Marsh on Obama: The Party’s Over

Taylor Marsh writes in a guest column for Informed Comment

The Party’s Over

There’s a reason Obama reelect doesn’t have a slogan.

All they’ve got is a question: Are you in?

Symbolic of this problem is what happened to Elizabeth Warren when her rise was met by Tim Geithner’s foot, and why Ron Suskin’s book Confidence Men made the Administration queasy. Since Pres. Obama was forced to make a recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren created, you have to ask why he didn’t fight for Warren in the first place, because he could have appointed her in the same way. Pres. Obama’s leadership style is also seen in Wall Street firms earning more in Pres. Obama’s first years than in both terms of George W. Bush.

Then there’s Obama’s foreign policy, which picked up where Bush left off. Pres. Obama’s “serious reservations” didn’t keep him from signing the NDAA, something any conservative Republican president would have signed. Indefinite military detention without trial is now the policy of the Obama administration, which is something Mitt Romney would also do. There is no habeas corpus at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. What is called “targeted killing” has actually increased under Pres. Obama, something Glenn Greenwald writes about regularly. As for “secret prisons,” it’s not quite as a bad as Bush, because now people are held for a “short-term transitory” basis. But Pres. Obama’s surveillance program is identical to his predecessor. Candidate Obama was against the Iraq war, but he had no trouble bombing Libya without congressional oversight or approval, even though it was not of strategic interest to the U.S. or a clear and present danger. We’ve supposedly gotten out of Iraq, but there is a 104 acre embassy, the biggest on planet earth, with support and logistics to match.

It’s also why Pres. Obama showing up in Osawatamie, Kansas to use the Occupy message didn’t fool smarter folks, because if his leadership matched the words he spoke Robert Reich wouldn’t be floating hail Mary posts about switching Biden with Hillary.

Today, women’s concerns are focused on economics. But is it enough that the 111th Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Pres. Obama signed? We should expect all 21st century politicians to support economic equality. But to laud something as fundamental as financial equity for the same job simply because Senate Republicans don’t reveals women, regardless of political party, are expecting way too little from our politicians who depend on our support to keep their job.

Pres. Obama proved his economic timidity in the 2010 midterms, when you didn’t hear anything close to the speech he gave in Kansas, which didn’t come until he began campaigning for his own reelection. At least he always has his own back. Back in 2010, he and his pal at the DNC, Tim Kaine, now running for Senate from Virginia, refused to make any Democratic case at all on economics. Obama then followed that up by caving and extending the Bush tax cuts. Obama and the Democratic midterm shellacking is what delivered state houses in record numbers to the right, which led to an assault on unions, the middle class, as well as women’s individual freedoms.

Looking at reelection, Pres. Obama decided to put politics over science on Plan B, even though it was proven completely safe for females, regardless of age. To make matters worse, because he evidently thinks women are stupid, he hid behind Secy. Kathleen Sibelius, the head of Health and Human Services, saying it wasn’t his decision. This kind of cowardice in a grown man is unattractive; in a Democratic president it is unacceptable.

It’s not like Plan B is an abortificient like RU486. All Plan B does is stop pregnancy or implantation. If you want a non-scientific description, this basically means ingesting a pill that makes a female’s uterus inhospitable for fertilization; a chemical change in the female’s body so a pregnancy cannot begin. It’s absolutely not an abortion, because there’s no fetus yet.

Pres. Obama made a choice any Republican president would have made. That’s not what I voted for in 2008 and not what Democrats have promised for decades.

Leader Nancy Pelosi gave Pres. Obama a pass on his Plan B decision, while Rep. Diana DeGette, a member of the so-called “Pro-Choice Caucus,” said she was “disappointed.”

George W. Bush inspired the rise of the Tea Party, so one hoped that Barack Obama’s repeated applications of conservatism would unleash a requisite uprising on the left. However, there has been no challenge to Pres. Obama, with progressives in Congress and outside groups again and again rallying for him, while choosing to ignore his choice of conservatism over progressivism.

Pres. Obama can’t find a reelection slogan because his 2012 campaign boils down to the reality that “hope and change” has been reduced to “Republicans are worse.”

That’s not good enough for me anymore.


