Obama’s Relentless Abandonment of Progressive Nominees

Barack Obama was never a hard liberal nor progressive, whatever the supposed difference between the two really is. Those blinded by hope and change who thought otherwise were imprinting their own desires and beliefs on what was a relatively blank slate, which was probably easy enough to do in the despair resultant from the eight years of George Bush. By the same token, however, Mr. Obama cultivated and encouraged such beliefs; this he worked hard at, and it was critical to him being elected president.

Now if you listened to, and read Obama, and paid attention, you knew he was a centrist who worked by increment, compromise and seeking consensus as opposed to a liberal beacon that would take the country in a new and markedly different direction. Again, that said, the liberals and progressives who served as the ground force, heart and soul of Obama’s candidacy and election had every right to believe he would would at least include them at his table and utilize their talents in his Administration and appointments. There was an implicit deal made in this regard, and Obama purchased on it to his wild success. Now he has defaulted.

I first wrote significantly on the betrayal of the Obama White House toward liberal nominees in relation to the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the critical post of head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. The scorn for, and abandonment of, the Johnsen nomination still stands out because of the fact it is clearly established that there were 60 votes cloture on a Senate floor vote for Johnsen’s nomination. It wasn’t that Johnsen could not be confirmed, she absolutely could have been and would have been; it was that Obama did not want her and would not call for a vote.

Johnsen was not only the best person for a critical job, she was a symbol to a critical part of Obama’s and the Democratic constituency. It is far more than Dawn Johnsen however it is a pattern of abuse and scorn the Obama White House relentlessly exhibits to a major portion of the base. Currently the focus of progressives is on the potential nomination of Elizabeth Warren as head of the newly enacted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Despite some public platitudes, it is quite clear the Obama Administration does not want a competent crusader for citizens like Warren and, apparently, is working through the cut out of Chris Dodd to see Warren doesn’t get the nod.

Maybe the pressure will get to the Obama White House and Warren will get the post she deserves and would be perfect for; but don’t count on it because Obama, Geithner, Summers, Rahm and the boys on the Obama bus just do not want her. And they didn’t want Christine Romer either, so they let the misogynistic, consistently wrong about everything he touches, Larry Summers push her out. It is becoming a broken record with this White House.

Most distressing to me, because I practice law in the 9th Circuit, is the complete abandonment of two critical liberal judicial nominees, Goodwin Liu and Edward Chen; you may not be aware of because their nominations were tanked in the quiet of the night before those oh so hard working and diligent souls in the United States Senate jetted out of town for a 37 day vacation. Because Senate Rule XXXI specifies that all nominations not voted on and not held over by unanimous consent are extinguished and returned to the White House, the Liu and Chen nominations are toast.

Some of the still starry eyed Obama true believers who care about Liu and Chen (and both are incredibly excellent and worthy nominees) probably still think Obama will renominate them (and there is mention of that by, of course, an anonymous “White House official”). But even if he did, why in the world would anybody believe it to be anything other than a ruse to get their support leading up to the fall election? Obama renominated Dawn Johnsen and then hung her out to dry twisting in the wind until she finally ended the charade. It was a charade to sucker progressives, and there is no reason to believe he will not do it again. There is a track record with this White House, and it is not a good one; in fact, it is downright pathetic.

If you do not know about Goodwin Liu, you should. Liu is quite arguably the brightest and most accomplished young legal liberal star in the universe. He is the future of any liberal hope on the Supreme Court; like Antonin Scalia or John Roberts on the right, Liu is the future legal heavyweight for the liberal future. At only 39 years of age, Liu’s resume and record of accomplishment, service and involvement in the law makes Elena Kagan look like a malnourished piker. He is worth fighting for tooth and nail (and so is Ed Chen for that matter). Except Barack Obama did not lift a finger; didn’t ever expend any of his precious political capital in furtherance of the nomination and didn’t even utter a peep of protest as Harry Reid and the Senate let him die in the night as they were fleeing town. But that is the hallmark of the Obama Presidency in relation to liberals and/or progressives; they just don’t give a damn and won’t lift a finger (but they will expect the votes whenever elections come around).

The Obama White House also put up no fight for Peter Diamond, a worthy and critical nominee to the Federal Reserve Board. It is a pattern and practice with the Obama White House. If you are an only marginally qualified centrist Obama toady like Elena Kagan, they will fight like dogs for you; but if you are a strong progressive voice you are toast.

Maybe progressives ought to be considering someone like Elizabeth Warren for a much higher office than head of CFPB; or they can continue to be treated as “f**cking ret*rds” by the current denizens of the White House.

  1. fatster says:

    Thanks so much for this, bmaz. Progressives have gotten the back of the presidential hand ever since the inauguration. Obama chose those advisors and staff members, he listens to them and he goes along with what they say because he agrees. Goodwin Liu is top-notch, far beyond the qualities needed by the Obamarahma team for their questionable objectives.

  2. Teddy Partridge says:

    This is a moral outrage.

    Can progressives expect nothing from this president?

    Hope and change — not hardly.

  3. fdr14 says:

    Now I really see why he admired Ronald Reagan. Obama is a major BUMMER. Great diary bmaz. What to do?

  4. calchala says:

    Did you actually read those articles? All 3 of those nominees are getting renominated. Diamond, Liu and Chen are all expected to get renominated. But acknowledging that would destroy this meme you’ve created of progressives getting “nothing”. As for Warren? I expect her to get nominated because I don’t see a strong reason NOT to appoint her. Gibbs actually questioned a reporter who called her “controversial”, the reporter couldn’t say why she was. There have been disappointments, no question. But this is made up nonsense that has no basis in reality.

    • bmaz says:

      What “three articles” are you talking about there? The SF Chronicle piece by Bob Egelko sure as hell does not say that other than an unattributed quote from an unknown “White House official”. That is not very compelling. Where is your hard evidence and, in light of Dawn Johnsen, why the hell would you bite off on it even if you have it?? If Obama did not have the guts to lift a finger for these nominees when he had votes and capital to expend and was not in the immediate time before an election, what makes you think he will do so when he is down on capital and in the election stretch (not to mention the bloody aftermath of the drubbing Democrats have been set up for)? Personally, after over a year and a half of this idealistic crap like you are pitching, I am tired of it.

      Quite frankly, I find the thought that Obama will magically make good on everything after the majorities in the House and Senate have been drastically cut, if they are not lost altogether, to be laughable. At best; and there are probably better terms. There will be no way to get these nominations out of the Senate and voted on before the election and it sure is not going to happen afterwards. So, exactly what is the plan you so ardently believe in?

      • calchala says:

        Hate to break it to you but these things take a lot of time and effort. What’s been going on in the Senate? Well nothing, but what’s been attempting to go on in there? Small business, Oil Spill Fixes, Unemployment. There really hasn’t been a push on nominees because those things are so damn time consuming and the GOP is blocking E V E R Y T H I N G. Though everything I’ve read suggests that Sept is the month. That’s probably where you’ll see a big push.

        An uninformed WH official isn’t compelling when it’s bringing news that doesn’t fit your meme? Yet, it’s compelling enough to go on a rant on the WH for “attacking” progressives. Yeah, I’ve read your other work.

        Idealistic crap? Things are tough, because I choose to see REALITY as it is rather than as I want to make it doesn’t make ME Idealistic. I think it’s the other way around.

        As for Johnsen, I’ve read a lot of reports and I think the blame could be shared for a lot of it on the Senate, the WH and everyone else equally. But I do think it was proper that she wasn’t recessed. Her opinions would be eaten alive if she were. Her replacement seems to be just as progressive as she is but she actually has republican support because of an earlier nomination. Look up Virginia Seitz. That appears to be the replacement pick.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, I respect your opinion, but I will stick with mine until I see otherwise. Quite frankly I hope you are right and I am wrong. We shall see. I can tell you though, I probed pretty deeply into the Johnsen nomination and I am very certain it was pretty much entirely the White House and had nothing to do with either the Republicans or Reid. The votes were flat out there for the second half of 2009 and the White House simply did not want a vote called. It is that situation that leaves me so skeptical and cynical on the other progressive nominees and, I think, with very good reason. Again though, I would be thrilled to have you be able to be right and happy to say so if the day comes; I just won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

        • calchala says:

          I think a lot of those “votes” that were held for Johnsen weren’t actually there. Byrd was barely there in the Senate. And despite professed support, Lincoln, Webb and Pryor could be swayed away pretty easily. Nevertheless there was clearly a decision in the WH to avoid votes on abortion if at all possible. HCR was unavoidable, and I think there was a desire to avoid controversy. But coloring your view of all nominees based on one experience, seems a bit much.

