Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Palomino Ponderings

Palomino is mulling over things that I have been considering as well. A few paragraphs (but be sure to read the whole thing - it is challenging):
The Republican brand is so thoroughly and deservedly trashed that all Johnny Mac can do is try to relaunch the culture wars by peddling oblique suspicions about Obama’s associates and his character. Hey, what a maverick. But the sales pitch only makes McCain look desperate, and the voters of Chillicothe, Ohio, aren’t buying. They’re even more desperate than John McCain, now that the local pawn shop is the town’s sole viable business. And in Pennsylvania, the Bitter Clingers are dropping their guns and bibles and having a come-to-Obama moment of their very own. ...

And now Obama has the election all but locked up. Hillary Clinton won’t be permitted to challenge a sitting Democratic president in the 2012 primaries, no matter how abysmal his first term may be. As a result, it’s entirely probable that she won’t run for president again herself, or not successfully, and certainly not before 2016, when she’ll be nearly as old as John McCain is now. She may even find herself marginalized in the Senate for at least the next four years; the Democratic leadership’s pointed lack of interest in her current proposals seems to indicate as much.

This is definitely not what I wanted. But it does appear to be what we’re stuck with. And as a wise person once said, you can’t win a fight with reality. That doesn’t mean you can’t fight to change a particular reality, but you do have to start from the way things actually stand (also known as living in the reality-based community).
I'm beginning to understand how Republicans like Lincoln Chafee must feel looking at the takeover of their party by the Movement Conservatives. What should be a celebratory election for me, the downfall of the Reaganauts, leaves me feeling angry and betrayed. The accidents of political and economic fate have brought us an anti-leader, someone who occupies a symbolic space without embodying the substance of what those symbols represent. I read people like Digby telling us that we have to settle for the importance of symbolism rather than actual substantive legislation and we should be fine with this, and I wonder how the the Left Blogosphere became more complacent than the DLC they revile so much. How is this different than being a Blue Dog Democrat? When did triangulation come back into vogue, except this time standing squarely on a party platform that holds rejection of partisan stances as its primary political purpose?

People who have been the most loyal to the party, their dedication and service spanning decades, were declared unfit to show their faces and told they were no longer wanted. In the caucuses, they were physically threatened. Others have been sent death threats, have been stalked, have had their property vandalized. The violence done to people within the party is outdone only by the denials that anything is wrong and we'd better make the best of the situation we're in. I can only compare it to being forced to cohabitate with your rapist, something I have had to do in my life so it's a familiar feeling.

Hitching your wagon to the Republicans won't get you far in these political and economic times, even if you can stomach doing so. Since the problem with the Democrats is their abrupt move to the right on social and economic issues, trying mightily to capture the poisoned ground left behind by the Movement Conservatives' mad dash into authoritarian rule, it would also simply move you closer to where they want to be. In truth, Nixon was more liberal than this.

I have no answer to the violence and cruelty than has seized my party.

But I'm thinking.



Mike J. said...

If the Democrats are dashing to the right, where is the GOP to go? Not even further to the right, that's for sure.

The GOP needs a sound thrashing this year and it will likely get one. At long last we may see Movement Conservatism fade away. But the GOP has long made effective use of populism. If the Democrats' victory in 2008 is seen as a vindication of this policy of jettisoning the blue collar working class, it is at least plausible that the GOP will do more than pay lip service to caring about the well-being of the less fortunate members of our society. It is telling that the only GOP candidates who inspired any degree of genuine enthusiasm were Huckabee and Palin, both of whom can make a credible case for looking out for the little guy/gal (in their own peculiar way, to be sure, and with a healthy dose of Bible-thumping on the side). The fact that McCain, of all people, a pragmatic Eisenhower Republican who is despised by MoveCons, won the nomination, is indicative that the Democrats are not the only party that is evolving.

So if the Democrats successfully complete their move to the right (in the process attracting the disaffected MoveCons like Doug Kmiec who is currently stumping for Obama), the GOP will have nowhere left to go but to the left.

Falstaff said...

mike j -- That only obtains if your one frame of reference is left vs. right. But there are other frames for political reality. I think it far more likely that the Republicans will move to a very familiar place -- right-wing, nativist "populism." We know what that looks like -- it looks like Pat Buchanan.

Indeed, when one reads about Bryan and 19th Century populism, it seems populism has often, perhaps always, been susceptible to nativism, xenophobia and racism.

To call what the Dems are doing a "move to the right" seems to me to miss the point. It seems far more motivated by fear and political miscalculation than by ideological conviction. Indeed, the hallmark of the Obama "movement" is its "post-partisan" (not reverse partisan) lack of conviction. I think the Dems are struggling, in fits and starts, back toward political viability, toward being worthy of our trust as leaders. But it's a struggle, indeed. And Obama's coronation this cycle is evidence of the party's continuing fear and immaturity as a political institution. I think they'll get there -- maybe Obama himself will even be carried along on a bit of a tide toward seriousness, thanks to the undeniable seriousness of the situation we face. (Or not.) But in any event, I don't think we get it right if we use quasi-religious frames (the GOP is evil, the Dems have sold their souls, etc.) to explain something far more quotidian and realistic.

