Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Or, to be accurate, I should say that he's partly right about cause and effect here:

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell predicted on Tuesday that if the president escalates America's military involvement in Afghanistan he could very well face a primary challenger in 2012.

In an overlooked "Morning Joe" segment on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Democrat offered his distinct brand of eccentric, conversation-driving political foresight....

PAT BUCHANAN: [Anti-Vietnam sentiment] drew an anti-war candidate, Eugene McCarthy, first into the New Hampshire primary, and after he did fairly well with 42%, it drew Robert Kennedy in against their own president, tore the Democratic Party apart, and led, of course, to a Republican era. If the president is still hanging in to Afghanistan in 2011, 2012, do you see an anti-war candidate coming out of the Democratic Party?

ED RENDELL: It's possible, Pat. It really depends on how far it deteriorates [emphasis mine].... But if we start to begin to reduce our presence, I think that's probably enough to keep an anti-war candidate out of the race."

I think there'll definitely be at least a loud clamor for a challenger to Obama from the left -- I expect Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald to lead the charge online -- but it's certainly not going to be exclusively, or even primarily, because of Afghanistan. It's going to happen because lefties think Obama sold out to bankers, failed to do a real 180 on the Bush administration's human rights record, possibly continued to sell out gay people, and dug us in deeper in Afghanistan.

I understand the disgruntlement. I just wonder if there's any chance whatsoever that a primary challenge will either get a more progressive person elected or push Obama leftward and then get him elected. I really can't imagine either of those things happening.

But there will be a clamor. And my guess (as I said a while back) is that Russ Feingold, integrity narcissist, is the guy who'll be urged to run. I could see him going for it (even though, yeah, I know, he may not even win his own race this year).

Whoever it is -- if not him, maybe the primary fans will rally around Howard Dean, or Dennis Kucinich -- I think Obama will win the nomination, possibly quite bloodied. And then I think Ralph Nader -- who you just know is going to run yet again -- is going to start looking surprisingly good to a lot of disgruntled lefties. But, hell, I think we could a Constitution Party candidate (especially if Romney gets the GOP nomination) and a Bayh/Bloomberg ticket and Lord knows what else, so this really could be a free-for-all.

I'd be more sympathetic to this course of action if I felt that a strong and durable sense of progressivism had started to spread in the heartland. But that hasn't happened -- every liberal can be demonized as a liberal, and even heartlanders who've been favorably disposed to that person will inevitably begin to flee when the anti-liberal propaganda gets cranked up. That's because, at best, we get heartlanders to vote Democratic, but we don't get them to understand and embrace liberalism (even though many of them have skepticism about the power structure that we could tap into). Even Obama has suffered because of the public's unwillingness to rally around liberal ideas. That's what we have to reverse.


Now, why does Rendell think the war is the reason Obama could be primaried? Well, he's suffering from the same sequelitis that the press suffers from: he sees a moment in the Afghan war and automatically expects it to be an exact analogy to Vietnam. A lot of people, especially those of Boomer age and older, just can't get past the notion that this history will repeat itself exactly. Hate to break it to you, but that ain't going to happen with regard to Afghanistan. The public is numbed by this war, not infuriated. We just think it's never going away. The right supports the war even if that means backing Obama, and the anti-war movement is invisible, so there's no mainstream sense of opposition. That's why the Wikileaks documents aren't the Pentagon Papers, and Russ Feingold won't be Eugene McCarthy.


Now, I don't mind the fact that Rendell said this. I'm angrier at him for this Morning Joe moment, which played into GOP frames:

President Obama is taking some flak from a fellow Democrat over his plans to appear on daytime gabfest The View later this week....

"I think the president should be accessible, should answer questions that aren't pre-screened, but I think there should be a little bit of dignity to the presidency," Rendell said.

Rendell ... also likened The View to the Jerry Springer Show....

It's as if the last 45 years -- Nixon on Laugh-In, Nancy Reagan on Mr. T's lap, Bill Clinton in shades on Arsenio -- never happened, as far as Rendell is aware. Monty Burns much, Ed?

This dovetailed with a minor right-wing two-minutes' hate -- CNSNews, and then Fox News, attacked Obama for going on The View rather than attending the Boy Scouts' 100th-anniversary Jamboree. Never mind the fact that attending these things has rarely been a presidential priority -- as the CNS story itself points out, "Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Carter and Ford did not speak at a Jamboree." Eisenhower didn't attend the 50th-anniversary Jamboree and Ronnie sent Nancy to the 75th. But the noise machine surely ginned up a bit of anger about this, at least among wingers and maybe a few swing voters -- and Rendell inadvertently helped.

No comments: