Monday, May 12, 2008


What great comments the last few posts!

Anyone who wishes to contact me directly: look in the right hand menu for the link Romenna under "Other Stuff". Go there and fill out the Contact form. It will get to me. You email will not be shared or sold. However, you may or may not get an answer depending on what you put in the comments.

lakelobos offered interesting objections to the post Democratic Blind Spots. (One question to you is, if you are a newcomer, where do you hail from?) He notes: "Obama seeks, in my opinion, to replace the old guard, never mind that its leaders Kennedy and Kerry jumped on the Obama band wagon, and totally ignores Hispanics, border states and, of course, working class voters."

I don't think this is in conflict with my claim that the old guard is trying to prevent the rise of a new power center. Obama is not necessarily playing the same game as his ostensible backers. Yes, I'm sure he would like to replace all power centers with his own even as it is not clear exactly what he would do with it, but as I pointed out in What if No One Comes to the Revolution, I have yet to see that his machine is as effective as is claimed. The proof is in the pudding and all his voter registration and fund raising isn't turning into any significant electoral advantage for him. He is talking a good fight, but it's kind of like his policies, lacking detail and muscle. Thinking several jumps down the game tree, it is just as likely that the current power brokers are using him exactly as the Republicans hope to use him - to knock out the real threat to their power and then get rid of the lesser annoyance at their leisure. Call it the "Fall Guy" theory.

The brass ring for the Democrats is the southwest. It is the core of the "forget the South" contingent led by Tom Schaller. He rightly sees that the Democrats need to capture the growing power of the Hispanic vote, but he sees it as a replacement for white Southern votes, a way to permanently exclude the South from the Democratic Party. This maintains Northeast/northern tier dominance of the party for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is also unspoken, though present if one reads between the lines, and it is singularly unpleasant. Mostly, the overriding desire is to prevent Southern leaders from gaining power within the party. Why? Same roots as CDS itself. All of this ignores the data that Krugman and others have presented about working class white voting patterns, not to mention the analysis of politicians like Jim Webb, who see dismissal of this winnable voting block as a sure way to minority party status.

Then Hillary proves heself to the NE elite's worst nightmare - she gets all the people except the wine-trackers themselves. She can form the Hispanic-Hillbilly coalition and move the power center of the party south of the Mason-Dixon. Were it not for Obama, the AA vote would be solidly behind her as well and there really would be an unstoppable Democratic steamroller. (Side note - the one group of Democrats most in favor of a unity ticket - that means the group who most wants to see Hillary on the ticket - is African-Americans. Obama's strongest and most dedicated supporters have the least problem with Hillary. I think this proves my contention that most AA voters are choosing positively for a favorite, not choosing punitively against an opponent. Eat my shorts, Blogger Boyz.) Long term, I think consolidating the southern tier is the only way to ensure long-term viability for the party, but it is going to mean a shift of leadership away from the Boston to DC corridor.

lakelobos also objects to my use of the term Left. I see your point, but we are also in a struggle for exactly what will count as "Left" in this country. The US Left is more centrist than I might like (being one of those creative class types and all full of book learnin') but more to the point this is the ground on which American politics is fought, to prevent it from being dragged off to the Right. US political theory and practice has always been practical and commercial, and is subject to the virtues and vices of that orientation. It makes for social stability amidst social dynamism, but it means a constant listing towards imperialism in the power centers.

To wrap up, while there is deep hatred of Hillary (even more than of Bill) among the Best & Brightest, something that is an ugly mix of misogyny, class arrogance and loathing of "white trash", I think the stonger political feeling among the Stevensonians is resentment. I've been chastised (stupidly) for talking about AA identity voting for Obama, even as I've said repeatedly that this is not a pernicious phenomenon even as it may frustrate the livin' bejeezus out of HRC supporters. What is not so obvious is that the wine-track is doing class identity voting when going for Obama; there are a lot of bitter, resentful "creative class" voters out there, clinging to their overly inflated opinions of their cultural and intellectual superiority. This is what is oozing out of their diatribes against Hillary supporters as well as against her. The recent posts by Bowers, DDay, and others of that ilk crowing about the triumph of Whole Foods shoppers to rule the world has always been there. It's just been coded and disguised with a lot of hooey.

