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Okay, we are having another of those moments where dKos kind of tears itself to bits for awhile. People are upset and expressing themselves rather heatedly. So be it. That's how politics goes.

Now I've been around awhile. My first campaign was McGovern. Yeah, I was a kid, but I wore my buttons and donated my pennies and paid attention. I remember Watergate vividly though honestly I doubt I had a clue what it was about other than Nixon committing crimes.

So I think I have some perspective about American Presidents. Some of you have more perspective than I do. Many have less. So yeah, Obama isn't acting like we would want him to. But answer me this: What president in the history of our country has done better? What Presidential candidate who had a shot of winning could have done better?

Discuss...serious question and one that has many answers worth considering. A few thoughts below.

Clinton and Obama seem to have very similar policies to me. I don't think there is much difference there. Nor would Hillary be much better. Bill Clinton was arguably (when his pants stayed on) was better at the game than Obama, but the basic approach seems very much the same. Both had to fix a mess caused by a Bush, so maybe that explains part of the similarity, but I also think both are products of a generation of Democrats who have something of an abuse syndrome after the Reagan years.

Gore would have fit the same pattern. I do think Gore would have handled al-Qaeda and global warming infinitely better than what we wound up with (don't get me started on the fool Nader!) but the basic approach he would have take would be similar to Clinton (Bill or Hillary) and Obama.

Carter was arguably more liberal than either Clinton or Obama, but wasn't nearly as successful at carrying out policy or winning elections for himself or fellow Democrats. I have HUGE respect for Carter and really think this entire world would have been far better had he been re-elected, but in the end he failed where Clinton and Obama succeeded better. Is it possible to have Carter-like policies and political survival instincts of Clinton or Obama? I'd like to think so but have never seen it.

Then we have LBJ. I was alive then but not aware. No question LBJ had many policies far more liberal on domestic issues than Obama. But let's also face facts. The same people attacking Obama would be on the front lines of protest against LBJ's foreign policies. We would not be kinder to LBJ nor more appreciative than we are of Obama.

Truman. A mixed bag if there ever was one. Some brilliance and plenty to be disappointed about. I don't see the people attacking Obama cutting Truman any slack.

People love to worship FDR. He certainly set in motion most of what liberals today look to for inspiration. But look closely. He was even more of a war President than Obama...yes a very different war from our perspective, but WW II, until Japan made it easy for us, was NOT something Americans wanted any part of. FDR knowingly refused to help Jewish refugees, knowingly developed weapons of mass destruction, firebombed cities, stomped on civil liberties if he thought he had to. Our community views him so positively because we are looking at him from a distance. I seriously doubt we would be as forgiving at the time.

Not sure I need to go further back. Point is, what president is better than Obama from a liberal perspective. I am sure arguments can be made for several Presidents or nearly Presidents (the candidates who had a shot but didn't quite make it). But I think an equally strong argument could be made that Obama ranks among the best we have had, warts and all.

To me the key thing is NOT could we do better when it comes to who we elect president. I have no doubt we can envision far better and I have pretty much no doubt that when it comes to President the best we will manage are the likes of Obama, Clinton, Carter, Truman, LBJ...warts and all.

To me it isn't the Presidency that matters and I find it demoralizing to see all the nastiness and ranting focused on just one man. To me the key is every other elected position from school board to port authority to city council all the way up to Congress. Progressive Majority is the organization I spend the most time plugging and anyone who is dissatisfied with Obama would do better working their asses off for Progressive Majority than talking about Greens or checking out of the political process all together. Our Presidential candidates are all very likely going to lean more conservative than we like or are likely to not get very far. Can we change that? Maybe, but I am not optimistic. To me the key way to change things is from the lower levels of elections, not spending all our time hand wringing over the actions and words of one single person, be it Obama, Clinton or whoever we manage to elect to the White House. If more state legislatures and city councils were solidly progressive (a goal of Progressive Majority's), then the policies at the top would matter far less.

So anyone want to weigh in on who your favorite President is, why and why you think he (no shes yet) is better than Obama? And can we also focus a bit more on the enormous amount of critical decisions that are made below the level of President?

UPDATE: foolishly left out Kennedy. I'd argue he was a much more charismatic and intelligent, but less effective version of LBJ, though would be open to other views.