        • bmaz says:

          For cloture? Nope the votes were there and solid, including Byrd who was mostly around during the second half of 2009. Now a couple would not have voted up or down for her (Nelson, maybe Pryor) but they were all solid for the cloture vote by the best information. The one problem would have been Kennedy, who was not necessarily available, but that was offset by Lugar. The 60 votes were there for cloture. Not to mention that there is very good reason to believe that if it got down to it and they were pushed, Collins and Snowe would have voted to allow cloture (and very powerful women’s groups in Maine were prepared to push and to threaten scoring on them if needed; they were convinced if it came down to it they could be had). Now, you listed some reasons Obama “kept his powder dry”, and that may be right; who knows. For whatever reason though he was not willing to do what was necessary, or to even try. Just because he wanted to pass his crappy healthcare boondoggle was not grounds for his failure to follow through on the spectrum of critical nominations like he did.

        • Patri says:

          HCR, FinReg, Moratorium on oil drilling, publicly and decidedly supporting nominees, proper stimulus for the people rather than welfare for corportions and banks, HAMP. Need more Calchala, or will you say poor Obama tried–AGAIN. You really are in denial, big-time!

        • dabear says:

          Nevertheless there was clearly a decision in the WH to avoid votes on abortion if at all possible.

          When did avoiding votes on reproductive rights become a liberal value? Ellen Moran seemed to see that writing on the wall in less than 100 days.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Bush administration, as frail as its leadership proved to be, made its appointments its first and most important priority. It pushed them from the top (Cheney), the middle (Dir. of Personnel) and the bottom (Goodling). That is a classic signal, internationally recognized, of the top priority such things were for that administration.

          CheneyBush put its hard right appointees into every department, at all key levels, from dog catcher to the Pentagon. It recessed them in, bullied them in, twisted arms, made deals and voted them in. It circumvented or threw out the rules, hiring acting directors ad infinitum to put them in place and to make the change it wanted, not what we needed. It squeezed hundreds of political appointees into career roles to keep their influence going long after their political appointee peers had returned to the private sector. It handsomely rewarded the players who achieved those ends, thereby creating a network of others willing to do the same.

          Obama has done nothing of the kind. Happier not making waves, he isn’t changing his personnel fast enough or deep enough; he’d rather accept Bush’s staffing and the rightward political tilt that implies. In so doing, he is ironically also sticking a Cheney shiv into the normal political appointment process and helping to institutionalize the things progessives most want changed, such as returning to a semblance of the rule of law, apolitical decisions at the DoJ, and regulatory action that considers the public’s interest above improving the profits of private enterprise.

        • calchala says:

          You are absolutely right. However, that’s what the bush wh wanted to focus on. The Obama wh chose other things. Does that make them better? I don’t know. It’s just what they focused on.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It makes Team Obama woefully naive, incompetent, outgunned, outmanned, out-flanked, and out-maneuvered. Or it makes them exceptionally cynical hypocrites even by exalted, inside-the-Beltway standards. Staffing is how you get anything done, it’s how you make a mark, reward your team, replenish and train the talent available to public government, and move politics in the direction you most want.

          Rahm Emanuel, team manager, is not what a Chicago pol would describe as naive. Which means he’s moving on the staffing front and in the political direction he most wants, or heads would roll.

        • bmaz says:

          Also, I know exactly who Virginia Seitz is, and she is very talented and has a great resume. But she is no Dawn Johnsen by any stretch of the imagination; she has not been deeply involved in the critical issues of torture, privacy, executive privilege and executive power like Johnsen has, nor does Seitz have the level of executive branch experience that Johnsen did (much less prior high level service in the OLC like Johnsen). Seitz is a fine person, but for the job of head of OLC, she does not hold a candle to Johnsen.

        • papau says:

          Sorry – but you forget perhaps Obama throwing Rangel under the bus for the sin of a being a Hillary supporter who told us that this was no time for inexperience. And please – Rangel’s sins are in the history of the GOP leadership and indeed much of the Congress – and he made friends with the IRS before the investigation even began.

          Obama treats corporations as lovers, the GOP as best friends, and progressives as secret Hillary supporters with whom he must get even.

        • posaune says:

          Interesting about Rangel and now Maxine Waters.

          Who decided to throw both of them under the bus?

          They both wanted a draft, remember?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Waiting for Obama to act as a progressive, even to appoint progressives as part of a varied team, waiting, essentially, for him to not be Obama is escapist, magical thinking.

    • zapkitty says:

      Errr… living in denial is no way to address a problem. And we have a big problem with Obama in this regard.

      Even if the candidates were to be renominated what would make such renominations anything but Obama-Style kabuki? Please present any evidence to the contrary.

      The evidence for the case against Obama in this matter is piled high around you so please don’t hurt yourself tripping over it…

      • calchala says:

        Please show me said evidence. I’ve argued my points and said my piece. Disagree if you will, I’m done. I’m not taking on everyone here. All I ask is that folks think about the complexities before getting dismissive.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, well, it is a feisty group. I for one appreciate the discussion though and glad you stopped by to engage in it. There are complexities to it all; without question. Progressives cannot get everything they want – and shouldn’t – but there has been more than a bit of the short shrift. Due to my background, I just get particularly worked up on the legal ones and, yes, the Johnsen bit looms very large in that regard. Goodwin Liu too. For many they were strong symbols; for me, they were far more than that.

        • wavpeac says:

          I believe that the biggest error that Obama has made has been his refusal to hold the previous administration accountable to the constitution and the laws of the land. In his refusal to do so, like the teacher who refuses to take on the class room bully in the first few days of school, he has put himself in the position of having to “defend” everything he does. If he had used the law as his back bone (as the best leaders do) he would have had the respect of the nation and the world. There would have been a huge back lash from the right…but he would have been on the valid side of the road. The reason the right pushes him into the corner is because he made it loud and clear that he would allow them to do this to him from day one. When someone tells you who they are…believe them.

          I don’t want to hear comments about compromise or about how hard it is to take “the path less traveled”. When a leader openly accepts and signs on to “unacceptable behavior” that leader loses respect.

          My greatest gripe against Obama is that he has sullied the very notion of peace, of conflict resolution and bipartisanship. He has sullied these notions by confusing people pleasing, weakness, and compromise with the true path to peace. The path to peace comes from leading with truth. Refusing to accept the unacceptable, getting out of the way of the natural consequences. Instead Obama has actively tried to control the consequences of the Bush doctrine to his advantage (and perhaps in his mind “our” advantage”) instead of letting the path of truth take place. By stepping in and trying to control the consequences he weakened his stance and his need for control (that bipartisanship at all costs thing) is a loud and clear message about what his true value is. He fears the fight, he fears the loss MORE than he cares about truth. There is nothing to respect about that behavior.

          This pattern in his behavior will not change. It is part of who he is, and now he has colluded with the law breakers. He cannot take the path of truth without dirtying himself. He is stuck and so are we. We are better off to recognize the fundamental weakness in his leadership and move toward truth. Lest we make the very same mistake as Obama.

        • Mary says:

          It’s such weak tea, for someone to show up on one thread after many many many threads of discussing the “complexities” and does a flounce and pout off after arrogantly saying that they are the only ones to consider complexities, despite reams and reams of discussions where those “complexities” have been dealt with in detail, over and over.

          It’s like having someone show up and vent that no one talking about the Iraq folly and Obama hiring lots of additional mercenaries to compliment his combat-renamed-something else troops is considering the complexities of what will happen when Hussein hands over his WMDs to Bin Laden.

          I’m sure this kind of thing is well intended, “Though everything I’ve read suggests that Sept is the month. That’s probably where you’ll see a big push” but it’s sad and doesn’t begin to deal with the “complexities” of Senators bought off by corporations and contractors, who have sold the hard right, anti-law, pro-Executive powers, pro-corporate protectionism to their Dem constituencies as necessary, are going to go fresh into elections with a sudden, Sept (9/11 ring a bell) “push” to suddenly support the rule of law and the end of the AUMFs?

          The reason an “anonymous” source that there nominations are going to get a real push is not compelling is it means NO ONE in Obamaco is willing to come out and make such a simple, basic statement. If they are so scared of being linked to support for their own nominees that they have NO ONE to have their name in print on the matter, there’s no will there.

          Obama had all his brightest and best opportunities for the courts here and now, and he squandered them. When Dems have been told over the last 10 years to hold their nose and vote for war-mongers and filthy disgusting torture supporters it wasn’t because of their positions – it was because over and over we were told that the real issue was the horrors of having Republican control over appointing judges who would serve a lifetime; Justices for the Sup Ct who would end up being the real makers of the law – and we were told over and over that this is why we really needed Dems – to protect the lifetime impact of those judicial appointments.

          Political policies and legislation could come and go, get shifted and swayed, if the Dems were disappointing you could still keep pushing, still keep up the mantra of “oh well,things take time” but at least you were protecting the courts – the ultimate arbiters.

          And Obama has failed so miserably on that front that we’d very likely have been better off with McCain. I disagree with bmaz a little bit in that I don’t think Kagan got the nod and was fought for bc she was a centrist – I think she got the nod and fight bc she was part of the inside circle and, more than that, she strategically was either a non-vote against (from recusal) or a vote for Obama’s worst and most clearly depraved legal policy decisions.

          It didn’t “take time” for Obama to aggressively put together policies for American Assassination, making Bagram the legal blackhole that Yoo et al had tried to make GITMO, supporting rendition to torture and bringing it out of the shadows to make it now accepted and irrefutable that anyone sitting in that Oval Office can treat the el-Masris, the Arars, the Najis, the Binyam Mohameds, etc. to any kind of depravity they choose, including permanent disappearance, with no consequence. Those aren’t things you can call back, like a dog run into the neighbor’s yard. They are a permanent stamp and he made sure on things like Naji to include people like Levin in the process.

          Bush wasn’t allowed BY THE REPUBLICANS to put his insider, get out of jail free, pick – Miers – on the court, but the Dems rolled over to move Kagan from her argument to the Sup Ct that the President can jail and punish lawyers for representing people he doesn’t like, to her gleefully and grinningly bragging about that position to Graham in her nomination, to putting her on the bench.

          I haven’t at all been unrealistic about the fact that there are a lot of things that take time and are tough. I’m not all that upset about the things that take time, I’m much more concerned about the things that didn’t take any time.

          It took no time for Obama to exclude the Roubinis, Stiglitzs & Krugmans in favor of the Goldman Sachsers. It took no time for Obama to begin active threats to the UK to cover up the Mohamed torture and he didn’t even mind threatening the lives of Americans in the UK by threatening to withhold terrorist attack info – no time at all for that. It took no time for Obama to start up assassination programs – he was killing civilians with drone bombings within hours of taking office. It took no time at all for him to “surge” his way into Afghanistan. It took not time at all for Xe to get new contracts from him.

          It took no time at all for his WH to start selling the meme that the public option was “too liberal” (btw – I live in the heart of redland – KY/IN border and I can tell you unequivocally that the ONLY things about healthcare reform that you could get lots of right wing, red Republicans to agree with you on was drug reimportation and a public option) and to cut backroom deals with special interests that guaranteed a god-awful result.

          It took no time at all for Obama to not only adopt Bush positions in a plethora of litigation involving Executive power, but to go one better. It took no time at all for Obama to promise to look into the container shipment excavations and murders and then renege, it took no time at all for him to drop any investigation of the handling of al-Libi. It took no time at all for Obama to immediately begin promising that torturers were not going to have any bad consequences and that we would be looking forward, not backward.

          It took no time at all for Obama to distance himself from the whistleblowers who put him in office and, much worse, to go about methodically destroying them and their families with vicious litigation and threats of criminal charges.

          It took no time at all for Obama to do things that will be MUCH MUCH MUCH more irreversible over time than any piece of failed legislation.

          He’s not a good man, not a good President, and in some ways has been worse than Bush. He finger steeples with the best of them, but that’s it. He’s worse than a bad leader, he’s a non-leader who is nonetheless in the grip of compulsive and obsessive power grabs for his office, to be handed off to someone much stronger than him.

          It is idealistic crap of the first order to look at all that and then say, “oh, but just wait for September, then it’s going to be better.” ANd it’s equally crap to say Johnsen’s opinions would be “eaten alive” if she had a recess appointment. To start with, she wouldn’t be issuing opinions – just memoranda, unless you want to join in with the Bush/Obama approach that we have a secret, elite court for the Executive elite – where the OLC passes judgment (subject to their Executive boss’ approval, of course) and issues exonerations.

          Bradbury, her would have been predecessor, was a recess appointment who was held over and held over. Far from his memos being “eaten alive” they have served as the basis for all kinds of torture conspirators to walk free. But maybe that’s what you mean by eaten alive? ANd of course, where Obama is requesting and receiving opinions allowing him to assassinate Americans – – do you see those opinions getting any chance to be “eaten alive?” Of course not – they are classified and not being issued. Just like Bush.

          And btw – lots of people who had REpbulican support in other nominations are going to get it for OLC while everyone is allowing OLC to be a secret power base, allowed by people with your mindset to issue “opinions” and keep it all secret and without consequence.

          The long hard slog isn’t going to be Democrats finally getting legislation past Republican push back.

          The long hard slog is going to be good people realizing they can’t vote for the evil, crappy, criminal candidates of either party and suffering the defeats that will be inevitable with voting for third parties – until the point that a third party can actually get someone elected or the main parties decide they need some of the peel off votes enough to do something about it.

          Until then, a vote for Obama or Levin or Feinstein or Harman or any of them – even Feingold and Leahy these days – is just another vote to bomb more Afghan civilians and give more money to Lockheed and Xe and send the country further into a militarized holding pattern and to sacrifice our 18 yos who thought the military was an honorable career – to sacrifice their lives, their limbs, their minds and their souls.

          A vote for either party is just a vote to throw the virgin into the volcano and hope that changes things. There’s no credibility to either of them, just failed rhetoric that doesn’t match actions and has no realistic basis.

          Great post bmaz.

        • phred says:

          And a great comment from you Mary.

          I was chatting with a neighbor yesterday, a school teacher, about our train wreck of an economy and in the course of things she said, “well, at least Obama is better than Bush”. She was surprised when I didn’t agree, which shifted to being discouraged when I explained why (a much shortened and simplified version of your comment). And finally, as we both admired the spectacularly beautiful weather in our lovely neighborhood, we cheered ourselves up by noting that most people we know are not evil or crazy. The blight that is upon us resides in DC, now if only we can find a way to eradicate it…

          So on that note bmaz, it bears repeating the final paragraph in your excellent piece:

          Maybe progressives ought to be considering someone like Elizabeth Warren for a much higher office than head of CFPB; or they can continue to be treated as “f**cking ret*rds” by the current denizens of the White House.

          Amen to that.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh no you don’t,

          I disagree with bmaz a little bit in that I don’t think Kagan got the nod and was fought for bc she was a centrist – I think she got the nod and fight bc she was part of the inside circle and, more than that, she strategically was either a non-vote against (from recusal) or a vote for Obama’s worst and most clearly depraved legal policy decisions.

          Is solidly part of my hypothesis as well.

        • Surtt says:

          He’s not a good man, not a good President, and in some ways has been worse than Bush. He finger steeples with the best of them, but that’s it. He’s worse than a bad leader, he’s a non-leader who is nonetheless in the grip of compulsive and obsessive power grabs for his office, to be handed off to someone much stronger than him.

          The truly scary part.

          We don’t know who will be elected down the road and as Obama showed, you no longer can even tell what you are voting for.

          Someone will come along who knows how to use all that power and that will be that.

        • R.H. Green says:

          “A vote for either party is a vote to throw the virgin into the volcano, and hope that changes things.”

          What a powerful image; you present an unusually clear, well-organized, and inspiring comment.

