversing the ratings trend, though I wouldn’t hold my breath. But he’s definitely never shown any ability or interest in producing less embarrassing programming. The man to rescue CNN from a loathsome charlatan like Piers Morgan is not the man who made Donald Trump a nationally recognized prime-time television clown. [...]
If the problem at CNN (the channel) is that no one thinks of turning it on when there isn’t a plane crash or foreign revolution happening, Zucker might be able to come up with enough idiotic stunt programming to get people interested. But CNN’s understanding of its “brand” problem — no one wants to watch us because we’re too fair and nonpartisan and unbiased boo hoo — has always been self-serving and wholly incorrect. People who want the sort of serious news it pretends it’s offering (NPR listeners, maybe) all know that CNN is full of fluff, shouting talking heads and blithering idiot Wolf Blitzer all day long. And at night it’s not hard news either, it’s shows built around big personalities — Piers and Anderson! — who aren’t even as colorful as the personalities on the other news channels.