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April 19, 2008

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But hilzoy, Obama made condescending comments about Ordinary Americans. Clinton made condescending comments about Democrats.

Don't you see the difference?

[/snark]

To be clear, what bothers me is both her mischaracterization of Democratic activists' views and the fact that, as I read it, she might as well have said: it was so much easier when voters were more docile and didn't pester us with their actual views.

I don't care for Clinton or Obama, but I prefer Obama simply because he doesn't do what you're talking about here, hilzoy. Bill Clinton threw portions of the base under the bus during his Presidency. Hillary Clinton is proving ready, willing and able to do the same.

This is what I don't get about her die hard supporters: SHE DOESN'T GIVE A FLIP WHAT YOU THINK. You're special people right now because she needs your vote and your anger.

Why is that so hard to see?

Afghanistan was a NATO war. It was the Intelligence Committee that planned and funded it. The money was sent to 'friends.' It was 'Green Berets and Peace Corps.' The money went to the history there with an emphasis on buying the Taliban and the rest. NATO wars are fought differently with the US letting members take care of themselves and no US support. The support would be intelligence work that might not go along with NATO and cost them lives.

The war was paying off families and friends.

Atrios' hippies are federal employees. If the federal job is not there, there is always the NGO.

MoveOn's base seems to be retired federal employees with an emphasis on foreign policy and National Security. They came out big around Plame. She is Hillary's close friend. Federal employees are something dems claim; they created the work and got them the jobs, so they have to be taken seriously. Big votes in Maryland, etc. 'Soft power,' with a strong emphasis on employment.

MoveOn would be something to avoid if you supported the Afghanistan war because it is effectively a write off of our NATO allies and mostly foreign policy and National Security work. Soft power, civil society and federal money not through federal employees; there is very little work there. NGOs and 'friends' got the money.


Personally, I think it's pretty clear that Hillary has contempt for all voters, as evidenced by the fact that her favorite tactic is loudly and self-righteously accusing Obama of various political sins of which she herself is guilty (supporting NAFTA, regurgitating right wing talking points, gutter politics, etc.).

Like Hilzoy, I am a "member" of MoveOn -- I get the emails. I have even gone so far as to attend a couple of "house parties", but mostly out of curiosity. My membership in MoveOn is as tenuous as you can get. But I still get personally pissed off when the likes of Hillary and Dubya bad-mouth MoveOn.

Back during the "Betray Us" ad controversy, Dubya publicly muttered that Congressmen who failed to condemn the ad were more afraid of offending MoveOn than of offending the US military. Translated from Republican into English, that statement implies this: Dubya's idea of democracy is a system of government wherein politicians kowtow to generals, rather than to citizen groups.

The thing about Dubya is, he's not just evil -- he's also stooopid. Hillary, on the other hand, is supposed to be smart as a whip. So it's not possible to shrug off Hillary's words on the grounds that, like Dubya, she doesn't know what she's saying.
Hillary has therefore offended me even more than Dubya did.

At this point, I am down to one last-ditch reason why I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary in November if I have to: at least she's not John McCain. On all other grounds, I've had it with her.

-- TP

Rove invented the "MoveOn opposed going into Afghanistan" lie.

Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party. She is trying to represent us. If she thinks that people like publius, who caucused in Texas, is worthy of contempt, or that the stunning increase in Democratic voter participation this year is not a cause for joy but a sign that the dirty f*cking hippies have taken over, why doesn't she just become a Republican? She's certainly talking like one.
Anybody, and I mean anybody, who opposes a Clinton is "worthy of contempt" [and more] in their eyes.

This political harpie really needs to stop fouling the Democratic nest. Just go away wouldja? Of course she won't. If she can't get the nomination in '08, she'll do anything to sabotage Obama so she can try again in '12.

The only good thing about this primary cycle if that it shows her own Party just how narcissistic and dispicable Hillary Clinton really is.

In retrospect, we'd have been much better off taking the first billion dollars and offering it as a bounty for verifiable remains of Osama bin Laden that could pass inspection by any medical examiner who wished to do so. But that's retrospective.

I'm appalled by Clinton's comments, but I can't say I'm surprised. The Democratic Party leadership clearly feels about the party exactly the way the Washington press and lobbying establishment feels about the capitol. I'm thinking here of Broder's "they came in and trashed the place, and it wasn't even their place" comment. The party matters more to them as the vessel of their own power than it does as a representative entity.

Her full quotes condemn more than just MoveOn. It condemns any party activist who worked against here. Also, it talked about them intimidating her supporters in NV. Of course, MoveOn had not endorsed Obama at that time.

This came after Super Tuesday. At that point she was aleady supposed to have been crowned as presumptive nominee. I have a sense that the money givers she was talking to were either pissed off, scared about their investment, or both. We know that Clinton refuses to take any responsibility (and I mean both of the Clinton's) unless backed into a corner.

This was her trying to find an excuse other than her own incompetency in running a campaign for her problems.

What's interesting is that those comments were made so many weeks ago, when now she is practically saying the same thing in public. What's she saying in private NOW?

first, I am a member of MoveOn. I joined during the Clinton impeachment hearings, and have remained on their list ever since.

Hilzoy, why do you hate freedom! =) I kid, I kid. But seriously, I subscribe to the HuffPo digest and get it everyday in email, and it doesn't necessarily mean you agree with everything an organization or information outlet has to say.

the one positive point for me is that Hillary's desperate play opens up a new version of the vocabulary game that I used to amuse myself with: how many "in" words can you plausibly use to describe Dubya? Incoherent. Inarticulate. Inauthentic. Insane. Incurious. And lately, in deep shit. But that became boring pretty fast. There were too many.

now though, we have "des/dis" words to describe Hillary. Despicable. Dishonest. Desperate.

The game is on again.

Disingeneneous? disaster?

The media which is hopelessly decayed and decadent will do its best to destroy our candidate whoever that may be. so the question is not which one is the best or which one is female or which one had the best helth care plan. To anyone who cares about getting a Democrat intot he White House the question is which one is best at dealing with the inevitable media driven faux outrage shit storms? I'd say Obama because too much of what the media says about HRC is in fact true. She will say anything. She is manipulative. She is a serial exaggerator. She isn't trustworthy. Her husband did sell favors for money. Obama may very well be sunk by the thousand cuts of characgtere assasination (flag pins, Wright, flag pins Wright, Ayers, flag pins Wright bitter, bitter) but 1. he doesn't respond with the usual Democrat apology/whine pattern. he resonds like a winner either with eloquence or disdainful humor. 2 none of it is true which makes him easier to defend 3. he doesn't take the high road by ignoring. In stead he takes the high road by showing what a bunch of crap it all is--labelling it Washignto insider politics, which it is.

If the election was to day it wouldn't matter which we nominated because both wouuld lose. It may be that by the time we finally pick one the long primary and HRC's legitmizing of rightwing smears will make Obama unelectable.

fWell in any case I am off to my county convention where, wether HRC like it or not, I am going to participate in my party's decsion making process.

Hilary is DLC to the core -- it is out in the open. It has always been the biggest question mark about her -- to what extent would she be accommodating to the more activist base of her party. Now we know -- not at all.

She would be very bad for the party if she got the nomination.

hilzoy writes:

To say this about her opponents is just wrong. But to say it about the activist base of her party -- about the people who are motivated enough to show up for caucuses and participate in the electoral process -- is insane. Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party. She is trying to represent us. If she thinks that people like publius, who caucused in Texas, is worthy of contempt, or that the stunning increase in Democratic voter participation this year is not a cause for joy but a sign that the dirty f*cking hippies have taken over, why doesn't she just become a Republican? She's certainly talking like one.

Bruce Baugh writes:

I'm appalled by Clinton's comments, but I can't say I'm surprised. The Democratic Party leadership clearly feels about the party exactly the way the Washington press and lobbying establishment feels about the capitol. I'm thinking here of Broder's "they came in and trashed the place, and it wasn't even their place" comment. The party matters more to them as the vessel of their own power than it does as a representative entity.

This is disappointing, but it is about as surprising as a multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout of an overly leveraged Investment Bank.

