Tip Your Hat

Jack Balkin gets at something I was trying to address the other day: the collapse of Reagan’s three-legged stool and its benefits for the Democratic party.

Bush’s failed presidency has left the Republicans scrambling to reconstitute the Reagan coalition. The wide range of different candidates– from Giuliani to Romney to McCain to Huckabee to Paul– offer different solutions. We don’t yet know how the coalition will be reassembled, and under whose leadership. However, as of the day of the New Hampshire primary, it looks like putting it back together will be a tall order. And although the eventual nominee will try to assume the mantle of Ronald Reagan– and, equally important, not the mantle of George W. Bush– the Republican party will have been changed forever by the events of the last eight years.

[snip]

And that is why, if, like many Americans, you think that change is coming, and you think that this is a good thing, you should tip your hat to George W. Bush and his eventful presidency. For if Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, George W. Bush is the Great Destroyer of Coalitions.

We don’t know for sure how this is going to turn out–but the sheer unpredictability of the Republican side of this primary is testament that something new is afoot. (Though why do people keep pretending that neither Michigan nor Nevada have primaries coming up on the same day or before the South Carolina primary?) If I had to bet, I’d bet either that Romney gets the nod but that the Republican bigots stay home, or that Huck gets the nomination which results in a lot of what I called the "competence corporatists" heavily supporting Dems. In either case, resulting in low Republican turnout and, barring Cheney pulling OBL out of a hole or something similar, a comfortable Dem win.

What makes Balkin’s post worth reading, though, is the way he ties this into Bush the failure.

If 2008 turns out to be a pivotal election, defining a new political era, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Two key reasons for the change will be the crackup of the coalition of the dominant party of the era, the Republicans, and the almost complete political failure of George W. Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove. Let me begin with the second reason, and then move to the first.

The Bush/Rove strategy of accentuating divisions along partisan lines was a bold gamble that ultimately failed, because it depended on the Bush presidency being successful. Think of it this way: If Bush does well at his task, then people at the margins gravitate toward the winning side and the Republican coalition slowly expands over time, rejuvenating the party and producing a post-Reagan vision (organized, for example, around the War on Terror and the opportunity society) that extends well into the future. But if Bush does badly, or as it turned out, very badly, the same strategy that encourages increased partisanship and divisiveness will tend to make Americans believe that these features of political life are also the cause of political failure. They will seek both change and a sense of unity. This is precisely what Obama has tapped into, which is why he has been successful so far. Obama, if you will, is what Bush’s strategy has produced.

That is, Bush and Rove’s strategy to implement the permanent Republican majority would only work if it could get results. And because it was such a resounding failure (and more importantly, will lead to the US’ most ignominious defeat), it will discredit the Republican party for some time.

But I’d go one step further. This was bound to happen. That’s not only because the Republican coalition had irresolvable conflicts that were bound to come into conflict when, for example, all the jobs went overseas or when, for example, the Reagan Democrats’ children started dying in large numbers in a pointless war. But that’s also because the Republican ideology requires the government to be a failure (well, and because contracting out government will inevitably lead to the same kind of corruption that does in all single-party states). Bush had to fail at the Katrina recovery, both because his crony capitalist friends had no interest in rebuilding African-American homes in NOLA, and also because if Katrina recovery had succeeded, it would have undermined the Republican ideological truism that government is never the best entity to get something done, not even (it appears the Republicans now believe) in waging war.

Maybe I’m overly optimistic about the larger tea leaves for this election. But it sure seems like the opposition to Bush has resulted in more than just an anti-war movement that will help Dems win larger majorities in Congress. It may well bring about a serious realignment by finally knocking Reagan’s stool out from under those who have been balancing precariously on top of it for the last twenty years.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

49 replies
  1. phred says:

    EW, I agree with this view, but I would add that the Republicans shot themselves in the foot by bringing the social conservatives into their tent when it came to elections, then blew off their interests once elected. The Republican Establishment that represents the conservative elite simply could not muster the votes needed to win elections. So they paid lip service to the interests of the evangelical movement and have delivered pretty much nothing. However, the evangelicals have learned a lot about building a grassroots movement and turning out the vote. I think Iowa showed that they are ready to exert their influence, and now as you note this imperils the delicate balance the Republican Party has been dependent upon.

    However, I would add this is also a cautionary tale for the Democratic Party as well. The Bush debacle has been so complete, that the Democrats are poised to win big in 2008. However, the Democratic Establishment had better grasp that if they continue to ignore the interests of the progressive net roots, that they could find themselves in a similar bind to the one the Republicans are in now. It will be interesting to see whether the Democratic establishment is willing to truly embrace the progressive net roots and avoid such a fate, or not.

  2. brendanx says:

    emptywheel:

    OT, but I’ve been recommended Tom Stoppard’s “Rock and Roll”, about “The Plastic People of the Universe”, among other things.