          Verbal abuse was heaped on me regarding my intent to vote for Nader in 2000. Then when the Bush disaster ensued, I was held to blame for that. I agree that votes withheld, or cast for sure “losers”, will result in other disasters, but they are at least honest disasters, not charades as bmaz and you have depicted here today.

        • Mary says:

          *g* – I can’t claim originality on it; it’s a common description used on a forum with a lot of very smart, but funny, people where I used to *listen* in a lot. They were all more pounce and flouters themselves.

          @110 – I think there may be a lot in that. I’ve run into that a few times too and had to hope I didn’t make a friend angry when I got crosswise with her 20something daughter over Obama not being all that and more. But you know, they have a lot going on these days, no real news sources and they did comgine to really accomplish something historic – it’s a bit much to have that historic moment crumble to dust. But when you give them concrete examples of things that don’t “take time” and where he acted free from Republican influence, they do process it, IMO, even if they are vested enough for now that they don’t necessarily give you the inch.

          @113 – interesting, that.

        • Mauimom says:

          Mary, I’m beginning to suspect that “calchala” and other posters like him/her are young Obama voters. I recently had a discussion with the 23 year old daughter of friends, and she spouted these same, “poor Obama, he’s trying but those big bad Republicans won’t let him do anything” arguments. [Even said Obama was rightfully fearful of assassination threats.]

          She, and those like her, don’t have the in depth knowledge that comes from reading FDL or any other sources, and just bask in the echo chamber of dKos.

          I’m wondering if this self-induced denial is typical of this age group. [My 22 year old son, who was present during this discussion, assures me it’s not.]

    • PJEvans says:

      Obama can’t even get up the nerve to recess-appoint these people; why do you think he’s going to do anything when the do-nothings are back in session?

    • Patri says:

      “Did you actually read those articles? All 3 of those nominees are getting renominated. Diamond, Liu and Chen are all expected to get renominated. But acknowledging that would destroy this meme you’ve created of progressives getting ‘nothing’.”

      Have you actually been following what has been going on since January ’09? As was pointed out by BMaz, Dawn Johnsen was renominated, as well. What happened there? Gee, I don’t know. Can you tell us, Calchala? Explain to us where and how Obama has actually pushed for anything other than Republican Lite issues. Or, conversely, will you come back in a year and say, “Gee, Obama tried, but, but, but….” Your defense of Blue Dog Barry is ” made up nonsense that has no basis in reality.” Your statement, “There have been disappointments, no question” is as misleading as Obama has been. Look more carefully at the record and you will see that those “disappointments” were purposeful, planned. (Remember the PhRMA and Insurance Company deals made even BEFORE the insurance issue began?) Doughbama is concerned only with those who can further his ambitions and give him the big bucks for his 2012 run, and give him the big bucks after he leaves office–ya know, like Rubin, Goldman Sachs, PhRMA. Dodd is laying the groundwork for his own “retirement” with regard to Warren and FinReg; so, too, is Obama. Stop, already, with this baloney of “give Obama a chance”, and face the truth. From the moment he chose Geithner, Summers, Emanuel it was clear what Obama’s direction would be and is. I said as much in early ’09 and bloggers such as you said I was really an anti-Obama conservative. Well, I was an Obama supporter, volunteer, contributor (big time), and voter. But, I was right in March ’09 and Obama is proving me and others like me right in 2010! Obama is a right-wing Blue Dog. We all have to face that fact and deal with it accordingly.

  5. Jeff Kaye says:

    It was a charade to sucker progressives, and there is no reason to believe he will not do it again. There is a track record with this White House, and it is not a good one; in fact, it is downright pathetic.

    Better start thinking who will challenge Obama. Sure, he’s a hell of lot more handsome and articulate than LBJ was — and less liberal, if as beholden to the Pentagon.

    Who will be our Gene McCarthy, because we pretty damn well need one. Stop wasting time on nominees with the faint hope one liberal will get a post somewhere. Stop the wars. For massive jobs programs. These should be the slogans.

    Thanks bmaz for saying it like it is.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you say, this is more than not supporting progressive talent, legal or otherwise. By keeping them out of his administration, by not appointing them to district or appellate benches, by not making them US Attorneys in place of still sitting neocons, Obama actively puts progressives at a disadvantage in competition with neocon gofers like Brett Kavanaugh (now, absurdly an appellate judge for the DC Circuit) and Jay Bybee (ironically, already on the 9th Cir.). Progressives will have less senior experience, smaller networks, and less political pull. In the dog-eat-dog world of beltway politics, progressives will be ignored as non-players.

    Obama is the leader choosing to make that happen because he would rather support neocons and avoid fighting with them (though fighting his own supporters is just fine).

    Politically, it is time for progressives and liberals to take the gloves off; their opponents did so long ago – and put on brass knuckles in the bargain – now their putative leader is doing the same. Using Marquess of Queensbury rules in a political knife fight is sure to achieve only one thing: political defeat for ourselves and the interests and people we value.

    • bmaz says:

      Earl, that is exactly right. It is not just now, it is the future that is being compromised. That is exactly why Goodwin Liu was so important. If the Obama White House could not move him (not that they really tried in the least) with a Democratic Senate caucus of 59, how the hell are they going to with 52 or whatever they end up with after this election? Liu is a guy you pull all the stops out for and get done when you can. They effectively did not even try.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The SFGate article you cite says this about DiFi:

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who recommended Chen to Obama and supported Liu in the Judiciary Committee, said Friday that Republicans were “trying to kill these nominations” with obstruction tactics.

    Bloggers know that much, senator. What, Ms. Feinstein, did you think this GOP would do? What planning did you do in anticipation of this response? What horses are you trading with the WH and your peers to make happen what you say you want to happen?

    Most senators know how to street fight and play hard ball or they wouldn’t be in the Senate. If they’re not winning on any of these nominations, including the Kobayashi Maru gambit – when playing by the rules and losing, change the rules, but don’t lose – then they don’t really want what they claim. So what do they want? Whatever it is, it does not seem to have the public interest at heart, or anywhere else.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Not putting Gordon Liu on the federal bench is a disservice to all Americans, not simply progressives. And that’s true for many of the other failed staffing choices made by this administration.

    It’s not they they haven’t tried hard enough to make them happen; they haven’t tried. Which means they’re playing a bait ‘n switch game, pretending that President Obama is simply a regretfully stymied Candidate Obama. This White House is serving powdered scrambled eggs, but still telling us they’re serving an organic, farm-fresh egg omelette.

  9. wigwam says:

    Congress is to statesmanship what the WWF is to sports, a choreographed imitation to beguile the public.

  10. rich2506 says:

    The NY Tmes had a good editorial ths morning:

    Most of those efforts were actually highly diluted to draw centrist support, but they did not really get much of it, and the compromises meant that the bills were defended only halfheartedly by Democrats…

    Y’see, this confirms everything that I (And zillions of other progrssives) ever thought about the Obama Administration’s cautious, centrist, compomising strategy. It was always a lose-lose proposition. They sacrifice the enthusiasm of their progressive base voters in return for…what? For unethusiastic swing voters who don’t understand or appreciate what they’re doing and who may swing back again upon very little provocation.

    The way to succeed in politics, IMHO, is by succeeding! Do it whatever way works and worry about the centrist, swing voters later. If you’re successful, the swingvoters will like you. If you fail, they won’t and it won’t matter a whit that you tried so hard to pander to them.

    • TalkingStick says:

      I continue to be struck with Obama’s ineptitude in group dynamics. Only a highly top down authoritarian would fail to understand that an enthusiastic base multiplies by magnitudes the numbers of those carrying his message to the magical independents.

    • spanishinquisition says:

      Also from that article:

      Put most broadly, the Democrats have been failing to delineate the differences between themselves and Republicans, to remind voters what Republicans would do if returned to power and how little their policies have changed from those during the two terms of President George W. Bush.

      When I read the last part I thought why would the Democrats want to remind people how much Obama has acted like Bush by embracing and extending his policies (I then realized this is saying that the Democrats should say the Republican’s policy positions haven’t changed – nevremind that that the Democrats policies are the same as the Republican Bush).

    • whitewidow says:

      Great comment.

      This is why arguments with the “loyalists” who label us as “wanting a pony” are so frustrating. I was always arguing for bolder action from a “pragmatic” and political standpoint, not just a moral standpoint.