Anna mentions something I had not considered, but which rings true on a number of levels - that there is more than a little pattern of the Clarence Thomas hearings in the curent contest. I don't want to push the comparison too far, but her core observation is right on the money: "Any and all criticism of the nominee is discounted as suspect racism and the woman trying to report reality is demonized with glee. "

OrionATL talks about how Mark Warner is kicking off his senate campaign - by going to the western hill country of Virginia. Right into the middle of the people the Democrats are supposed to reject and give up on because they'll never support "us". And, yes, I know which "Mudcat" you meant. ;-) Saunders is a favorite aggravation of mine. Orion also reminds us here that there were slavery opponents in the South, and they tended to be the ancestors of the people now being dismissed as irredeemably racist.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker, please remember that a lot of people who visit this blog, not to mention the prickly Anglachel herself, are card carrying, wine chugging members of the creative class, and most of us were shiftless, irresponsible college students in our glory days. What else is blogging but trying to recapture the joy of spouting off all sorts of nonsensical things and being judged clever for doing so? Just as there is no monolithic "bitter white working class," the unity of the Stevensonians is greatly exaggerated. Raise a glass of your favorite libation (I'm drinking a nice Rhone at the moment) in honor of people who think, no matter how much education has been thrown at them.



Other Lisa said...

I'm having a cheap but drinkable Cabernet, myself.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Okay, I guess I was being too hasty earlier. I'm a graduate school dropout myself [funding woes]. I apologize if I offended anyone. Shakesville is often inundated by a bunch of Oborg and/or Elephascist Kool Dewdz who think misogyny is oh-so-clever, who are psychologically adolescent whatever their chronological ages, and it pushed me into "Grumpy Old Man" mode. :)

I work at night, for wages, in what I call a working-class white-collar job. [I'm using Barbara Ehrenreich's definition that if you work for wages, you're working class.] My employers don't mind if I use the PCs on break as long as I stay away from the chatrooms and the "adult" sites.

gendergappers said...

Up here in the "nasty north" of Vermont, I'm having a beer as I continue to work on getting an old bathtub removed.

Pat Johnson said...

I am beginning to feel a little inferior since my education stopped at an Associates Degree. My support for Hillary is based on policies and her ability to address those issues that affect me. I would hope my lack of a complete college education does not prohibit my posting to this site.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to be responsive as much as i can.

I am an Israeli and an American. I went to graduate school here, but otherwise had American history and politics from my kids and from unorganized reading. In other words, Jim Webb's comments were a huge surprise to me.

This blog is the only place were comments are not judged by Obama and Hillary fanatics. There are also very few smart ass comments. So it is a great place to exchange ideas.

I did not think that you are wrong, I just wanted to offer my perspective and, of course, my biases.

As for the Northern old guard and Obama. My reading of Obama's signals is that his is a coup d'etat. He seeks to replace the FDR coalition with his own (through Donna Brazile) and he seeks to replace the 60 years old Democratic organization with his own, Obama brand, modern and sophisticated, so they say, infrastructure built in the last 6 months.

It is possible that the old guard believes that they are using him. Their disappointment will be sobering.

Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers union, is probably the symbol for Hillary's, and Bill's, strong support in the Hispanic community. Since many Hispanics, especially immigrants, tend to be blue collar workers, they are interest and sentiment wise partners of the rust belt blue collar workers.

The reason the Northern guards may be against this virtual coalition is their shift from left to center left. In European terms they shifted from socialists to social democrats. This is also tied to the death of the left with the death of Paul Wellstone, Dellums leaving congress and being the mayor of Oakland and the defection of Pelosi to the "Bush, tell us what you want, we will do it" camp.

