a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The good news is…

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 2nd, 2008

…that the psychopath who said this:

The good news is — and it’s hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

…is going to get repudiated this fall along with the psychopathic wing of the grand old psychopathic party that laughed with him and stuck with him through thick and thin and lies piled upon lies.

It’s the possibility of the electoral annihilation of the Republican Party that intrigues me about Obama. But I can’t count on it, and I just don’t believe he’d be met halfway by people like Bush and the kind of people who laughed with Bush there in Mississippi. For the endless, bitter rearguard fight the Mitch McConnells of the world are sure to put up if Dems win in November, maybe we need a team with a little less youthful enthusiasm and a little more guile and venom. That’s what intrigues me about Clinton. I’d be fine with either one picking the other for Vice President.*

Come fall, I now think I’ll be working for either one. But my mantras won’t be “Change You Can Believe In” or “Hillary Cares.” They’ll be “Remember New Orleans,” “Out of Iraq,” and “Let’s Drown the GOP in the Bathtub This Time.”

* What about Edwards? Novak may just be engaging in campaign season mischief, but I’d be happy if his Attorney General rumor comes true .

14 Responses to “The good news is…”

  1. Nell Says:

    about Hillary’s polarizing the electorate and energizing the Republicans, [Wilentz] says that’s a Republican head-fake
    With all due respect to Wilentz, whom I admire and enjoy as a historian, this is most assuredly not a head-fake. Clinton energizes Republicans, period. And that’s a really, really bad quality at a moment when it’s vital that the Republican base be de-energized, de-moralized, de-mobilized, and defeated. At a time when they’re desperately looking for something to take the focus off their own failures and divisions, we should face them with a figure who unifies them — when we have an inspiring alternative who can bring hundreds of thousands of new people into the process on the side of sanity?
    I appreciate Hilzoy’s positive, fact-filled making of the case. But I’m not ashamed to make the negative case, which is also based on facts and experience.
    Clinton’s candidacy also puts stresses on the deepest divisions in our party. (Which I think is more precisely the problem than her “polarizing the electorate”). There are a lot of us active Dems out here who are unwilling to put much energy into defending Clinton from the inevitable smears and jeers from the right. We’re still angry at her and her husband’s sellouts, and we’re not one bit excited about the whole tired triangulating crowd she’ll carry back into the executive branch.
    I, too, was giving serious consideration to voting for Edwards next week. But I’ll probably go with the O, unless he does something to dishearten me between now and then (such as agree to debate Clinton on Fox).

  2. RobertNAtl Says:

    Hillary voted FOR the Iraq war and has NEVER apologized or said she made a mistake in doing so, like Edwards did.
    Obama OPPOSED the war in Iraq, and did so publicly at a time when (a) public opinion was still supportive of the war and (b) he was running for the US Senate and thus taking a risk in opposing a war that still enjoyed broad public support at the time.
    It frankly amazes me how many Democrats who are so strongly anti-Iraq war are still on the fence between Hillary and Obama and refuse to hold Hillary accountable for her vote on the Iraq war AND her refusal to concede that her vote was a BIG mistake.

  3. Thomas Nephew Says:

    That’s a very good point, and one I’m thinking hard about myself.
    I’d only point out that while the stakes for him were high, they were not quite as high as you claim. Obama was not running for US Senate at the time he made the speech (Oct 2, 2002 — he ran and won in 2004), but for the Illinois Senate in what I presume was an antiwar Chicago, Illinois district [link]. The subsequent 2 years took the bloom off pro-war sentiments statewide.
    But Obama made the right call, he could have crippled his statewide and national career by making the speech he did, and he deserves full credit for that.

  4. RobertNAtl Says:

    Not to nitpick, but I was referring to his open and public opposition to the Iraq war during his 2004 US Senate run, not his 2002 speech. 2004 was a time during which even the Democratic presidential candidate felt compelled to say that he was for the Iraq war before he was against it (or was it vice versa?), showing that in 2004 open and public opposition to the war itself (as opposed to “how the Bush administration was handling the war”) was perceived to have significant political liabilities. I agree that the 2002 speech, while prescient, did not present the same political risks to Obama.

