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In praise of humility

Scott Brown’s election this past Tuesday offers the Democratic Party a new hope.  A new hope for a politics of modesty in place of the politics of arrogance; a new hope for a politics of cooperation in place of the politics of demonization.  Democrats might not realize it now, but they have before them a historic opportunity to seize the day and regain the trust of the American people for at least a generation.  By turning their backs once and for all on the scorched-earth approach of the party’s liberal wing, Democrats can consolidate their legitimate gains while cutting loose their least reliable partners.  They have the ability; all they need is the will.

The problem—if there is one—is that time is tight, and the party will need to move on several fronts at once.  What follows is not an exhaustive list, but rather a series of first steps Democrats will need to take if they are to remain a meaningful majority party.

Scaling back the gay agenda

The voters of Massachusetts know only too well the damage wrought by the Obama Administration’s relentless pursuit of radical GLBTQ policies.  Tuesday’s exit polls revealed that 77 percent of voters were “opposed” or “strongly opposed” to the Obama Administration’s promotion of arranged gay marriages in which prospective partners were “chosen” (or, more accurately, assigned) by a lottery conducted by each state’s Secretary of State.  Opposition to Obama’s “Queering Coupledom” initiative rose to over 90 percent when voters were informed that the program allowed state officials to dissolve existing heterosexual marriages and re-assign husbands and wives to state-sanctioned same-sex couples.

The lesson is clear.  From the moment he chose Harvey Fierstein to deliver the invocation at his inauguration to the week he conducted a special White House “webinar” on Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal, Barack Obama has put straight America on notice that he considers the United States to be a Queer Nation.  It is only fitting that the electoral rebuke to Obama’s insistence on the “fierce urgency of queering America now” came in the form of a virile heterosexual Republican who looks pretty darn good with his shirt off.

Full employment and empty arms

Nothing says “socialist maniac” like a full-employment policy, and Obama’s is no exception.  When the markets bottomed out last March, Obama could have taken the opportunity to restore confidence in the world’s financial system and to keep faith with America’s hardworking bank executives and hedge fund managers.  Instead, Obama declared war on the very people he needed to cultivate as allies, announcing the creation of a “Ten Million Good Jobs” program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure—freeways, tunnels, bridges, high-speed rail, and, most controversially, low-income housing.  Coupled with Obama’s decision to nationalize the banking system and freeze the assets of global financial services firms Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the “Ten Million Good Jobs” program sounded to many ordinary Americans like a homegrown version of China’s Great Leap Forward, complete with sham production quotas and widespread famine.  It was not long before Obama Administration’s obsessive drive to reduce the unemployment rate to zero met with significant pushback from voters who understand that freedom isn’t free.  Additionally, Democrats did themselves no favors by ridiculing the GOP’s “alternative budget” last spring, even though the budget clearly promised lower taxes, reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, universal access to affordable health coverage, and limits on federal spending.  Americans may not understand all the details of the federal budget process, but they know rude behavior when they see it, and they know they didn’t send their elected representatives to Washington to get their jollies by mocking their opponents’ proposals for economic recovery.

℞ for health care reform

No issue enrages the Democrats’ far-left base more than health care, and nothing reveals the Obama Administration’s craven capitulation to that base more readily than its take-no-prisoners approach to the issue.  From the outset, when the President himself declared that he would “brush off” skeptics of his plan and would not “suffer fools gladly” in negotiations, the Obama Administration has charged into this sensitive political arena with all the subtlety of the Tazmanian Devil.  Congressional leaders were left out of the loop, as White House advisors told them “we’re not making the mistakes of 1993 again—we’re just going to ram this thing through whether you like it or not.” Give me single-payer or give me death was the rallying cry, and no one should have been surprised when, last August, many voters heard that slogan as a coded call for “death panels” that would oversee a brutal, heartless regime of healthcare rationing for the elderly and disabled.  Fortunately, widely respected healthcare experts such as Betsy McCaughey and Megan McArdle exposed Obama’s Eurosocialistcare for what it was, and the Tea Party Patriots™ were born.  In less than a year after the first national Tea Party™ rally, Scott Brown, Tea Party Patriot™ in good standing, was elected to the Senate.  The symbolism couldn’t be any more evocative: Brown’s election not only renews the original Tea Party revolt in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it also allows ordinary taxpaying Americans to dance on Ted Kennedy’s grave.

Historians will long wonder what might have happened—and what real social progress might have been achieved—if only Obama had sought a moderate, bipartisan solution to America’s healthcare crisis.

Executive power and its discontents

Prudent constitutionalists have been taken aback by Obama’s slash-and-burn attitude toward federal appointees.  Ordinarily, this would be a wonky, inside-baseball consideration, but Obama’s excesses have registered even with Joe and Judy Six-Pack.  The appointment of Maulana Ron Karenga as Secretary of Education was a warning sign, followed swiftly by “Operation Blackout,” the Obama Administration’s plan to stack the federal judiciary with ACORN-approved attorneys and underqualified campaign workers whose only interview question was “what is it about Barack Obama that makes you want to serve him?” As longtime Democratic pollster and advisor Patrick Caddell acknowledged in August, Obama’s bench-packing amounted to “a gross violation of the idea of an independent judiciary and a responsible executive branch.”

The politics of vengeance

Obama’s vendetta against the Bush Administration achieved at least one of its goals: it destroyed what little was left of comity and civility in Washington.  Announcing, in only the first week of his Presidency, that he would “not rest until Dick Cheney hangs in The Hague,” Obama proceeded to embark on a program of vilification and vituperation more suited to a banana republic than to the world’s only superpower.  “Dick Cheney was precisely the wrong target for Obama,” notes veteran Democratic advisor Lanny Davis.  “Americans don’t see him as their enemy.  Americans see him as a kind of crazy old Uncle Fester—but an Uncle Fester who kept them safe.” Obama’s determination to “root out torture,” “bring John Yoo to justice,” and “get to the bottom of those fishy Gitmo suicides” alienated independent voters across the country, who understand intuitively why the Bush Administration had to take aggressive measures to stop terrorism after inheriting the tragedy of September 11, 2000.  “Let’s not bicker and argue about who tortured who,” wrote Democratic advisor Dan Gerstein last April.  “We need to look forward, not backward.” But the White House would hear none of it, and now it reaps the whirlwind.

Clearly, the Democrats have a great deal of rebuilding to do.  The loss in Massachusetts should serve as a wake-up call to the wing of the Democratic Party that wants the federal government to overreach, overspend, and overprosecute.  Let’s hope that this time, there’s someone in the White House ready and willing to answer the phone.


Posted by on 01/22 at 10:59 AM
  1. Laughing through tears of frustration.  Is this how Swift’s original readers felt?

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  12:28 PM
  2. Yes, the Democrats have done themselves no favors by turning their backs on Wall Street to court Main Street and foment populist anger. Luckily for them, yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling prohibits political parties from ever turning their backs on Wall Street again, providing perfect cover for Dems to restructure their priorities. Enough class warfare already.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  12:59 PM
  3. Yes, V. Ed, corporations are people too.  Up with people!

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  01:07 PM
  4. On a serious note, at least Obama and Co. made a smart move by getting rid of Howard Dean’s pernicious influence once and for all by making sure he’d be completely shut out of having any voice in the new Administration. Let’s face it, nothing turns off everyday Americans more than district after district across the country being turned from Red to Blue, and Howard Dean was totally all about that shit. What an asshole.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  01:15 PM
  5. Yeah, who wants to hear some crazy guy screaming “yaaarrrggghhhh” in all fifty states?  It doesn’t make sense.  At least Orahma realized that much.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  01:34 PM
  6. Well, it was all that money flooding into community based programs for the handicapped, elderly, etc. that did him in around here.

    Posted by Hattie  on  01/22  at  02:15 PM
  7. Did you know it’s still legal in some states for people to own corporations?  This is clearly a violation of corporate 14th Amendment rights.  Only corporations are constitutionally allowed to own people (e.g. congressmen and senators).

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  02:20 PM
  8. Sounds like you’ve been “Queer Coupled” with Dick Morris and you’re trying to get out of his doghouse.  Here’s a tip - try open-toed sandals.

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  01/22  at  02:37 PM
  9. Well personally I’m most upset about that arms embargo against the only democracy in the Middle East. From palling around with terrorist to protecting terrorist children is apparently only a small step.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  02:48 PM
  10. Well, it was all that money flooding into community based programs for the handicapped, elderly, etc. that did him in around here.

    Yes, when Chicago-style corruption goes national like that, you’re just asking for a backlash.  Ditto with Obama’s “Cramdown THIS, Motherf**ker” program, which liquidated all subprime mortgages and declared universal amnesty for bankrupt homeowners.  It was just way too much, too fast.

    Well personally I’m most upset about that arms embargo against the only democracy in the Middle East. From palling around with terrorist to protecting terrorist children is apparently only a small step.

