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February 11, 2008

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Good Lord, Krugman is driving me crazy with this stuff...all he is doing is pouring gasoline on a fire that has yet to really even ignite.

And he can't even get through the column without throwing another jab at Obama's health care plan, completely out of context...

Why, then, is there so much venom out there?

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again."

Those two paragraphs just cost Paul a lot of the considerable support he's had from me in the past. "Why, oh why is there so much venom!? I'm gettin' the vapors!"

Gee, Paul, could it have anything to do with widely-respected liberal columnists essentially calling all Obama supporters sheep, comparing them to Bush supporters, and then accusing them of being 'venomous'? Nah. That just don't make no sense.

Go Ron Paul!

Agreed that the Krugman column is bad, that it's bad because of the unsupported assertion about where most of the venom is coming from, and that if he's extrapolating where most of the venom that's been directed towards him is coming from to where most of it's coming from in general, that would explain the mistake.

But, sometimes we are voting for people based on their supporters, we assume that they'll have to cater somewhat to their supporter's policy views and that's one way of figuring out what they'll do in office. That doesn't really go along with the cult complaint, since that seems to be a (largely false) argument about how Obama's supporters don't have policy views and are just swooning over him, but I don't know that you should state the, "we aren't voting for supporters" point so strongly.

Reactions like Krugman's always surprise me. I mean, it is one thing to support someone, and even to criticize the other candidates position on issues. But with Krugman, it is almost like he is trying to create a high degree of polarization.

And the inevitable question is why?

Usually, in situations like this, it comes down to two things.

1> A form of rev3enge factor. In this case Krugman is trying to get back at Obama for some perceived slight. And it is true, IIRC, that Obama or his campaign did say some not very flattering things about Krugman, but only after Krugman had started attacking Obama, so that doesn't make sense.

2. A fear of something. I have been trying to figure out something that Krugman would be afraid of, and the only thing I can think of is that he has planning for some position in a Clinton administration and an Obama victory threatens that. This is conjecture on my part and I am open to other ways of thinking.

Regarding venom. There has been some, even on this site, directed both ways. And, I admit, I have contributed to it toward Clinton. However, and I only speak for myself, despite my feelings about Clinton, I will vote for her, and it won't even take a holding of my nose.

Will I be satisfied with a Clinton victory regarding the nomination? No. Will I be comfortable with it? Yes.

I'm an Obama supporter, but you need to get out more -- I have seen a lot more anti-Clinton venom than anti-Obama venom. In fact, while I have seen quite a few comments in various places against Obama, I would characterize few of them as venomous. They are mostly of the "your guy is an empty suit" type.

Conversely, based on what I've seen, there's a lot of outright hatred for Hillary out there, and I've read comments from far more people saying that if Hillary wins, they will refuse to vote for her (particularly if she does so through by playing bullshit with the Michigan-Florida delegates).

Steve H., have you taken a look at the comments and diaries on MyDD?

--"the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality."--

maybe true, probably true. but...

*cough* there's no *cough cough* cult of personality *cough* *hack* around Hillary?

(falls on floor, coughing up blood)

Extremely anecdotal evidence: in my latte-swilling elitist Washington State suburban caucus, we had one very pissed-off Clinton supporter and a lot of mellow Obama supporters. I myself have no rancor against Hillary Clinton. Why should I, she's losing.

Since Clinton is the candidate who expected to cruise to the nomination, I would expect more of her supporters to be upset at this point, than Obama's. But who knows? Certainly not me, but not Mr. Krugman either.

There are truly a lot of people out there, and I think they are Obama-ites second and Hillary haters first. It is pretty constant. I find it quite sad. The extent to which anti-Hillary tirades have been internalized by many on the Left in addition to those on the right is astounding.

The problem with Krugman's column isn't that his observation about "venom" is wrong (though debatable) or even that it's one-sided (also debatable). It's that it's ludicrously hypocritical for him to whine about "venom" and then in the very next paragraph call Obama's supporters cultists and compare them to pro-Bush war supporters. Seriously, Paul Krugman is smarter than that.

Adam: Seriously, Paul Krugman is smarter than that.

Apparently not. ;)

For Krugman in particular this is of course above all about mandates for health insurance. The problem is that the basic reasoning of mandates is "Since single-payer isn't going to fly right now, this is a relatively good way to improve things overall with relatively few drawbacks", which then shifts in argument to "This is the best way available to us to move toward real universal care." But there are legitimate arguments against mandates in practice as a burden on the neediest in a way that many other service fees have been over the decades, and room for argument that some other kind of incremental progress might be better. Such things tend to get dismissed, and then tempers rise, and people on all sides say stupid things, and we get columns like this.

I voted for Obama in the MA primary. I think Obama can beat McCain handily in the general. I think Obama will make an excellent President.

BUT: every time I hear, from any "Democrat", that s/he will not vote for Hillary in the general because only Barack will do, I get mad. Likewise when I hear a "Democrat" say the opposite. It's just fine with me if some Republican or "independent" says s/he will vote for Barack but not Hillary in the general, or vice-versa. Such people may be misguided, but at least they don't have the gall to call themselves "Democrats".