    • scribe says:

      I listen to European radio per internet (even as I write this). A couple years back, I remember a big to-do as one of the stations I listen to managed to persuade The Plastic People to re-form for one concert (they apparently were none to keen on the idea, having moved on in their respective lives), which they then played. I caught some of it.

      Nothing says “1968-70 Space Jazz” like the Plastic People – they were a time capsule. Kind of like dropping the needle on a Firesign Theatre record.

  3. BillE says:

    I am reminded that up to the point of the depression the majority party was the rethugs, during the roaring twenty’s. FDR was quoted as saying it would require some very bitter medicine for the country to switch sides. Bush has done it again and with much less sense than Hoover.

  4. scribe says:

    Balkin’s seems to be a spot-on analysis.

    I’ll go a bit further. The mood in the country has, to my eyes, grown so anti-Bush and anti-Republican that even pulling bin Laden out of a hat would likely be greeted with strong doses of “about f’g time” and “you deliberately waited to ‘find’ him so you could cynically try to use Osama like you did with his tape four years ago”. In short, people today may well have grown about as cynical and distrustful of the Republicans, thanks to Bush and Cheney, as they were about Republicans in the 1930s, thanks to Hoover and Mellon.

    What Democrats, particularly progressives, can do to enhance the Republican catastrophe will require them to refrain from simple-mindedly chanting “Republicans – Bush – Cheney – idiots hurting you on [insert issue]” in the manner their grandparents were prone to wave the flag of Hoover’s name through the late 60s, i.e., as the panacea to foreclose debate on every issue.

    Maybe I’m not expressing that as clearly as I could. But, one has to remember that the name “Hoover” was every bit as poisonous to Republicans from 1930 through the mid-60s as the label “liberal” has been made by the Right over the last 30 years. An all-purpose epithet. When the pain of the Depression and memories of Hoover faded, the Dems were left with little (philosophically or rhetorically) to fall back upon, and got Nixon and all that followed, including the (alleged) lack of a philosophical core with which they still struggle, even today. So, the trap of oversimplifying down the easy road needs be avoided. People today are much more sophisticated about messaging, too, so that will actually help the Dems avoid the trap – those who slide into it will much more quickly have their bullsh*t called out for what it is.

    But, the Bush-Cheney disaster should help keep Bushie’s siblings and the next generation out of office and away from where they can do too much harm.

  5. taylorbad says:

    Sheep, doleful and fearful sheep, are happy to be cared for by a shepherd who will ultimately sell them out by taking their wool or kill their kids for lambchops. They are happy to be nipped at and moved around by sheep dogs if it means avoiding the big, bad wolf and dining in green pastures.

    Are we a nation of sheep? As a nation we have become unworthy of being lead as citizens. We consume, we anesthetize, we foul our nest, we do what the shepherds say. There was a time when we took to the streets when, as citizens, we were kept out or kept down. We practiced politics as if something mattered–because something DID matter. Now we look where the bleating is the loudest and move where we are told.

    If we were citizens, our leaders would lead us where we wanted to be led. They would solve the problems that only government can solve and not use the public treasury to enrichen those whose welfare is already assured. They would make demands of us as citizens, not sheep.

    That is why this election is such a watershed. There was a time when our leaders had a vision that came with a cost: citizens had to make sacrifices in order to achieve the benefits of the common good. Our prospective leaders have to be honest about the coming years; it will be a time of sacrifice that will test us mightily. If they can’t be honest about that,they don’t deserve our votes and we don’t deserve their leadership.

    • TheraP says:

      There was a time when our leaders had a vision that came with a cost: citizens had to make sacrifices in order to achieve the benefits of the common good. Our prospective leaders have to be honest about the coming years; it will be a time of sacrifice

      This fits with my analysis. A visionary leader, who puts the focus on voters can ask for sacrifice and get it. And yes, sacrifice is exactly what is needed here. Selflessly putting the good of all first. Getting healthcare. Getting of the business of being a policeman in the world. Taking care of the least of our brethren and our planet. Sharing resources, not hogging them.

  6. oldtree says:

    It seems folks spend a lot of time resurrecting past glory. It may be argued it is our primary roadblock toward growth. Half spend their time taking credit for it, half blaming others for it.
    We have nothing to be proud of this century folks. Humanity is in reverse all over this planet. As long as we argue about the things that do not build or even repair, it will continue. To continue either “party” after what they have done to this country with the bribery mentality, would be questionable, no?
    I won’t waste my vote this time, it will go to the qualified candidate. There is still one person that can enter the race and end the party system for good. That person has all ready discussed the future and begun planning. None of the “candidates” have. Isn’t that remarkable?

  7. TheraP says:

    I agree with the post. And I would add this. Something else is going on too. The bush/rove/cheney strategy involved “a few at the top” dictating – the sense that some favored few “knew” better and would decide and rule by fear.