The activist wing of a party is normally expected to contribute time, talent and treasure while remaining discreetly off-stage so as not to frighten the low-information voters in the general election, and not to expect much from a policy standpoint if the party wins. The same principle applies in the GOP - look at the consternation and panic that arose when Mike Huckabee was surging ahead in the early Republican primaries at the start of this season.

I've been saying for some time now that there are two Democratic parties, and right now they are at (metaphorical) war with each other, because the progressive wing is challenging the normally dominant DLC wing for control of the party. The biggest difference between this race and 1972 is that there doesn't seem to be a broad stop-Obama movement amongst the majority of the party leadership, instead Hillary is carrying that flag by herself. I hope that bodes well for the general election, and that Hillary will bow out in a graceful manner when the delegate math becomes insurmountable. For all the nastiness now I think that may still happen, sometime between post-North Carolina and post-Oregon.

On a more positive here-we-go-back-to-the-1970’s note, I was pleased to see that Obama http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/04/17/watergate-era-republican-backs-obama/”>has been endorsed by William Ruckelshaus of Watergate Saturday-Night-Massacre fame, and former head of the EPA.

I think there is a deeper problem here, one that a number of commentators, pundits and party leaders pooh-poohed in recent weeks. And that is the problem of irreparably splitting the party. Bill Clinton and now Hillary Clinton have run to a "centrist" base with a eye toward co-opting the issues that appeal to independents and Regan Dems. It's the DLC philosophy. The "activist base" that she dismisses is clearly to the left of where the Clinton's run. So she attempts to marginalize those more liberal elements of the party, fearing they are on the road to ruin. This is part of the reason she feels Obama can't win - he's too liberal (but not the only reason).

The left-right argument is an old one in the Democratic party and truth be told, no national candidate can win without both elements. The question is how to unite the two and keep them effectively united.

It has become increasingly clear lately that as Hillary's options narrow, she has tilted more and more to the right edge of the party. In fact there has been increasing concern that she has gone too far in that direction and crossed the boundary - and with her attacks on Obama from that edge she was damaging the party and the ultimate chances for victory in Nov. However, many folk came to her defense and argued that she had a right to run and any damage was collateral and repairable.

The comments in question, at the very least, make that analysis suspect. Alienating a large part of the party base and using the loyalty of your supporters as a lever against that group is surely party destructive. The polling that shows that 28% of her supporters will vote Republican if she fails to get the nomination - even in the face of the obvious unfavorable delegate and popular vote math - is an indication of the potential damage in the offing. It is increasingly clear that the HRC campaign is going to cause major cracks in the party base no matter if she wins or loses. It's time to reassess her viability vs party vulnerability and for the party leaders to step in. This isn't just an isolated instance - she is threatening not only a presidential victory, but also posing a real threat to the down ticket races also.

hilzoy:
If she thinks that people like publius, who caucused in Texas, is worthy of contempt

That should read "are worthy of contempt." The verb modifies the plural "people," not the singular "publius."

[/Farber]

Otherwise, great post, and I couldn't agree with you more. How much you want to be this gets close to zero MSM attention? As Colbert only half-joked on Thursday night, the MSM has a vested interest in prolonging the horse race as much as they can, so only the front runner will get serious negative attention.

was curious to see how the pro-Hillary blogs are taking this, so i went over to HillaryIs44.com.

now, they don't have a post on it (neither does TalkLeft or Taylor Marsh) but the comments are all over this. the consensus seems to be:

MoveOn is a biased, pro-Obama, bunch of thugs; and every word Hillary said was true - they violently intimidate people at caucuses everywhere and "will stop at nothing"* to win. oh, and Obama controls the media and is a threat to the American way of life.

so, as is expected, they're reworking the rest of reality so that this story sounds like good news!

* - a phrase which is heavily weighted in my "You might be reading a crank" system.

Hillary Clinton is a DLC member (an organization that is Democratic in name only). Bashing the base is not only acceptable but required. My hope is that when Hillary finally implodes (or gets dragged off the stage), the influence of the DLC on our party will be over.

"After Kerry's defeat, the DLC promised to "avoid the circular firing squad" mentality but then quickly broke the promise, reverting to its favorite target: the Democratic base. Instead of labor unions and feminists, the DLC fixated on MoveOn.org and Michael Moore. "We need to be the party of Harry Truman and John Kennedy, not Michael Moore," the DLC wrote on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, of all places. "What leftist elites smugly imagine is a sophisticated view of their country's flaws strikes much of America as a false and malicious cartoon," the DLC's Will Marshall wrote in Blueprint, the group's magazine, in a rant worthy of The Weekly Standard. "Democrats should have no truck with the rancid anti-Americanism of the conspiracy-mongering left." The DLC continued this vitriol into March.

Such attacks put the DLC back on the front page--a fact that speaks to one of its ongoing sources of strength. For Washington journalists, the DLC is an ideal organization, frequently critical and readily accessible. Privately, DLC staffers complain that only controversy will bring coverage. A fat Rolodex, the product of years spent mingling with journalists, gives the DLC an illusion of real power. The New York Times and Washington Post mentioned or quoted the DLC 200 times during the electoral season, forty more mentions than the Club for Growth, a leading player in the right-wing movement.

www.commondreams.org/views05/0304-27.htm

Wait, where's Jay Jerome to tell us how stupid and immature we are to suckle Obama's nuts instead of worshipping Clinton's clear-sighted ordinary-yet-awesomely-hardcore-Americanism? I'm so confused!

NAFTA was a move that was smart for dems. Canada is a problem. It always has been a problem. It takes advantage of Americans and if dems can't understand that after Bill, it's going to be going with the next dem.

Colombia makes no sense except for maybe dems screwed up with Farr's meeting or something and the FARC, drug dealer thing happened. It has Pelosi cutting out free trade as they pass a 50 billion dollar AIDs program for foreign aid. Federal budgets are being extended five years, doubling them during the five years. Five year budgets, huge foreign aid and no free trade? We can't pay these five year foreign aid give aways unless we have trade. We can't pay the aid, we're extended out five years and the economy is going.

Pelosi is bankrupting us with five year doubled foreign aid and agency budgets. No free trade agreements. She then complains about the Lama?

It's crap like this that only confirms (as if any more confirmation were actually needed) that the whole aim of the Clinton "machine" is focused entirely on attaining political power for themselves, and themselves* alone.
Good of the Party? Feh! Good of the country? Feh! Good for Bill and Hillary? - well, they seem to assume that getting the Clintons back in power IS what's good for the Party and the nation.

If MoveOn had proclaimed neutrality in the primary, or endorsed Hillary; she would no doubt be praising them to the skies as the True Voice of Democratic Activism: an Obama endorsement? Feh! - Dirty F----g Hippies, the lot!

Good grief. Six months ago I was leaning Hillary, mainly out of concerns about whether Obama's motivated base could create a viable enough ground game to win the general, versus Clinton's presumably preexisting machine. Ideologically I was fine with either.

Those concerns vanished pretty quickly once the primaries started, and I drifted into Obama's camp by preference--but still liked Hillary and would be happy with her as the nominee.

Now I'm going to have to echo Tony P. upthread: the only thing, and I mean the sole motivating factor, that would get me to vote for Hillary in the general is the fact that she's the lesser of two evils--she's an improvement over McBush.

I didn't change my mind out of sexism, or CDS, or concerns about her ability to do the job. I did it because as the primaries go on, her brand of politics has started to remind me more and more of Bush Republicanism. I don't mean in terms of ideology--I mean in terms of chutzpah, dishonesty, and utter contempt for those who aren't aligned with her. I did it because she is objectively hurting the Democratic party. At this point the only way I can logically square her actions is if either she thinks the only way she has even a trivial chance of getting the nom is if she damages Obama's electability, and doesn't care if that means he loses the general, or that she's deliberately trying to tear Obama down so that he loses and she has another shot in 2012.

Nothing else makes sense. And neither budges her from the pantheon in my mind that she now shares with the likes of Ralph Nader, Joe Lieberman, and Zell Miller.

Since she's so far behind in the math, the legitimacy of Clinton's campaign rests entirely on electability, hence all the concern-trolling about how Obama can't win over the "Reagan Democrats." Yet she's crapped all over two core elements of the Democratic Party: first African Americans with the Jesse Jackson comments and now the "activist base."