Taylor Marsh blogs at Taylor Marsh and is author of The Hillary Effect: Politics, Sexism, and the Destiny of Loss
Hillary Effect

Posted in Uncategorized | 56 Responses | Print |

56 Responses

  1. Anyone up for some left-wing jingoism? Because that, it seems, is what we are left with. In the face of Romneyite bluster, our candidate Obama can boast more “targeted killings,” more standing on aircraft carriers, more operations over Pakistan, more prosecution of the Global War on Terror (TM), carrying it all off with far more Rooseveltian (T) swagger than those two respectively slick and porcine Republican robber-barons ever could. That’s not change I can believe in, but it sure blows shit up, and who can argue with that? Obama 2012: Fear the Reaper, Rattle the Chain.

    • Even if the only distinction you’re able to made between different Presidents’ military performance is the amount of military action, it’s still absurd to claim that Obama comes even close to matching his Republican opponents.

  2. What did Taylor Marsh do to elect Democrats in 2010? Or to advance Progressive values in any way? Thats what I thought.. nothing. There’s a reason why every single elected progressive in Washington has the President’s back… he’s working hard to get the best deals he can. That’s more than can be said for the pony clutching critics who threw up their hands in defeat when the public option fell out of the health care reform and spent 2010 whining it about it rather than fighting corporate money and real conservatives. Pathetic article.

    • “What did Taylor Marsh do to elect Democrats in 2010?” — I guess he voted, just like you. Working hard to get the best deals is not enough. Getting better deals is what the promise of 2008 was all about. I’m with Marsh — throw the (undelivered) baggage out!

  3. Thank you Marsh:

    “message didn’t fool smarter folks”
    Back when I shot the Chicago-scene, pre-2008, I found Obama in my viewfinder several times. Knowing that they could never be realized in real-world politicking, I could never stand Obama’s fantastical pictures he would paint with beautiful words and pitch-perfect oratory.

    “floating hail Mary posts about switching Biden with Hillary”
    Honestly this is the only way I think I could feel passionately about an Obama reelection campaign and with a promise that Hillary would be a Cheney-of-sorts — I know she would start a war with Iran and implement domestic drones but still, she’d at least be a leader. (and could carry the party in 2016)

    Post Script: “March on, March on!” This is all I could hear in my head when I saw the title.

  4. “…That’s not good enough for me anymore….”

    Great, but how will President Romney be the answer to any of your objections?

      • The stubborn notion that there’s no difference between the two major parties and their candidates, or that it makes no difference who wins the White House, can result from naiveté or conceit, but it’s simply not true. The identity of the President makes a huge difference on a wide range of issues. We went through the same argument that “there’s no difference between the candidates” during the Bush-Gore campaign. In retrospect, would anybody argue that?

        I would like to tell you that you’re going to experience elections in which you’re going to like the candidate you vote for, or that you won’t have to compromise on some (or many) issues that are important to you when choosing the better candidate. But such is life. Candidates are human, none of them are perfect, and unless you’re the candidate you’re going to disagree with at least some of what the candidate stands for.

        Looking back, though, would you seriously argue that it was for the best that Bush won? Twice? That Obama beat McCain? Do you seriously believe you will be better served by having President Romney appoint the next set of members to the NLRB, the next set of federal judges (including Supreme Court justices), the next head of the EPA, the next head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (assuming he bothers)?

        So unless you have a rational, fact-based answer to my question, it stands. And guess what? If you had one, you would have posted it.

    • Actually, most of the PUMA/”Hillary would have given us single payer by now” folk generally dislike FDL because they think FDL was and still is in the tank for Obama, even as the pro-Obama folk keep claiming FDL was always in the tank for Hillary.

      The truth is that FDL institutionally wasn’t in the tank for anyone. Different writers had different preferences — mine was for Edwards, and we saw how that turned out (yick).

      As for whether there’s a dime’s bit of difference between Hillary, Barack and Joe: Far from being the Great Left Hope, she wouldn’t be in Obama’s Cabinet if she didn’t match up with him ideologically. In fact, it was the influence exerted by longtime friend and paid shill for fascists and dictators, Lanny Davis, that led to her and Obama’s deciding not to do anything concrete to save Manuel Zelaya from being overthrown by a vicious corporatist coup for the “crime” of daring to raise Honduras’ minimum wage; Obama was going to step in to save Zelaya, but then Lanny cleared his golpista-subsidized throat and suddenly Zelaya was on his own.