    That’s been turned upside down. I think the electorate is mad that bush never listened, that he simply didn’t care what we thought. Young and old, rich and poor, we’re sick of being ignored!

    And Obama is selling a vision, yes a vision of unity, but it is a vision of the People being the center, the People joining together – for a common cause. This, to me, is the pivotal difference between the dictators and someone who speaks to the voters, inspires the voters. I think this is why Hillary is not doing well. Why romney can’t get traction. Why Huckabee is doing well. Edwards gets it and cares, but Obama enthralls.

    If the voter is the central focus, then We the People, for whom the Constitution exists, need to set our sights on a vision, not just of unity but of Constitutional Unity.

    • emptywheel says:

      I would add that that appears to be happening on the Dem side, too. The Mark Penns of the world told us all that it was impossible to raise youth turnout in IA. Yes, that he succeeded after decades of that conventional wisdom being correct speaks well of Obama’s organization. But it also suggests that the conventional wisdom is just plain out of touch with the fact that people aren’t buying the old rules anymore.

      • TheraP says:

        Absolutely. And of course that’s the funny thing about any kind of “social interpretations or rules” – they spawn blowback – people aren’t robots, they can reprogram themselves on their own.

        Honestly, this so reminds me of being 17 and rooting for JFK – in the face of my repub parents. It was an exciting time. I truly felt pulled in by politics. I can identify with these college students and high school students. And if my mom is reminded by Obama of FDR, then that puts her back in her teenage years too.

        I wonder if really it’s a battle of cynicism versus idealism. And whether we dare be idealistic after all that has happened.

        For myself, I’m enjoying this day. I don’t know if it will last or what is to come…but boy am I enjoying having a good day, hoping for something good for a change.

    • Leen says:

      I have been alarmed by the MSM’s clear commitment to ignore Edwards. But I swear if you go listen to Amy Goodman ’s today( I have never had a complaint about Amy’s coverage…I do know) she ignores Edwards as did Mark Green on Air Americas’s 7 days in America this past Saturday. You can go listen for yourselves. I mean we expect that kind of unbalanced coverage from Matthews, but Amy and Mark Green..what’s up?

  8. Unrepentantliberal says:

    I think your analysis is spot on. Why voters expected a party who hated government to run it well is beyond me. Superior marketing I think. It’s just taken some voters a while to catch on to the reality of the situation. I’m enjoying watching the train wreck that is the republican party……. pass the popcorn.

  9. JohnJ says:

    All philosophically good. The problem is that the Dems are going to ride the wave of gooper failure into the next cycle without needing to actually have better ideas. I really haven’t seen Obama or Hill come up with much beside different ways of saying “I’m not W”.

    I find myself wishing that W/darth/rove had actually done a little better, then we would see the need for the Dems to actually PERFORM. This is the crux of performance problems with the Dem congress: all they have to do is wait for W/darth/rove to implode, then walk in and take over.

    Maybe I’m missing something but, how many Dem candidates have specifically said “I’m going to undo the “patriot” (geeze I hate that name) act” or “the FCC needs to be restored so we can have an independent media again”? Instead they just make claim to being better at some of the personal problems that chimpy has.

    What this country REALLY need is a viable Rethug candidate that would require a real Democratic candidate to run against.

    In short, the Dems are just trying to pretend to be “none of the above”.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Agree that Bu$hCheney have zero credibility on WOT anymore. Nothing they do — even bringing in OBL — will save their asses at this point.

      Bush’s view of politics and power is premised on false logic.
      Bush, Cheney, and the neocons view power as military and economic (i.e., ‘controlling economic resources by military means‘).

      In their view, ‘power’ is military. It is used to grab resources (like oil, gas, and nukes). And since ’strength’ and ‘control’ are what matter, within the realm of law, power is used to transform the justice system in ways that enable — and maintain — political control. Given their concept of power, within the economic realm, it is used to implement regulations that promote and enrich their globalized, corporatist allies. Because they hold such a narrow, ‘militaristic’ view of power, they fail to understand that power can be exercised well ONLY WHEN it is obtained legitimately. But their beliefs are false; therefore, their actions are self-defeating.

      That view of power no longer speaks to evangelicals, and it certainly doesn’t speak to ‘competent corporatists’. Transformative times…

      Meanwhile, Hillary still seems to express the old interest-group concept of power — power as building coalitions and alliances. That’s outmoded, economically, socially, and technically. FWIW, the biz Republicans that I know hate that model; the evangelicals don’t see it as a solid basis for social justice.

      Obama is a cute date, but no long term proposition. The press loves a sensation; they love Obama now.

      That leaves Edwards to do the heavy lifting. Because he’s actually (along with, strangely, Huckabee) speaking about power as a vehicle to create better social interactions, and more accountable outcomes. Edwards is probably actually the most ‘transformative’ of the major candidates, and he’s more of a fighter than Obama ever will be.