      In arguing that the stimulus wasn’t big enough, for example, I based that argument on the actual outcome. If the stimulus was too small, it would not work, the economy would suck, Republicans would say Democrats were wasting money, the policy of stimulus to replace demand would be discredited, no further stimulus would be possible, people would be unemployed, Democrats would lose. What is more “pragmatic” than that? Also, I was fucking right:)

      To me, the biggest disappointment is Obama’s abandonment of “what works”, as stated during the campaign, for the tactic of triangulation and calculations based only on the politics of winning the current news cycle. It doesn’t “work” and it reveals that they have no principals that can’t be compromised for political expediency.

      This administration could not have done a better job at discrediting Democrats and liberal policy solutions if they had set out to do so. At some point soon I will have to reach the conclusion that their incompetence/lack of courage is indeed cover for having set out to put Democrats back in the wilderness for another 30 years.

      As to the large issue, and I address this to all here: the problem from a practical/survival standpoint is that while Democrats have become the Republican party, the right and Republicans are turning into a full-out fascist movement. Democrats may well “deserve” to lose, and are certainly largely corrupt corporatists, but the sanest Republicans are batshit crazy fascist morons who want to repeal half of the constitution, and the rest are batshit crazy theocrats who literally believe in witchcraft and possession by demons and want to institute “biblical law” and bring about armageddon and “The Rapture”.

      Powerful people are supporting and giving a platform to people like Beck and Palin for the purpose of dismantling our republic. They are busy fomenting a “purity” war to achieve their goal. Their stated target for elimination is “progressives.” Please don’t underestimate the actual danger from this movement or gloss over how much worse things would be if someone like Palin or Beck were actually elected.

      • conradcelledge says:

        So you seem to have captured the political moment quite well there.

        These comments ran around the theme of “I figured out Obama is a Shill and I’m gonna…” That is all good because he is pretty much everything described here and worse but the whole thing smacks of a game of musical chairs where some hopeless idiot who is the last person to let go of his Obummer complex is going to have to keep his mouth shut.

        Absolutely, primary him. And yes, Palin will lead to more change than more Obama eventually because she would represent the last gasp. At this point I say let it get worse.

  11. klynn says:

    Speaking of OLC nominations, his latest has me skeptical due to the friendliness to corporations and tight attachment to the National Chamber of Commerce.

    Thank you for a great post bmaz.

    Even my independent voting husband thought Kagan was a terribly weak pick and thought Lui or Chen would have been better picks. Not to mention they would have brought a different balance to the court.

  12. wigwam says:

    In response to rich250 @ 26

    Y’see, this confirms everything that I (And zillions of other progrssives) ever thought about the Obama Administration’s cautious, centrist, compomising strategy. It was always a lose-lose proposition.

    How so? Obama got to serve his true constituency, big money, while convincing the voters and the press that the Republicans were to blame. Looks like “win-win” to me.

    • rich2506 says:

      Essentially, my answer echoes oldhippiejan in #32. Obama may think he’s got the left all sewn up and in his corner, but he may get some seriously unpleasant surprises in 2012.

    • Surtt says:

      How so? Obama got to serve his true constituency, big money, while convincing the voters and the press that the Republicans were to blame. Looks like “win-win” to me.

      Who is blaming the Republicans?
      And big money has decided to go back to supporting Republicans.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Did it ever really leave the GOP? Because Obama often acts like he’s GOP-lite, as if to chase it, and not just to avoid a fight with, um, those adamantly opposed to what his party traditionally stands for.

        • whitewidow says:

          Yes. The Democratic party seems to be desperately trying to prove, probably to the powerful elite who are really in charge, that they are really good little Republicans.

          When they’re not busy punching hippies, they are constantly bragging about all of the Republican ideas they have implemented.

          They spend most of their time sending messages like: See, we can be good little toadies, too! -and- Don’t listen to the lies we have to tell the pesky serfs, we love you more, Big Business.

          I believe they thought they could become the Replacement Republican party and present a better alternative to the elites than the crazy theocrats, in order to curry favor and rake in all the money that used to go to Republicans.

          But they were punk’d. Democrats are making health care companies, Wall Street, and oil companies even more powerful, and these companies are thanking Dems by backing Republican/Tea Party candidates.

          Sadly, the joke’s on us.

  13. Margaret says:

    you knew he was a centrist who worked by increment, compromise and seeking consensus as opposed to a liberal beacon that would take the country in a new and markedly different direction.

    I took a whole lot of abuse on the internets when I tried to point out that Obama wasn’t liberal or even left of center. I wonder if some of those people began to wake up about the time Obama took Rahm Emanuel on as COS? I know some of them to this day defend him as a passionate liberal who just can’t do anything because those awful Republicans won’t leave him alooooooone!

    • bobschacht says:

      I took a whole lot of abuse on the internets when I tried to point out that Obama wasn’t liberal or even left of center.

      I think Obama is a progressive who has decided, strategically, to govern as much as possible from the Center. There is a political center, which Obama was able to win in 2008. And Rahm as COS represents this strategy.

      However, the two-party political system is badly polarized, and Obama has not been able to bridge that divide, despite Rahm’s attempts. The result has been the mangled health care bill, watered-down financial reform, etc. The political center, which is available in a presidential election, is poorly represented in Washington because of the polarization. It may be represented by the Blue Dogs in the House and their equivalent in the Senate. But I think ObamaRahma has had difficulty building the kind of strategic centrist coalition that they intended to build. The ability of the Republicans to discipline their ranks has been a factor, but the Republicans have long been undercutting any “moderate” members they have. The old Rockefeller wing of the Republican party is extinct. The coalition-building ObamaRahma is left with is primarily within the diverse Democratic coalition. But I think they remain convinced that they will lose in 2012 if Obama abandons his centrist strategy and tries to govern as a progressive.

      Just my two cents.

      Bob in AZ

      • Michael Kwiatkowski says:

        Define this phony center of which you write. No one seems able to explain what a centrist is, or what a centrist believes. TRUTH TIME: There is no such thing as a fixed political center. There is no middle ground between left and right. There is no pragmatism in adopting extreme right-wing policies. The sooner you and everyone else can admit that, the sooner you can define the nature of our enemies.

        • bobschacht says:

          Define this phony center of which you write.

          The “center” consists of independents who do not belong to either major party, and who have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. For example, I do not consider Tea Partiers who do not belong to the Republican party as centrists because they almost always vote for Republicans, and never vote for Democrats. And I don’t consider Socialists as centrists, for the reverse reason. You can’t define today’s centrists in terms of their beliefs, or their ideology, because their beliefs are too fluid, or because they are low-information voters who do not have firmly held political beliefs.

          Bob in AZ

        • Michael Kwiatkowski says:

          But that does not define their ideology. What does the mythical “centrist” believe on a given issue? On torture, for example, what middle ground exists between supporting torture (the extreme belief, which renders the torture supporter always an extremist no matter what else he or she claims to believe), and not supporting torture? On illegal surveillance, that is, surveillance without due process (again, an extreme position to support), what middle ground exists?

          There is no political middle ground on such issues. To adopt the extreme position makes one an extremist, always. Issues such as war, torture, the stripping of civil liberties, corporate power, and so on have no middling ideology that people can flock to in order to claim some political “center” that exists only in the false rhetoric of the far right, which it uses to normalize its depraved policies.

        • bobschacht says:

          But that does not define their ideology. What does the mythical “centrist” believe on a given issue?

          You are demanding something that does not exist, so of course you dismissively call the centrist “mythical”. I defined the centrists by their behavior. I don’t think they are articulate enough to have developed an ideology of the sort you are demanding from them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. In fact, what may define them is their *lack* of commitment to any ideology.

          Bob in AZ

      • hijean831 says:

        Obama has not been able to bridge that divide

        Obama builds lovely bridges, the problem is they’re one-way.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The other problem is that bridges need to make landfall on both sides of the river. Obama tends to describe good bridges rather than make or complete them.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If Obama were a progressive in centrist’s clothing, on the belief that that would make him less of a target, involve him in fewer distracting scuffles, than displaying his progressivism, he has badly miscalculated. He’s being called fascist, communist, socialist, hippy, foreigner. His opponents distract, lie and obstruct across the board in order to deny him any achievements that might earn him or his party more support or loyalty, even among his most stalwart supporters.