I don't get to read Krugman's e-mail, but I read a fair number of blogs and comments on "Democratic" sites, and I must say: there ARE Obama cultists out there, and they ARE more venomous than Hillary cultists -- and slightly more numerous, too. I don't want "our" nominee to be selected by cultists of either flavor.

Krugman is a Democrat. He is trying to warn Democrats that, in his opinion, Hillary is a better choice FOR THE NOMINATION. Mark Kleiman is a Democrat who thinks the opposite. I know Kleiman will vote for Hillary in the general, and I bet my house that Krugman will vote for Obama in the general. Neither is a cultist. Each is entitled to denounce cultists. Both would do well to denounce cultists who favor their own candidate, as well as cultists of the opposite flavor.

If it turns out that cultists are few and far between, no harm done.

-- TP

Meanwhile, if you want venom and parties torn by factional strife, a good place to look might be at Washington state's Republican caucuses.

Agreed almost entirely, with the one caveat that even though I am pro-Obama, I've basically stopped reading Kleiman's once-must-read blog because he is, in fact, kind of venomous about Clinton.

I don't think Krugman was referring to his email or the blogosphere at all. I think he meant the MSM, which is ludicrously hostile to Clinton.

At Krugman's own paper, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich have it in for Clinton big time. Elsewhere there's Chris Matthews, Andrew Sullivan, etc. etc.

Obama, on the other hand, gets surprisingly good coverage, even from conservatives - witness David Brooks' column last week as an example.

In fact, Krugman himself is the only prominent media presence I can think of, outside of the far right, who has consistently opposed Obama.

Krugman's point is that the Brooks, Matthews etc. of the world will turn on Obama the moment he wins the nomination, and give him the same treatment they are now giving Clinton.

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody.

First, the vibe I'm getting is that Obama supporters are an optimistic hopeful (and slightly anxious) bunch, because their expectations so far have been surpassed, while the Clinton backers are bitter because they had their hearts set on something which now seems like it may not happen.

But this:

...supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody.

I have no idea who Krugman might be talking about. I haven't met or read a single Obama supporter who said they would sit out the election or vote McCain if Obama didn't win the nomination. Not. A. Single. One.

Much of the leadership of the Dem Party, and apparently Krugman, are obsessed with health care. The problem is, the electorate is not. The Democrats have run on health care for the last 20 years, and they keep losing. The only time the Republicans made a serious effort to fight that battle, with the "Harry & Louise" ads, they won with frightening ease.

Polls keep telling us that healthcare is a key issue. There are two simple reasons the polls are misleading on this point.

1) Health care is a relatively tangible issue, unlike the inchoate identity issues most people actually vote on. It's easy to poll for.
2) It is of greater concern to the sort of people who have the most time to answer telephone polls--seniors and shut-ins--than to most people.

Health care is important, but this election might finally teach the Democrats to stop making it their centerpiece. That doesn't work.

I haven't met or read a single Obama supporter who said they would sit out the election or vote McCain if Obama didn't win the nomination. Not. A. Single. One.

I did -- one guy at the caucus who said he usually votes Republican and is crossing over this year because of Obama. If Clinton is the candidate, he'll go back to McCain.

Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich have it in for Clinton big time.

That may be, but this is the same Dowd who refers to Obama as "Obambi". She has it in for any Democrat, and provides the most superficial political "analysis" in the Times.

I haven't met or read a single Obama supporter who said they would sit out the election or vote McCain if Obama didn't win the nomination.

I certainly have. Wade into the comments and diaries on MyDD and you'll see plenty of Obama supporters saying just that, along with plenty of Clinton supporters saying they'll stay home or vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee. I imagine most of them are lying or will change their minds after a cool-off period, but they exist.

I have seen the bitterness in some comments section -- and responses implying that a lot more are getting like that. Someone talked about 'piefights.'

I think some -- not all, probably not a majority, but a substantial amount -- is coming from trolls hoping to make reconciliation impossible.

But a lot of it is genuine. I think a good part of it comes from a couple of sources.

A lot of us are angry at politics in general. We've spent eight years with Bush and Bush supporters, we've forgotten how to argue reasonably and calmly. (We shouldn't be calm with Republicans, and they've acted in such irrational ways that 'being reasonable' is being unrealistic.)
Our political adrenaline is already so high that any dispute gets loud and extreme.

A lof of us are afraid of 'what will go wrong this time.'
We have an awful lot of disappointed expectations to deal with. We won almost the biggest congressional majorities ever after Watergate -- and gave them back with Jimmy Carter. Who then lost the Presidency to an aging actor 'playing the part'.
We lost twice to a boob like Dubya, and saw an authentic hero portrayed as a traitor, liar, and coward.
We're afraid 'the other guy' might trigger those same frustrations. We can't quite accept the obvious, that this really is our year.

I haven't met or read a single Obama supporter who said they would sit out the election or vote McCain if Obama didn't win the nomination.

A number of commenters at this site said so in the Democrats & Unity thread.

I generally love Krugman (in the darkest hours of Bush's term he was one of the only consistent bright spots of reason), but he's clearly taking the rise of Obama personally. His most balanced column on Hillary and Barack dealt with the differences in their healthcare plans, but even then, there was a whiff of wing-nuttery about his prose. Even if I supported Hillary, I'd be embarassed by this blantant hackery on his part. He will lose my trust if he keeps it up.