      • brendanx says:

        “Power as a vehicle to create better social interactions”? Maybe I’m too much of a dope to penetrate this jargon. All I know is he voted for the war and is therefore tainted.

      • peony says:

        “Edwards is probably actually the most ‘transformative’ of the major candidates, and he’s more of a fighter than Obama ever will be.”

        I agree about Edwards. The thing I worry about with an Obama presidency is I don’t see any evidence he’s equipped with the shrewdness and toughness in dealing with a ruthless and corrupt GOP.

  10. behindthefall says:

    But if Bush does badly, or as it turned out, very badly, the same strategy that encourages increased partisanship and divisiveness will tend to make Americans believe that these features of political life are also the cause of political failure. They will seek both change and a sense of unity. This is precisely what Obama has tapped into, which is why he has been successful so far. Obama, if you will, is what Bush’s strategy has produced.

    That bit by Balkin to me throws the whole analysis into question. Obama’s strategy from where I sit (which doesn’t have a particularly good view of things, of course) is reheated Bill Clinton: take the most votes by positioning your appeal to the center of the bell curve. There is nothing new in that; that is not “change”.

    The awakening that is taking place I believe is a realization that the ‘other side’ is not ‘nice’, that you cannot ‘deal with the Devil’, that what the Republicans have become — all three legs of their tottering stool — must be opposed and fought. Look at the ‘approval ratings’ of the Democratically-’led’ Congress: there is the last gasp of unity politics. People realize that the Dems are being made fools of all because they have not decided to find out what they stand for and then, in word and deed, stand for it.

    No; people have not woken up and decided that the failures and excesses of Republicans have created an urgent need to play nicely with them. The party system is alive, although perhaps not as well as it ought to be, because when society has been dragged down the slope, it requires another team to tally onto the uphill line and pull for all they’re worth. It’s a fight: always has been; always will be.

    • emptywheel says:

      I disagree that Clinton is reheated Clinton–you’re focusing on stated ideology, not tactics and outcome.

      Remember, the “rules” that people like Mark Penn are espousing are “rules” that were “proven” true by Clinton’s victories. The “rules” that the DLC promised to respond to were “rules” that say youth and women don’t turn out.

      Obama has asserted he can break those rules and, in Iowa at least, delivered. That suggests a very different approach than Clinton and the possibility of delivering on the populist part of the message that both include(d).

      • BillE says:

        The message that these “rules” people have learned is called voter suppression. Negative advertising and all the rest are designed more to disgust people and disenfranchise them by getting them to stay on the sidelines and not vote. Both sides practice it in some ways. The DLC / corporatist types want the progressive left coalition to stay home.

      • behindthefall says:

        emptywheel January 8th, 2008 at 9:28 am
        15
        In response to behindthefall @ 13

        I disagree that Clinton is reheated Clinton–you’re focusing on stated ideology, not tactics and outcome.

        Remember, the “rules” that people like Mark Penn are espousing are “rules” that were “proven” true by Clinton’s victories. The “rules” that the DLC promised to respond to were “rules” that say youth and women don’t turn out.

        Obama has asserted he can break those rules and, in Iowa at least, delivered. That suggests a very different approach than Clinton and the possibility of delivering on the populist part of the message that both include(d).

        (I’d guess you meant ‘Obama’ instead of ‘Clinton’ in the first line.)

        I’m not conversant with the “rules”, but I remember the youth crusades of Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, and there was more than ‘hope’ and ‘unity across party lines’ at play there. I do not see that Obama’s message is populist at all, and then it all may depend on what is motivating that turnout. If youth and women are turning out because they like the man, then that may last through an in-office honeymoon; however, if they believe that they have heard him say that the troops will come come, that the U.S. will pull in its horns around the world, that everyone — working single mothers and the newly-graduated — will be covered by real health insurance, then at some point during the campaign, as they keep on listening, they may be disillusioned.

        I would like to run across the results of another of those polls that pits every R candidate against every D candidate. The last ones I saw had Edwards winning by the largest margins against every R.

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      Yes, absolutely.That Bloomberg love fest in Norman OK was nothing more
      than an attempt by DEMOCRATS to dictate a Reagan platform to the emergent
      groundswell for our candidates.There was Gary Hart, of all people, decrying
      partisanship on the Democrats part for the gridlock! Brainwashed or just
      egoed out, or just plain old. Here we are with several capable leaders to
      choose from and this crowd of losers and has beens demands capitulation
      before the serious campaign begins. Eerily like the 1960’s when our cohort
      of gifted leaders were murdered in the street, mysteriously they say. We
      are in a war, if you think they have been mean to Senator Clinton of late,
      just wait until they stare certain defeat in the face. This crowd murdered
      and stole their way into power, their era has ended, and I fear for the
      messenger bearing that news.