And the irony is, she was never going to sway the "Reagan Democrats" to her side anyway. To most with a conservative bent, the Clintons are (wrongly!) perceived as wild-eyed liberals or worse. The Clintons pride themselves on their political savvy; they've staked HRC's continued participation in this primary on it. I never really bought that anyway, but now they've removed all doubt.

Bruce's last sentence at 5:49 A.M. is a restatement of Jonathan Schwarz's Iron Law of Institutions


I think Jon overstates it slightly, but he probably is describing how a great many Democrats (like the Clintons) think.

This is a very minor gripe, but:
Reasons for opposing the invasion of Afghanistan aren't worth taking seriously. There are, of course, *some* reasons against any war, but none of the reasons against going into Afghanistan were weighty enough to merit the overly-scrupulous clarification above. Treating such things with undue daintiness helps to contribute to the view that Dems are mindless pacifists who will oppose even the most clearly well-justified wars. Among other things, this diminishes the force of our opposition to asinine wars like Iraq.

Not gripin', just sayin'.

Donald: I was personally paraphrasing Friedrich Hayek, but it's not like it's a unique insight.

Reasons for opposing the invasion of Afghanistan aren't worth taking seriously.

i was against the Afghanistan war for much the same reason I was against the Iraq war: i had no faith that the US would improve things, and didn't think that the people of Afghanistan deserved to suffer for the actions of people who weren't Afghani.

clearly that was a baseless and un-serious worry. that's OK; it's how i roll.

Bruce, I wasn't saying you were literally copying Jonathan Schwarz--I just used your comment as an excuse to link to his post.

Winston, the main reason (in my mind at the time) for opposing the war in Afghanistan was the fact (and it's a fact) that there was a real risk of a massive famine caused by the bombing, which cut off food supplies to some regions. Link

I opposed the Afghan war at the time and decided I was wrong by the end of 2001, when it was clear that the people of Kabul were overjoyed by their liberation (though of course they'd also been overjoyed to have had the warlords driven out years earlier) and when, because the Taliban lines had collapsed, it was clear there wouldn't be a famine on a massive scale. So the war went much better than I feared, and it did more good than harm. Though perhaps not that much good after all.

But it wasn't unreasonable in the fall of 2001 to fear a famine that might have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. One read very little about this issue in the mainstream US press and I know because I was looking, but it was a subject of heated debate in the British papers. People in the US pretended to believe that the silly food drops by plane would make a significant difference, when they were negligible in scale.

Another article about the danger of an Afghan famine, this from the NYT in early November. I think this is the one I read with some disgust, because IMO the NYT had not given the issue sufficient prominence until after the danger was averted--

Link

I think it's time to begin the foundation of a serious third party, aiming to build from local results towards a national base. The DLC clique are as corrupt and elitist as the Republicans. I will not vote for Clinton, nor for anyone associated with her campaign. I don't see any substantive difference in being abused by Republicans as opposed to Republican-lite. No, I don't think Clinton would do anything to put a true liberal on the Supreme Court - I am sure she would give us more like Roberts and Alito.

It was time for a serious third party about 108 years ago. It's been tried multiple times in the US through the 20th century, and the last candidate to make a serious attempt on a national level in the 20th century was rewarded for his success by being unjustly scapegoated for "losing Gore the election".

I think what you really need is to reform your electoral system: it's absurd that after at least three elections rigged by one party (and doubt about the 2002 election only because no one was running exit polls) the big discussion in the run-up to the US election is still whether one of the Democratic candidates wears a lapel pin or did the other one once say something foolish in private?

Donald: Oh, no worries. It's a darned good article to link to. We can all use some more reminders of ways in which all of this is thoroughly predictable, just unusually jerkish manifestations of recurring tendencies.

She's Lieberman in a pants suit; Nader without the past good deeds.

Reasons for opposing the invasion of Afghanistan aren't worth taking seriously.

What about the belief that the Administration would go in gangbusters, make a lot of noise and fury, and then promptly forget about it when something shiny caught their eye? I'd say that was pretty damn well worth taking seriously, as history has shown.

yilderim writes:

I think it's time to begin the foundation of a serious third party, aiming to build from local results towards a national base. The DLC clique are as corrupt and elitist as the Republicans.

Jesurgislac responds:

I think what you really need is to reform your electoral system

I understand the aspirations behind these sentiments, but it seems to me that these tasks are being proposed in ascending order of difficulty rather than descending order.

Problem #1: It is hard work getting a mildly progressive Democratic chosen to be the party's nominee for President, and then winning in the general election, in the face of resistance from the DLC and the MSM.

Proposed Solution #2: Start a third party from scratch and try to win within the existing electoral system.

Proposed Solution #3: Reform the entire electoral system.

Maybe I'm just looking at this the wrong way, but this conversation reads to me like:

hiker #1:
"Man, it sure is tiring hiking up Mt. Whitney. I wish there were an easier way to do this."

hiker #2:
"I have a better idea, let's climb Mt. McKinley."

hiker #3:
"That wouldn't work. We need to climb K2."


AIUI, no third party can really be viable as long as we continue to use this [almost] plurality system, or any other system that has the vote-splitting problem. Though I'm inclined to agree with Jesu that we should probably get our current system actually *working* first...

ThatLeftTurnInABQ, I take your point (though I disagree about whether a viable third party is even possible without reforming the electoral system) but I'd settle for Democratic supporters at least campaigning for their preferred nominee and against John McCain.

I'd settle for Democratic supporters at least campaigning for their preferred nominee and against John McCain.
I don't see why we can't simply call it "voting against John McCain," or say, "vote for your preferred nominee or against John McCain."

I'd like it if my preferred candidate were the nominee, but if that's not in the cards I still plan to vote against the GOP -- your phrasing seems to be aligned with the or-I'll-stay-at-home position that I personally find really inappropriate.

That's not to say that you advocate that position (I don't know), but I think it's important to keep things framed in those terms.

the last candidate to make a serious attempt on a national level in the 20th century was rewarded for his success by being unjustly scapegoated
What successes, exactly, are you referring to?

Well, this is kind of... silly...

WEST LAWN, PA -- In the final days before the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton's campaign has acquired... well, what you might call a fierce urgency of the now.

"There is plenty of work to do," but "I have to win, and that really depends upon what happens on Tuesday in the Pennsylvania primary."

At a high school here, she led the crowd, mostly students and in their parents, in a chorus of "Yes we can!"s.

I wonder if many people in the audience felt kind of awkward chanting a slogan so clearly associated with the other candidate. I feel like that would be really weird.
Earlier, at a volunteer fire house in West Chester, Clinton urged the crowd to consider the consequences of falling for what she called "whoop-dee-do speeches" which, she said, gets "everybody whipped up." Instead, ``I want everyone thinking.'' The job of president, she said, requires serious attention. "The pressures of the job are enormous." (I took that as a jab at Barack Obama.)
Well, at least she's not being condescending.

Hmm. I worry that my cleverly subversive use of the blockquote tag there may have gone slightly awry.

Adam,

If we stop thinking in GOP vs. Dem terms, and think of politics as pitting a faction which prefers a strong executive vs. a faction which prefers a strong legislature, this stuff makes more sense.

Hillary is running as a strong-executive party candidate, Obama as a strong-legislature party candidate. The former will emphasize personal characteristics of the executive and a top-down approach to policy (good policy will flow from a wise executive). The latter will emphasize bottom-up process issues (good policy is negotiated by the stakeholders who all need to be represented).

That is one reason why different people can look at the same debate, and be happy that the candidates are getting ripped over personal issues, while another person is appalled that public policy was left out of the discussion. From the 1st point of view it is the character of the leader which counts the most, and policy is an afterthought. From the 2nd point of view debating the merits of various policies is the whole point of the exercise, not haggling over unimportant trivia regarding the personal character of the leader.

The ABC moderated debate in Philly was this way.

Traditionally the GOP is more of a strong-executive/weak-legislature party, and the Democrats are more of a weak-executive/strong-legislature party. These differences can plausibly be traced all the way back to Charles I and the Parlimentarians of Pym and Cromwell, if Kevin Phillips is to be believed.

Hillary is running as a GOP-style candidate in the Democratic primaries, which explains why she is probably not going to win, but she can still find plenty of people who prefer that style of politics. The cultural divide between the GOP and the Democratic party is being mirrored by internal divisions within just the latter.