I haven't met or read a single Obama supporter who said they would sit out the election or vote McCain if Obama didn't win the nomination. Not. A. Single. One.

here are some.

and, i've said i'd sit out, multiple times, right here on this blog, if HRC is the nominee. if she gets it, i'll give her the chance to change my mind in the general campaign. but right now, she rubs me all the wrong ways. and, since i'm in NC, i can probably safely sit-out voting for a Dem President - i can vote my conscience here.

one nice quote from that Sullivan link:


    The most heated moment came late in the process, when an elderly gentleman for Hillary said, "I want everyone here to make a pledge, and I'm talking to all you Obama supporters. I want you to pledge that you will be loyal Democrats, and vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination." The 4 (former) independents all said flat-out if it was Clinton vs. McCain, they would be voting for McCain. One Obama supporter said, "I'm an American first, not a Democrat, and I will make no such pledge."

John Cole (who's actually been defending Clinton a lot, though he's said he'll vote for Obama -- the "magical unity pony" -- in the primary):

By the way, has there been anyone as loudly obnoxious towards Obama as Paul Krugman? It seems kind of amusing that he, of all people, after essentially waging jihad against Obama for months, should be penning a column about the nastinesss of the race.

hilzoy: Paul Krugman should know better than to write a column based on so little.

I think I’m actually starting to OD on shadenfreunde…

john miller: …the only thing I can think of is that he has planning for some position in a Clinton administration and an Obama victory threatens that.

That’s what I think, although he expected that in 92 as well and it didn’t work out for him. BTW, wow Wiki is fast. I was confirming that and found that this post is already linked from Krugman’s Wiki page as one of “several other progressive blogs” condemning this column.

I generally love Krugman (in the darkest hours of Bush's term he was one of the only consistent bright spots of reason)

Odd. From where I sit, he hasn't changed at all. Possibly he was saying stupid things, before, that just didn't annoy you.

Unless I'm misreading Krugman, he cites Hillary's mau-mauing of David Shuster as evidence that Obama's people are venomous. He certainly doesn't cite any other evidence.

From where I sit, he hasn't changed at all. Possibly he was saying stupid things, before, that just didn't annoy you.

Possibly. I think it was more that I agreed with him so it didn't seem stupid. I'm not sure it even seems stupid now, as much as transparent. He's pulling for Hillary but pretending he's pulling for reason. I'm not sure I'd describe the times he was criticizing Bush as the same thing. Then he was right! ;-)

"I'm an American first, not a Democrat, and I will make no such pledge."

Amen to that.

If I end up believing that 4 or 8 more years of Hillary (and Bill, because he's part of the package) is likely to be in the long run and in the bigger picture worse for the country than the alternative, then it is my privilege to vote that way, and my privilege to beg to differ -- as civilly as I can manage -- with anyone who thinks it's his privilege to dictate how I'm allowed to define myself (I'm looking at you, Tony P.).

Harrumph.

Surely you jest. There is nothing bizarre at all about the venom and calumny directed toward Senator Clinton both by the mainstream media and Senator Obama's echo chamber are astounding.

See both of Stanley Fish's columns at NY Times:

http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/all-you-need-is-hate/

http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/a-calumny-a-day-will-keep-hillary-away/index.html

I suppose that he too will be subjected to same dismissive attiude as Krugman. People just don't want to confront their own biases.

Krugman's critique of the Republican Party's feckless incompetence and immoral obsession with screwing the many for the sake of the few was and is right on. I don't see that as all incompatible with disagreeing with him about some aspects of what to do about it. Particularly given that he and many of the folks he's picking a fight with actually agree on what would be most desirable, and the disagreement is about make-do and interim measures.

Okay, everyone. Sorry. I misspoke and said something ridiculous. Yes, I know Obama pulls independents and Republicans. What I meant to say is that I didn't know any Democrats who were crossing over. Since it would be utterly unremarkable for Republicans to swing back to McCain, I can't imagine Krugman was speaking about them when he was criticizing the Obama supporters who wanted Obama or bust, as he claimed. (I mean, think of it this way: if you knew someone who was otherwise politically apathetic but was motivated to vote for Obama, you might criticize them for their apathy, but not because of their divisive unwillingness to compromise!)

I suppose that he too will be subjected to same dismissive attiude as Krugman.

Well, yes, since you're indulging in the same strategy of "win by belittling the opponent" that's been common in politics.

As well, you're ignoring the same behavior in the Clinton camp.

And, of course, you're generalizing from a small sample to the larger population with insufficient evidence. That's generally called stereotyping; some of us don't cotton to that.

In other words, you're a hack.

"I'm an American first, not a Democrat, and I will make no such pledge" (namely to vote for the Democrat in the general no matter what), is a fine, noble sentiment. But what business is it of "Americans" to select the DEMOCRATIC PARTY's nominee?

Anyone who is "an American first, not a Democrat" is welcome to start his own party, or stay out of party politics altogether. Here in America, party affiliation is entirely voluntary. But it ought to mean something.