Just my two yens. And I will end with this (someone beat me to it in jbou's diary, but still worth throwing out there). Pie fights can be VERY cool:

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is the calmest "pie-fight" in Dkos history. (6+ / 0-)

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:52:59 PM PST

  •  I think the biggest issue is Obama (10+ / 0-)

    seems genuinely intelligent so seeing him buy into false memes (the debt must be addressed, the social safety net can be a bargaining chip) is truly distressing.  I think people are paying much more attention now, which means we see the sausage-making and are appalled.

    He's doing what he can, but some things ARE sacred.  Hence the angst.

    •  Agreed...but (7+ / 0-)

      If anything Clinton was even brighter, though he (probably deliberately) hid it to some degree. Yet he bought into the whole welfare reform meme, among others.

      I agree with many of the criticisms...just find the drama gets out of hand and think some discussion of perspective is warranted. If we CAN identify what works better on the Presidential level than what Obama is doing, that would be excellent. But my gut feeling is what Obama and Clinton do, while disturbing, may be the best a Democratic President can do in the late 20th/early 21st century and what we need is massive effort electing progressives at lower levels of government rather than obsessing on what Obama is doing.

      Again, just my thoughts based on a perspective from Nixon on.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:57:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mole333, I remember Eisenhower's (6+ / 0-)

    presidency, so I've got you beat by a few years.  There are some very important differences in Obama's presidency and the presidencies that I admire the most, notably Kennedy's and Johnson's.

    Both of the presidents I admire had some very blatant faults, and to answer your suggestion that progressives of today would be protesting many things that Johnson did: I agree, because I joined the anti-war protests against Johnson.  But at the same time, we realized the importance of his efforts to develop important social safety net programs, and we knew, that he agonized over his failures.  I know that personally because I had a friend who worked in his White House and he told me that Johnson was  deeply hurt when people suffered during his term in office.

    Kennedy inspired us to be better than we were, to believe in higher and more noble ideas...Obama inspired us, but he did not deliver and that is his biggest failure.  One of the cardinal rules of politics is that you cannot offer platitudes if you do not stand by them.  Obama is seen as a very weak president who crumbles at the sign of the slightest pressure from Republicans.  Johnson and Kennedy were very strong Presidents.  Carter, not so much.  Clinton was too flawed and too corrupt.

    I could list many differences, but the one that I think counts the most is how the nation as a whole feels under Obama's presidency.  This is a very dark time in our history.  Most of my friends are so discouraged by his policies and the effect they have on their personal lives that they no longer consider themselves to be Democrats.

    At least under Kennedy and Johnson, normal, daily activities worked...under Obama, nothing works the way it should.  We struggle all the time with problems that have no solutions...no one answers your call when you telephone about your issues with AT&t...and if you get through, then you are promised solutions that never happen...you struggle with your bankers, your insurance companies, your children's schools, and the list goes on and on...

    We want our lives to work again without having to constantly fight...under Obama's presidency, we've done nothing but fight...and he has been too aloof and unconcerned by what is happening to ordinary people.

    He's much too weak of a leader.

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Terri

      I don't have as distant a perspective, but I think at least some of what you mention (the failure of things to work at a basic level) are not Obama's fault and have been a deliberate Republican policy since Reagan that no Democrat has been able to counter so far. And the unelected Bush did more to dismantle America than anyone before him...though I do remember what the right wingers did to California thanks to things like Prop 13 and the Gann Amendment.

      Personally Clinton made me feel the most like things were working despite the problems you refer to.

      Here's a question, again for discussion not because I disagree. If Obama (race issues aside) were handed the situation Kennedy or LBJ were, would have have done as well as them? Quite possibly not but I am not convinced. And had he been in Clinton's shoes I think he might well have done better than Clinton and been remembered as one of our best Presidents.

      That said, good points and exactly the kind of discussion I want. Not sure how much I do or do not agree, but again, this is the kind of perspective I want to hear.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:20:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obama would have been way over his head (0+ / 0-)

        if he had been handed the same type of problems.  He is good at foreign policy on one level, but he is not well received or liked by many of our allies.  They idolized Kennedy, but they think that Obama is in the pocket of Wall Street.