    • Hmmm says:

      Yeah… though it’s not like the D’s aren’t immobilized by trying to keep a ‘big tent’ of their own together. The divisions aren’t as cleanly delineated as the R’s three stool-legs (ooh, that sounds dirty!) of course, but really, other than the ‘-D’ after their state name, how much do Sheldon Whitehouse and Tom Lantos have in common? Those outliers aside, corporatism isn’t exactly exotic among the D’s.

      I agree with EW’s thrust here (h/t R’s for the Obama Surge), but mainly in the sense of emotional flow: the general upwelling of repulsion gives Obama something visceral to surf on in the campaign context. Where I’m concerned is more in the realm of the rational, i.e. that it remains to be seen whether Obama is truly interested in repairing the USG, repealing the bad laws, regulations, and EO’s. Edwards is the one making all that explicit, whereas Obama stands mute. Even making charitable assumptions there, it’s also unclear whether if elected he would have the juice to get all that done, for reasons including inter alia heavy corporate donations to date. (For me, Hil is actually winning the rational argument on Change, though I disqualify her for other reasons).

      But votes-wise, emotional flow is where the action’s at now, and that’s where Obama is Hangin’ Ten.

      • scribe says:

        it remains to be seen whether Obama is truly interested in repairing the USG, repealing the bad laws, regulations, and EO’s. Edwards is the one making all that explicit, whereas Obama stands mute. Even making charitable assumptions there, it’s also unclear whether if elected he would have the juice to get all that done, for reasons including inter alia heavy corporate donations to date.

        A very fair point. The way Obama can (assuming he wins the nomination) take the progressive path and stay alive is by naming someone like Edwards (or even Edwards) as his VP nominee. The point of that, is taking a page from Bushie’s book – one of the few that worked. By choosing a VP nominee even more odious to the opposing party (and appealing to the hard-core activists in your own) than you are, you can both ensure the opposition will not try too hard to take you down, and the whackos will have every reason to think time and again before trying something. Worked for Bush – Pelosi’s first argument against impeaching Bush was “and then you get what – Dick Cheney.” That was the negative lesson the Right took from JFK’s choosing LBJ – assuming the Right had a hand in getting rid of JFK, they paid no policy penalty (and actually benefitted) by having LBJ as the successor.

      • emptywheel says:

        Actually, regarding SOME areas (net neutrality, executive power), Obama has taken a more explicit, forward stand than Edwards; on others (particularly the economy) Edwards has taken the more forward stand. These are not caricatures, here, either Edwards or Obama. It does our side no good to treat them as simply different caricatures than the trad med is treating them.

        • Hmmm says:

          Actually, regarding SOME areas (net neutrality, executive power), Obama has taken a more explicit, forward stand than Edwards; on others (particularly the economy) Edwards has taken the more forward stand. These are not caricatures, here, either Edwards or Obama. It does our side no good to treat them as simply different caricatures than the trad med is treating them.

          Fair enough; the Obama part of my comment was a little confused. I mixed up the popular emotion idea with the candidate positions, without mentioning the frame I was thinking in. Which was: voter perceptions today, based on the candidates’ highlighted signals very lately, i.e. in 2008 — which I think is about as long as the great majority of voters have been paying attention. And I haven’t heard much explicit from Obama about restoration since the voting’s started. Lots of generalities that could be interpreted that way…

          …But then again, that’s my major Obama concern at this point, and one that I’ve seen a number of smart people mention: the large speeches generate strong positive emotions, but for the most part are pretty nonspecific; and therefore any specific policy details get discussed instead in smaller venues; however, because the Obama campaign is whip-smart, and because it’s using demographic targeting consultants (cf. Vanity Fair article), I’m concerned that every voter might be mainly getting told just those parts of the detail story they’re most likely to be receptive to. Not the whole story.

          I do so hope you’re right, and maybe it’s just the last 8 years talking, but “trust me” (and by that I mean O, not you EW) is just not working for me any more. Post-Enlightenment judgement, it’s not just for R’s any more.

  11. JohnJ says:

    Ouch.. sorry for the lousy sentence structure. ‘Been filling out too many job apps with small blanks the last few weeks.

  12. joejoejoe says:

    I don’t think the GOP coalition had to fail this quickly at all.

    If Jeb Bush wins the Florida Governors race in ‘94 he’s the one running the playbook in ‘00 and maybe they keep the stealing and incompetence to more of a dull roar. Don’t start the Iraq War but instead choose to buy off a bunch of ’stans in Asia and plunder their more modest resources. Beat the war drums just as loudly but with 1/10th the actual cost.

    I’ll always have a chill when I think just how close they came to pulling off a bait and switch that stole an entire country from it’s people. If Jeb is calling the plays I think you get a generation of GOP rule, a totally right wing judiciary, much worse concetration of media.

    If President Jeb Bush calls for sacrifice after 9/11/01 and by sacrifice I mean telling his cronies to only skim 15% off the top and not 40% then I think we are telling a worse story — if that can be imagined.