I belong to the party of "Barack or Hillary". I wish to hell my party had never decided to allow people of other parties (e.g. the "Barack or McCain" party, the "Hillary or McCain" party) to vote in our primaries or attend our caucuses. Say what you will about superdelegates, at least they are Democrats -- members of the "Barack or Hillary" party, like me -- rather than "Americans first, not Democrats".

-- TP

Near the end of the column was this gem:

"But most of all, progressives should realize that Nixonland is not the country we want to be. Racism, misogyny and character assassination are all ways of distracting voters from the issues, and people who care about the issues have a shared interest in making the politics of hatred unacceptable."

Huh.

Unnamed Obama supporters are first criticized for their allegedly hateful rhetoric toward HRC, and then in a most underhanded way, likened to to racist, misogynistic, character assassinating Nixonians, and contrasted with those who care about issues and in the making politics of hatred unacceptable.

Pot, pot, the kettle's calling.

Anyone who is "an American first, not a Democrat" is welcome to start his own party, or stay out of party politics altogether. Here in America, party affiliation is entirely voluntary. But it ought to mean something.

I belong to the party of "Barack or Hillary". I wish to hell my party had never decided to allow people of other parties (e.g. the "Barack or McCain" party, the "Hillary or McCain" party) to vote in our primaries or attend our caucuses.

That attitude pretty much insures they'll NEVER be Democrats.

Not sure I want to operate like that.

Starting another party is a fairy tale in this country, and sitting out isn't palatable either, and why should I? I happen to be a citizen too.

The 2-party system isn't going away any time soon, so those of us who aren't willing to toe the party line (as if there could be just two ways of thinking in a nation of 300 million people) have as much right as party loyalists to try to affect outcomes, which are going to affect our lives just as much as they are going to affect yours.

Andy, your links in no way support your claim that venom and calumny is being directed at Sen. Clinton by Sen. Obama supporters unless you think that all people are either Clinton or Obama supporters.

This year's democratic primary doesn't seem to me to be more venomous than previous ones. (Remember the vicious fights between the so-called "Deaniacs," "Clarkites," "Kerryites, etc. on dailykos in 2004?) But it is a much more extended primary season than we've had in a long time, and as long as the contest remains close people will rally around their chosen candidate. I have no doubt that things will quiet down after the convention as people unite behind the party's candidate. There will not be a mass exodus of hardcore Obama or Clinton supporters, unless the superdelegates or the MI/FL contingent end up playing a decisive role at the convention. The latter scenario is my one big fear.

Your criticism is fair and on-target. Overall, though, the column made several excellent points MSM columnists don't typically make.

Anyone who is "an American first, not a Democrat" is welcome to start his own party, or stay out of party politics altogether.
...
I belong to the party of "Barack or Hillary".

you're right. why on earth would anyone principles get in the way of partisanship ?

s/anyone principles/anyone let principles/

I belong to the party of the first part, and will have no truck with the party of the second part.

Did someone say we should all party in trucks? With multiple parties?

Great idea!

If anyone here actually wants to read vituperation directed at Senator Obama by Senator Clinton's supporters, just go to
Hillary is 44
. Particularly check out the recent "Election Weekend With Hillary" comments as the posters begin to realize that Maine is slipping away. "Bambi" is the nicest thing anyone calls Obama.

Just sayin' it's out there.

You mean there's a second party? I hope they have a designated drinker.

To gwangung:

"Americans" vote in the general election. They get to vote for the candidate (of whatever party) that they prefer. It behooves any "party" to offer up the candidate with the widest appeal to "Americans".

You don't have to be "a Democrat" to vote for the Democratic nominee in the general; you don't have to be "a Republican" to vote for the Republican nominee in the general; you just have to be "an American".

What it means to be "an American" is that you are signed up, as I am, for this Government-Of-The-People-By-The-People-And-For-The-People thing. (GOTPBTPAFTP rocks!) It means that you don't let people who are NOT "Americans" vote for your president, and it means you accept the choice of your fellow "Americans" even if it was not your own. I want that description to apply to "the Democratic Party" (and "the Republican Party", too, but it's not my business to advise THEM) by analogy: being "a Democrat", and being allowed to vote in "the Democratic Party", ought to mean that you're signed up to support the choice of your fellow Democrats.

If 90% of Americans were "Americans first, not Democrats", mmeaning that each "party" was something like 5% of the population, that would be a GOOD thing. If those 90% decided they like neither party's nominee, they would soon enough form "the American Party". I would be delighted to see how _that_ party goes about selecting its nominee.

-- TP

"Americans" vote in the general election. They get to vote for the candidate (of whatever party) that they prefer. It behooves any "party" to offer up the candidate with the widest appeal to "Americans".

And here you are, trying to restrict people's choices by trying to restrict who selects them.

Not a good strategy for getting what you want.

I smell a juicy game theory open thread. Not that I'd participate, because that stuff bores me to tears.

javelina: that is one scary site. I scrolled down a bit to get to Sunday, and about six comments in got to this:

"I am so disappointed that the majority of AA are voting for Obama. Where is their loyalty. Clinton did so much for them when he was president."

Wow. Words fail.

