Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Stopping the Bullshit Isn't Enough

John McCain once came up with a brilliant scheme to end the centuries-long sectarian fighting in Iraq, saying:
One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit'.
Ahh, of course.  It's so simple!  Why hadn't anyone thought of that sooner?

And this reflects an authoritarian mindset, in which one merely requires enough willpower to get anything done. No longer do the traditional rules of political strength apply, and you can just tell people to “stop the bullshit” and they will. It’s as if Machiavelli was a silly fool for thinking he needed to bother with political mechanisms, when all he really needed was a big enough room to fit everyone in.

Finding Votes in his Spine

And that’s the mindset of too many of the people criticizing Obama from the left. They truly seem to think the presidency is endowed with the magical ability to make their opponents bow to his wishes. As if Obama could snap his fingers and get powerful politicians to submit to his will, but lacks the desire to do so. If only he had a stronger spine…

Yet, how? How does he get the votes? That’s lost in all this. If Republicans will be punished for working with him and conservative Democrats fear being associated with anything too "radical," how does he break the filibuster? I have no idea and neither do his critics. There is no amount of spine that can win them over, and sitting them down in a room and telling them to rubberstamp his agenda is the surest way to make them revolt. You either have to work politely with them and cajole them to come to our side, or it doesn’t get done. It’s that simple.

Even the Great Clinton had to become a moderate conservative to have any sort of success and even THEN they fought him at every turn. Did he get us a public option? Did he reform Wall Street? Did he stop evil bank fees that would have cost me $140 last month? No, he didn’t. He cut taxes, deregulated banks, reformed welfare, and bombed Iraq.

By contrast, Obama is one spine-filled motherfucker. Disagree if you like, but tell me, where were the Senate votes to get shit done?


mahakal said...

Another episode in Straw Man Theater, where not you, but your liberal opponents are the authoritarians.

At least you conclude that the "Great Clinton" was a moderate conservative like yourself, and I certainly agree with that.

John of the Dead said...

If only the President had some sort of bully pulpit from which he could advocate positions, sway public opinion, and put political pressure on the opposition party. Oh, if only....

I trust you see how ludicrous this line of reasoning is, yes? He's the President. He *can* advocate positions, from the biggest bully pulpit in the world. WHY DIDN'T HE DO SO? He says he couldn't get a public option, or close Gitmo, or end tax cuts for the richest 2% of the country. From here, as a fairly well-informed political news watcher, it doesn't even look like he tried. If he had wanted to do these things, he could have talked them up for TWO YEARS, making the case for why they're good things, why we need them, why his opponents are wrong for their positions, and why the opposition's positions are bad for the country. In the two years he's been President, the only folks I've seen him attack are ... his supporters. The only positions I've seen him advocate for, really FIGHT for, are Republican positions - Romney's health care plan and George Bush's tax cuts. And you expect Democrats to rally around those positions?

Doctor Biobrain said...

Look Mike, if you find yourself incapable of making an argument, you just shouldn't make one. This "I know you are, but what am I" bullshit is really quite annoying.

As for Clinton being a moderate conservative, that was my big complaint against him going back to the 90's. That he was too conservative and had traded liberal goals with short-term personal success that was making Republicans stronger. And I haven't changed my stance on that at all: Bill Clinton was much too conservative for me.

And again, if you could EVER find ANYTHING that suggests I'm a conservative, I'd like to know what it is. Because I'm just not seeing it. I've been writing this blog for many years, so it should be easy for you to find all these conservative things I've said.

But you can't, because I'm a liberal. I support government programs. I support regulation of businesses. I support higher taxes for the rich, as well as the return of the estate tax as it was. And not only that, but I'd like to EXPAND these things beyond how they were before Republicans destroyed them. I'm a straight-ticket Democrat who would vote for the most liberal politician in the world if he was the Democratic candidate, and I'd really love if all Democrats were as liberal as myself, as we'd finally get real liberal legislation passed. So how in the hell am I a conservative? Please, tell me. I'd really like to know.

Or, you can just insult me again, as usual.

Doctor Biobrain said...

John, how can he pressure Republicans? What pressure can he possibly apply to them when they get punished for even TALKING about working with Obama? The Republican Base is stark raving mad and punishes very conservative politicians who still aren't conservative enough. They'd be fools to work with Obama.