    You refer to the controversial “Leave No Terrorist Child Behind” program, no doubt.  Obama might have weathered that storm, I think, if only he had not personally traveled to the Occupied Territories last October and begun demolishing settlements by hand.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  03:16 PM
  11. These United States of America are moving much too slow for me.  I am moving to a more controlled and rigid fascist state up north, where i can be certain that the government only concern is keeping a citizen’s mouth shut and all else is free market enterprise unleashed.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  10:15 PM
  12. Wow. Huge piles of snarkasm. Everywhere. No offense, but as someone who’s wicked poor and wicked progressive and wicked undoctored, I truly hate what just happened in the Bluest State. (Bullcrap. come to RI and I’ll give you blue.) I’m freakin’ scared and it just isn’t funny. I hate to be all serious, but Obama’s all we got. Imagine a drubbing in November, and then imagine the kind of wingnut jackasses who will enter our legislature as a result of said drubbing, and then imagine what these morons will vote for. Please put all of your eloquent sarcasm into the task at hand, which is staving off the total sloughing off of any liberal/progressive/leftist foothold upon the disgusting embankment that is our gobierno.
    CAPTCHA: approach. approach the future with wisdom, humor but above these action.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  10:33 PM
  13. What cheer: exactly.

    Posted by  on  01/22  at  10:55 PM
  14. What Cheer?:  As you can probably tell from the recent paucity of political posts on this blog (so far as I can see in the archives, no sustained comments on the US scene in over two months), I have very little snark left.  So I’ve been trying to practice sustainable snark husbandry.  Because when I run out of snark, I’m looking at the abyss.  My immediate family has health care coverage, yes.  But many members of my extended family do not.

    If I hadn’t mustered the snark for this post, I probably would have written something about how profoundly depressing blogreading has become for me over the past couple of months.  All I can say is that I wish certain bloggers would stop whining about the “individual mandate” and realize that for people who are wicked poor and wicked progressive and wicked undoctored, even the vastly annoying Senate bill is a Great Leap Forward.  Kill HCR now, and we are well and truly Cheneyed for the duration.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/23  at  12:16 AM
  15. Up with people!

    If corporations were forced to wear coordinated polyester vests and slacks while performing vapid musical numbers in auditoriums across America, I would probably feel slightly better about their personhood.

    Because when I run out of snark, I’m looking at the abyss.

    Well, don’t worry; there appears to be ample room at the rim.

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  12:46 AM
  16. I call dibs on Janet.

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  02:41 AM
  17. The electorate was indeed unreasonably audacious to hope that Baroque O’Bama would prove to be a Machiavellian maven, a calculating Cagliostro, a progressive Prometheus, particularly because they justly tend to hold their local representative and senators in low regard.

    One thing that puzzles me about the old adage concerning sausages and lawmaking is that I’ve seen sausages being made (Scandinavian family) and found nothing ethically challenging in the process.

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  03:55 AM
  18. Two professors and Bill Moyers discuss the state of snark affairs.
    ERIC ALTERMAN: “But in this case, he’s playing tennis and there’s nobody hitting the ball back. The Republicans are not playing. They’re saying-- they’re waiting on the sidelines, criticizing his performance and he keeps pretending that he’s in a tennis game with two sides. And the question is what can you accomplish under those circumstances? Well, you can accomplish a health care bill that is okay with Joe Lieberman and Senator Nelson. That’s all you can accomplish. But it turns out you can’t even do that. Because of this vagary that took place in Massachusetts. So, what’s the plan now? In other words, the Democrats are so committed to being reasonable, to doing all the things that you just described, as if there were another party that were behaving responsibly. But the Republicans are not interested in behaving responsibly.”

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  07:19 AM
  19. Michael, I hear you. As a political junky, I myself had long maintained a 10,000 gallon Snark Fermentation Tank with a Snark catchment system on the roof. I harvested God’s own raw Snark, mixed it with idealism and let it age to perfection right here on the farm.
    It served me well, until a group of desperate political meth-heads found out about my homebrew and raided the place. Took it all one night after a Coakley event. You know they can get $80 an ounce down in the city, if they don’t smoke it all first.
    They taunted me as they drove off, yellin’ bout some 50 state strategy, and how I better keep the cops out of this or I’d have to answer to their boss, Mr. Answer Man.
    So now here I sit staring into my empty Snark Tank, but it’s better than staring into the abyss. Hope it rains soon.
    As far as Alterman’s tennis analogy, I’d say the level of discourse coupled with the number and demeanor of the players is more reminiscent of a game of Risk… all my Armies in the Middle East.

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  10:46 AM
  20. Dare I suggest that the political dialogue in this country has now officially Jumped the Snark?

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  05:44 PM
  21. Oh, I wish you wouldn’t.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/23  at  06:01 PM
  22. Captcha says help. Man up, captcha. It’s always darkest before the abyss.