I totally agree with your reading of the AA vote. I also agree on the creative class bitterness, resentment and insecurity that feeds their hate of the Clintons. This is multiplied by the utter brilliance of the couple, which most of the creative class is jealous of.

I still think that we see racial hate addressed at the Clintons, and Southerns, by the old guard and the pretend-sophistication of the creative class. Many intellectuals in pre-World War II were antisemitic. Creative class racial hate is not news.

Anglachel said...

Everyone's welcome here who is willing to think, even Grumpy Old Men. As we've all seen this election cycle, possessing a PhD from an Ivy League school doesn't necessarily translate into having something intelligent to say. You don't need a degree to have common sense.


Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Before I go off to bed [like I said, I work nights], I want to go a bit off topic:

Several of us non-assimilated folks have been mixing it up with the Oborg over on Hullabaloo for quite a while now. One Oborg, named "Shano", said that she had told her own father, "God damn you to Hell if you vote for McCain". Another Oborg, named "Rihilism", threatened my feathery head with "karma" if I continued my evil ways.

Nah, no religious cultishness to be found in the Oborg Collective. We're just so unreasonable to keep saying that. ;)

Pat Johnson said...

Thanks, Anglachel! With Donna B telling me that my vote is neither wanted or needed, I am having some difficulty in figuring out just what niche I belong in. The postings on this blog are pretty outstanding by way of content.

Horselover Fat said...

I remember the Clarence Thomas confirmation very well -I listened on radio in the daytime, TV later.

I get it now. Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy weren't just useless out of ineptitude - they were out to take down Anita Hill right along with the Republicans.

Horselover Fat said...

BTW, if you look at Poppy Bush's approval ratings graphed, there is an inflection point at the time of the Clarence Thomas confirmation - the decline trend accelerated at that time. JMHO, I think Anita Hill affected the outcome of the 1992 election.

gendergappers said...

It's not only on the blogs where Obomite threats and bullying take place. It's the water cooler/coffee break crowd, yard signs smashed, opinion writings pro Hillary met with threats to the writer - and on and on...

...and don't use white as an adjective because it marks you as racist.

Anonymous said...

There's also a strong streak of southern liberalism- kind of what Orion alluded to- amongst the Scottish/Scotch-Irish settlers. They became Republican back when the Republican party was the more liberal one- at it's formation through around WWI. My 4 times great grandfather was the well respected abolitionist politician George D. Blakey. His daughter- my 3 times great grandmother- was also an abolitionist activist, and testified for a freedman who fought for the union during the Civil War to get the military pension he deserved- not many women- north or south- would have brave enough to defy social norms that way, back in the 1870's. The family switched to the Democrats around the 1920's as they started to take on the more populist liberal stance and the Republicans became the party of big business. Southern liberalism has a strong populist streak- to this day. Obama is turning off not just the Regan Democrats, but the southern populist liberals like myself. The late Molly Ivins (boy do I miss her this campaign!) was one of the few "pundits" to speak from that voice.

These were the white southerners who supported Civil Rights- like my parents and brought up my siblings and I in a household that enthusiastically embraced Martin Luther King Jr as a hero. Women's Rights also had a voice in the household- my mom and then myself and myself. I first brought the issue of GLBT rights into our family circle, because just like the others, I believed in it as a basic human right- I saw too many of my GLBT friends dealing with discrimination and harassment. Gradually my parents began to see this as a basic right too. The enviromental issues were also something I passionately brought into the family circle as well, my mother, especially was receptive to that- she had always been the more outspoken of my parents on human rights issues- but her family tradition was more activist than my father's. My younger sister is more like my mother- me, I'm even more activist- like those maternal ancestors I started my comment about. This populist liberalism is also strongly pro union, as you would expect. The one bit of liberalism that is a bit weak amongst southern liberals is pacificism- we aren't warmongers, but know that sometimes you have to fight. This may have it's roots in our Scotch-Irish/Scottish culture as well. You do whatever you can to avoid a war, but if it happens you go in, but always with a plan.

Anonymous said...

@ lakelobos, Anglachel, et al.