        Here's a look at some of LBJ's accomplishments:

        The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 24th amendment, Medicare, Medicaid, the 25th amendment, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He also played a part in getting the civil rights acts of 1957 and 1960.
        Those were monumental accomplishments that were never watered down.  Obama has done more damage to those programs than any of his predecessors.  Remember, he is the first president to ever put any of our social safety net programs on the negotiating table.  Big mistake.
        •  I must disagree with this: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, Terri, mole333

          "he is not well-received or liked by many of our allies".

          I'm not sure which allies you are talking about. Here in Canada we admire and respect him very much. More than any other president  since Carter. What countries do you think don't like him?

          You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

          by Thomasina on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:53:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Read a lot of newspapers overseas. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Thomasina

            A lot of our allies think he has been corrupted by Wall Street, and they have a very low opinion of Democrats in general who they see as being very weak and lacking principles.  And as a lifelong Democrat that makes me sad.

            Many do not like his policies on drones, and they think the policies of the Treasury Department have caused a lot of damage to the world economy.

            Actually, I think Obama would fit in quite well in Canada, and that's not being facetious.  I love parts of Canada, especially Vancouver, but the country has changed a lot over the last ten years and I can't put my finger on the political pulse of your country, but it seems to reflect neo-liberal to conservative views that I don't share.

            •  I guess there are concerns and criticisms from (0+ / 0-)

              folks around the world, but I still disagree with your original statement that he is not liked. Maybe the rest of us are more willing to accept that he is not perfect because our own leaders are so mediocre.
              And yes, he would fit in very well here in Canada, I wish we could have him instead of our current leader or any of those vying to replace him.

              You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

              by Thomasina on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:18:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Working primarily with foreigners... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Thomasina, Larsstephens

            I get some of their perspective. I think currently most foreigners I know still LOVE Obama. And were thrilled that he was re-elected. BUT to some degree this is still because he is so much better than Bush. They also have considerable criticisms of him. By comparison very few foreigners I know had anything but love for Clinton. He seems more admired than Obama by the people I work with and they seem less critical of him. The only exception is many people I know from Russia aren't so fond of Clinton because of his Serbia policy.

            Just a sampling, the folks I hang out with on a regular basis include people from: Mexico, Japan, China, India, Israel, Ukraine, Uruguay, Germany, Italy, Spain, Philippines...just off the top of my head. Not a statistically significant sampling, but a variety.

            FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

            by mole333 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:32:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Clinton is very well-liked now. But at the time of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens

              his indescretions and other problems, opinions were not so high. I think a president's true popularity only becomes obvious aftre a few years have passed. Clinton is respected now, and I am sure that Obama will be too, when history looks back at his  tenure.

              You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

              by Thomasina on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:20:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  True... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Larsstephens

                Though as far as I am aware Clinton's indiscretions mainly mattered here in America and then mainly among conservatives. Most foreigners I knew, including some conservatives, couldn't understand why America was making such a fuss about it.

                But I do think it is well after the fact that a politician becomes more respected because then the kind of perspective I am discussing in the diary starts applying.

                Oh...and I forgot the kid from Nigeria in the lab next to me when I mentioned people I work with from other countries.

                FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

                by mole333 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:52:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and I forgot to respond to this: (0+ / 0-)
          Personally Clinton made me feel the most like things were working despite the problems you refer to.
          Have you forgotten how devastating NAFTA was to our nation's manufacturers?  It did more damage than anyone could have ever imagined.

          And you don't hear anything about Obama's new trade deal, which could prove to be more devastating than NAFTA.  Why doesn't that cause you concern?

          Obama could still be a great president, but only if members of the Democratic base hold his feet to the fire and make him quit giving so much power to the people who have caused so much destruction to our nation.  I mean, if you look at simple things, like his decision to sell access to his inauguration: those type of decisions are more important than people realize.  If you are willing to overlook that, then you have really lost your way.  It is called selling access to your administration: in other words, corruption...and don't be so naive to suggest that it doesn't prove anything.  

          The same with his decision to kill innocent children with drones, his prosecution of whistle blowers (who expose crimes), his unwillingness to prosecute financial criminals, his decision to fill his administration with Wall Street insiders, bankers, and Republicans; all of those decisions are incredibly discouraging: if you support them, then you might be a member of the wrong party because those are not traditional Democratic policies.  