The activist base (a) dislikes HRC in disprorportionate amount; and (2) opposed the Afghanistan War in disproportionate numbers.

Why HRC should be faulted for recognizing those two true statements is beyond me.

The activist base (a) dislikes HRC in disprorportionate amount; and (2) opposed the Afghanistan War in disproportionate numbers.

Why HRC should be faulted for recognizing those two true statements is beyond me.

That's an inaccurate characterization of the issue.

Personally, I think Moveon's positions on all things war-related tend toward the reactionary. But I don't respect the fact that Clinton is willing to pay lip service to them in public while accusing them of voter intimidation in her private meetings with high-dollar donors.

I think that's a good discussion for Democrats to have, but Clinton's not engaging in that discussion. Political candidates should be held accountable for taking different position depending on whether the cameras are rolling or not.

Well, JPE, because that's not what she said. She said MoveOn opposed going into Afghanistan, which is not true. The subset of people who opposed the Afghanistan invasion might indeed be larger among the "activist base" than it is among Democrats as a whole, but opposition to the Afghaninstan invasion doesn't define the "activist base" by any reasonable measure. Unless you're trying to paint your opponents as fringe extremists, which is what Clinton was doing.

The activist base (a) dislikes HRC in disprorportionate amount; and (2) opposed the Afghanistan War in disproportionate numbers.

got any data to back up either of those rather remarkable assertions ?

If we stop thinking in GOP vs. Dem terms, and think of politics as pitting a faction which prefers a strong executive vs. a faction which prefers a strong legislature, this stuff makes more sense.
I respectfully disagree. Even accepting that characterization of candidates, a belief in a strong executive is not in tension with a commitment to forthright politics. The personal characteristics of a leader may be more or less relevant depending on your view of the role of the President, but there's simply no reasonable world where the choice of lapel pins merits more discussion than health care policy.

The bottom line is that no matter how many times you ask a candidate whether their pastor "loves America," there's only so much they can say on the issue -- ultimately it does come down to a personal judgment. The legitimacy of the issue doesn't change the fact that there's only a small amount of substantive discussion that can be had about it, no matter what your view of its political import.

From the 1st point of view it is the character of the leader which counts the most, and policy is an afterthought. From the 2nd point of view debating the merits of various policies is the whole point of the exercise, not haggling over unimportant trivia regarding the personal character of the leader.

I don't understand. If you are interested in a strong executive, shouldn't you be more interested in a candidate's position on issues than if you were focused on a strong legislature? A strong executive voter will expect that the President plays a bigger role in determining policy than a strong legislature voter. Even if you think Clinton is a strong executive candidate and that's the most important thing in the world to you, you can't just assume that whatever she decides will be correct...

Also, even if one were interested in character, why would any of the questions discussed at the debate tell us anything about character?

Anarch: "Wait, where's Jay Jerome to tell us how stupid and immature we are to suckle Obama's nuts instead of worshipping Clinton's clear-sighted ordinary-yet-awesomely-hardcore-Americanism? I'm so confused!"

Confused, and dazed.

Reading this thread has been like listening to group of spoiled fraternity and sorority brats repeating the most recent snip of malicious gossip about someone they don't like on a conference call.

There are two Democratic communities: and your side doesn't like the other side, and the other side feels the same about you. You share one kind of collective identity, they share another. It's a fissure that's widening, and will continue to widen in the future, irregardless of who gets the nomination this time - a cultural and demographic divide that will inevitably cause a major constituency realignment, from Democratic to Republican.

If Obama gets the nomination, a whole new generation of Reagan-Democrats will be abandoning ship. The new Obama 'party activists' may indeed be swelling Democratic voter turn out in this election, but as a result, great numbers of traditional Democratic voters are getting ready to move to a new neighborhood. As recently as April 18th, the Quinnipiac pole of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary shows 26% of Clinton supporters switching to McCain if Obama is the nominee - consistent with numerous other poles over the last few months, which showed similar results. And it's not going to be a one-time protest vote.

It's neighborhood gentrification: when long-time working-class residents are pushed aside by a yuppie hoard of new arrivals who want to replace the Neighborhood Pub and the Local Bodega with Starbucks and Borders Books and PinkBerrys - the older established demographic first gets angry, and then moves elsewhere, permanently.

Or as Bob Dylan puts it:

Then time will tell just who fell
And who's been left behind,
When you go your way and I go mine.

"irregardless" isn't an actual word, jj.


I respectfully disagree. Even accepting that characterization of candidates, a belief in a strong executive is not in tension with a commitment to forthright politics.

The respect is mutual, I greatly admire your comments both with respect to content and form.

Re: the point under debate - the difference between the viewpoints I was describing is over what is prioritized. I'm not advocating here for Flag-pin politics, just trying to point out that I think there is a Mars-Venus quality to these debates such that the assumptions built in to the other side's way of seeing are so different from ours that they seem totally irrational to us. I'm not so confident that a totally irrational approach to politics would have been as stubbornly successful at persisting in the way that this politics of personal characteristics has been. I think something deeper is at work here than just an ADHD electorate whose minds have been addled from watching too much TV. Thus I'm trying to understand on what basis Flag-pin politics would make sense.

If you see the legislature as the fount of public policy, then the most essential characteristics of the executive are that they act to maintain the integrity of the legislative process and provide appropriate guidance and direction to the debates which will occur within that arena. Their views on public policy are the starting point for an honest and substantive debate which is expected to produce the final result, and which may differ noticeably from the starting point. In this view a commitment to the integrity, transparency and accountability of the process of debate are the virtues to be sought in the executive, and personal trivia are just that - trivial.

A partisan of the weak executive / strong legislature won't care as much about these trifles, because in their view it is not appropriate for the executive to unilaterally dictate policy, but to supervise the process which is used to establish policy. This requires a different set of virtues, including a not excessively large ego and an ability to sympathize with multiple points of view in order to broker compromises between them, but note that these very qualities would seem like liabilities rather than assets from the other point of view.

On the other hand if you see the executive as the fount of public policy, then it is essential that we obtain a wise and strong executive. Otherwise personal flaws in the executive will lead directly to foolish or weak policies. In this view "a forthright politics" cannot compensate for a flawed executive because good intentions are no substitute for real strength, including a stubborn determination to "stick up for what they think is right", and an empathic connection with the people whose interests are at stake. Regarding the latter, symbolic tokens of shared culture, like guns, bowling and flag pins, will loom large.

In a democracy this point of view is monarchism in disguise, with elections rather than hereditary birthright being used to select the monarch, and the "throne" being occupied for a shorter term than was usual in the old days. Someone who subscribes to a neo-monarchist view of politics could very well feel that the choice of lapel pins merits more discussion than health care policy, because the policy in question is something they expect to be determined at the discretion of the "monarch" once they are in power, so trifles which give you a psychological window into the character of the would-be King/Queen are not so trifling after all.

If your conceptual model of government is legislature-centric, then it makes sense to vote with your hopes, because policy will be negotiated so you want to ask for as much as you can, knowing that you may not get what you want but it never hurts to ask. If your conceptual model of government is neo-monarchist, then it makes sense to vote with your fears, because there is no recourse for bad outcomes obtained by choosing the wrong person, if the transfer of power is imagined to be one-way with no take-backsies and little negotiation afterwards.

One side votes with their hopes because they expect a contingent outcome driven by bottom-up politics, the other side votes with their fears, because they expect to have to bear the consequences of top-down decision making.


I don't understand. If you are interested in a strong executive, shouldn't you be more interested in a candidate's position on issues than if you were focused on a strong legislature? A strong executive voter will expect that the President plays a bigger role in determining policy than a strong legislature voter.

Turbulence,

"When do you know a politician is lying?"

"When their lips are moving"

How many times have you heard that joke? I've heard that sentiment more times than the sum of all other partisan political stances combined. From the stand point of someone who thinks this is the case, policy is opaque - it doesn't matter what the candidates say (they're just telling you what you want to hear).

Under these circumstances, it makes a great deal of rational sense to opt for the candidate who you feel will be more empathic towards you and the group you belong to (using cultural symbols like the flag), because you really do not know what they will do until after they have been granted power.