      • The impression I got was that Hillary began undermining Zelaya first, and Obama let her run the show. In fact, she’s pretty much been an embarassment at State, which is why I think Obama put her over there – to finish her off. When’s the last time a Secretary of State got anywhere in this country? Americans hate diplomats, hate diplomacy, and hate the notion that foreign affairs are a matter of negotiable interests instead of moral crusades. It’s a dead-end job.

  5. There is no evidence Plan B prevents implantation. Birth control doesn’t and Plan B is basically a birth control pill reformulation. It prevents ovulation. Anti-abortionists oppose Plan B (at least they say they do) because they believe fertilized eggs have souls and are therefore people. So there really is no logical reason to oppose Plan B because it does not even prevent pregnancy if there is a fertilized egg in the first place.

  6. “That’s not good enough for me anymore.”
    I hope two more right-wing Supreme Court justices are good enough for him, because that’s what he’ll get.

  7. [please post this version for easier read, sorry made several errors on the earlier post]

    There are other people in power outside of Obama. If you recall the first months of the Obama administration he could get nothing done. Everything was quickly quashed. Then a photograph appeared in the Washington Times with a story of children who had been harmed – the photograph was of the two Obama girls. The Washington Times said the printing of the Obama girls photograph was an error. I remember someone telling me Obama was going to learn who was in real power (in Washington). Maybe he did.

    Until the people behind the curtain are removed, the other people who are entrenched, and well entrenched in Washington D.C., I am not sure any one person can change it. One thing for sure, people are in place in Washington D.C. that will give Mitt Romney more power than any previous president. That is scary.

    Romney is for torture – the more enhanced the better. Romney is for increasing Guantanamo Bay, wiretapping Mosques, the patriot act, illegal wiretapping, TSA pat downs, attacking Iran. Romney the savior of Salt Lake City corruption during the Olympics – hardly, Romney was instrumental in covering up and making sure no one was held accountable in Federal court the massive corruption that took place.

    George W. Bush may have been only a stepping stone for Romney to be moved into place.

  8. Who will you vote for then, Mr./Ms. Marsh? Romney? Gingrich? Do you feel our country would be in better hands with either of them? I can’t believe you do.

    You may be disappointed with President Obama but I am not disappointed, or with the Dems, speaking as a woman. They have not gone after my rights and health care and defunded Planned Parenthood; they have not taken away worker’s rights to collectively bargain and busted unions; they have not sought to take away gay rights; they have not defunded education and sought to defund the EPA.

    And the Dems did not sign Paul Ryan’s budget, that every GOPTea did, and that calls for abolishing (voucher-izing) Medicare, lowering taxes even more for the wealthy and cutting 2.1 million American jobs over 5 years.

    I will vote for President Obama again and happily. I will vote for any Dem/Prog/Indy/Lib breathing and I believe the GOPTea are in for a historic drubbing come November. We the people are waking up and can recognize a party that is strictly for the 1% when we see one—finally.

    The only threat to a tidal wave for the Dems is the new GOPTea voter ID laws that I hope will be found to be anti-Democracy and tossed out by the courts. The GOPTea know they can’t win fairly, so they’re trying to disenfranchise millions of American voters. OCCUPY VOTING BOOTHS!!

    Finally, I would never ever vote for a GOPTea—how could any woman?

  9. I agree 100% with Taylor Marsh.

    In addition, he should be encouraging people to vote third party in November. Sitting at home is interpreted as “unenthusiastic.” Voting third party sends a measurable measure of discontent.

    I continue to be amazed as the Democratic base silently sits by as their representatives trash their interests. Bill Clinton set the stage for the current catastrophe by signing Glass-Steagall, a month before Hillary started making noises about running for Senate to represent Wall Street. In addition, Clinton eliminated government over sight of derivatives(CFTC) while ending welfare, except for corporation. Finally, Clinton signed Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China, leading directly to the hollowing out of the American economy.

    And then, what did Obama do? He hired Clinton’s economic advisers!