          No offense, but are you not even the least bit concerned by all the corruption?  Just think of this: under his administration, he says he just doesn't have the money to support our safety net programs, but he still found one trillion dollars to give to the people who caused our financial crisis.  How can you overlook that?  Think of all the people who have lost their homes or pensions. Under his guidance, the poor are poorer now than they have been in a long, long time, but the rich are more wealthy than they could have ever imagined.  How can you accept that as progress?  How can you say that he could be a great president with that type of imbalance.  I don't understand your reasoning.

          •  I wonder if you could (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, Terri

            point me to a source that demonstrates what you are saying about NAFTA. I've seen a lot of people say this, and point to a few examples, but I haven't seen analysis that looks at the overall impact.

            "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

            by AaronInSanDiego on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:10:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Globalization lead to job loss in US. NAFTA was a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AaronInSanDiego

              part of it so it gets blamed. Overall, NAFTA had a small positive impact on US economy.

              http://home.coa.edu/...

              http://www.cfr.org/...

              •  thanks for the links. (0+ / 0-)

                I also wonder what the impact was on the Mexican and Canadian economies and their workers.

                "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

                by AaronInSanDiego on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:31:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Pretty strong benefit to Mexico, effect on Canada (0+ / 0-)

                  about the same as on US.

                •  This is what drives me crazy. The link to (0+ / 0-)

                  the American Economics Perspective was a 2001 article.  Here is a more recent look at NAFTA's effect on our economy.

                  To say it had a positive effect on our economy is misleading.

                  The US goods trade deficit with NAFTA was $94.6 billion in 2010, a 36.4% increase ($25 billion) over 2009
                  NAFTA benefited a select few, but its effect on the manufacturing industry was devastating.  I saw the results.  In the industrial area of the north, many plants were closed because of NAFTA.  Some areas looked like ghost towns.
              •  Untrue. That was NAFTA. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG

                All 50 states and the District of Columbia have experienced a net loss of jobs under NAFTA, with the U.S. losing 766,030 actual and potential jobs between 1993 and 2000 (see NAFTA’s Hidden Costs from the report NAFTA at Seven ). With exports from every state being offset by faster growth in imports, net job loss figures range from a low of 395 jobs lost in Alaska to a high of 82,354 in California. Other hard-hit states include Michigan, New York, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia, each with more than 20,000 jobs lost. These states all have high concentrations of the kinds of industries (motor vehicles, textiles and apparel, computers and electrical appliances) that subsequently have expanded rapidly in the maquilidora zones in Mexico since the implementation of NAFTA.

                The U.S. manufacturing sector lost 544,750 jobs (72% of all jobs lost) between 1993 and 2000, due to growth in the net export deficit between the U.S. and Canada (see the methodology section and the accompanying table). One of the hardest-hit sectors within manufacturing is electrical electronic machinery (108,773 jobs lost), which includes home audio and video equipment (28,995 jobs), communications equipment such as telephones and cell phones (33,254 jobs), and appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines (data not available for this sub-sector). Other hard-hit industries in the U.S. included motor vehicles and equipment (83,643 jobs lost), textiles and apparel (83,258 jobs, combined), and lumber and wood products (48,306 jobs). The service sector also lost 112,499 jobs as an indirect result of the loss of markets to foreign producers of traded goods. This includes legal, accounting, and data processing services that are used as inputs to traded goods production, and also temporary workers that are contracted out to the manufacturing sector.