If you are electing a person rather than a set of policies, then you had better make sure the person you pick is a member of your tribe, or else expect to get screwed. Given the history of US politics and the frequency with which policy driven movements have been unscrupulously abandoned by the candidates they put into power, this makes a good deal of sense.

This imperative is reinforced if you think the executive is strong (because the stakes are higher) than if you think the executive is weak (vs. a strong legislature). The stronger the executive, the more tribalism matters.

One side votes with their hopes because they expect a contingent outcome driven by bottom-up politics, the other side votes with their fears, because they expect to have to bear the consequences of top-down decision making.

I think your perspective on Hillary is interesting here, but I'm not sure it's a strong argument FOR her. Perhaps you didn't intend it to be, I'm not sure.

My reasoning is that to a large extent you've characterized the two campaigns. The problem for Hillary in this light is twofold:
1) hers has largely been a disaster
2) she hasn't seemed willing to take responsibility for much of any of that, as in fact this post by hilzoy demonstrates
On the other hand, it's hard to characterize Obama's campaign as anything but an incredibly successful operation to date. Moreover, many people see him as a much more appealing head-of-state compared to Hillary.

I'm not sure I agree with ThatLeftTurnInABQ on strong executive vs. strong legislative but taking that as a hypothetical, wouldn't people who favor a strong executive highly value competence and character in a candidate? Especially now, with a near-tyrant with an approval rating hovering around 30% occupying the office of President?

We've had quite a bit of discussion of Hillary Clinton's lack of management strength (the health care debacle back in the 90s, the "inevitability" campaign that failed today). People who favor a strong executive and yet support Hillary Clinton must have a cognitive dissonance problem around now.

A partisan of the weak executive / strong legislature won't care as much about these trifles, because in their view it is not appropriate for the executive to unilaterally dictate policy, but to supervise the process which is used to establish policy.

The alternative here really confuses me: does anyone seriously believe that Clinton would unilaterally dictate policy to congress, or that if she did that it would be anything but a total disaster? I mean, monarchies are great, but executives in our system of government can't govern effectively without cajoling support from congress. Or are you trying to suggest that such structural issues remain unknown to the neo-monarchists?

Under these circumstances, it makes a great deal of rational sense to opt for the candidate who you feel will be more empathic towards you and the group you belong to (using cultural symbols like the flag), because you really do not know what they will do until after they have been granted power.

That makes sense to a degree, but candidates can lie about empathy and tribal membership just as easily as they can lie about policy positions. And if you believe that politicians lie continuously, then shouldn't you believe they're lying when they tell you how much they empathize with you and how similar their identity is to yours?

"If Obama gets the nomination, a whole new generation of Reagan-Democrats will be abandoning ship."

But not you, Jay Jerome. You jumped ship some time back in the 20th century. You're the guy who wrote on June 16, 2007 at 12:17 AM, for instance, that you had "stepped back from" "the liberal knee-jerks of perception," which was:

[...] ...part of the reason why so many other Democrats have distanced themselves from the latte-liberal fringe of the party, because they’re just as narrow-mindedly obtuse as fringe conservatives, and don’t understand what the middle-ground is.That’s the reason why Giuliani was elected mayor of NYC twice, even though Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 5 to 1 in the city; and the reason the Grope-anator won the governors race in California, where Democrats are significantly more numerous than Republicans...

And it didn't turn me conservative -- it put me back in balance. I’m a registered Independent now, and we’re the ones who are going to decide who the next president is – and that’s a good thing..

Alas that it's been quite a long time since the Democrats lost you. Alas.

"As recently as April 18th, the Quinnipiac pole of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary shows 26% of Clinton supporters switching to McCain if Obama is the nominee - consistent with numerous other poles over the last few months, which showed similar results."

Terribly committed Democrats, clearly, if they prefer McCain to Obama.

Alas, that you're always announcing how Democrats are leaving the party because things aren't going your way -- you, the fellow who will vote for McCain/Powell over Obama -- when not long ago you were complaining about people "undermin[ing] Democratic chances in the upcoming presidential elections" with their criticisms of a Democratic candidate.

You also observed that "Those posting here in favor of Obama [...] and as far as Democrats go, are tilted more to the left then to the center or right, where more Hillary supporters reside."

So you'll vote for McCain/Powell over Obama, if the ticket is Obama without Clinton, you'll "sit out the presidential election," you want the Democrats to go to the right, hate "pie-in-the-sky latte-liberals," think liberals "are as blockheaded as conservatives, maybe more so," but you're so concerned about the state of the Democratic Party.

I'm touched. Truly touched.

Almost as touched as when you were desperately concerned that Obama was a "Republican mole."

Ah, Jay: never change.

Of course, the Reagan Democrats weren't exactly good Democrats, either. They're usually called "Republicans."

Jake,

See my 6:23 pm reply to Turbulence.

In a nutshell:

Cynicism ("They only say what we want to hear") = opaque policy

(you really do not know what the policy will be until you get it, and by then it's too late to do anything about it).

Tribalism = I really need somebody on my side.

Strong executive = the stakes are higher.

Combine those three factors together, and tell me what you come up with.

Combine those three factors together, and tell me what you come up with.

Well, perhaps I'm being dense here or just having trouble making sense of your equations, but I don't see how that succinctly addresses my point.

ThatLeftTurnInABQ,

I think that the distinction you're drawing is valid, I'm just disputing that the differences is based on faith in the executive or legislature. It seems to me that you're simply talking whether people vote based on intuitions about character as opposed to the candidates' statements of intended policies.

Because the executive generally has more independence than legislators, the question might be more significant in that case, but I don't see why anything would turn on that distinction -- after all, the executive isn't exempt from the need to achieve consensus from the legislature, their constituency, administrative agencies, or their own advisors.

More to the point, I don't think that this is really the issue here. The problem with Clinton saying different things in public than she says in private is that it prevents voters from even know what her policies will be in the first place. Regardless of whether she governed by consensus or by decree, knowing what her policies will even be is still a precondition to making the decisions you're discussing.

Put simply, issues of public accountability come before structural accountability. Politicians aren't paragons of honesty even in the best of times, but if there's no consequences to doubletalk at all, then it really doesn't matter what the decisionmaking processes are.

I just came back from my county convention in Washington state. There were about one thousand attendees (I think. I'm guessing.) Enough to fill the bleachers in the junior high school gym to overflowing.

The governor and our state representative came and gave speeches about unity and the importance of everyone getting behind the condidtge. Gregoire is a super for Obama. I think Dicks is a super for HRC.

A nice young man gave the Clinton speech. He was way better in tone and content than she ever is and included a unity message. The Obama speaker took tow shots at HRC, one about her support for the war and one about the Moveon quote, which I wish he hadn't taken. He did include a unity message.

Then we split up and chose delegates for th nexgt level.

But here's the thing :L although JJ seems to think that there is some kind of class war going on in the Dems, the ninety people who stood up to make one minute pitches to become Obama delegates to stste convention were almost universally either veterans or union members. Two were Iraq vets. Two were wives of Iraq vets. One was a former Republican. There were union jackets and hats everywhere.

Judging by appearances the uppoer middle class ones were all the ladies who got up and went to the HRC caucus.


I think t he genertification thing is mostly hooey. The big difference between HRC supporters and Obama supporters is that HRC supporters tend to either not know or be in denial of how she has run her campaign. Also I think the indentity politics is a bigger element in her support than his. Another difference is that some peolpe imagine that HRC will get revenge on the Republicans and Obama won't . (Acvtually netiher will but Obama is the one who is on record as being willing to pursue prosecutions) Then there's the experience issue although I would think that HRC herslef has turned that sales pitch into the punch line of a joke. Some of her support comes from the assumption that Bill was a good PResident therefore she will be too. ANyway none of this is related to class.

BTW this county, although fast growing is semi rural and most of the people at the convention were from small towns around here (small being the only kind of town we got!)

If any HRC supporters stay home in Nov it wil be the some of the identity politics supporters. I don't think there is a new generation of Reagan Democrats, either. Younger Dems don't have the baggage that burdened older Democrats who were suceptible to RR's get=something-for-nothing by blaming-everything-on-blacks message.

I posted a comment a while back, and subsequently wrote to the kitty and all asking it to get released from the trap of the you know what. This is just a reminder that it would be nice.