    Democrats run as “the lesser of two evils.” But Clinton and Obama’s records of stiffing the base show that Democrats need to take that claim with a gigantic grain of salt!

  10. When the issue of income inequality was raised Romney said that this should be discussed in a “quiet room.” Romney meant that screwing the middle class is boiler plate Republican policy but discussing it openly is bad politics. The chilling prospect of having the middle class wiped out by a Republican victory should disuade us from bashing our only hope for salvaging some of the New Deal.

  11. America, and by extension, the world is f***ed!! Either vote for a right winger, a right wing extremist or stay home and let the extremist cake walk to the WH.

  12. While I am not at all happy with much of Obma’s performance, I am not ready to see ANY repub take office. Hillary as VP is a brilliant idea. She will bring the strength which is much needed in his presidency.

  13. Lucidamente 02/01/2012 at 8:28 am

    I appreciate everyone’s comments on this piece. As Juan knows all too well, as does anyone else interested in the facts, I was an enemy of puma in ’08, which is proved in this piece for those interested. Not only did I bring in an anti-puma writer, but I literally blocked ALL puma from my site. To this day I get hate mail from puma types, which I share in my book.

    I’ll wear it as a badge of honor that I’m vilified by people wedded to what I call fan politics, people who put party above issues. That’s not me anymore.

    There’s no evidence to date that Mitt Romney can beat Pres. Obama. Mr. Obama is still favored to win in November, which I’ve been writing for quite some time.

    As a political analyst, as well as a recovering partisan, it’s not my job to elect anyone. I write the truth as I see it and people will make their own choices.

    I remain a liberal, but I have no intention of supporting anyone who is conservative on the issues that matter to me.

    We are entering an era where the big two parties are being challenged by all sorts of candidates. That’s a good thing, because corporations and Wall Street have controlled our politics for far too long. Today we basically have one big party with Democratic and Republican options inside. I’m just not going to play that game anymore because I don’t think either party has the answers.

    Juan and I have had many discussions on Afghanistan, with my respect for his expertise on foreign policy a guide for me. I’ve spent innumerable hours in Washington, D.C. (the area where I live) think tanks on foreign policy issues, which is a primary concern for me in my continuing political education.

    I’d like to personally thank Juan for offering me a guest spot. I think challenging the corporate political structure is important. You are free to disagree. I appreciate very much that Juan has asked me in to make this point.

    • So you want Obama to win, you just don’t want to vote for him? That’s how you get outcomes like Bush’s exceptionally narrow victory over Gore.

    • Obama will have another 4 years based upon his record. If voters are unsatisfied, they’ll vote for someone else or stay home.

      This boy’s gonna vote for someone else.

  14. I find this frankly to be a rather lackluster and unconvincing article. Yes, Obama has, overall, turned out to be more of a centrist than progressive liberal, and he’s caved on some issues in a rather disappointing fashion. But we’re also talking about someone who repealed DADT and succeeded in passing a universal healthcare bill that is at least a step in the right direction. And due to the marked right wing shift in the American political conscious, he’s about as liberal a president and presidential candidate as you’re going to get. What do you want, Bernie Sanders to run? He wouldn’t even win the Democratic primary.

  15. I’m thinking of taking my chances that Romney will be as good a Democrat as Obama is a Republican.

    I voted for change in 2008, not excuses.

  16. Foreign policy is one of my primary beefs with Pres. Obama, as is indefinite detention, as I say in one of the top paragraphs in my column above.

    Indefinite detention, anyone?

    Predator drones?

    That’s why BobbyK got the point.

  17. Marsh’s contortions and contractions are typified to me in one incidental sentence: “George W. Bush inspired the rise of the Tea Party.” In brief: W’s not completely irrelevant to the TP, but, even as shorthand, “George W Bush inspired the rise of the TP” comes across as rather utterly clueless, just as Marsh’s posturing comes across as rather utterly pointless. If you’re going to seek space to Obama’s left, have at it, but divorced from a coherent and persuasive analysis and a practical plan of action, it’s just vain and reactionary wanna-be leftism.

    • Do you not think that: the Tea Party is a reactionary swing to all the neo-conservatism of Bush/Cheney, having vastly enlarged govt, invaded privacy, started unnecessary wars and resulted in massive spending..?
      Certainly some of the rhetoric in March’s piece is blog-speak but the points encapsulate a larger problem for Obama: his 2008 message was a farce and any other call-to-arms message for 2012 can only be deemed a rationalization of the further let down that he will continue to be.