    Knock on wood – GWB may still start wars in Pakisan and Iran before he’s done.

  13. Leen says:

    Yeah Bush/Rove strategy has seemed to produce the “Obamarama” phenomena taking place. Lots of spin “agent of change, bold, antiwar candidate” Lots of spin. Obama skipped town on the Kyl Lieberman amendment this is the example of a person who is an “agent of change” ah yi yi

    Even those in the progressive media are ignoring Edwards. Amy Goodman today on New Hampshire “Obama Clinton OBama Clinton”. Amy has not even mentioned Edwards today.

    The front of Salon Obama Clinton Clinton. Mark Green (found out he is the owner) of Air America . On his program 7 days in America last Saturday he went on and on about Obama Clinton Obama Clinton Obama Obama. Green had Arianna Huffington , Gary Hart and Katrina on his program. Hart and Arianna seemed to go along with Greens Obama Clinton Obama agenda. Katrina tried to bring up Edwards but Green swept her efforts under the rug.

    It is creepy that the MSM ignored Edwards all year…but Amy and Mark Green ignoring Edwards second place win in Iowa is spooky.

  14. sailmaker says:

    I’m grumpy right now, not enough coffee or something, so take this with a grain of salt: I think there are a lot of people who don’t care about Iraq/Afghanistan or how the American Empire is doing. Further, they basically only care about how economics affect themselves, so only the subprime shit pile (which hasn’t really hit), health care costs (which really haven’t hit even the boomers) and gasoline prices affect them. After all the terrorism fear mongering, global warming, health care costs and the sub prime meltdown are bogymen that are not real – fear exhaustion has set in. For these people, NOLA was corrupt and stupid to be built where it was (and black but we don’t talk about that), the tsunami – ditto, and the trampling on the Constitution is moot – if one is doing nothing wrong, then faith in the people’s elected president is enough to get the right thing done. One can wave the partisan developments at DOJ (examples: Siegelman and Gonzales) to no avail. For these people Bush is only a moderately bad president.

    I seriously hope that this election is the one that knocks the props out from under the ‘Publicans, but right now, in my grumpy state of mind, I think the odds favor Cheney pulling the coffin of OBL out of thin air before the wheels come off the ‘Publican party.

  15. DeadLast says:

    “…and, barring Cheney pulling OBL out of a hole or something similar…” or starts a war with Iran.

  16. MadDog says:

    Obama seems to be the flip side of the very same coin as Junya.

    What does that mean you ask? I’m glad you did!

    Junya says everything wrong and can’t deliver.
    Obama says everything right and won’t be able to deliver.
    The “coin”, you see, is not being able to deliver.

    This surge of Obama’s reminds me that a majority of Americans believe in “angels”. I’m guessing that the majority of Americans still believe in Santa Claus too.

    This American wish/dream/obsession for a “bed of roses” wrt Obama seems made more out of desperation than it does out of a conviction that our outcome will be positive. A plea for help rather than an assuredness of success.

    I am not liking what I detect in the psyche of the American public these days, and in particular, those who are stampeding to the standard of the Democrat Obama.

    I ask myself, what in the world are these folks smoking? And the answer seems to me, is “Hope-a-dope”.

    Yes, Obama has touched “something”.

    But it seems to me that what he’s touched is this unreasoning yearning for a “saviour” (as in Oh lawdy, save us, we’re drowning!) rather than a rational analysis that this person is up to the job, has thought deeply about the issues and knows how to fix the things that are wrong…with us.

    As a life-long Democrat, I close this lament by saying:

    “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to…”

    • emptywheel says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong. But when Bush became President, he did not have a majority of the votes.

      If Obama–and Dems generally–can continue to draw voters out at a 2-to-1 ratio over what Republicans draw, Obama (or Clinton or Edwards) will have much much more than 49% of the vote that Bush had.

      And along with that comes a lot more SEnate and House seats.

  17. Minnesotachuck says:

    TheraP @ 8

    You’re digging in the same corner of the lode that E. J. Dionne was working this morning in his column in the Washington Post. His opening says it all:

    Hillary Clinton may have unintentionally written the obituary for the Iowa and New Hampshire phase of her presidential campaign, and perhaps her candidacy, when she told voters on Sunday: “You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose.”

    Clinton has not heeded her own lesson. She is campaigning in prose and has left the poetry to Barack Obama. She has answers to hard policy questions, but he has the one answer that voters are hungering for: He offers himself as the vehicle for creating a new political movement that will break the country out of a sour, reactionary political era.

    Note: The paragraph immediately above is also from Dionne. The preview doesn’t show it as such, although the editing window does.