        If he were a progressive in centrist’s clothing, he would recognize the failure of that disguise and discard it. He has not. He has doubled down on his right-of-centerism, which suggests either a critical flaw in his make-up or a critical flaw in the description of him as a hidden progressive.

        Obama’s actions, and his studied inaction on crucial issues that might have allowed us far better to recover from Bush II’s brutal excesses, forces me to conclude he is not a progressive, that he holds them in disdain, that their demands get in the way of his true priorities and whatever it is he really wants to do. Obama is doing is what he wants to do; the meme that he is a regretfully stifled progressive is the disguise.

        • arcadesproject says:

          Your Lordship, I’ve been following the Obama presidency closely, I think, from his inauguration to this very day. I have concluded that Obama is the worst thing to happen to tis country since its inception. As to his character, as to who he deeply is, as a man, at his core, I think he is evil.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Obama is a common, garden variety Chicago pol, not the man of progressive, citizen-oriented change he sold himself as being, which is why helping discard his liberal costume is an important function the press ought to play. If it’s the blogg press rather than the MSM, no matter.

  14. perrylogan says:

    I continue to believe Obama is a far-right conservative posing as a centrist Democrat. There is no compromise or conciliation, which are the hallmarks of a centrist. Instead, we get 100% continuation of extreme right-wing policies. This makes Obama some kinda neocon.

    • Margaret says:

      This makes Obama some kinda neocon.

      The fact that he refuses to purge even the executive branch of burrowed in Bush ideologues and the make up of the catfood commission is enough to see that he’s not even left of Bush 1.

      • lchaitin says:

        Obama is either a total incompetent or traitor to those who so enthusiastically supported him in ’08. Either way he is not fit for the job and should be primaried.

  15. oldhippiejan says:

    (but they will expect the votes whenever elections come around).

    They may be surprised when the votes are not there. I drank the Obama KoolAid and am so furious I could spit nails. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I don’t care if the Gop ticket consists of Palin and Beck. I’m done voting for the lesser of two evils anymore.

    No one will primary Obama. Dissent is obsolete because the system doesn’t allow for it.

    • seaglass says:

      Same here. I’m finished with voting for Corporatist candidates. I also don’t care if Palin wins. America gets what it deserves anymore. Look at the mess these self-interested morons are reeking on the land and it’s people.

  16. Margaret says:

    Watch. Come 2012 he’ll acknowledge that liberals and progressives are angry at him. He’ll say things like “message received” and issue platitudes and tell us that only together can we make the changes that we need to make the country work for the people. And after a few rousing speeches and a couple of token primary challengers, he’ll take the Democratic nomination which was a sure thing the day after election day of 2008. He’ll have some wingnutty opponent that makes him look like the only sane choice and we’ll have to decide between the one anointed by the corporations, (despite their rhetoric), or the insane, totally off his/her rocker that the corps put in to ensure Obama’s re-election. Even if he’s polling in the 20s against the Republican field and his theoretical primary challenger polls in the 70s against the same field, Obama will get the nomination. Look at Lincoln/Halter. That election was engineered for a Lincoln victory because only a Lincoln primary win would put that seat in the hands of a Republican and that’s just what Wal-Mart wanted. Think about that before you spend another cent there. The corporations in league with the Dem establishment are trying the same thing in the Bennett/Romanoff fight. Think about that before giving another cent to the DNC, the DLC, DCCC or the DSCC.
    We are so f*cked.

    • gesneri says:

      We got a call from the DNC the other day asking for money. We refused, said we would give money directly to candidates if we found any worth a contribution. They urged us to let them distribute funds “where most needed”, we said no thank you. My mother took the call–I wish I had picked up, I wouldn’t have been as polite as she was. I would also have told them that I have changed my status to Unaffiliated and am no longer a registered Democrat.

      • Margaret says:

        Good for you guys! Yeah, I’ve never been affiliated with any party but I’ve always voted. I started voting in 1978 and even then neither major party came close to where I was.
        EDIT: If they called me and told me that I should let them distribute it where it was most needed, I would have said, “Two words: ‘Blanche Lincoln'”

    • PJEvans says:

      He’d better receive that message before 2012, or he won’t get out of the primaries, assuming he gets that far. I’m not going to vote forhim then, and I’m not going to be voting for candidates he and Rahm back, if there’s anyone else to vote for that’s sane.

    • bobschacht says:

      I think in 2012 we’re headed towards a repeat of LBJ-Goldwater (1964) and a similar pattern of results for the next decade or so.

      Bob in AZ

  17. RodL2 says:

    After seeing how Obama caved on investigating and prosecuting torturers, caved to pharma and then insurance, then dumped Dawn Johnson, I am ready to dump Obama as major disappointment!
    I campaigned for him, got out the vote, etc. But not again, until he puts up a little hope and change!

    • knowbuddhau says:

      Nice! Also like your other comments.

      Barack Obama: Change is the only thing that ain’t what it was under Bush.

      And thanks, bmaz, calchala, earlofhuntingdon, for the informative debate.

    • Mary says:

      That would be a good one.

      I think the problem isn’t that he fooled or didn’t fool, though, it’s that everyone buys into the “you can’t throw your vote away” meme and feels like they have only two choices and have to worry about whether or not it is “worse” to have Palin or Obama; instead of voting for, they vote against.

      That’s never going to be a long term recipe for success.

      • reddflagg says:

        Progressive Party in 2012? Be realistic about goals, run only in left-leaning areas (both coasts, Denver/Boulder etc), and those of us not in areas like that help in any way we can. Do not run a presidential candidate (can’t win in the beginning in an SMSP system, and want to avoid the “waste your vote” mantra), only run in House and some Senate. Party over person, strict adherence to principles, the candidate is a representative of the party. Who wants to start? I was once a university-level professor in political science and thus know a bit about it and though not really suited as an organizer would be willing to help in any way. A regional party could have an impact in the same way the NDP is concentrated in the prarie provinces of Canada and yet has had an impact (most obviously single payer). Let’s go!

  18. wigwam says:

    I continue to believe Obama is a far-right conservative posing as a centrist Democrat.

    Our political coordinates have become so skewed that I haven’t a clue what anyone means by “center.” So far as I can tell, the center of public opinion is somewhere to the left of the average Democratic politician, both on economic issues and on foreign affairs.

    And, Obama is well to the right of Dwight Eisenhower, Ricard Nixon, and Gerald Ford.

  19. trademarkdave says:

    Obama has spent the past two years pissing away his mandate and his advantage, and I’ll be fucked if I’m the one that takes the blame when he goes under. You brought it on yourself, you fucking asshole.

    • seaglass says:

      Exactly. That’s just what I tell the Obamabots at dKOS. They scream Naderite at me and I just laugh @ them.

  20. jaango says:

    Excellent diary, bmaz.

    From here in the Sonoran Desert and among the Spanish-speaking community, Obama’s “support” has tanked. To wit, get three Hispanic activists in the same room, and two will tell you that their “disgusted” and the remaining one will tell you that he is “displeased” with Obama.

    Should a variety of Democrats lose in December, I will say again, I will not shed a tear, and I am a staunch Democrat.

    Equally important, Obama surrendered his “agenda” and his “legacy” to the Senate on the misguided belief that they will perform a series of “miracles” for him. Not going to happen and Senators don’t walk on water.

    The other day, a conversation ensued on the “decline of America” and the overwhelming majority of responses were that the “arch-conservatives” are driving Obama’s ‘agenda’ since the Republicans continue to determine the most likely outcome via the “filly buster” and we are their cherished fillies and to be busted. To wit, in contrast, we in the Spanish-speaking community are no longer a wedge issue for Democrats and Republicans alike.


  21. PhilK says:

    Both parties are owned by big money. In general, the Republicans are owned by big stupid money (military contractors, rentiers, etc.) and Democrats are owned by big too-smart-for-its-own-good money (hedgefunds, for example). See senators McCain and Shumer for more information.

