Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WHAT I HAVE, DAVID, IS GILDED AGE DERANGEMENT SYNDROME

This David Sirota post about Ron Paul starts bad and eventually gets much, much worse:

It’s rather sad that nearly every article written by a non-libertarian about Ron Paul begins with a disclaimer that the writer is not endorsing Paul for president. Yet, with a virulent case of Ron Paul Derangement Syndrome plaguing partisan Obama loyalists, it bears repeating if only to preempt future mischaracterizations and slander: I am not endorsing Ron Paul for president.

Does every strong disagreement have to be turned into a "derangement syndrome"? Is it just not acceptable to say that certain people's ideas are abhorrent? I think the complete evisceration of the Great Society, the New Deal, and the Progressive Era would be utterly cataclysmic for this country. Am I not supposed to say that because it hurts the feelings of Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota?

Sirota has one reasonable point to make:

... In seeing Paul's economic views, positions on a woman's right to choose, regulatory ideas and ties to racist newsletters as disqualifying factors for their electoral support, many self-identified liberal Obama supporters are essentially deciding that, for purposes of voting, those set of issues are simply more important to them than the issues of war, foreign policy, militarism, Wall Street bailouts, surveillance, police power and civil liberties -- that is, issues in which Paul is far more progressive than the sitting president....

By contrast, Paul's progressive-minded supporters are simply taking the other position -- they are basically saying that, for purposes of voting, President Obama's record on militarism, civil liberties, foreign policy, defense budgets and bailouts are more disqualifying than Paul's newsletter, economics and regulatory positions.... And just as Obama supporters shouldn’t pretend they aren't expressing their preferences, Paul’s supporters shouldn't do that either. Their support of the Republican congressman is a statement of personal priorities within the larger progressive agenda.


Fine. I am expressing a preference for liberal economics, even in damaged, vestigial form, because economic inequality is the most important issue for me. Democrats may not be reducing inequality, but Republicanism will cause it to metastasize rapidly, and Paulism would make it increase so fast we wouldn't know what hit us.

But Sirota loses me completely when he writes this:

... in terms of realpolitik, there's a strong case to be made that Paul's progressive-minded supporters understand something that Obama's supporters either can't or don't want to: namely, that a presidential election is a vote for president, not a vote to elect the entire federal government. As such, when faced with candidates whom you agree with on some issues and totally disagree with on other issues, it's perfectly rational -- and wholly pragmatic -- to consider one's own multifaceted policy preferences in the context of what a prospective president will have the most unilateral power to actually enact.

With Paul, it just so happens that most of the ultra-progressive parts of his platform (and legislative career) correspond to the presidential powers that are most unilateral in nature....

By contrast, the policy areas where Paul is most at odds with progressives are the areas Congress has far more control over — specifically, budgets and regulatory statutes....


Is Sirota nuts? We're almost certain to elect two GOP-majority houses of Congress in 2012 and he thinks Ron Paul, as president, would have a harder time getting his economic policies enacted?

If Paul somehow got elected president, Republican extremists in Congress would gleefully join with him in dismantling the government and poking holes in the social safety net. It would be post-2010 Wisconsin or Florida or Ohio on a national scale, except with a full-on libertarian rather than a semi-libertarian in the Walker/Scott/Kasich role. Do you really want to find out how much damage the teabaggers in Congress can do with Ron Paul giving them cover? Is legal dope and the curtailment of wars and surveillance really worth so much to you that you're willing to risk that? That you're willing to risk the nuclear option in the war against the middle class and the poor?

I make no apologies for arguing against that.

****

SEE ALSO: BooMan on Ron Paul, Glenn Greenwald, and Matt Stoller. A brief excerpt:

If you look at Ron Paul's political philosophy in toto, you'll realize that Paul basically opposes every progressive accomplishment since about 1913. I've never heard him oppose female suffrage, but he'd like to roll back just about every other thing the federal government has done since the creation of the Federal Reserve. The only way a progressive can reach the point where their beliefs converge with Ron Paul's is if they've basically given up on this country and on progressivism.

Amen.

9 comments:

flipyrwhig said...

My candidate doesn't believe that the federal government is at all legitimate and if elected promises to do absolutely nothing. Since some of what the government does is bad, and those bad things would stop after his election, I can only presume that this makes the Do Nothing Antifederal Party candidate off-the-charts "progressive" by the standards of Greenwald, Sirota et al.

aimai said...