  18. perris says:

    rove is a pastey faced moron, he had success in the beginning just as all liars and theives have success.

    it’s easy to lie your way into what looks like a good job, till you are exposed, because obviously, if you lied to get there, you couldn’t get there without lying

    and therefore, you must be exposed, rove is exposed as the moron he is, he is the author of the greatest political failure in american history, he is inept, idiotic, and irresponsible

    a waste

    bush was never meant to be president, he doesn’t have the skills, the talent, the inteligence, he was lyed into office

    he is a mariontte

    cheney is another moron, he talks with a style that makes you think he knows something you don’t know but he has always been a failure, everything he touches turns to failure, he is always wrong and he is as big an idiot as rove

    This pattern of misplaced confidence in Cheney, followed by disastrous results, runs throughout his life — from his days as a dropout at Yale to the geopolitical chaos he has helped create in Baghdad. Once you get to know his history, the cycle becomes clear: First, Cheney impresses someone rich or powerful, who causes unearned wealth and power to be conferred on him. Then, when things go wrong, he blames others and moves on to a new situation even more advantageous to himself.

    “Cheney’s manner and authority of voice far outstrip his true abilities,” says Chas Freeman, who served under Bush’s father as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “It was clear from the start that Bush required adult supervision — but it turns out Cheney has even worse instincts. He does not understand that when you act recklessly, your mistakes will come back and bite you on the ass.”

  19. Minnesotachuck says:

    behindthefall @ 13:

    The awakening that is taking place I believe is a realization that the ‘other side’ is not ‘nice’, that you cannot ‘deal with the Devil’, that what the Republicans have become — all three legs of their tottering stool — must be opposed and fought.

    A minority of people from across the entire political spectrum who’ve been paying attention have come to realize that today’s Republican Party is a subversive organization. When you have people as disparate as Bruce Fein and Bob Barr on the right and Dennis Kucinich on the left equally strident, not to mention the likes of John Dean and Kevin Phillips, it’s quite a phenomenon. When I was inducted into the Army in 1963 for my two years of service, I had to sign an affidavit swearing that I was not then nor had ever been a member of any of the scores of organizations listed in the infamous Attorney Generals List. No organization on that list was remotely as lethal a threat to the American Constitutional system than is today’s GOP. The frustrating, and potentially tragic, aspect of the wimpy Democratic leadership in Congress is that the Party may be blowing a chance to capitalize on the anger.

  20. dakine01 says:

    emptywheel,
    One small correction. I believe that Nevada is actually caucusing rather than primary. They were stuck in their position as an attempt to have another state other than Iowa and NH have some early play.

    And MI is not getting any pub as the TradMed has bought that they are breaking the party rules (of both parties) and need punishing for it. Doesn’t make it right, just reality (as unreal a concept as reality may be sometimes).

    • emptywheel says:

      Fair enough. But MI, with or without publicity, will give 30 of its Republican delegates next week–far more than NH has to give. And NV will give almost as many as SC, in a state where I suspect Romney has a natural advantage.

  21. Mary says:

    While you’re at Balkinization, take a look at Scott Horton’s piece on lawyers as criminals.

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/200…..inals.html

    He is actually getting at a different kind of liability, and Turley, at his blog, pretty much agrees with bmaz that the Yoo complaint is inartful, but also indicates he thinks the proper parties are higher up the Exec Branch chain.

  22. bmaz says:

    Well, speaking of stools, here is a good one coming out of a “Good Republican” rear. State Senator Jack Harper, lauded as one of the best and brightest up and coming GOP stars in Arizona, has proposed to modify primary politics in the state:

    Sen. Jack Harper is responding to the outcries of constituents, he says, in a bill that will allow independents to vote in presidential primaries while sticking it to the Dems at the same time.

    The bill, which Harper filed Monday, would allow unaffiliated voters, Repubicans and members of minority parties to choose which primary they vote in, Democrat or Republican. Registered Democrats, however, would only be able to vote in the Democratic primary.

    Why allow Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary but not the other way around?

    The only glimmer of an explanation? The Democratic party has been “manipulated by its liberal base” and doesn’t represent most Arizonans, Harper said. The Democratic party is the “party of anarchy and flag-burning,” he said.

  23. perris says:

    fitz fix for everyone

    Judge demands answers on White House’s missing e-mails. A federal judge today ordered the White House “to reveal whether copies of possibly millions of missing e-mails are stored on computer backup tapes.” The AP reports:

    Facciola gave the White House five business days to report whether computer backup tapes contain e-mails written between 2003 and 2005.

    The time period covers the Valerie Plame affair in which at least three presidential aides were found to have leaked Plame’s CIA identity to the news media.

    “Do the back-ups contain the e-mails said to be missing?” Facciola asked.

    In a four-page order, Facciola said he needs to know “if the missing e-mails are not on those back-ups.”

    Facciola noted the importance of acting quickly since e-mails that might be retrievable from individual computer workstations in the White House “are increasingly likely to be deleted or overwritten with the passage of time.”

    CREW has more on the judge’s order.