The problem is that when the Clintons were in power they had the DLC - a right of center democratic group they were part of. Democratic politics were about being like republicans and gotcha politics.
For 20 years that is how things were.
But, those years were quiet years when things were pretty even keel. Not scary like now.
You could play trivial pursuit politics.
But, after Bush and what is going on now, people are scared.
They need answers and not distractions. Game playing is over. Gotcha is trivial.
What people want is a president who is smart, can deal with problems and get things done.
Given Hillary's love and embrace of the old politics of another era, tone deaf to what is important to people and mud slinging and divisiveness, she would be about distractions and unable to accomplish things.
Obama is a unifying person who is able to build from scratch a year ago and run a huge organization effectively, he looks like someone who can accomplish the things needed.
People don't want gotcha. They want a serious debate and thinking. And it's about responsibility.
Clinton will throw the very base she desperately needs to blame for her own shortcomings. There is no taking responsibility and this is troubling to many.

Adam: "irregardless" isn't an actual word, jj.

Sure it is, Adam -- it's a collequal nonstandard adverb in common usage since early in the 20th century, and is fairly widespread, not only in common speech, but in edited prose as well. In usage, it's no different from other words with redundant affixes like unravel and debone -- but is a word that raises the hackles of putzes with intellectual pretentions (ie: Obama-progressives)and delusions of intellectual accomplishment, who often snobbishly point out, as you did, that there is no such word, when in fact, irregardless of what you mistakenly statedobviously there is.

Sure it is, Adam -- it's a collequal nonstandard adverb in common usage since early in the 20th century, and is fairly widespread, not only in common speech, but in edited prose as well.You mean "colloquial," right?

In usage, it's no different from other words with redundant affixes like unravel and debone
How embarrassing that you simply regurgitated a line from WikiPedia ("Interestingly words with similarly-redundant meanings have gained widespread acceptance. Examples include words such as "debone" and "unravel") without bothering to verify it.

Those are, humorously enough, both perfectly cromulent words -- "unravel," in fact, is about 400 years old. Of course, even the M-W page you cited points out -- correctly -- that "irregardless" is nonstandard usage (i.e., incorrect). But don't let me stop you. I was just trying to help.

but is a word that raises the hackles of putzes with intellectual pretentions
You mean "pretensions," right?
(ie: Obama-progressives)
You know, this may come as a surprise to you, but not everything is about politics -- some things are just stupid.

Typepad mangled that link, because it hates etymology and puppies.

Oh, I'm sorry, you actually probably cribbed this

Jay Jerome: In usage, it's no different from other words with redundant affixes like unravel and debone
from here:
Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it ["irregardless"] has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.
I apologize.

The Clintons have a strange philosophical mix. They pretty clearly define themselves as 60s counterculturals (I saw an old video of a long haired Hillary Clinton earnestly saying how the people were tired of lying politicians and she reminded me of Joan Baez nattering about overthrowing the patriarchy and re-educating the people). Honestly, just as people who came of age during the depression felt poor no matter how wealthy they eventually became, there are some people who came of age during the 60s who just can't admit that they are now part of the establishment. I've worked with a few of these, anyway.

And yet, for having come of age among idealists, the Clintons are very utilitarian. This mix of professed idealism with objective evidence of realpolitik can be infuriating. As disorienting as it must be to have come of age in the 60s and no longer be considered the agent of change, eventually, the narrative had to move on. While I find it kind of painful to watch, I try not to let it anger me too much.

Speaking as someone who earned a living from time to time over three decades as a professional editor and who thus has no insecurities about either his ability to speak to such matters, or his ability to laugh if anyone tries to use an argument from authority on me, but I have to say that the game of trying to make people look silly by accusing them of -- heaven forfend -- engaging in an "incorrect" usage, or by pointing out where they've misspelled a word, or engaged in a slight solecism, is utterly cheap, silly, and demonstrates little more than that someone has a misplaced sense of what actually undermines an argument.

Speaking as someone who earned a living from time to time, over three decades, as a professional editor, and who thus has no insecurities about either his ability to speak to such matters, or his ability to laugh if anyone tries to use an argument from authority on him, I have to say that the game of trying to make people look silly by accusing them of -- heaven forfend -- engaging in an "incorrect" usage, or by pointing out where they've misspelled a word, or engaged in a slight solecism, is utterly cheap, silly, and demonstrates little more than that someone has a misplaced sense of what actually undermines an argument.

Throwing in "I was just trying to help" is simply obnoxious.

It should be obvious that I don't find Jay Jerome's professions of concern for the Democratic Party to be terribly convincing, and I don't think much of his -- let's call it "analysis," shall we? -- of the Clinton/Obama dynamics, but whether Jay Jerome is ever sloppy in his phrasing, or misspells or misuses a word, or -- oh, the revelation that he must know no more is less than full -- cribs an explanation from Wikipedia, doesn't strike me as particularly relevant or significant, but YMMV.

And, yeah, if Jay Jerome wants to be colloquial, why, exactly, shouldn't he be? Are we grading people here on their prose style, now?

"April 20, 2008 at 12:38 AM"

What the heck? I didn't post that. It seems to be part of my first go-round at commenting, somehow posted when something or other happened to the browser, while I was in the middle of writing my comment.

I didn't post it, drat it. It's just part of what I was in the middle of writing. Grr. Where's the delete option?

Throwing in "I was just trying to help" is simply obnoxious.
I thought that was pretty clearly my intent the second time around. That's because -- as you'll note upthread -- the first time I pointed it out, I was actually just trying to help, and Jay decided that he just haaad to shoehorn it into another discussion about that craaaaazy Obamamaniac elitism.

I mean, if he wants to get defensive about all this horrible anti-colloquial snobbisheriferous pretensiosity despite that he doesn't even know how the words are spelled, then (as a former editor myself) I'm certainly not above the cheap shot riposte. Since he could have easily avoided it simply by not giving into the compulsion to shoot his mouth off, I confess that I don't exactly feel an upwelling of guilt about it.

Let it simply stand as an abject lesson in both poor usage and in the risks of using Google as a stand-in for actual knowledge of a topic. Perhaps next time Jay will display a bit more humility and say something along the lines of what you did, Gary, rather than overreach his Google-fu in an ill-advised attempt at scoring snark points.

That's somewhat my fault I confess. Sometimes they're just so cute to feed!

Frankly, I think Hillary is trending ever closer to the Joe Lieberman wing of the Democratic Party. I once considered the Clintons of the 90's to be Republican-lite; now there's no "lite" about them Her less than competent management of her campaign, and her bitterness towards all who don't support her, are very revealing. Soon she may want to join Zell and Joe at the Republican National Convention. She's running a Republican campaign.... desperate and dirty. I'm sick of her. Time to turn the page.

The difference between voting on a candidates's 'character' and their stated policies is also related to how uncertain the future is going to be. If you think that the future will be fairly certain, and the big problems of today will be the big problems of tomorrow, then it makes sense to vote for the person with the best current policies. If you think that things may change very abruptly, you are more likely to want the candidate who you think will be able to cope when the Martians invade/the Rapture happens/the tsunami hits. Then voting for a president with 'character' makes more sense: someone who can adapt quickly and appropriately to immense change. (How you decide on who has this 'character' is an entirely different matter).

Howdy from scenic Zurich airport!

Also: I love the idea of characterizing an actual audiotape as "malicious gossip".

That is all. ;)

And speaking of repulsive:

"John McCain’s campaign sent supporters a fundraising e-mail Friday that claims Hamas approves of Democrat Barack Obama’s foreign policy vision, and is hoping for his victory this fall.

“Barack Obama's foreign policy plans have even won him praise from Hamas leaders,” writes McCain deputy campaign manager Christian Ferry. “Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to the Hamas Prime Minister said, ‘We like Mr. Obama and we hope he will win the election. He has a vision to change America.’”

The McCain fundraising e-mail says Obama’s stands have earned him “kind words” from Hamas. “John McCain's foreign policy provides a stark contrast to the policies of Barack Obama,” writes Ferry. “While Senator Obama would surrender in Iraq and hold talks with the Iranian regime, John McCain will never surrender in the struggle with Islamic extremists. Please join our campaign today by making a generous donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or $2,300.”"

I thank Hilzoy for releasing this response to Jay Jerome from the spam trap it's been in for hours.

I thank Hilzoy for releasing this response to Jay Jerome from the spam trap it's been in for hours.

I think that it is too early to say that a third party can't work. The one certainty is that creating one only for the general election doesn't work. That's not the same thing as a longertmerm project,starting at local level, and building up over time. I think this might work, and is worth trying. The Republicans are corrupt and vicious, the Democrats corrupt and hypocritical. Given those choices, I'd say a third party build over time is worth the effort. And no, it is not the same as seeking an easier way. The easy way is doing nothing - which is presumably what leftturn would prefer.

I don't see why we need a third party (at least, I don't see why those of us who are Democrats do.) We are taking back the party we have. It's conservatives (in Sebastian's sense, the one some people say has lost its meaning) who need a party to belong to and don't have one.

Hillary Clinton says this stuff. But she is losing. Democrats are energized; we have new models of fundraising that greatly diminish the influence of traditional donors; and we have some very good people. We are midway in a transformation of the party. Why would we bail?

I don't see why we need a third party

People who are perfectly happy to be represented by a party of the far right don't need a third party: they're got the Republicans.

People who are perfectly happy to be represented by a party of the moderate right don't need a third party: they've got the Democrats.

Everyone who would like to be represented by a party of the left has no party to vote for in the US: they're stuck with either not voting, because there is no party that will represent their interests, or with voting for a moderately right-wing party in order to prevent the far-right fascists getting in.

A similar situation existed for French voters between April 21 2002 and May 5 2002, as a large number of voters gradually and with Gallic venom realized they were stuck with voting for Jacques Chirac, whom they loathed, or permitting Jean-Marie Le Pen to get in as President. The French Left reacted both practically and eloquently: Chirac won by a landslide, with the most popular campaigning slogan for him: Votez escro, pas fascho. (Vote for a crook, not a fascist.)

But that dilemma is one left-wing American voters are faced with at every election: sit back and let the fascist get in, or vote for a moderately right-wing candidate?

The moderate right are moderately well-served by this, so long as the left are content not to be represented but to keep pulling the Democratic party to the middle.

Everyone who would like to be represented by a party of the left has no party to vote for in the US

Not in Presidential elections, anyway, and not often in any federal election, though I'm aware of at least one Socialist in the Senate. Sorry, I should have been clearer.

The Republicans are corrupt and vicious, the Democrats corrupt and hypocritical. Given those choices, I'd say a third party build over time is worth the effort.

Intriguing. What is it that causes the Democratic and Republican parties to be corrupt exactly? Is it some special property of their names? Or were those particular parties cursed by an evil wizard?

Alternatively, it might be the case that any organization that amasses significant power will be corrupted and that we must constantly work to detect and eliminate corruption in all such institutions. Doing so is no doubt less fun than dreaming of a perfect party filled only with perfect people that won't suffer any of the problems that these old and smelly parties do.

Random thoughts:

Magistra has a good point about character being an important concern among those who see the future as uncertain. I'm one of those people myself, since I fully expect the next four years to be as full of unexpected weirdness as the last four, and the four before that. It's why I place a great deal of weight on a candidate's ability to listen to disputing recommendations, acknowledge changes of heart and outright mistakes, disperse authority comfortably, reward competence and punish incompetence in staff, and like that.

Likewise, the policy stance I'm most interested in is foresight and prevention. The hallmark of the Bush/Cheney administration is tyrannical overreaction justified by initially incompetent preparation. Clinton's campaign has too much of that same vibe, of getting ugly in response to situations that could have been prepared for but weren't. Obama's history of concern with matters from nuclear nonproliferation to avian flu and his demonstrated ability to stand firm in the face of stupid junk suggests to me a presidency that would have fewer occasions or felt need to grab at emergency anything. Even when, as is inevitable, the actual crises don't have much to do with what the administration had been preparing for - the habit of preparation is crucial in crises.

In more certain-to-me times, I probably would give more weight to specific policy proposals and be less concerned about attitude as long as competence was there.

Third Parties in the US:

The major problem with 20th century third-party efforts is that they ignored important lessons from their predecessors and rivals. Somehow it became common wisdom that a bid for the presidency would make a bully platform. But it doesn't, not in the face of an even moderately coordinated corporate-driven media.

The successful approach is the one the Religious Right used, starting in the '70s: run for local offices, often concealing your more extreme views, and get entrenched in city councils, school boards, and the like. Build on that up toward the state level, and from there push for the national legislature, which remains the center of authority for a lot of matters even in this age of strong executives.

One of the crucial lessons of the Clinton and Bush administrations is that winning the White House isn't enough if Congress is sufficiently against you. It takes a compliant Congress to let a president make really significant changes on many fronts, and an isolated candidate of an upstart party wouldn't have that...unless the ground has been prepared. The Religious Right was getting set for someone like Bush thirty years ago; people who'd like an actual left-wing president thirty years from now should be organizing for school boards and city councils now.

They should, of course, also have as prominent figureheads people who aren't labor abusers, liars, inclined to toady to Republican doners, and not given to inflicting needless pain on my friends. But even a decent human being and moral campaigner wouldn't be able to accomplish much that Nader hasn't, given the same focus on the presidency.

Intriguing. What is it that causes the Democratic and Republican parties to be corrupt exactly? Is it some special property of their names? Or were those particular parties cursed by an evil wizard?

I think the idea is to get more real competition out there. With only 2 parties, each only has to be as noncorrupt as the other; the more parties, the more pressure to be the best and not merely the better.

To be fair, I think any political party that's been in power for a certain number of years is pretty much bound to have become corrupt - certainly, corrupt by comparison to when they first took power: how corrupt depends on how strongly political corruption is policed.

A country where there are only two options, where D and R (or X and Y, or C and L) simply exchange being in power for being in opposition, with reasonable surety that after a few years in opposition they will be in power again, is a country where political corruption is likely not to be policed as strongly as it will be in countries where this equable arrangement does not hold true: where politicians are strongly motivated to police each other's behavior.

This applies to the UK, too, though not as strongly as it does to the US: and the self-governing countries within the UK, where the two-party/first-past-the-post system of government has been alleviated, have noticeably stronger systems of policing corruption - and noticeably more representative government, too, even though Scotland's last election fell over a bit due to electronic vote-counting and ballot redesign.

concerning "Hamas for Obama": Who will bet against Osama bin Laden also "endorsing" Obama and the media (remote controlled by GOP scripts) using that as an important reason to reject the Dems in favor of the Son of Cain?
These pseudo-endorsements have been quite successful in triggering Pawlovian reflexes in the past.
So, how do we get the FLDS to endorse JMcC ;-)?

This is an excerpt from the Great Orange Satan.The Clintons Need to Get Out of this Race.
by icebergslim [Subscribe]
Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 07:38:19 PM PDT

icebergslim's diary :: ::
I have been working on tomorrow's This Week With Barack Obama and decided to go over to Huffington Post.

I don't know if this has been diaried, but it just solidified everything for me about Bill and Hillary Clinton and the depths and lows they will get to destroy a democratic colleague, only for the end result being in their favor.

Tom Edsall has an article up on how the Clinton Union Backer is distributing to union leaders activities of the 70s Weather Underground group.

The document - a three-page emailed essay by Rick Sloan, communications director for the International Association of Machinists as Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) -- takes both literary and political license to outline what Sloan believes would be the thrust of a hypothetical Republican campaign against Obama focusing on his tangential connection to Ayers and Dohrn.

The goal of the essay appears to be to discredit Obama as the prospective Democratic presidential nominee.

In the article Edsall has it outlined that this information has a link to the FBI Freedom Information website. This information gives details of this group's activity back in the 70s.

Basically, this is a scare tactic to make us afraid of the GOP using this information against Barack Obama. We all know that Bill Ayers live in the Hyde Park community, on the south side of Chicago in the University of Chicago area. We know that Barack and Ayers have sat on a board together, frequent community event together, casual acquaintances, etc. To try to equate the doings of this organization of the 60s, 70s to Obama is laughable and totally ridiculous.

The time has come. Hillary Clinton needs to get out of this race. It is apparent that her intentions are not for the Democratic Party, but only for herself.