Yes. Sirota is nuts. Either that or crashingly stupid. This whole argument is an argument without meaning--Paul and any other totally anti war machine candidate can not get elected. He can not get elected because there aren't enough progressives and neanderthals combined who would vote for him because of all the other stuff. Most voters aren't single issue voters. And damned few are single issue on the subject of the Pentagon--which is what we are really discussing, not war per se.

So: Paul is not going to get elected no matter how many imaginary purity progressives say they want him this week. If Paul is not going to get elected whether he could enact his policies (he could'nt) doesn't matter. This is a lot of frothed poisoned milk in a teacup.

Real politics happens all up and down the map during a key electoral year. Only idiots think everything happens at the Presidential level. If we've seen anything over the last ten years or more its that you have to control Congress if you want to get any whisper of a political program through. Its not enough to hold the Presidency.

aimai

Tom Hilton said...

Thank for reading Little Shrieky Davey so I don't have to, Steve.

I started writing a lengthy comment responding to some of the stuff you didn't get around to, and it kept getting longer & longer until I finally threw up my hands and said fuck it.

So I'll just make two more general comments:

1) In setting up the supposed balance of priorities, he tilts the scale in every way possible--minimizing the wretchedness of Paul's positions, exaggerating the negatives in the President's record, reducing big complicated issues to fatuous slogans. This sort of massive dishonesty is necessary to sustain the pretense that Paul could conceivably be a viable choice for any liberal with more than a couple of functioning brain cells.

2) I wouldn't piss on Sirota if he was burning to death.

DFS said...

This whole fuss has been going on since before Christmas at least, and I'm still at a loss as to what kind of point the Greenwald axis of the debate is trying to make.

Yes, Ron Paul is opposed to blowing up other countries, and that's good. I'd vote for a candidate who opposed blowing up other countries in a heartbeat, provided he didn't also believe in blowing up my own country, and Ron Paul wants to blow what we know as America to hell and gone.

That should pretty much be the end of the argument, yet instead billions of bits are still winging their way to the great bucket in the sky for the sake of arguing over I don't even fucking know. Maybe it's just that somebody at Salon noticed baiting the Paultards makes for a nice fat traffic spike.

c u n d gulag said...

OY!

Sirota's another one I used to love to read, but eventually stopped because they get really fucking STUPID over shit.

Enough with "The Purity Police" guys!
We get it - you assholes suffer from ODS from the left.
But just sit down and think about the racist, misogynistic, gold-standard-loving fucking twit you want to circle your wagons around, and defend.

Really?

You're not Liberals or Progressives - you're FUCKING INSANE!!!

Oh, and Tom - I WOULD piss on him if he was on fire - because there are few worse things to smell than someone elses urine stinking as it steams, and you shriek as you burn to death like a human Hot-Pocket doused in gasoline and set aflame.

David Sirota - another flaming asshole!

BH said...

Seems to me that the lefties-who-love-but-don't-endorse-Paul crowd also don't really give a tinker's damn about us hoi polloi and our boring, petty bread-and-butter problems such as employment, safety nets, health care access and the like. The Greenwalds & Sirotas have just as much of an air of privilege about them as Mitty does, to my smeller anyway.

flipyrwhig said...

They would say their point is not about candidates but rather about issues. The problem then becomes, one, we elect candidates, not issues a la carte; two, if we're having a discussion about what policies we would like if we had our druthers, that's not much more than a wank-off. I'd LIKE a candidate who made college free for all applicants. I'd LIKE a candidate who put an end to all the official-Christian folderol like swearing on Bibles and such. But, perish the thought, there aren't enough voters who care about those things to make my preferences worth catering to. And the same thing is true, albeit regrettable, for issues surrounding suspected terrorists and the justice system.

Rich said...

Ahh Sirota.
I live in the Denver area.
I used to like Sirota.

It feels like ever since Mr Sirota started doing a daily radio show (about 4 years ago ?), his IQ has been dropping at a steady and consistent rate and his views have become those of an aging DLC Democrat from the 80's and 90's.

He seems like a nice guy who means well, but it seems like his thinking has become more shallow.

Perhaps he is just sleep deprived (He does a 7 AM show and has a small child).

Sorry David.

Gaius Sempronius Gracchus said...

I think Sirota is just wrong about what Paul as president could do against neocon and even liberal interventionist congressional resistance in foreign affairs and what he can do with total cooperation in domestic matters.

True, he won't bomb Iran.

But he won't get us out of NATO or Korea or Japan, or even dump Israel, either.

Nobody will let him seriously undermine American military globalism and if they tell him to fight someplace and he refuses both parties will together impeach him.

And you are absolutely right that between him and a Republican congress everything progressives have built since Wilson would be at immediate risk and much of it destroyed.