I also agree on the creative class bitterness, resentment and insecurity that feeds their hate of the Clintons. This is multiplied by the utter brilliance of the couple, which most of the creative class is jealous of.

I still think that we see racial hate addressed at the Clintons, and Southerns, by the old guard and the pretend-sophistication of the creative class.

I agree with much of what's been written here, but I can't abide by the notion that criticisms of the Clintons (whether of Bill or of Hillary or of both) necessarily stem from some form of prejudice -- let alone "racial hate," which is a term that should probably be reserved to bias against racial minorities (in the American system, at least). (I understand that lakelobos probably has a different sense of what race means.) Some commenters here have noted that Obama's supporters frequently dismiss legitimate criticism of their candidate as coded racial prejudice. This notion about the pervasive, irrational hatred of the Clintons among the intelligentsia is just as misleading. Both impede a thoroughgoing, honest discussion of the issues and the dynamics of the campaign.

I have been confused in reading this blog that Anglachel and others treat Bill Clinton's presidency as a continuation of a left-progressive tradition within the Democratic party, both because there hasn't been much hint of a progressive redistributive agenda in the national party since at least LBJ and because Clinton, in particular, ran against that agenda. Anglachel has previously described some of the conservative legislative achievements under the Clinton Administration (AEDPA, DOMA, IIRIRA, welfare reform, NAFTA) as exceptional accommodations, but as I see it, these are exceptions in want of a contravening rule. It's true that Clinton talked class talk, and well. But he did so through cultural codes (guns, criminal punishment, Bubba-ism) more than any attention to material redistribution. The uplift some segments of the working class experienced during the Clinton era were due mostly to overall (and unprecedented) economic growth, not policy directed at ameliorating poverty and securing workers' rights. And of course some people were left out of the boom because no one was investing in their cities and infrastructure, because their employers shipped their jobs abroad, or because their benefits were slashed.

Some of us, taken in by Bill Clinton's charm, promise, and intellectual gifts, were very disappointed by his legacy. I spent most of his second term (and Bush's first) as an active member of a large, multiracial public employees' union while many of my friends earned advanced degrees and became professors, civil rights lawyers, and other members of the so-called cultural elite. My friends in both worlds shared this sense of disillusionment. The Clinton years weren't all bad, of course, but they were hardly good for some people, and not just because he had to contend with massive debt, Gingrich, and the distraction of the Lewinsky and Jones scandals.

These same people hold Hillary Clinton accountable to Bill's record because she has asked us to consider his achievements when we assess her candidacy. She is also hemmed in by her hawkishness (the AUMF and the Iran vote in particular) and her modest social agenda in the Senate. She deserves much credit for her ongoing efforts to achieve universal healthcare -- these, alone, would earn my vote if she is the nominee -- and the proposals she has developed as a presidential candidate. But it is not crazy or elitist or hateful to worry that her commitments to progressive reform and demilitarization are only knee-deep. The MSM and some opponents have treated her terribly, largely through the rehash of misogynist tropes, but some of us have legitimate criticisms as well.

I thought this was a thoughtful discussion Clintonian populism, if any of you are curious enough to read it:

p.s. Anglachel, I caught the reference to my stupidity above, but, of course, I was only quoting you. :) (In all seriousness, when I made that comment I had not read some of your more thoughtful posts about the African-American vote.)

jangles said...

"...people who think, no matter how much education has been thrown at them."

I love this. I would agree with the post which says that Obama is attempting to replace the 60 yr. old Democracy with his own new, revolutionary brand BUT I can not find in anything that he does or says what the purpose would be other than to promote his own election. He seems amazingly enamored by the perks of office.

jangles said...

In reading through missplsd remarks it reminds me that our collective political history is kind of an American swiss cheese. What I remember most about the Clinton years was that the Democratic party was bedeviled by years out of the WH and a Reagan legacy that had successfully painted Dems as "tax and spend liberals", creators of give away social programs and weak on national defense.