    • perris says:

      this is fun and all, but all the administration has with this;

      “Do the back-ups contain the e-mails said to be missing?” Facciola asked.

      is answer “no”

  24. JohnLopresti says:

    It’s nice to see some energetic support in the Democratic frontrunners’ campaigns. And it is wierd to see the implosion wrapped in tortcha Republicans engineered for their exit. I would imagine NH will avoid primary day telephone bank jamming managed from the Republican National Committee in 2008 as they were reported to have done in 2002; evidently, JConyers remains concerned about the extent of RNC oversight of that caper though one smallfry received a sentence, as Paul Kiel TMMM wrote in December 20, 2007 which included excerpts from a book written by one of the Republican strategists involved. In more recent news, the Bushadministration’s USFish+WildlifeService has scuttled the movement toward declaring polarBears an inevitable victim of GlobalWarming, as arcticIce is slated to disappear within the lifetime of some current online persons; footnote, the article cites old data forecasting 2050 as the end of the icecap, but this years AGU conference last month contained a much sooner date than was predicted in the literature even a year ago; see also famous photographer of globalWarming in environment site. The Republican candidates continue to have a leader fairly resolutely disdainful of the legislature; in the matter of the nonpocketveto pocketveto fiat, which congress likely will address in late January 2008. I think the Republicans will remain a less than half party; there is a strong current of impoverished thinking in their recent history. The new multiplicity of Democratic party voices is promising, especially the candidates whose strategies seem working best now.

  25. melior says:

    What better evidence for the total and complete collapse of the Rove Doctrine than today’s incident in the Strait of Hormuz? Some itchy Iranian sailors basically handed Cheney a made-to-order Tonkin Gulf Incident, and Chimpy just fumbled it like the dog who caught the car he was chasing.

  26. Evolute says:

    Thanks for the useful post EW. An excellent analysis of the failed Republican era, ideologically planned or otherwise. I’ll add this by starting with a familiar quote from one of our favorites, Mark Twain, “A great, great deal has been said about the weather, but very little has ever been done.”

    Only now it’s not just the weather it’s the climate. At least once a week bizarre and extreme weather besieges some corner of our earth. And it’s not just the climate, there’s the dehumanizing corporate culture – I got mine, see ya I’m going off-shore. We find ourselves in the greatest (potential) country in the history of the planet and arguably our strongest industry is the machinery of death, destruction and control. There is the insanity that nuclear weapons even exist. The population is currently expanding at the rate of 1 billion people in just over a decade. …The weather report is in, it’s inescapable and it’s a nightmare, we are racing exponentially not to an unsustainable, but to a unsurvivable future. And if we don’t do something now, later may be too late.

    I think that realization is the birth, the zygote of this tsunami. Its not just the Republican ineptness to lead and govern, the Democrats (for the most part) have been enablers. The experience argument falls dead flat – it doesn’t matter that you have slowed or slightly veered the ship of state – its still going over the goddamned cliff.

    And for those who find no substance behind Obama’s rhetoric – I say you are beyond help hope. Remember, he wrote his autobiography BEFORE he ran for president. If in fact the votes are counted in November he will have from February 6 to plan. He and we will be more than ready. He has made it his life’s work and there is nobody better positioned to redirect the arc of history.

    As a side note: this site in particular among progressive others, and the net in general will be critical in not letting history be forgotten or rewritten. Besides the Florida theatrics and 5-4 theft by SCOTUS we got Bush43 by letting the Clinton Democrats sweep the crimes of team Reagan/Bush off the table.

  27. JohnLopresti says:

    The Reagan legacy was a grade-B movie script of anti-civil rights, an impoverished mental panorama underpinned by many of the bright and craftiest officeholders in the current administration, but so discredited their tactics that one of their key characteristics has been to hide information. In the preparation for Roberts nomination hearings which saw PFAW and several advocacy groups requesting to view papers of his authorship at the Reagan Library, Bush administration lawyers, like the BrooksBrothers rebels of 2000, in 2005 dashed to Simi Valley, and somehow key Roberts documents from his service in the Reagan administration disappeared in the Reagan library reading room; According to WaPost a national archive IG report of the incident was published, but a fast search failed to locate that IG report; more later on that. This is not a legacy, it is a technique for controlling government by closing the curtains on the sunlight which makes democracy possible; according to the article, Dana PigMisl Perino says she is sure there was no wrongdoing in the Reagan library visit by the lawyers from the administration. We heard this in many nominations during the Bush years; some Roberts’ solicitor general employment writings were also withheld by the Bush administration. I think Obama and Edwards and some others see that, but the Republican crowd of candidates are grasping at a collapsed coalition. For his part, Roberts after swearing in, visited the Reagan Library, and made a joke about the Reagan library archivist’s production of documents that congress actually received, jibed rhetorically, ‘Thanks a lot’ to the archivist for finding some.

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