Note: this is one idiot commenting. I do not believe, and thus d not want to imply, that this person is representative of any larger group.

That said: "where is their loyalty" -- ??!

So, Tony, you are saying that the approximately 40% of Americans who identify with neither party should either:
1. Have no say in the party nominees, but then be forced to choose from those party nominees in the general election, OR
2. Sacrifice their personal principles by joining one of the parties and agreeing to vote for whichever candidate is the nominee of the party regardless of whether they find said nominee less desirable than the other party's nominee.

Presumably, your answer is:
3. Start a third party.

Of course this ignores that the two major parties have made this nearly impossible through ballot access laws and other so-called "reforms." It also assumes that the 40% of self-identified independents are monolithic, rather than reflective of numerous ideologies/philosophies poorly represented by both parties.

I promise I will not post every single HillaryIs44 comment that amuses me. Really, I won't. But the unintentional irony of this one is too -- well, eerie -- to pass over:

"I’m tired of this rampent sexism and hate, all over the internet. It’s true that these abusers of the internet and bigots, hate-mongers, violent people just want us to quit. That’s their intention. We have to keep up the good work though.

Honestly, I’m at a point where I want to start a vigilante group of realistic political types who will FORCE true policy down the necks of the aforementioned scum bags after this is all over."

Yow.

Personally I am surprised by just how little venom there is towards HRC among Democrats. I suppose that's because people feel, rightly, that she's taken a lot of unfair criticism from wing-nuts for the past 16 years. That seems to shield her from the fact that, objectively, she would appear to be a pretty awful candidate from the POV of most liberal Democrats. First of all there's just the unsavoriness of electing a President's spouse - powerful dynastic families should not be encouraged. But even more bizarrely in the current environment, Hilary was for the war in Iraq. The records of her advisors and husband in the Clinton administration suggest this is no accident - they were gung-ho to use military force in Yugoslavia, Somalia and Haiti. There is a war hawk element in the Democratic party that really believes the US can use military muscle to make the world a better place. Maybe HRC doesn't share that view, but she certainly seems to rely on that element on awful lot. HRC is really the perfect candidate for Lieberman Democrats. I think a lot of us have decided that's not the Democratic party we want in 2008. It's not "Obama or bust" as far as I'm concerned, it's "any Democrat but Clinton."

hilzoy - Amazing, isn't it? I was particularly struck by the "loyalty" comment. Also by one referring to Obama as a "boy," though that might not have been deliberate.

My first reaction to the comment citing the "Hillary is 44" website was, "I thought she was 60."

Hillary-44D

tastes like hell and puts you to sleep.

On Krugman: calls for civility accompanied by accusations that we're cult-like & resemble Bush and Nixon supporters are pretty ridiculous. That said, this just underscores why campaigns always tell supporters who are canvassing/phonebanking: if they're firmly committed to another candidate, say something polite about him/her & thank them for their time. Obviously, blog discussions are a little more freewheeling, but hostile flame wars are just counterproductive. This goes quintuple when they're directed at really really stubborn NY Times columnists with well-earned credibility among Dem. primary voters.

By the way, what on earth does John McCain think he's doing re: the Washington caucuses? Apparently for the GOP, not only does requesting a routine recount to make sure the outcome is accurate make you a "sore loser"--so does actually expecting the vote to be fully counted the FIRST time. I'm no fan of Mike Huckabee, but what a bunch of crap.

From Bruce Baugh:

For Krugman in particular this is of course above all about mandates for health insurance.

No, this is about Krugman and a host of other respected progressives who seem to be willing to squander much of their hard-earned and and often well deserved credibility in the name of disingenuous influence peddling.

"Particularly check out the recent 'Election Weekend With Hillary' comments"

All I can get is a blank page, no matter that NoScript is set to let javascript run, and all the ad-blockers are turned off; it's the same for both Firefox and IE.

"...ought to mean that you're signed up to support the choice of your fellow Democrats."

TP, a variety of state parties choose to allow anyone who hasn't signed up to participate in another party's convention to participate. Other state parties require registration as a party voter at a set advance date. Yet other state parties allow fully open primaries, which means you are able to freely choose your party on any given date.

If you object to any of the state parties' rules, you are free to move to that state, join said party, and propose rules changes as you wish, including telling them what they "ought" in your opinion to do. Meanwhile, they're democratically voted on and passed rules, set by each state's parties.

I never heard of "Hillary is 44," but my first thought was that that made perfect sense. G. W. Bush is famously "43," and famously calls his dad "41, after all.

I suppose there are two kinds of people.... (It's a political junkie test, in other words.)

what on earth does John McCain think he's doing re: the Washington caucuses?

I'm not sure McCain's to blame, rather than the idiot Republican Party chair in Washington State, but at least they're making the Washington Democrats look less insane by comparison, even when said Democrats hold a caucus that determines the delegates followed a week later by a primary that doesn't actually mean anything.

I'm not sure McCain's to blame, rather than the idiot Republican Party chair in Washington State, but at least they're making the Washington Democrats look less insane by comparison,

Yeah, considering that the Republican Party was making all the noises about voter fraud in the last gubernatorial election. If I were Republican, I'd be kinda mad about that sort of seeming hypocrisy.