    Posted by  on  01/23  at  08:38 PM
  23. I blame the republicans. 

    They’re so tricky. 

    How could President Obama possibly know that when Republicans screamed “liar” during his speeches or declared “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” that these statements that meant they weren’t going to cooperate. 

    You’re probably like me and President Obama; you didn’t get it either, did you.

    But really, President Obama should have paid more attention because South Carolina has something like 700 electoral votes. 


    Posted by  on  01/24  at  09:30 AM
  24. Oh, I wish you wouldn’t.

    OK, I won’t. Plus according to Google exity-zillion-billion other people got to that phrase first (damn, and I worked all afternoon on that one).

    Posted by  on  01/24  at  11:40 AM
  25. As we contemplate the abyss, it should cheer us up to review the lessons of Haiti’s history: things can always get worse.

    Oh, wait, that didn’t work.

    Dark chocolate, snark, and tending our own gardens, then. Consider finding ways to live contentedly under a postmodern corporate fascism.

    Posted by  on  01/24  at  05:31 PM
  26. Aspasia, doubtful. Swift wouldn’t have treated such blind hypocrisy as humor, especially when espoused by those who brought it about.

    Oaktown Girl and Michael, if this is satire, it’s pretty awful. Then again, if you are part of Ho’ Dean’s dubious following, it explains a lot. I mean, I know it’s pretty presumptuous of someone who doesn’t believe that the concerns of poor, homeless American citizens should be ignored as your lot does. I was a fool to be concerned about the former governor of the state of Vermont, who had stolen the medicaid funds for the poor of his state, who truly had no other option than the safety net program, so he could divert the funds to a sham of a health care program to cover those who already had what is now referred to as cadillac health care plans. Or the cock up he made of the funding of public schools. How he took money from factory farms, and the owners of Yankee Nuclear, to promote the dumping of the waste from the plant in poor communities in the southwest. Or that I didn’t set much store on Dean as a hero for the gay community, when it was the state legislature that did all the work on the civil unions law, while Ho’ Dean hid away in his office, and only signed the legislation, because they had the media there when it was delivered to his office. How inspirational. I mean, even the trustifarian flatlanders who were the ones hyping his progressiveness, were the ones who had been lampooning him as a joke, long before he decided to get the hell out of Montpelier.. truth was, they just wanted the moron out of the state.

    Truly, the Ho’ Dean faithul rightly castigated anyone who expressed such concerns, for being “right wing, corporate trolls”. Perhaps
    it’s a fault deep with me, that I find “activists” who label themeslves “progressive”, yet whose very words and actions expose a character that is frightenly regressive.. but what can I say.. for me, social justice and civil rights mean something much more than a cheap catch phrase to toss out there.

    I guess one truly has to live in that storied ivory tower to “get” where your lot are coming from. Never having to worry about keeping a roof over one’s head, or food on the table. Or that if you end up unable to pay the rent, you risk having
    your child being homeless and hungry. How stupid of me though, I mean, it’s pure selfishness on my part not to be willing to sacrifice my child’s and my own life, and that of others in my situation, to the whims of protected elites like yourselves.. after all, you know so much better than mere mortals like myself, what is best. I mean, little ol’ me, in RI (have to inform What Cheer, it’s not going to remain blue in any way) sent in two big (for me) contributions to the Scott Brown campaign, after receiving two begging emails from DSCC whore in cheif, Senator “slavery and Jim Crow fan” Menendez, demanding I cut a check for “poor” Martha Coakley”. I felt absolutely giddy when he won, not because I’ve become a repub, but because I want to help vote the dem party onto the rubbish heap of history.

    That said, I’ll never vote for a green, or other extremist, fascistic leftist party or candidate.. after all, it is your lot who serve as sock puppets for neo-cons, when you get right down to it, left wing, right wing, same damned thing.

    Posted by  on  01/25  at  09:53 PM
  27. Jenny, I apologize.  Truly, Scott Brown and the Republican Party are the only real hope for the poor and the homeless, for social justice and civil rights.  May their victory bring peace to your heart and prosperity to your family.

    Posted by  on  01/25  at  10:52 PM
  28. Jenny, you’re on the right track, but there’s still something not quite right about your parody of a blithering idiot.

    Posted by  on  01/28  at  07:30 PM
  29. if you are part of Ho’ Dean’s dubious following, it explains a lot. I mean, I know it’s pretty presumptuous of someone who doesn’t believe that the concerns of poor,

    Posted by Caldwell  on  08/05  at  03:40 AM
  30. Jenny,I wish you wouldn’t.

    Posted by cheap prada purses  on  09/10  at  10:07 PM





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