I remember when Bill Clinton's former mistress Gennifer Flowers had that press conference. Remember? Remember how we rallied behind Bill Clinton? Remember when we said what happens between a married couple is none of our business? Remember? We trusted the Clintons at face value. We, Democrats chose him as our nominee. Battle scar and all.

Then the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, believing President Clinton that he did not have sexual relations with that woman, only to retract his statement and admit the affair. Remember, Democrats when we had to defend him, the Oval Office, his behavior? Remember?

Well, the time has come to stop defending the Clintons.


I'm really sick of people making excuses for her.

I had a converstaion with my neighbor about HRC's tactics. my neighbor is actually a Obama supporter (bullied inot it by me) but she has that bone deep visceral need to defend the woman candidate at all costs that I see in Jerylyn and some other HRC supporters. No matter what example fo nefarious HRC behavior I give her she always rationalizes it away: women have to try harder, politics is always like that Obama is doing it too even if she can't think of any examples.

It's a misinterpetation of feminism: defend the womwan no matter what!

My neighbor wil vote Dem in the end as will, I beleive, most to the female identity supporters of HRC, but the irrational feeling of victimiation will probably linger on.

The weird thing is how oblivious the people who think this way are to the problems of a black man in politics.

All thisis sort of in reponse to JJ upthread who imagnes a revolution of young Reagan Dems. There maybe a split in the party of people who can't tolerate the idea of boting for a black man--i don't know. The vocal split is female identiy voters. My guess is that people who won't vote for a black man aren't people who are very inclined in the end to vote Dem at all. In any case this fall they will have a choice of voting for a big government pro-special interst multimillionaire who presents himslef as one of the boys or a genuine populist from the lower middle calls wh is half balck. If class is the deciding factor they'll go for Obama.

I think the genertification thing is mostly hooey.

Same here. Especially if the comparison is between Clinton and Obama.

Are we grading people here on their prose style, now?

God, I hope not.

I don't see why we need a third party

Multiple parties can work in a parliamentary system.

In our system, if there were three or more serious contenders and noone got a majority of the electoral vote, the election would (IIRC) end up being decided by the House. We could easily end up with Presidents who received quite small percentages of the popular vote.

If you thought 2000 was a mess, imagine President X, who received 25% of the popular vote, placed in office by 50% plus one of the House. That would be a President who would be able to do exactly nothing.

Thanks -

"That would be a President who would be able to do exactly nothing."

Better than what we have now.

Maybe with a left party we'd have a country where some topics weren't permanently relegated to the sidelines, or worse, constantly lied about even by the so-called progressives .


Not that I'm supporting Nader-style insurgencies. I think what Bruce said in his 3:50 post is correct. I just don't think there's anything particularly good about the two-party system, though if the Obama supporters (not Obama, but his supporters) manage to pull the Democrats to the left, I won't yearn so much for a third party.

How does Jay Jerome explain the steady flow of Obama endorsements from prominent red-state Democrats? Also the apparent lack of response from the allegedly offended subjects of his "bitter" remarks?

Hilzoy, it sounds nice to say "we are taking back the party" - but exactly what do you mean in concrete terms? Right now, the evidence is that a good part of the party does not want to be "taken back", and may well be able to block all efforts in this direction. The answer is not to tilt a little to the left, but to admit that the husk of the Democratic party is rotten, and to start building something better, on real democratic principles.


yilderim writes:

I'd say a third party build over time is worth the effort. And no, it is not the same as seeking an easier way. The easy way is doing nothing - which is presumably what leftturn would prefer.

No, I wasn't advocating doing nothing. I think it is easier to work within the existing two party system, to try to move one of the two major parties in the direction of what we think is better policy, than to create a 3rd party. Not because it is easy to do the former, but because it is very, very hard to do the latter.

The last third party to succeed at promoting itself to top rank in US politics was the mid-19th cen. Republican party. I submit that the party political scene today is less volatile than it was during the early to mid- 19th cen. I could see the point of working on building a third party if one of the two major parties was showing signs of major instability and incipient breakup. I don't see that right now.

Bruce Baugh's comment at 3:50 am points out a more recent precedent for taking over a major party from the inside. Do you think the RR would have enjoyed more influence or less, if they had opted to split from the GOP and form a third party sometime in the last couple of decades?

I also agree with Turbulence's comment:


Intriguing. What is it that causes the Democratic and Republican parties to be corrupt exactly? Is it some special property of their names? Or were those particular parties cursed by an evil wizard?

Alternatively, it might be the case that any organization that amasses significant power will be corrupted and that we must constantly work to detect and eliminate corruption in all such institutions. Doing so is no doubt less fun than dreaming of a perfect party filled only with perfect people that won't suffer any of the problems that these old and smelly parties do.

In my admittedly very limited view, this is a crooked-timber problem. Parties are made out of people. People are fallible. A hypothetical third party seems more attractive because our imagination allows us to populate it with "good people" and thus avoid the problem that power tends to corrupt. I am skeptical of the idea that a third party which actually succeeds at taking and holding power will remain any less corrupt than what we've already got now.


The answer is not to tilt a little to the left, but to admit that the husk of the Democratic party is rotten, and to start building something better, on real democratic principles.

yilderim,

In my experience the reason why the Democratic party is not further to the left is that the US population is broadly center-right in outlook. How are you going to win elections running on a platform that is to the left of the current Democratic party? And if the point isn't to win, but to move the terms of the debate, how are you going to attract attention from an MSM which is determined to marginalize all left-wing viewpoints? How, for example, would you get a candidate from the left up onto the stage in a presidential debate, so their viewpoint can be heard?

Look what happened to John Edwards in this primary season. He was on stage, and still didn't draw any attention.

At the grass roots level it makes more sense to work on third party efforts, since there you have more retail politics and less MSM involvement. But what can a third party accomplish at the grass roots level that you cannot accomplish with a caucus or other sub-organizational group within the existing party? The DLC would be an example of this approach (albeit from the other side of the ideological spectrum).

ThatLeft, as I said above, you start at local level and build from there. Yes, it takes time, but local politics is the best way of demonstrating competence, honesty and the fact that you can get something done. If we follow your view, then we might as well give up on any sort of progressive politics, since the center-right must, according to you, constitute a majority forever. What one accomplishes by building from the local up is precisely what needs to be achieved - an escape from the corrupt national level parties that rely on drawing you into a caucus or other collaborative structure. This doesn't have to mean becoming radically socialist, but it would allow for the development of a solid, effective progressive agenda. You have to educate people out of their brainwashed state, and you can do this locally. Change enough local mindsets, piece by piece, and you gradually shift the national mindset.

My own preference, by the way, is that some people work on reforming the Democratic Party and others work simultaneously on building a new left-wing party. We need both, I think, and there's no real way to predict how serious steps at either venture would change the landscape. (I suspect something similar is needed for the Republicans but I don't consider myself well-qualified to pronounce on the subject.) Neither activity requires a monopoly on spirited involvement, after all, and one of the key meta-tasks, so to speak, is getting more people involved.

Jay Jerome: Nice Bob Dylan quote, but I really doubt that that is right. here's why:

There might be cultural differences between Democrats, but as many people have pointed out there aren't that many stark policy differences between the two candidates.

Contrast this to what is happening over on the Republican side, where you have paleoconservatives making a coalition with evangelical Christians. These people don't really agree on all that much. Mostly, they are united by how much they despise liberals.

I think there is a much greater chance of long-term disaffection and fissure on the right than on the left.

I don't understand how Jerome isn't violating the posting rules when he comes up with things like "putzes with intellectual pretentions (ie: Obama-progressives) and delusions of intellectual accomplishment."

He is pretty clearly talking about the person who made a comment about 'irregardless'. He veils it by using the plural, so that it seems like it is describing a group rather than an individual. But there is no there there. And there isn't much more to it than a straightforward insult. And it is obviously meant to be incendiary.

It is a cheap tactic, and I don't know why the blog's admins let him get away with it.

And it is obviously meant to be incendiary.

as is everything he writes. he's a troll.

I understand the purpose of the posting rules regarding inappropriate language and personal attacks, but I ask that everyone be a tolerant as possible unless a comment is clearly across the line. Diversity of viewpoint is a real asset on a political blog and once lost is not easily regained. Please don't chase people away, especially those who push back against what they perceive to be the group consensus, without very good cause.

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