To expand on the health care points raised by trilobite:
Everyone observes that health care is in a mess and could be better. I want a single payer system with some cost controls, for while it's sad when someone with $2000/month in prescription meds loses their coverage, you don't want to be in a pool where half the people have those kinds of bills.
We aren't getting it, so best case is taking some steps to make things better and start us on that track. And this is where Krugman's and Clinton's focus on universal coverage as THE BIG THING worries me. Maybe it's just that it's overblown because it's where the plans differ, but it looks like this is one point where her last effort went down, overlooking a bipartisan plan that wasn't universal for her way or the highway. C and K get down to "if we just do one thing, it will be to get universal coverage." Which I don't think is a good last inch to fight for. I think you can get 90% of the populace on board with "Let's insure all the kids, no gaps, since it's not your fault if you get brain cancer, or hit by a truck, when your parents are out of work."

As to the venom: I've seen it, and there's more directed toward Clinton than Obama. Sometimes it's offputting, though so are the 101 conspiracy theories advanced for every Obama victory. And I've seen the threats both ways, but polls suggest it's the independents for Obama who mean it. We all have a while to calm down, anyhow.

But in January, a regular comment was "Where's the vast right-wing conspiracy? I want to join." Which I understood, because that was the month I went from "not my favorite candidate" to "I'd be embarrassed to vote for her." I think people who in the 90s thought the Clinton venom bizarre and over the top found a little of it welling in their breasts.

As to the venom: I've seen it, and there's more directed toward Clinton than Obama. Sometimes it's offputting, though so are the 101 conspiracy theories advanced for every Obama victory. And I've seen the threats both ways, but polls suggest it's the independents for Obama who mean it.

OK, but don't you think it's understandable for independents, with no tie to the Democratic Party to feel that? And isn't Krugman and other Clinton supporters conflating this segment of Obama supporters with all Obama supporters, including those who came through the Democratic party?

I would just like to reiterate my first point in this thread, in response to hilzoy's

In any case, when we vote for President, we are not voting for someone's supporters. Even if people who support Obama are doing so in a cultish way -- and I have seen no evidence that they are, though I'm sure that every candidate has some supporters who are cultish or otherwise silly -- that's irrelevant to the choice we face as citizens.
Clearly, you've been fortunately spared from interacting with too many Ron Paul supporters.

Krugman? Fake evenhandedness? I haven't even seen authentic evenhandedness from him. Anyway, Hil, now you have a small taste of how Krugman's arguments appeal to conservatives. His methods aren't all that different.

Mark:

According to my Town Clerk's voter rolls, I am independent, or "unenrolled" as we say around here. So why do I call myself a Democrat? Because I know, today, that I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

I know how I will vote in November because I hold certain principles. I believe in my principles -- otherwise I'd hold different principles. The Democrats mostly espouse my principles, the Republicans mostly reject them.

I am willing to subordinate my preference of nominee to my principles. It sounds to me like "independents" are quite the other way: either they are more swayed by personalities than principles, or they really can't see much difference between the two parties'rather distinct bundles of principles.

If "independents" all wanted the SAME Democratic nominee, I would gladly let them have their way in "our" primary. But then they would not exactly be "independents", would they?

-- TP

Like many people I know, it's not that I don't like Hilary, it's that I REALLY like Obama. Part of it is his charisma -- both it's direct impact on me and my thoughts about what a charismatic leader (whose politics I like) might be able to bring to the country. And part is that his positions seem genuine and pragmatic to me. And part of it is idiosyncratic: He and I both graduated from Hi school in Hawaii in 1979, so -- I know it's meaningless, but it's part of the reason I identify with him.

What rankles me about the Hilary supporters is their oft-stated assumption that those who don't like her are doing it for the wrong reasons: sexism or internalized right wing Hilary hatred. I find that premise incredibly offensive. And incredibly arrogant. What if I were to say Krugman doesn't like Obama because he's a racist or he's unwittedly bought into the right wing barak hussein muslim story? I give him more credit than that. He and fish and the HRC supporters should do the same.

Obama is a muslim muslim muslim muslim Muslim!

Oh, NTTAWWT, it would be irresponsible not to bring it up.

If "independents" all wanted the SAME Democratic nominee, I would gladly let them have their way in "our" primary.
It's good you put those words in quotes, since by your own account, regardless of what's in your head, you're not a registered Democrat, and, ironically, you appear to favor rules that wouldn't allow you to vote at present in a party election.

I am willing to subordinate my preference of nominee to my principles. It sounds to me like "independents" are quite the other way: either they are more swayed by personalities than principles, or they really can't see much difference between the two parties'rather distinct bundles of principles.

Or they see things differently than you, valuing different sets of principles and seeing them expressed differently than you do by the candidates.

You do realize they're "allowed" to do that, you know...

I don't know, Krugman may well be going off of the content of the comments on his blog, which have been far more vituperative than what I've seen Krugman write at any time before his column today. I realize I may have missed some things and there are definitely issues with this most recent column, but what is it Krugman wrote before this that is a smear? I remember the "Paul Krugman Now and Then" thing which didn't seem to hold up well as a criticism of Krugman. What has he written, exactly, that's crossed the line from criticism into smear?