  5. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Not to nitpick
    You’d be within your rights, that’s what I did. 🙂
    for the Iraq war before he was against it
    Actually, what Kerry was referring to being “for” and “against” was one of the first tranches of money to pay for the war. He voted for paying for it by rolling back tax cuts; when that failed, he voted against the funding bill. (link–see “$87B vote”–where CBS still labels this a “flip-flop.”)* By that measure, Obama was arguably against the war before he was for it, since he’s joined Clinton in approving at least one of Bush’s subsequent requests, ultimately without any tax-cut-rollback, troop rotation, or timeline strings attached. (link, see HR1268 #103,#109.) Kerry’s quote was a rhetorical gift to the GOP, but it was also an accurate summary of a consequential 2003 reservation about the war (assuming we agree that an actually paid-for disastrous war would have gotten unpopular within its core support group sooner than a disastrous war on a credit card).
    ADDENDUM: re “hard to believe anti-war Dems are on the fence when Obama opposed the war” — the 2d link above demonstrates, at least through March of last year, that there was hardly any difference between O and C on Iraq votes once O got into the Senate. One “to be fair” counter, I think, is that O got himself elected to a place where he was voting about the same quagmire C was; he just wouldn’t (perhaps, see below) have voted for getting into the quagmire.
    * OTOH, the “still would have voted for it” statement noted there was truly regrettable. Not quite in the same league, but worth noting, are Obama’s statements recounted by Tim Russert: “In July of `04, Barack Obama, “I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don’t know,” in terms of how you would have voted on the war. And then this: “There’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage.” (In fairness, re the 1st statement, Obama said he was being a loyal Kerry supporter after Kerry’s nomination. OTOH, it offsets the impression that Obama was always vociferously anti-Iraq war during his Senate campaign. )

  6. mick Says:

    What isn’t deniable is that Obama has been a player – and an ambitious one – since the day he entered politics. Nor is it deniable that he actively campaigned for inclusion in the exclusive DLC Club for Ambitious Democrats. Like Arianna, he’s good at reading political tea leaves and even better at taking orders. He’s also been lucky.
    None of that makes him much different. Whatever he says, what he does will be in lockstep with what fellow Illinoisan Rahm Emanuel decides will keep the party’s corporate contributors happy. Whatever else, Barack may be, he’s no boat-rocker.

  7. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Well, ambition goes with the territory at Barack’s, Hillary’s, and John E.’s level, I think. Even Dennis the K.’s! And I should think whatever influence Rahm may wield with Barack now would surely evaporate if Obama were elected.
    Agree he’s not a boat rocker. But then neither is Hillary, and my choices are Barack or her — or voting Edwards, or sitting out the primary in some other fashion. Hillary proved to be a follower and not much of an experienced hand on the Iraq AUMF and its failed Levin amendment. Barack was ahead of the curve on that one, and that may be more to the point of a president than the specifics of a health care plan. Then again, his health care idea sort of “gives up early” compared to hers — also not my ideal. Dither, dither. — Thanks for dropping by, Mick, and thanks for the comment!

  8. mick Says:

    You’re welcome. I drop by more often than I leave comments – usually, you’ve said it all.
    To me Clinton/Obama is Tweedledee/Tweedledum. They’re both conservatives, they’re both, shall we say, sensitive to the demands of corporate funders, and they will both be led by the DLC’s sense of what they can get away with before they alienate those funders. IMV, there is NO OPPOSITION PARTY IN THE US ANYMORE. One is simply a less lethal corporate puppet than the other. Both have backed Bush’s economic policies (though they think we should not move quite so far quite so fast, which is like having an argument over whether to let 10,000 children starve next year or take steps so it will only be 8000), both refuse to commit to ending the Second Gulf War, neither is willing to pay more than lip service to the needs of workers, and neither – so far as I know – has committed to ending the unConstitutional Bush Power Grab if they’re elected.`
    In short, Bush might as well be running again and we might as well all be voting for him as for the Gobbsey Twins. Like the Democratic party as a whole for the last year, they’re promising change they have no intention of delivering. It’s going to be more of the same no matter who wins.