                    Overall, the states with the most job losses are: California (82,354 jobs lost), Michigan (46,817 jobs), New York (46,210 jobs), Texas (41,067 jobs), and Ohio (37,694 jobs). Many other states have lost tens of thousands of jobs, as shown in the attached table.
                    Within the states, job losses by industry reflect the geographic distribution of major industries in the United States. For example, employment in motor vehicles and equipment has been particularly hard hit by NAFTA in Michigan (25,912 jobs lost), Ohio (9,826), Indiana (7,119), Tennessee (3,658), Illinois (3,468), and California (3,002).
                    The electronic equipment sector has also suffered, with large losses in California (14,332 jobs lost), Indiana (9,721), Illinois (8,316), New York (6,288), Texas (6,170), and Pennsylvania (5,042).
                    The textiles and apparel industry is concentrated in Los Angeles, New York City, and the South, with major job losses in North Carolina (10,781 jobs lost), California (10,756), New York (7,901), Alabama (5,126), Tennessee (4,982), Georgia (4,900), Pennsylvania (4,869), and Texas (4,733).
                    The lumber and wood products sectors have lost jobs in the Northwest and Southern states (some of the latter are hard hit by job losses in furniture production). Hard-hit states in this industry include Oregon (3,427 jobs lost), California (3,337), North Carolina (2,592), Texas (2,376), Washington (2,324), and Alabama (1,991).

                Overall, the eastern portion of the U.S. has experienced heavy job loss (over 10,000 jobs lost per state). A review of NAFTA at its seven-year mark shows that the results are mixed and the agreement’s benefits somewhat dubious. A large and growing body of research has shown that NAFTA has also contributed to rising income inequality, suppressed real wages for production workers, weakened collective bargaining powers and ability to organize unions, and reduced fringe benefits. Trade was expected to increase the wages of the workers producing exports, but growing trade deficits have meant that the number of workers hurt by imports has exceeded the number who have benefited through increased exports.

                •  Is this due to NAFTA or after NAFTA? Not the same (0+ / 0-)

                  thing. Most of these jobs went to Asia that had nothing to do with NAFTA. The report you cite doesn't say where they get the job loss numbers.

        •  So what you are saying... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          Is you rate LBJ higher than Obama because of his domestic accomplishments but despite his foreign policy? Given how much emphasis you put on drones elsewhere that may not be entirely consistent unless you put so much emphasis on domestic that LBJ's Vietnam policy is forgiven. Drones are not my idea of a great thing but compared with FDR's bombings during WW II and LBJ's Vietnam policy I am not sure Obama comes anywhere close to doing as much damage. Doesn't mean you shouldn't criticize his policy, but it just seems you are missing my point in your anger at Obama.

          Every President deserves criticism in my book. With the possible exception of Eisenhower, Republican Presidents back at least as far as Harding are far worse than just about any Dem Pres of the same period. THat is pretty much as given. But even among Dem Presidents I don't see that Obama is much more deserving of criticism than any other Dem President. Both FDR and LBJ have such a high profile that they do stand out for many reasons, largely because, good and bad, they were effective in getting things done. And both did plenty of bad things as well as an amazing number of good things.

          I can accept an analysis where on the balance FDR and LBJ were better than Obama if that is what you are arguing, though your emphasis on drones with Obama means you must REALLY be viewing domestic policies of LBJ as balancing the far more violent foreign policy.

          REading all your comments, this one is the only one that comes close to addressing one of my points, if you are saying LBJ is better. And it still doesn't address the point that letting anger at one man, even the President, should get in the way of focusing on so many other levels of government where we can have more of an impact.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:27:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The big difference (7+ / 0-)

      Both Kennedy and LBJ did not have to fight Congress the way Obama has. It's easy to look strong when your party controls both Congress and the White House.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:22:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In a way, you are accurate, but Obama (0+ / 0-)

        has not even tried half the time.  He caves before he even starts.  The biggest problem with Obama is one of integrity.  He makes wonderful promises that only the most naive people believe anymore.  His word means nothing and that is not good.  He is great in situations where he can relate to common people...that is his strength...but it proves to be ineffective because his policies do not reflect the same type of concern.

        If Obama was not strong enough to tackle the Congress he inherited, he should never have run for the presidency.  That might sound callous, but these are very dangerous times and they require a very strong leader, which he is not.  One of his biggest failures also is on climate change.  His record has been abysmal, and it is the single most important issue facing our nation/the world at this moment.

        Part of the problem might be the changes in attitudes of the younger Democratic base.  This group is way too callous and indifferent to the suffering of others, which is the total opposite of how liberals felt during the 60s.  They just do not believe Obama is doing that bad.  They have no idea how many problems they are going to have to deal with because of his policies.