I've seen the same sort of thing happen with bloggers, too. Digby at Hullabaloo wrote a post criticizing Oprah Winfrey that contained a factual error about union presence on her show, and a bunch of Obama supporters descended on her site, issuing threats about forcing her into irrelevance, accusing her of supporting Hillary, and calling her a dishonest smear-merchant. It was an embarrassment, especially considering that she'd also criticized Clinton in the exact same post. It was just a really weird thing to see. I don't really know what to make of it.

bbs, I think the swift reaction to digby (who made a really uninformed remark) was based on the fact that the internet is vacuum, where misinformation (particularly from an apparently reputable source) instantly expands to fill the news universe. Think Michael O'Hanlon (now thankfully discredited) "The surge is Working."

"Or [independents] see things differently than you, valuing different sets of principles and seeing them expressed differently than you do by the candidates."

At least one of them thinks exactly as Tony P. does, since Tony P. is registered, he says, as one.

"You do realize they're 'allowed' to do that, you know..."

But Tony P. thinks people like Tony P. shouldn't get a vote in party proceedings. That's his argument. It's weird, but that's his argument. He wants a rule that would either a) prevent him from voting in a Democratic Party primary or caucus; or b) that applies to every other person not registered as a Democrat, except him.

Other explanations do occur to me, but they involve things like time travel, travel to alternative universes, and the like.

He's the same Paul Krugman he's always been. Just like John Cole, who's also cited above. He was a rabid, blind baiter for the anti-left, and it loved him. Now he's a rabid, blind baiter for the anti-right, and it loves him. It's a good exercise in moderation to stand on the opposite side from your heroes once in a while and see how they cheat.

Callimachus, I can't speak of Krugman, since I only recently began reading his column. As for John Cole, though: I've been reading Balloon Juice since long before his road-to-Damascus moment, and, to my recollection, you are wrong on both counts. He has never been sparing in his condemnation of what he sees as stupidity, among his allies or among his foes, and this is as true now as it was before.

Bbs, who has argued that Krugman wrote a smear? And who has suggested that Krugman has been more vituperative than his commenters? If we're only holding op-ed columnists to the standard of being not as bad as blog commenters, then things really are going to hell.

Hilzoy, just because your analysis impresses me and I can't figure this out at all: Why are the Clinton campaign and supporters ceding Wisconsin to Obama today? Primary state, few blacks--haven't they been arguing that's the kind they always win?

Charles and Slarti,

In the past, when I've been pointed to conservative criticisms of Krugman's economics writing, I've found them to be...somewhat lacking. Perhaps I just hadn't read the correct ones though.

In any event, I don't think you're going to convince anyone who otherwise thought Krugman was a generally smart economics writer by making one line comments in this thread. Perhaps one of you could write up a post laying out the evidence for Krugman's alleged sins so that we could have a thread where people can debate the issue on the merits? It seems that Krugman is as incredibly evil as you say he is, it should be easy to find cases where he's (for example) accused Bush of lying about the budget and provide evidence that Bush was telling the truth.

Gary:

You may find it hard to tell the difference between "independent" and independent, but I don't. That's why I bother with the quotation marks.

If you are committed to voting for the Democrat in November, no matter which one it ends up being, and no matter which Republican the GOP coughs up, I call you a "Democrat". If your name has a (D) next to it on the voter rolls, I call you a Democrat. I have no immediate clue which of those you are, if either; I have made it clear which I am.

I want "Democrats" (like me) to pick the Democratic nominee. How you get from that, to time travel or alternate universes is a bit mysterious.


gwangung:

I can only interpret your last comment this way: some people want to elect a President who espouses and articulates Democratic principles, but they feel that only Hillary (or only Obama) does so. And if the Democratic Party fails to nominate Obama (or Hillary) they are willing to accept (or even vote for) a President McCain or a President Huckabee. Are THOSE the people of whom you write that "they see things differently" than I do?

If so, to return to the origin of this thread, neither Krugman nor Kleiman fit that description.

-- TP

Wait, so the independents and Democrats with the scare quotes are the good ones?

And, Tony, neither Kleiman nor Krugman have said anything about staying home or voting for McCain if their preferred candidate loses. In fact Kleiman, at least, has specifically said he'll vote for (and otherwise support) Clinton if she's the nominee.

“Barack Obama has staked out positions that will undermine his own efforts.”
-Krugman

Krugman has a valid point here. Obama has promised too much to be able to deliver. The federal budget is already on the brink of insolvency. Here is a list of new promises cut and pasted from Obama’s own website (sorry in advance for the long post, cut into pieces because the length doesn’t seem to make it through the filter):

* Obama will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and he will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal.
* Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels
* Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today.
* Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office
* Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.
* …climate change plan will invest in America's highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers…
* Obama will also provide assistance to the domestic auto industry to ensure that new fuel-efficient vehicles are built by American workers.
* The Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training,
* Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
* Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit,
…To be continued…

I breathlessly await the next installment.

I can only interpret your last comment this way:

Try harder.

cut and pasted from Obama’s own website (sorry in advance for the long post, cut into pieces because the length doesn’t seem to make it through the filter

maybe a simple link would be more appropriate, then ?