  22. canadianbeaver says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it over and over. Obama stormed into the Whitehouse with the biggest mandate for hope and change to EVER hit the United States. IF he actually had any inclination to follow up on the hopes of the electorate, the US after these 18 or so months, would be a drastically different place. There is absolutely no logic at all in using the arguments of “but the Repubs….” “but the Senate…” “but the bluedogs…” or fill in whatever excuse is being used to justify the pure and simple fact that he is nothing more than a lying conniving politician and nothing more. Period. Those who put their hopes and dreams and faith in him, have every right to be PO’d. Sorry for the boldness, but the man is nothing more than a lying POS. Good post Bmaz!!!!

  23. darkblack says:

    didn’t ever expend any of his precious political capital

    In the words of Joni Mitchell, he spends every bit ‘as though it were marked currency’.
    While I don’t expect the President of the U-nited States of Amerryca to be a flaming commie (or even a ‘liberal’, given the level of operant conditioning against such states as applied to the country at large since the Cold War), the pre-electoral peekaboo game played by Team Obama to garner populist sentiment bracketed by the timorous consensus reality of White House bipartisan appeasement and capitulation to entrenched interests grows maunderingly tiresome.

    Yes, there has been change – and compared to George W. Bush the Kennebunkport Kommando, positive change – but proffering lip service to ideologues without the follow-through has consequences that even the most cynical rock-ribbed neoliberal might shed a tear over.


  24. pdaly says:

    We should support a primary challenger. Time to challenge the conventional DC wisdom that the party does not primary challenge a president of its own party.

    Or more simply, once Obama switches to the Republican party, we should nominate a progressive candidate for president.

    I found autotune the news. The website should be banned! I actually enjoyed watching Fox news and MSNBC when it is set to music:

  25. mstar57 says:

    EXCELLENT post, bmaz!! It’s a shame really – referring to what Obama has done to this country. Without question, he is the “Ultimate Con Man”…not to mention a “War Criminal Extraordinaire” which by the way even surpasses George W. Bush’s demented escapades. I fear nothing can save the USA at this point from complete fascism…

  26. trademarkdave says:

    The only reason Obama even has a chance of re-election is because the brownshirts are determined to run a certifiable lunatic in 2012. But if a REAL Democrat aggressively primaried him, Obama would be out on his ass quicker than you can say “LBJ”.

  27. PJEvans says:

    I was looking at a story yesterday or the day before about Mr O and the people he picks: they all have wonderful Ivy League credentials, they’re smart, but they can’t get past their own smarts to do what needs to be done. And his office is being run by Rahm and Geithner and Summers, who don’t want anyone else to have access to Mr O, not even guys like Krugman. So he’s not getting input from anyone outside a small group, he’s not getting anyone telling him how unbalanced (politically and economically) his advisers are, and he’s insulated as thoroughly as Shrub was.

  28. seabos84 says:

    c’mon with the fascist defined “centrist” label.

    center of what?

    He represents 5% of the population – that professional / managerial cla$$ of Democrat$ who couldn’t run a hot dog stand, but, who excel at getting fat jobs with fat paychecks as a lackey in 900 page AHIP-Care Bank-Care legislation.


    • Michael Kwiatkowski says:

      Exactly. We have to stop letting the enemy define terms for us. We have to be willing to call things what they are. Fascist policies are not in some made-up political middle ground that exists only in the mind; they are fascist policies. And we must call them exactly that. Yes, we will be written off as lunatics for it. That was going to happen anyway. But as Glenn Greenwald pointed out the other day, the American empire is collapsing around our ears — and fascism is to blame. This is not something we should label as normal, acceptable politics.

  29. roydavis says:

    In response to Margaret @ 37
    “We got a call from the DNC the other day asking for money. We refused, said we would give money directly to candidates if we found any worth a contribution”
    In the past, when getting calls from the various Dem fund raisers, I would go on a tirade about “acquiring spine or encouraging actual rethug filibuster, etc.”, but now I simply hang up. There is no point. We give to Act Blue for individual candidates. We need BETTER DEMS than Nelson, Baucus, Lincoln, etc. Too many of the current dems in office are just as corporate as ALL of the rethugs. They like corporate money and support. It’s sooooo much easier to get $10,000 at a cocktail party than $1000 via the internet or phone bank. Obama has always been a centrist, but I did not think he would be so “right leaning”. The RGS trio of advisors is all the evidence one needs of Obama’s disappointing intentions. We need a real rebellion, and we have not sunk low enough yet to enable real protest, but as 2011 approaches and unemployment & foreclosures remain high, we may get there.

  30. Mason says:

    Obama could have ignored progressive and liberal Democrats, but he didn’t. He nominated Dawn Johnsen, Goodwin Liu, and Edward Chen raising their expectations and then he ignored them with their lives indefinitely stuck on hold. As they waited and waited and waited some more, he didn’t even try to push their nominations. With no respect or regard for their feelings and life circumstances, he used them to create the appearance of respecting and supporting the progressive and liberal wing of the Democratic party that worked so hard to get him elected.

    There is absolutely no question that Obama never intended to have Dawn Johnsen head the Office of Legal Counsel, given his focused and continuing assault on civil liberties; his shell game with innocent people by moving them from Guantanamo to Bagram to deny them due process of law and freedom; his continuing support for torture; his steadfast determination to look forward and not backward (except for whistle blowers) by protecting Bush Administration officials from prosecution for war crimes; his assertion that he can order anyone assassinated whenever he wants; and his increasing commitment to using drones that slaughter innocent women and children, which are war crimes. Her views are well known. She opposes all of those things. Therefore, he did not nominate her in good faith.

    Dawn Johnsen did not deserve to be treated like dirt and that is exactly what he did. Barack Obama is an awful president and an awful human being.

  31. jaango says:

    In this 111th Congress, Hispanics, writ large, were seeking to achieve three successes, and they were:

    1. Open Access to the VA, Medicare, and Indian Health Services. This did not happen.

    2. Immigration Reform, and ultimately, an up or down vote, and advocated on this basis, for understanding who the “friends” and “political allies” could eventually determined, and especially among the Democrats. This did not happen!

    3. Jobs. With American needing to create 170 million jobs in the next twenty years, and this lack of jobs will fall hardest on Hispanics, our concern was both visible and viable. Obama did nothing!

    And for th 112th Congressional Session, Hispanics have craft our 3 primary issues, and if Obama fails at success relative to these Issues, Obama will be toast, when it comes to his re-election effort. All his finely-tuned rhetoric for “pandering with platitudes” will fall on deaf ears, and correctly so.

    And not to put too fine of a point to all this, but Hispanics are “pissed”.

    • GDC707 says:

      In this 111th Congress, Hispanics, writ large, were seeking to achieve three successes, and they were:

      1. Open Access to the VA, Medicare, and Indian Health Services.

      I’m curious. Do you mean open access to these services for Hispanic-American citizens? Or access for any Latino, from any country who manages to thrust his or her body 1 foot across the border?

  32. zeabow says:

    Bmaz says:

    Maybe progressives ought to be considering someone like Elizabeth Warren for a much higher office than head of CFPB; or they can continue to be treated as “f**cking ret*rds” by the current denizens of the White House.

    I couldn’t agree more with that. obama’s the enemy of about 90% of the population if not more; too bad many are unable … or unwilling … to see thru his deceitful and misleading words and judge him instead by his actions.

    The head pr man of the establishment is all about maintaining the corrupt, status quo power structure in this country. Progressives are about tearing it down so that society is more humane, moral and fair, so progressives are the enemy of the obama administration.


  33. seaglass says:

    Try on Obama’s relentless abandonment of his base and the Indies that voted for him. The only thing this guy has going for him is how far to the right the Tea Party loons are pushing the GOP. With them out here screaming that he’s a Socialist of all things it kind of makes it easy for him to make like he’s Progressive even if he not.

  34. reddflagg says:

    Great post, but my view of this guy has long since moved past “disappointed” into “loathe.” It is like living through Reagan all over, he is an absentee monarch letting his corrupt advisers run the show.

  35. tesseral says:

    I am really beginning to think that Obama, Feinstein, and the Blue Dogs are Republican plants. Their policies certainly aren’t Democratic.

  36. workingclass says:

    Obama didn’t just deceive party liberals. He deceived independents and voters to young to know if they are liberals or not. The folks who voted for Bush in 2000 can be forgiven. If they voted for him again in 2004 (compassionate conservative my ass) they are irredeemable. Anyone voting for Obama AGAIN likes being a serf. Don’t even try to scare me with Sara Palin. Practitioners of lessorevilism are the reason we don’t have an opposition party today.