      • Reactionary conservatism and its critique of Bush/Cheney both in its “compassionate conservative” and “neoconservative” aspects pre-existed the Tea Party, which is an Obama Era phenomenon.

        The TP has inconsisently and unevenly adopted elements of the hardcore conservative critique of Bush/Cheney Era Republican policy. I don’t think you’ll find a consistent TP position on the “War on Terror,” for instance. The larger point is that the TP came together under and in reaction to Obama and the brief Democrat ascendancy, and for some of the same reasons that the activist liberal-left could flourish in opposition to Bush.

        It would be a lot easier for Marsh and other would-be further-leftists if Obamism really was equivalent to Bushism. It’s easy to perform an abstract exercise that seems to prove that Obama might was well be Bush or Romney in relation to some set of privileged issues, or perhaps to subjective opinions about what Obama supposedly promised or represented in 2008 or ought to be able to campaign on in 2012.

        A key problem is that concretely the party organization and networks represented by Obama and the DP command, and have much to offer to, a very large majority of all potential sympathizers to a further-left movement. That fact already suggests a radically different practical organizational as well as theoretical challenge compared to some attempt to emulate the TP, except from the left.

    • I agree…

      Just want to say that I hold Prof Cole’s informed comment as the best there is to get to the facts of these matters of interest. I do disagree in may aspects on the way out of Afghanistan. Basically I have come to respect General Petraeus since he called for recognizing Muqtada Al Sadr in Iraq as a legitimate political player in Iraq’s future. I believe that helped get the US out of the mess and detestable US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

      Afghanistan will take more time but the outcome will be sufficient in a war that at least was started as just.

      Obama in my view has done a profile in courage as CinC in Afghanistan. He has gone quietly about the business and he did not take the politically expedient route out when he could have.

      But if anyone wants to notice… Obama has stripped the right of the Champion’s Belt when it comes to national security and matters of war from those Republicans.

      He has overpowered the US Defense and intelligence apparatus and has command of it beyond anything I thought possible.

      Petraeus is not going to ‘lose’ the war in Afghanistan. He has said it is not going to be a win. I know what that means. And Look where Petraeus is sitting. Genius. Political Genius as well as deftness towards a needed national security outcome.

      Had Obama listened to the left and pulled out when the right wanted him to escalate that war, and the Taliban put Afghanistan back into the dark ages of 2000, Who knows what Osama Bin Ladin’s defeat of his second super power would have meant.

      But we can be sure… The war mongering right would be handing Obama his you know what and the left would be in the Defense Department Wilderness for years and years to come once again. Unfairly but once again.

  18. Marsh is exactly right: there’s no There there in Obama’s administration. There’s no back to back. The giddy party built on campaign promises is now old dust growing weeds at the edge of the road. Once installed, Obama abandoned the campaign rhetoric of four years ago that resulted in a winning bloc of Dems, Progressives and pragmatic conservatives, in favor of political compromise that had no chance of success. Another president might have noticed the near total lack of desired “change” and forcefully altered course, but Obama did not. In touting his ‘record’, Obama now suggests voters should vote for more of the same.

    Obama’s failure does not print a free ticket to Republicans or justify the idiocy rampant in the leading GOP candidates. I’ve counted the invisible elephants and gorillas that writers have described over the years as sharing America’s condo and there are a lot of them. Concentrating on one doesn’t stop the others from growing, and that is no less true for Republicans as well as Democrats, Independents, Progressives, Libertarians, and fruitcakes. In the end the only metric that matters is whether a projection of current policy into the future illustrates a healthy, live America, or a dying America.