Bill, Obama will do none of those things. Nor will Hillary do any of the things on her web site, nor will McCain.

That's the wonderful thing about our style of government. It requires (unless the president is named George W. Bush) for Congress to make those decisions, including how to pay for the things it passes.

Now I know from your previous entries that you actually do plan on voting for Obama if he ends up with the nomination. It is just that Krugman is wrong as well.

And part of it is idiosyncratic: He and I both graduated from Hi school in Hawaii in 1979

Which school, if I may ask?

* Obama will invest in rural small businesses
* He will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas.
* Obama will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year. [note: Union pay and government contracts are tied to the minimum wage.]
* Obama will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not itemize tax relief.
* Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners.
* Obama will double funding for after-school programs
* Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
* Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules
* Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts
* Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
* Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
* Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law.
* Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts
* Obama will double funding for the main federal support for after school programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
… to be continued…

Not Prince Hamlet,

I did not go to Punahou like Obama. I am a public school girl, from Kalaheo. Are you a contemporary of mine and "Barry's"?

KCinDC:

Yes, the "Democrats" are the good ones :-)

And yes, both Krugman and Kleiman are "Democrats". I don't know, and I don't care, how either of them is officially registered.

As far as I can tell, when an officeholder (Jim Jeffords, Joe Lieberman, Michael Bloomberg to name three recent examples) changes party affiliation, the operative official step is to file a new voter registration form. For all I know, Zell Miller is still a Democrat (note the absence of "scare quotes"), but I would not want him within a mile of a Democratic primary.

Now consider Colin Powell. He apparently says he's open to supporting a Democrat in November. He is, let us suppose, a registered Republican. Do I welcome his support? Sure. Am I content to nominate a Democrat that will GET his support? Absolutely. Do I want him actually voting in the Democratic primary? Not if he declares he will turn around and vote for McCain in the general if he doesn't get his way in OUR primary.


-- TP

No, but my wife is (also public school), as are various friends (give or take a year or three).

* Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education
* Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs
* To support our teachers, Obama's plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits.
* He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
* Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit.
* Obama will develop domestic incentives that reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers when they plant trees
* Obama will double science and research funding for clean energy projects
* Obama will also create an energy-focused Green Jobs Corps to connect disconnected and disadvantaged youth
* Obama will establish a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize
* Obama will create a Clean Technologies Venture Capital Fund
* Obama will significantly increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low-carbon coal technologies.
* His plan will provide retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers
* Obama will create a competitive grant program to award those states and localities
* Obama will pursue a major investment in our utility grid
* Barack Obama will establish policies to help Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own.
* Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act
* Barack Obama would expand the highly programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers.
… to be continued …

Obama will....

One of our nominal national goals for the last seven years, for our foreign policy at least, has been to eliminate evil everywhere around the world.

In comparison, Obama's agenda seems concrete, modest and pragmatic. Hillary's, too.

Thanks -

And now… Drum Roll Please…

Barack Obama’s Plan
Restore Fiscal Discipline to Washington

Mark says it would be bad to make independents choose between:
1. Have no say in the party nominees, but then be forced to choose from those party nominees in the general election, OR
2. Sacrifice their personal principles by joining one of the parties and agreeing to vote for whichever candidate is the nominee of the party regardless of whether they find said nominee less desirable than the other party's nominee.

Why would that be so bad?

That's kind of the definition of "politics" -- if you want any say in how things are done, be ready to compromise.

In real life, of course, nobody is forced to vote for anybody. But there is an understanding that joining a party means you will generally vote for its candidates. People can and should cross party lines in extreme cases. But there's a lot to be said for day to day party loyalty -- it lets you build coalitions that have some force and stability.

Independents I have talked to often seem proud that they refuse to make a commitment. It reminds me of people who want to live in a commune, but avoid the chores. If you really hate all the party nominees, get involved and organize. You might be surprised at how little effort you have to put in to get anyone, even yourself, elected to, say, the local school board, or to become the local district party chair.

Or, you can sit on the sidelines, grouse, and pride yourself on your independence. But don't expect a lot of sympathy.

Bill, an awful lot of that list is small-ticket items, a few billion if that. As for the big stuff, I can see how it's much more important to keep millionaires taxes low than to do those things. After all, look how much the tax cuts helped the economy over the last 8 years.

The real question is how the total for that list compares with the total current budget (or to Bill's preferred budget) for killing Muslims.

We spend around $166 million per day in the “War on Terror”. We incur over $8 billion per day in unfunded entitlement liabilities per Senator Coburn of Oklahoma, without any of Obama’s proposed increases.

KcinDC; Please don’t insinuate that I would advocate a budget item for ‘killing Muslims’.

I have advocated a policy of disengagement from the Muslim world to allow them to sort out their own problems (the Democratic platform, I think).

I have also advocated a Constitutional Amendment stripping the teachings of Mohammed of the status of ‘religion’; welcoming Apostates as Citizens in good standing and giving those choosing to retain their allegiances to the ideology humane transport back to any Islamic country of their choice.

Muslims are people and I’m sure most of them are good. It’s the ideology that we need to confront.

So you see, Bill is perfectly reasonable.

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Whatnot


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