        •  You're making massive generalizations (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          condorcet, FG, Terri, mole333

          And many of them are nonsense. You're doing the typical "blame the young liberals" when it's the older ones in power who are doing nothing to change things. It is the older people in power who are putting forth callous policies. And quite frankly, the liberals of the 60s are the ones in power right now in the Democratic Party. It is never good to generalize.

          Your generalizations about Obama are also not really accurate. There is no Democrat who could have done better. The GOP decided before Obama even took office that they were going to try and ruin him. They would have done it for any Democrat. They are following Newt Gingrich's old playbook from the 1980s to the letter. Luckily for the country, it only worked out for them in 2010.

          I would argue that the folks who are callous are all the people here on DKos who think it's great that we are likely going to go over the fiscal cliff. It might not hurt a lot of members here, but the fiscal cliff is going to have real consequences for the most vulnerable in this country the instant we go over. Perhaps the reason the president has been struggling so hard to make a deal is because he cares more about the people who depend on unemployment benefits than Democrats who only care about how Obama looks.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:50:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or perhaps, he is just wrong. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm sorry that you think people of my generation are callous.  That is not what I experienced when growing up.  We were very concerned about people in general and we worked very hard to rectify a lot of wrongs.  You should have been there.  It was much harder than anything Obama has encountered, and yet we had the courage to see it through until we won.  We were demonized, spit on, called every despicable name in the book, but we succeeded in changing the political climate in D.C.  We won a lot of victories for the poor, minorities, and women.

            The younger people that I was referring to are the ones who sit by idly and watch innocent children killed by drones and never raise their voices in protest; they're the ones who watch the destruction of our planet but never protest when Obama allows another energy company to rape our land; they are the ones who watch Obama put our social safety net programs on the negotiating table and instead of protesting they scream at all of us oldies to stfu.  They are the ones who believe there is nothing wrong with breaking campaign promises; to them, it is just politics as usual.

            They have no problem with the 17 million children who go to bed hungry everynight.  As long as they can point the fingers at the Republicans, they don't have to feel responsible for enabling a President who has all but ignored the poorest people in our country.

            If you're not one of those type of people, then I have no problem with you.

  •  Most Presidents are both good AND bad (8+ / 0-)

    Nixon is my perfect example - look at all the bad he did, but also he needs to be credited with a lot of really good things. The guy was a fascinating mess. I would like to have the good Nixon as a President, if we could just have a Star Trek transporter accident to separate the bad Nixon. And lock him away.

    "Marco Rubio es un pañuelo Rosa!" - Montgomery Burns

    by Fordmandalay on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:13:44 PM PST

  •  SeveralWere Better At Various Elements of the Job. (6+ / 0-)

    FDR was infinitely better at motivating the people by reaching beyond the immediately possible and by painting the malevolent corporate rich as what they really are. Steady, constant communication and motivation of the people. LBJ passed our last major liberal economic policies and worked the legislative reps very aggressively.

    No President in either party saw his party through such a devastating a midterm loss as Obama did in 2010, since the century before last. Obviously it's not all his fault but if this were sports, business, orchestra, venture capital, you name it --the leader would've gotten the boot after a historic defeat.

    The party became a conservative party after LBJ; some important financial deregulation happened under Carter for example. The explosion of wealth of the rich happened under Clinton -- under Clinton, 100% of the growth of family net worth was confined (classwise) to the 1%. The entire bottom 99%, including the 91st-99th percentiles, were at dead stop during the Clinton so-called boom as far as gains in net worth. And Clinton's terms stripped away much of the safeguards against the 2008 crash, and took a huge step to create our national propaganda industry.

    Who's a better President? Of America? Not a productive question, not one that has very many inspiring answers at all.

    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 Dec 20, 2012 at 06:15:20 PM PST

    •  Agreed except... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NotGeorgeWill

      Basically agree. A few points (since we like arguing about the details around here ; -)   )

      I do think it is valid question even if of limited value. We need to consider what is possible as well as what we want. I think Obama is in many ways the best we could hope for these days. And that is why I focus on many other levels of politics well below President. THAT is the productive thing I advocate. People all too often don't put enough effort into who runs for judge or school board or things like that.

