Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WE TELL OURSELVES TALKING POINTS IN ORDER TO LIVE

With all due respect to BooMan, I think it's unfair to accuse anyone who questions the likely accomplishments in an Obama second term of giving aid and comfort to the Romney campaign.

Here's the backstory: Ryan Lizza published a piece in The New Yorker in which he considered what Obama might accomplish after another electoral victory. Lizza quoted Obama's expressed hope that the right-wing crazies might back down and "the fever may break."

BooMan thinks Obama has to say this because it's crucial to his reelection strategy -- voters mustn't start believing that the only way we can break gridlock in America is to vote Romney.

But BooMan also apparently thinks that the rest of us need to align our utterances with the Obama campaign's. His post is titled "Because the Left Is Stupid, Too," and he singles out Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore as a (presumably "stupid") offender because Kilgore doesn't expect a break in the fever:

This hope has been received with open derision on the left because it is assumed that the administration is as hopelessly naive as they sound. For example, I give you Ed Kilgore:
...what I found striking is Obama's frequent references to the possibility that a 2012 defeat might change the Republican Party from its current direction of hyper-polarization, 1964-style reactionary messianism, and paranoia. The term he uses with Lizza (as elsewhere) is that "the fever may break."

While the clinical term is entirely appropriate, I do wonder if Obama really believes it.
Let me be blunt. Not only would it be a bad idea for the president to suggest that our present gridlock might remain unchanged in his second term, that simple idea represents the single biggest danger to his reelection prospects.


But if you go to Kilgore's post, you see he says absolutely nothing about whether Obama should say any of this -- Kilgore's just describing the political landscape as he sees it. Should we really refrain from doing that -- from telling the truth about American politics as it appears to us -- because some low-information voters might overhear us?

I don't even buy the notion that low-info voters might choose to reject Obama at the polls because they see his second term as likely to be gridlocked. Low-info voters know only what they hear from the mainstream media, which is that gridlock is everybody's fault, both sides do it, and politicians just have to stop fighting like kids in a sandbox. They don't see it as a thing Republicans do to Democrats because they're never told that that's how it works.

I think Obama's second term will be gridlocked. I also think that's a hell of a lot better outcome than a Romney term, which will result in the continued (in fact, accelerated) dismantling of the twentieth century, a nationalization of what's been done by governors such as Scott Walker and Rick Scott. And don't get me started on the Supreme Court.

And even a gridlocked presidency presents the possibility (however slight) that our political culture will emerge from its decades of denial and acknowledge our main problem, which is the extremism of the right and the deployment of 24/7 demonization in order to ensure that duly elected Democrats are never allowed to govern. Maybe we'll be able to focus on Republicans as the problem and get a Congress after 2014 that will work with president -- I doubt it, but it's possible.

There -- I said it. If a swing voter rejects Obama now, I'm sorry. But I don't think that's what's going to happen.

10 comments:

Victor said...

Thank you, Alice.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled kvetching...

Steve M. said...

Bit of a spam uptick lately -- I'm not sure why.

Victor said...

Yes, a Romney win will be disastrous for this country. And especially if he has R's in control of both houses of Congress.

They've lost 6 years, since the D's took back Congress, in their plans to demolish any and all progress made since the end of The Gilded Age.

As I've said before, we're not far from being a Theocratic Kleptocracy - we're well on our way to the Kleptocracy part, but so far, church and state are pretty separate.

Not if Romney and the R's get control.
The Domionists will be given free reign, and the Conservative Congress will pass a whole bunch of "Why Shouldn't Jesus Help Us Govern This Great Exceptional Nation" laws, which the Supreme Court will ok in a series of 5-4 votes, until Mitt can replace one of the more Liberal Justices, when these laws will be passed 6-3, 7-2, 8-1, and finally - 9-0.

And voting will be privilege, not a right, so any hopes of changing back from a Theocratic Kleptocracy to a Representative Democracy, will be dashed at the altar of government.

William Glennon said...

So what? If that's the price I, a true progressive, and real Democrat, have to pay to stop getting ignored, so be it. At least finally someone's going to pay attention to me.

At the end of the day it's just politics. In other words, it's just an alternative means of self-expression, another way to let people know how I feel about things by my choice in consumer goods, in this case, candidates for office.

Steve M. said...

It's not "just politics." Real lives are affected by it, and not just yours.

Ten Bears said...

I've been reading the Booman for six, seven years now, but of late I'm left with the impression he has dipped into the Kool-Aid. His take is generally the left side of the right's argument. He's good (as are you, Steve) and I still regularly read him, but these days with a rather large grain of salt.

Kilgore is an interesting find - I followed Steve Benen to the Monthly when he moved on from I don't remember where. When he moved on to Maddow and Ed took over I was a bit concerned about his acclaimed religiousness, but as time has passed he's proven himself to be not of the Kool-Aid drinkers. Quite frankly, regardless our differences on religion, I put a lot more confidence in what he has to say than Ryan Lizza, who is just another reich-wing shill.

Victor said...

Mr. Glennon,
Buying Coke or Pepsi is a "choice in consumer goods."

What if one of those two fine soda's (I don't drink soda, myself) was tasty and refreshing, and left you feeling, if nothing else, like your thirst was quenched - while the other wanted you to die if you didn't drink it to the exclusion of anything else, wanted to know what you do in your bedroom, and with whom, forced your family to have children regardless of whether you wanted to have them or not, and wanted to lower yours and everyone elses standards of living so that their executives, their families, and their shareholders and their families, could enjoy comfortable and carefree lives for generation after generation after generation.

There's a bit of a difference in those two cola's, no?

Politics ain't beanbag, politics ain't soda, and politics also ain't a "choice in consumer goods."

And one of the problems in this country is feckin' knuckleheads who think politics is some "choice in consumer goods."

Joseph Auclair said...

"I think Obama's second term will be gridlocked. I also think that's a hell of a lot better outcome than a Romney term, which will result in the continued (in fact, accelerated) dismantling of the twentieth century, a nationalization of what's been done by governors such as Scott Walker and Rick Scott. And don't get me started on the Supreme Court."

Just so.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, Booman's point wasn't to say no one should talk about the likelihood of gridlock and dysfunction, but rather that no one should expect Team Obama to say that themselves, in public statements, much less castigate them when they don't.

BH said...

That's how I read it too, flip. Moreover, I fully agree with his thesis.