Anyone from that era can easily remember the anecdotes of the welfare queen and deficit spending from repeated Dem. congressional majorities. What I remember about Clinton was that he understood economics; he understood that fiscal responsibility was good for the country and good for Dems. His financial appointees were excellent; he understood the energy that came from small business. He clearly saw the implications of the tech boom and placed Gore in a position to nourish it. The welfare reforms that he brokered with Republicans took that hot potato off the table for Dems and removed from the Republican arsenal a major whipping boy they had been using with glee and effect. He also started to plow the "peace dividend" back into the fundamental structure of the economy. He achieved much of his accomplishments through power outside that 60 year old Democracy---including working across the aisle---that did not please old line Dems or the NE where big city politics survived well on welfare handouts that bought votes but did not do much to change peoples lives.

I do not want to romanticize the Clinton years. We did lose the congress but people forget that a reason for losing the congress was the stand Clinton took on gays in the military (not a win by today's standards but real progress for the time and certainly marked a change in that conversation) and guns (the Brady amendment and the ban on assault weapons) and the attempt to engineer health care for all---yes that failed but it was a full on effort at real change. It was not just Republicans who got angry over some of these moves. I am sure there are party members who will never forgive him for Lewinsky because of the shame it brought to the WH under Democratic hands.

All of this marked a decided move toward a more centrist Democratic party---a party that had been pulled from the Truman line toward the more liberal Stevenson line of politics. That brings us back to where you started---the fault line between Truman and Stevenson Dems. I think we all have to also be careful not to erase the LBJ years from our collective memory. There is something of LBJ in WJC's approach and Hillary---getting real things done. It does not surprise me that Clinton appointed Jim Webb to high office in his administration. My question is where you see John Edwards? To me he seems so much a part of that "New South" politics that was very much the WJC years and very much about bringing the South back into the Democratic party in a whole new way (DLC).

Denise said...

If Obama were running against the Clinton legacy, he could be very persuasive. I was disappointed with the Clinton presidency in much the same way that mssplsd was, but as far as I can see that's not what Obama is doing. He's running against the "divisive politics of the 90s", with some highly dishonest suggestions.

We very nearly had an actual right-wing coup d'etat in this country in the trumped-up impeachment, and shortly afterwards we had a clearly stolen election. Clinton may have committed perjury (in an equally trumped-up civil suit that was thrown out of court), but he was in no way responsible for the conspiracy to remove a democratically elected and popular president from office. Obama - who knows better - implies that all this was baby boomers in both parties squabbling because they couldn't let go of their obsolete Vietnam War divisions. I find this a despicable rewriting of history, meant to appeal to those too young to remember the actual events. Equally despicable is the implication that the Clintons were sleazy and corrupt, when none of the mud slung at them was justified. But so many of his supporters are repeating these lies. I've even seen them trying to revive the Vincent Foster murder slander. And these are Democrats. It makes me want to cry.

To distort the history of an attempted right-wing takeover of our country in order to win votes is a blow against all of us. It ranks with the worst dirty politicking I've seen in my lifetime.

CMike said...

This is a real head scratcher for me. Can anyone describe the thinking of the Sen. Obama voter who, if Sen. Clinton is the nominee, would vote for Sen. McCain?

According to these exit polls, a third of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain in November if their candidate is not nominated. According to the same polls, 30% of Obama supporters would vote for McCain if their candidate is not nominated.

(I guess because there are so few AAs voters the Obama numbers are skewed in this regard - I'm pretty sure AAs are not going to vote for McCain.)

Anonymous said...


I think it's much the same as the thinking of the Clinton supporter who would vote for McCain: spite borne of a profound sense of injury at the hand of the other candidate or his/her supporters.

Truthfully, neither of these candidates is a leftist. Their platforms are very similar, and the differences will be ironed out in the legislature anyway. But neither Clinton nor Obama would want their supporters to vote for McCain. Those who who plan to do so are letting their egos triumph over their political commitments.

Rebecca Fisher said...

The intelligence of your commentary is truly refreshing!