      Clinton...I don't don't doubt your overall numbers, but MAN my wealth boomed during his presidency. I had a bit to invest starting when he got elected and though I am far below the 1% (was probably just into upper middle class then, now am probably lower end of middle class, thanks largely to Bush). I own a home thanks to the modest investments I made during the Clinton years...

      Though to be fair my first really nice investment was a long-term, double digit interest rate CD I invested in during Carter's term. Locked in a good rate, though didn't have that much to invest.

      Finally, your saying lack of success would give you the boot in business seems to no longer be the case. Seems at least at the CEO level the more you fuck up the bigger your bonus.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:35:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  2010 was far more important than 1938, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      losses were bigger in 1938.

      R's had been almost completely discredited after governing for a decade before and over 3 years during the great depression, (landon won only 2 states in 1936) but they gained 81 seats in the house, and 6 in the senate.

      and this was when D's had almost a total monopoly on the entire confederacy (over 100 seats in house, and 8 in senate).  most D's in confederacy were unopposed or had only token opposition.  R's controlled only 6 seats from former slave states after 1938 election.

      but b/c R's had been so discredited, and b/c of the southern monopoly, D's still maintained huge majorities in both houses.  the political damage to R's from the depression was gigantic and long lasting.  D's were still calling R's the party of herbert hoover in the 1950s.

      ....

      1938 and 2010 had similar causes.  economy was shitty, R's were very angry at D legislation and D's held a large number of seats which were favorable to R's.

  •  Obama... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, ivorybill

    ...is arguably as good or better than any president since FDR.   But president of what?  We have huge systemic challenges, some of which are likely to be overwhelming -- and none of which are being addressed.  A burgeoning national security state, a prison system in cancerous growth, the dawn of the anthropocene...I think a lot of people are longing for an authentic voice in a position of leadership.  That may have never happened and it may never happen and it may not even be a good idea, in terms of power and expedience.  But..at least for me...watching expedient and thoughtful negotiations with cruel, pious bullies over how much money the least and poorest should get in their check, while this country pours its vast wealth and intelligence into war and prisons...meh.  I'm cheesed.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:25:20 PM PST

    •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical

      To some degree I feel we need to focus more on local and state. One example: prison system. Locally we have a DA who is considered the most progressive DA in America. His programs to funnel drug users to rehab programs instead of prison and to give parolees job programs has really made a huge impact on reducing recidivism. Also locally we had a big primary election where the two Dem candidates running pitted a conservative (who cited Scalia and Thomas as his judicial role models...yes he WAS a democrat, but barely) against a real progressive underdog. A huge amount of blogging and hard grassroots work got the underdog elected, so we have a good progressive judge in that position rather than a Scalia wannabe.

      Multiply that kind of stuff by a few thousand and some of what you mention starts looking up. Not everything, of course, but a good chunk of it.

      I get cheesed as well. But I guess I don't waste my time shaking my fist at Obama and do something either locally in my area or through Progressive Majority somewhere else to push EVERYTHING further left.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:41:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's hard to be a president (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, jessical

      when one of the political parties is dedicated to the obstruction and collapse of government itself.  Lincoln was a great president because everything broke out in the open, and there was no way forward but to win a civil war.  Lincoln before the war started might have been misinterpreted as weak - he compromised a lot until the south simply seceded.  

      It's very hard to asses right now whether he is weak, shrewd, effective, or ineffective.  He won and held off the nihilists for a while longer - we are just too close to events to say more than that.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:25:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ya know, I had written a fairly lengthy comment (6+ / 0-)

    here, but erased it.  I'm sick and tired of seeing people I mostly respect calling other folks on site names and throwing ad homs simply because one group disagrees tactically with the other.  I had freaking hoped once we got past the election that we could simply analyze political tactics and policy decisions as to whether or not they were good for the people, not based on whether or not they were attached to a particular politician.  But apparently it is not to be.

    And to see the gang warfare break out right before Christmas is especially disheartening.

    •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

      at least it happened after Hanukkah ; -)

      Would be interested in your lengthy comment. I for one would read it...and I promise not to call you TOO many names ; -)

      Sad thing is, the left specializes in this kind of fictionalization. My wife says we always manage to divide and conquer ourselves. I have given up expecting otherwise, though I still hope we at least find more productive ways of channeling it.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:44:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Welcome to Daily Kos :) (0+ / 0-)

      It was ever thus.