As I keep pointing out, even Bush at his strongest wasn't able to get more than maybe five things out of his Congress, and he had DINO's like Lieberman to help him out. And even still, he had to blackmail and bribe his way to get the few things he got. What chance do we have when Republicans couldn't support our policies even if they wanted to? The Bully Pulpit is really not very powerful. Particularly not when its up against Fox News and an idiot media class that refuses to report objective facts or engage in policy discussions?

So as I ask in my post: Where are the votes?

And how can you say he's been advocating for the Bush tax cuts, when he keeps saying repeatedly that they were a lousy idea that he'll continue to fight against?

Serious question here: Have you thought that maybe you're just reading the wrong blogs? Because I read almost every day about how Obama is advocating liberal positions and giving speeches to win support. But it can't do much good, as Republicans and conservative Democrats can't be reasoned with.

If you're not already, I definitely recommend that you read the blog at Washington Monthly, as you'll see all the work Obama is doing to push for our policies. In a bit, I think I'll write a post showcasing Obama's advocacy, as documented by Benen at WaMo.

As for "Romney's healthcare plan," that's a joke, as Romney has had to disown that because it was too liberal for the Republican base. And Obama's plan went far beyond Romney's.

BTW, unless I'm mistaken, every insurance exchange will be required to have two non-profit insurers, including one run by the government. While I agree that a public option would have been better, this is pretty good. And now that Obama has ended rescission, pre-existing condition exclusions, capped premiums, and assured that a large percentage of premiums go towards medical care; I fail to see how this isn't good enough. And there's nothing to say we can't get a Public Option if we reclaim the House in 2012.

If you like, I would LOVE to have a policy discussion as to why these provisions aren't enough. But Obama's critics rarely make policy discussions. They *think* they do, but they're really only discussing politics and how he screwed up by not fighting hard enough. I don't mean that as an attack on you or anything, as I totally like you and really would like to have a policy discussion. So how much DO you know about the healthcare law?

mahakal said...

Sigh. Without a public option, the health care reform will be ruled unconstitutional by a very conservative Supreme Court. This is so because the individual mandate, originally a Republican idea, is unconstitutional, as people cannot be compelled to purchase a product they do not want from a private company. However, it would be entirely constitutional to impose a tax and provide a public service, or grant an exemption to the tax for those purchasing a qualifying private policy.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Sigh. I guess all the constitutional scholars who disagree are fools. You cite an article which says that the law "might" be ruled unconstiutional, and then imagine it to be fact. And then you use this imagined unconstitutional argument as an attack on Obama, even though most experts don't think you're right.

As for the public option, I think you're confused as to what it is we lost. It would have been yet another insurance plan, but one you purchase directly from the government. Yes, I suppose your plan would have been a good idea, but that's not the plan as we would have gotten. So in that case, losing this less perfect Public Option wasn't such a big loss, was it?

And of course, the biggest problem is that the Public Option couldn't have gotten through Congress, so the point was moot. And had we held out until we got it, Republicans and conservative Dems would have been perfectly happy to let the whole thing die and we'd still have rescission, pre-existing condition issues, and ever-increasing premium hikes. No amount of public pressure could have changed that.

As for the mandate being a Republican idea, I honestly can't understand why you're mentioning that. Yes, Republicans proposed one of these issues back before they went entirely insane. Does this automatically make it a bad idea? Why?

Yes, insurance exchanges and individual mandate were a Republican idea a long time ago. But all the regulations we got with it are entirely liberal ideas that are already helping millions of Americans get better insurance. Would I have wanted something much better? Yes. But I'm satisfied with what we got.

Anonymous said...

"This is so because the individual mandate, originally a Republican idea, is unconstitutional, as people cannot be compelled to purchase a product they do not want from a private company."

So, does this mean that laws requiring auto insurance are unconstitutional?

You can't see it, but I'm rolling my eyes.

mahakal said...

No, anon, auto insurance is not the same thing, nobody is required to purchase auto insurance unless they purchase and/or drive a car. On the other hand, the US Supreme Court will rule an individual mandate to purchase private health insurance unconstitutional. Count on it.

Doctor Biobrain said...

But...they're still being compelled to buy something they might not want to buy. I fail to see the distinction.

And is my math wrong, or don't they still need Kennedy to overturn this, and he's a big unknown on this sort of thing, as he's not a full-on rightie or lefty. What makes you so sure he'll rule against it?