  9. Thomas Nephew Says:

    we might as well all be voting for [Bush] as for the … twins
    I’ll disagree there, I think they’re both a lot better than Bush. For one thing, they’re both basically smart enough not to have to outsource all the frontal lobe work to staff, vice president, whomever; neither will be a figurehead unwilling and/or unable to articulate their administration’s policies beyond “fer us er aginst us” hoots. While that’s setting the bar pretty low, of course, their opinions on questions about executive power posed by Charlie Savage were pretty good. (I rated them about a tie; given the presence of Republican yahoos like Romney, Obama/Clinton differences were foreshortened, so to speak.) Neither one is cut from Federalist Society, unitary executive, Cheney/Addington/Yoo cloth. However, the questions were more about “stuff Bush did wrong” than “stuff you’ll do to set things right”.
    But I agree there’s a lack of an opposition party. I’d go a half step or so farther and say there’s a lack of an opposition branch; that is, I think Congressmen and -women increasingly see their branch as a minor league farm team for the executive branch (or K Street) major leagues. There’s a conflict of interest either way; I think maybe there should be a time period between leaving the legislative branch and joining the executive one.

  10. mick Says:

    Your point about the lack of an opposition branch is a good one. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s true. Our putative check-and-balance branch has basically turned into an enabling branch.
    As for the rest, I’m going by their histories – what they’ve actually voted for and what they said and wrote before they set their eyes on the prize. By that measure, honestly, the differences you cite are liable to be insignificant when it comes to assessing results.
    I am dismissing the campaign rhetoric because it’s, well, campaign rhetoric – meaningless in terms of knowing what they’ll actually do. They both seem highly scripted and tightly rehearsed, and few of the interviewers (and certainly none of the debates) challenged their scripts very effectively. Nor do I expect that they will. In the Age of Barbara Walters Journalism, I’m not sure there’s a reporter left who remembers how it’s done, or if there is, that s/he would dare do it.
    Hillary was – and is – a moderate Republican with extremist tendencies on issues like war and the economy. Always has been. Obama has turned his back on his beginnings and tho he still knows how to Talk a Good Game, he votes with the Pubs on almost everything, especially trade and national security.
    The only way I can see that they will, realistically, be any less harmful than Bush at the end of the day is that they won’t continue to push his anti-democratic agenda into new territory, as he does. But they show absolutely no sign that they’ll be willing to push it back, either. When Dodd threatened a filibuster against the FISA bill, it wasn’t the Pubs who were pushing it Hillary got mad at; it was Dodd. She had Harry Reid make it clear that he would retaliate (by doing what he refused to make the Pubs do – actually filibuster) if Dodd carried out his threat.
    I expect that either of them will support what Bush has done by not undoing it, then consolidate the powers of an Imperial Presidency for their own use.
    This is not your father’s Democratic party.

  11. Thomas Nephew Says:

    When Dodd threatened a filibuster against the FISA bill, it wasn’t the Pubs who were pushing it Hillary got mad at; it was Dodd. She had Harry Reid make it clear [etc.]
    At the risk of revealing that I’m naive, pedantic, and/or underinformed, that’s all an inference on your part about Clinton, right? You’re assuming she gave Reid his marching orders on the subject? Yet he’s a powerful person in his own right — might his FISA moves have been mostly his decision alone? I confess I don’t have as deep a command of this topic (esp its congressional politics) as I ought to. It’s probably true there were levers both O & C might have moved that they didn’t, but they don’t yet command the party, and might not even from the Oval Office.
    I expect that either of them will support what Bush has done by not undoing it
    I wish Savage had been or will be able to press the “how will you undo it” point with all the presidential candidates. It’s not easy, since the precedents are there no matter how angelic Obama or Clinton — or, shudder, McCain or Huckabee — would be as president. (That’s been why I’m for impeachment.) They would need to make a constant point of how we’re safer and more free under their new way of doing things. I suppose – sigh – that’s unlikely, but I can still cherish the hope. Yes I can.

  12. mick Says:

    …that’s all an inference on your part about Clinton, right? You’re assuming she gave Reid his marching orders on the subject?
    Well, yes and no. I’ve seen nothing overt in the press but it makes sense, so “yes”. OTOH, Reid is a Party Man, the Party is run by the DLC, and the DLC is Hillary’s champion, what with her being a Founder and all, so “no”. When he got his orders from the DLC, he might as well have been getting them directly from her. And yes, as a DLCer himself, he’s perfectly capable of judging where her interests lie without being told, so “yes”.
    I can still cherish the hope. Yes I can.
    “Hope dies last” the Mexicans say. Just the same, I wouldn’t, you know, hold my breath or anything. It could turn out badly.
    And I don’t think we should give up on impeachment, not even when (if) he’s out of office next year. There has to be some accountability for all this.

  13. » Blog Archive » Voting for Obama Says:

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