  37. Michael Kwiatkowski says:

    What is “centrist” about continuing torture, wars, eavesdropping and murder without due process, corporate bailouts, and selling out? No no no, these are all extreme right-wing positions held by a right-wing extremist. Do not fool yourself into thinking Obama is anywhere near the mythical political center.

  38. GDC707 says:

    And yet, just a few weeks ago I was reading quite a few regular FDL commenters saying that, as much as it pains and saddens them, they were just going to have to hold their noses and vote for Obama and the Dems because they just couldn’t countenance the the thought of those evil R’s taking over again. Crikey! Is there no end to this battered spouse syndrome?

    Unless your Demo Representative is golden, vote for a 3rd party candidate. Just do it and don’t give me that throwing away your vote crap again. I got news for ya: You’ve BEEN throwing away your damn vote all along.

    If there is no 3rd party candidate, then write in Elizabeth Warren. She should be the default candidate all across the country from dogcatcher to the President.

    Elizabeth Warren for dictator.

    • satoram says:

      That’s right.

      One is just more dishonest than the other.

      One way or the other this country is sliding further and further to the right. Voting for Obama over Palin won’t stop that. That’s the sad truth. We have two parties now—a rightwing bunch of lunatics who are at least honest about being a rightwing bunch of lunatics.

      Or rightwing conmen, trying to get their share of power and money–while the strategy makes the Corporatocracy the rule of the land and puts them in a no-lose situation.

      My children are now young adults and moving into this corrupt world that has been created. But there really is no lesser of two evils anymore–just different methods.

      No more.

      I’ll vote for only progressive candidates and work my ass off to get them on the ballet–whether they have a chance in hell or not. As for the establishment, pre-packaged, pre-picked candidates?

      I quit that game.

  39. Bluetoe2 says:

    Let the Republicans win in 2010 and 2012. Perhaps when the Republicans make things even worse the sleep walkers known as the U.S. public will finally realize they’ve been “punk’d” and rise off their ever spreading asses and throw off a corrupt plutocracy.

  40. jaango says:

    GDC707 @80

    I was referring to citizens, generally speaking.

    As to your subtle and non-asked question, and that being, “Are undocumented immigrants included?”, permit me to respond accordingly. The Courts have already ruled on this question, and the feds reimburse the states and hospitals, either directly or indirectly. And yet, the respective treasuries at the state and muncipal levels receive the tax dollars that the spending patterns of these undocumented immigrants deliver. In short, without these taxes, our taxes would have to be elevated a couple of percentage points.

    See, GDC707, you have taken me off and into a tangent that has nothing to do with progressive politics.

    Now, Hispanics and Native Americans are the “backbone” of progressive politics, and here’s why? Local polling indicates that 73% of Hispanics feel that they are being ‘distrusted’ and for non-Hispanics, 37% agree with Hispanics on this level of “distrust”.

    Consequently, what you have all across America together or collectively, is in the methodolgy among progressives to be utilized. And when this effort is concretized, folks like Obama and the like-minded cadre-thinkers, will lose any perceived political gravitas among Hispanics and Native Americans. And that means that the folks here at the Lake, can become that organizing tool to bring about a progressive America much faster than can any political group or organization currently in the political biz. And I would even be willing to go further, the Lake and DailyKos are about the only two national entities that have a seriously high “trust level” among Hispanics. Now, I am sure that you will disagree with me on this point by suggesting that the National Council of La Raza, could pull this organized entity off, but is incapable of happening since the NCLR is a organizing tool for non-profits in search of federal and state tax dollars. And that precludes them for being blatantly political.



  41. hazmaq says:

    bmaz, I’m so glad you mentioned your credentials! I’ll have to read everything you write from now on.
    As a one time Ca./Az. law student- who had to quit school for moneyed reasons – my interest in all things 9th circuit escalated since the Roberts Court seems particularly rabid to get their hands on any of ‘our’ rulings. The Court is likely to get even more under Kagan.

    Your piece is outstanding. I hope the Obama/Emanuel Whitehouse has burned into their brains every word of it.

    Personally, I would add some clarification to your comment that our hopes and beliefs in Obama came from ourselves and not him. Actually many of us had no choice but to take him at his campaign word, only after other candidates fell by the wayside.
    It was him or Clinton, when I really wanted a Russ Feingold.
    Clinton blew her own chances, I think, for her role-playing as a New York pro-war/hardliner, when at heart she wasn’t that at all.
    Truth be told, for many of us Obama was simply the last guy standing.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I understand that. I didn’t frankly see much difference between Clinton and Obama at the time and was fine with either one. In hindsight I would have to recalculate that thought a little…..

      And yes, I am a creature of Arizona (and many summers in California – Santa Monica – when I was younger).

      • bigbrother says:

        The debate with Pastor Warren (Orange County CA) let me into the light on Obama’s shiftiness. His staff choices, and before taking office his support of Paulson’s trillion dollar giveaway to the banksters turned me totally off and I have a record on FDL of these and other issues that show Obama threw us to the DLC wolves when he gave them his campaign contacts and summarily threw liberals and progressives under the bus.
        You and Mary sum up the Obama Administration nicely. They support conservative policies and values. They are anti Muslim and have made many more enemies for our country than friends. They have extended the recession/depression by not getting a job program up and running.
        Obama’s hypocracy is unequaled in American politics.

        We desparately need a third party at least for a wedge for good policy.

  42. ManwithaParachute says:

    I want to send Obama home on the Jackass he rode in on.

    The Democratic party as it is currently performing is an embarrassment. They were an embarrassment before Obama became president but, it is as if the lot of them have been assimilated into the Borg. Not a perfect simile, I know. What central authority is pulling strings on these people?

    These past two years are an emotional throwback to Nixon and Reagan only then I was in grade school and high school with far more naivety and now the severity of pain has moved to numbness. The real damage is deep, injurious, and permanent.

    All of the intelligence and national security changes implemented by Obama and those by Bush, strengthened by Obama are destroying this nations ability to recover. Now, I don’t think Obama would literally use these changes to target political enemies. And, it has nothing to do with Obama being a good person – it has to do with the presidential suit being empty. The current crop of Republicans worry about whether he wears a jacket in the Oval Office. Many of us worry about Obama leading in that office or anywhere. The First Labradoodle takes Obama for walks. The next president is likely to come out of the current far-right mentality we are witnessing. Palin would send her ex-brother-in-law off for special renditions just as soon as Levi has been disappeared. Obama will have made this future all possible which really means we will have done it to ourselves. The lesser of two evils still begets evil. We have to do more than vent and 2010 election seems better than 2012 to do so.

    • Mauimom says:

      The First Labradoodle takes Obama for walks.

      Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan rightly points out that the last president to “correctly” walk his dog [i.e., not let the dog walk him] was JFK.

  43. captjjyossarian says:

    Do Rahm and Obama feel that progressives are bad for bidniz?

    My gut feel is that if there’s a face saving alternative to Warren, they’ll take it. But I just don’t see one, Warren really stands out publicly as a strong candidate.

  44. Theater403 says:

    Bmaz and Mary–you guys are on the nose per usual. But, what is the truth now has been the truth in the past. We have learned these lessons before (or rather, haven’t learned them, though they’ve been offered to us). So, reddflag says, “let’s go do something right” that is progressive; someone says, “get local” and divisions based on theater politics and power, go by the wayside.

    Chomsky has forever and always been right. I think William Blum says on the back of his books that a president making any of the changes we all so desperately believe need made will, in short order, be assassinated.

    Chomsky has said we are at least freer than so many others–I’m not sure this is the case any longer, especially the more we discover that domestic surveillance is constant and I for one have no faith that we won’t wake up to a “disappearance” event akin to that in Argentina.

    I guess many of us are weak and absolutely unable to know “where to begin”…who has the one-page template to political action? Step one, protect your assets–better, have no assets that need protection. Poverty is desperate for more than cash–poverty can breed human community. How do we organize our impoverished?

    I’m afraid I will ramble having zero focus today and most days.

    Again, thanks for these bitter pills in confirmation of our Profitocracy.