      What we have here is a community, and like all communities , indeed like many families, it has times when it cannot deal well with stress.

      Chained CPI is a stress point and while it needs to be discussed, it can also bring out the worst in people.

      There is not much you can do but attempt to interject a little reason, and stay calm.

      The more folk we can persuade to do that, the less we will fight and the antagonists will be brought into sharper focus.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:00:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Point of information: Carter was conservative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, condorcet

    You wrote:

    Carter was arguably more liberal than either Clinton or Obama, but wasn't nearly as successful at carrying out policy or winning elections for himself or fellow Democrats.
    Carter was a self identified conservative Democrat. He became much, much more liberal as an ex-president than he was as a president. Of course, labels like conservative and liberal as labels have changed. The main things I remember Carter's short presidency for are:  

    1. He decided that foreign policy should be dictated by human rights rather than real politik. But a human right focused policy in the late 70s also was a stick in the eye of the Soviet Union.

    2. Carter wanted to reduce deficits. They were laughably small by today's standards. But the left went insane against him for that, which is why Ted Kennedy launched a primary challenge against Carter, which cost the Democrats and presidency and delivered us unto St. Ronald Reagan.

    3. Carter enacted "deregulation." It is very difficult to even imagine how regulated the economy was back then and I am still not sure whether Carter's level of deregulation was a good thing. But basically Carter inherited a federal government that administered prices not unlike the Soviet Union. One of his first main deregulation initiatives was of airline ticket prices. Many airlines went bankrupt, but it also delivered the $20 shuttle ticket from New York to Boston. Before Carter, there was one telephone company nation wide - Ma Bell. Shortly after there were two new long distance carriers, Sprint and MCI, and then a proliferation of regional carriers.

    •  YEs but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      condorcet

      Yes but in some ways even Nixon would be seen more liberal now than he was viewed then.

      Carter was probably still a tad more liberal than Clinton or Obama...but you are right he (then) viewed himself as a conservative Democrat. I wonder how he would identify himself today. He, perhaps more than most politicians, has some really thoughtful perspective.

      One more thing Carter pushed for: ending dependence on oil. It also was rejected by America at the time. He also probably would have pushed for nuclear as well as solar, wind, etc. But he saw where oil was leading us and said right up front we needed to change starting back then. Of course that was also in the context of the Arab oil embargo, but his view was even longer term and more environmental than that.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:50:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i would not say carter was conservative, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HamdenRice

      he was not a liberal.  more importantly, he did not accomplish that much despite always having a big D majority in both houses.  carter did not work very well with D's in congress for some reason.

      95th congress
      292-143 D
      61-39 D

      96th congress
      277-158 D
      58-42 D

      obviously, that includes some conservative D's, as well as a few liberal R's.

      filibustering was also uncommon at that time.

      ....

      clinton faced 2 hostile houses who were determined to destroy him personally.  obama faces unprecedented obstruction from a party that is completely willing to harm the country to hurt him politically.

      ....

      i don't think that deregulation was really a partisan issue then.  ralph nader supported airline deregulation, as did ted kennedy.

  •  I pulled this out: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, mole333
    To me it isn't the Presidency that matters and I find it demoralizing to see all the nastiness and ranting focused on just one man.
    You make some very good points.

    The President is the very top of the pyramid, the point man. He sits behind a desk carrying a plaque "The buck stops here".

    But pyramids are built not from the top down, but in the opposite direction.

    A President can influence lots of things, but he can not vote in the House or Senate, or in State Legislatures, or on School Boards and ... well you get the drift.

    For all the focus on Barack Obama, he is not the problem.

    As easily as the Congress has been able to push him to the right, a progressive Congress could have pushed him left ... a direction I think he would have preferred.

    That is not to dismiss criticism, merely to apportion it more accurately.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:46:36 PM PST

  •  there were so many years when the Dems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    were the party that could not  come together, had no respect, was a party bitterly fighting about it's direction, its make up....was splintered...not  a good situation.
    during those years the GOP appeared seamless.

    so appreciate the situation we have now. lets hope  Dems can use it to their advantage. but the fact that we can even ponder the possibility is wonderful. hasn't always been that way

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