The Dems aren't moving away from the Left so much as from conviction itself, responsibility itself, leadership itself.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to read Palomino, but the amount of work, duty and sick time leave little time to spare. The problem is not Hillary's loss of opening to be president. It may be bad for us and her, but there 300 million people in the country and quite a few of them can do the work.
The Democrats not only moved to the right, they have become a corporate business. They have interests that don't have anything to do with their constituents. Take Fisa for example, there is no reason for vote for FISA, people didn't like it, it's not left or right, it's anti constitutional, Mr. Barr would not vote for it. It does serve the company. Same happened with money for the war in Iraq. We have to get the hell out and let the Iraqis do their own bidding. Democratic voters didn't want to war to go on. The company wasn't ready to fight Bush, its managers thought that opposing Bush will damage the company. Will lose them corporate sponsorship; look bad in the eyes of their partners, the Republicans.
Pelosi started from as a firebrand progressive leader. Once she became the CEO of the company she looked at her stock value and decided the her political values are secondary the company's stock values. She traded fast and wide and became Quisling.
Obama is what we say in Yiddish, (no I am not that old, I am a baby boomer) a gornisht. Which an nothing. He is not smart, not passionate, not capable, not nice, not going to do too well. There are some simple rules in life; one of them is that such a person is unlikely to succeed as a president in the hard times we are facing. He panics fast (see Clintons are the racists) and his analysis is inferior. Despite having Buffet, Rubin, Summers and Sperling as economic advisers, his platform is terribly unrealistic and Chinese may not pay for it.
We need a left, we wish the conservative movement will be trashed. It's more likely, in a longer term that the current Democrats will be trashed and be marginalized. Hillary may be pushed aside. A lot depends on her. We are going to have very rough seas ahead. Democrats will start to assume, implicitly, the blame. Obama will probably last one term and will be looked upon as another Carter (interestingly while Carter is a racist because of his attitude towards Jews, Obama is a racist because of his attitude towards the Clintons and the real left). Hillary can, if she chooses to be the first leader of the new Democratic party that Reid, Emanuel, Pelosi and Obama brought about through damage to the country, to the left and to basic political decency.
So, thinking is not the right activity now, it will be in 2010 until 2012. Hillary may be 70+, but she will be still young, fresh and smart intellect and probably a popular leader. McCain is not a good example the guy is an aging teen ager with intellect the size of one brain cell. Again, the question is American and global and not personal.

Unknown said...

To assign powerful leadership, principled liberal values and a strong sense of responsibility to the Democratic party at any time in recent history is a mistake though I think Falstaff is right about the Republicans moving to a violent form of nativist populism and also that the Democratic party is lurching towards a state of electability, whatever it may take.
The key problems which I fail to see addressed by the liberal blogosphere are the roles of culture, education and the media in shaping the electoral milieu. I know, the failings of the media get much attention but they are rarely placed in the context of the wider culture. If one studies culture (high and low although I think these terms are superfluous in an age where popular culture so utterly dominates the landscape and high art which doesn't win recognition by gimmick is completely marginalised) one sees that we are a point on American history where glibness always wins over depth, bragging always wins over modesty, a contempt for history is a badge of modernity, youthful good looks always prevail over the plain and artifice always trumps art. The only skill sets that seem to have evolved among consumers of general culture are the abilities one gains from TV - to follow prosaic but endless plot shenanigans, to memorialize trivia and to have some degree of visual sophistication. These cultural mores exist in a segregated public education system that has been rigorously underfunded and befuddled further by attempts to improve it with endless sociological experiments, many of which to this observer are idiotic.
It is this which sets the stage that our 'leaders' have to perform on. One look at the treatment meted out to Nader or Kucinich by the media (and therefore the electorate) will tell you everything you need to know about the plausibility of running on liberal values. Thus we have Obama calling for off-shore drilling and voting for FISA to shore up his mainstream credibility and Hilary Clinton voting for the Iraq war, the border fence and a gas tax holiday for the same reasons. If we want a change in the Democratic party we need to focus on education and the debasement of art.

Unknown said...

I'm really annoyed with the Hillary can't run in 2016 talk mainly among PUMA sites. It leads to the we can't support the Dem nominee now because Hill can't ever be President type of thinking and that's not right.

Look, John McCain was tied or slightly ahead after the Repub convention and before the economic meltdown.

Also, John McCain is 72 and Ronald Reagan was 69 when elected and 70 shortly after his inauguration in 1981. By contrast, Hillary will be 68 while campaigning and 69 the October before election day 2016.

John McCain isn't losing because of his age. He is losing because of the abysmal Republican record on the economy.

Hillary breaks glass ceilings and she has every right to run again in 2016. Why can't she? If you saw her convention speech, she is very much positioning herself in the future for another run for the Presidency.

Miss Malevolent said...

Yeah my answer is to vote third party now and forever.

You're not going to get social and economic justice with these hack corporatists.

I knew the writing was on the wall for Hillary Clinton when the primary news was so completely out to get her.

People are fooling themselves into believing that a 2012 campaign will be run by Clinton and that voting in McCain will achieve that.

But there is no way on God's green Earth I am voting for Obama. This whole thing is turning into a "what if" scenario.

What I mean by that is, "what if" someone challenged Hitler on his rise to dominance? "What if" people weren't so complacent and spoke against his propaganda machine?

Here we are faced with this same type of personality.

And while I think McCain is inept and is woefully out of touch with the "average" American (as are most if not all Republicans) I think Obama is downright diabolical.'s like a rock and hard place, we're left wit the status quo of failure that the Republicans have wrought upon us. Or we have something much more darker and sinister coming down the bend.

And given Neo-Conservatives and Neo-Liberalism are pretty much the same thing with just different methods to achieve the same goals...get read for four to eight more years.