    The current American course, defined by measurement over the past decade and largely unaltered over time, is toward ever more surveillance by more and more groups, more secrecy, more corporate influence and control, more home foreclosures, more family breakups, more homelessness, less education at greater cost, less health care for fewer people at greater cost, more bankruptcy due to preventable medical events, less income, less social stability, increased national fragility, continued lack of control over financial institutions which cover their loss potentials with other peoples’ money, increased social diffraction, more social stratification, less freedom to move and speak, more fear and stress, less personal satisfaction, more legal protections for aggregated legal entities, more legal exposure to citizens, less congressional function (no, it is not impossible), less governmental and corporate oversight, less protection for people who report wrongdoing, less legal recourse to correct social ills, fewer US jobs, less US manufacturing, greater reliance on national competitors for the fundamentals of human well being, devaluation of the national currency, increased degradation of international boundaries, increased use of ungovernable covert and robotic warfare, more international enemies, increasing resource warfare, more rapid global re-polarization, continued reliance on oil, reduced energy and capital investment resource for a post-oil reality, increasing preference for ideological myth over social consensus on how the earth functions (formerly: science), and ever increasing reliance on non-functioning systems.

    Because the course of America currently supports the growth of all these gorillas, all are growing unchecked, and increasing numbers of Americans are being pressed into corners from which no escape is apparent. The American news media, placing profit or a desire to manipulate public opinion over the public weal, is happy to boil down complex problems into sound bites cached irrelevant categories where focus on an issue is systematically flayed to death.

    The truth in Marsh’s piece is that the choice between Republican and Democrat candidates does not include one where America avoids driving over its self-made cliff, only a minor difference about when the event occurs. Blind faith or hope in any given ideology will not change this, nor will entertaining distractions by Fox, MSNBC, campaign reform proposals, or the Super Bowl. The gorillas will remain, stronger and hungrier than ever. Nothing short of a complete national mobilization and focus on investment and preparation for a viable American future will suffice. Unfortunately that is not on any candidates’ speech notes.

  19. Speaking as a liberal Englishman watching the US election show, I can’t think of a worse idea than to vote for a third party candidate in the presidential elections.

    We tried that here in England and huge amounts of people voted for the smaller third party Liberal Democrats and that resulted in the Tories coming into power and running the biggest attacks on the public sector in living history.

    According to several liberal bloggers and podcasters one of the biggest helpers toward the Republicans in 2000 was Ralph Nader. He split the liberal/left vote and you lot got Bush/Cheney for a decade.

    To quote my friend. “Yes, in a better world we wouldn’t have to choose between centrist, authoritarian Obama and an actual candidate that doesn’t make us ashamed. But we have to consider the alternative, President Gingrich? President Romney? Another decade of evil, crazy Republican rule? Grow up, hold your nose and do the responsible thing and keep the republicans out of the white house.”

    I know that might be insulting and seem partisan to many people, but I know lots of people who voted LibDem after being so angry at Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for betraying the ideals of the Labour Party and helped usher in the Conservative lead Coalition. One of the sad truths about politics in the US and UK is that we do have a two party system and and if the votes of one party is split, the other side will win.

  20. i will vote for Obama in 2012 — as a woman, i am thinking about the next 2 Supreme Court Justices.

  21. The truth in Marsh’s piece is that the choice between Republican and Democrat candidates does not include one where America avoids driving over its self-made cliff, only a minor difference about when the event occurs.

    I would use the words “Democratic candidates,” JamesL, but beyond that editorial issue, the graph above is very interesting.

    Dominic from London, UK 02/01/2012 at 3:15 pm

    The Ralph Nader point is a canard.

    The truth is that Al Gore would have won the presidency if he’d simply carried his own home state, TN.

    It also in no way gets us out of the hamster wheel of corporate – Wall Street parties that continue to fund the defense industry, as well as ignore poverty and so many other issues, not the least of which is a foreign policy that seems to be predicated on anything but strategic interests.

    • The Ralph Nader point is NOT a canard (don’t duck the issue?).

      Disclosure: I’m a Green; I voted for Nader in 2000 (I lived in a “safe” state which Gore won handily).

      Sure, partisan Democrats often overstate Nader’s responsibility for the 2000 disaster, but Ms. Marsh understates it. Historically, strong 3rd-Party candidates in the US almost always tip the election away from the major party they are closer to.

      Nader helped elect Bush (boo). Perot helped elect Clinton (yay). Roosevelt (Teddy) helped elect Wilson (yay).

      It sucks, but that’s how the current system works.

      It can be changed, by changing each State’s electoral laws.
      Vote for state legislators who will support IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) or other alternatives to the “winner-take-all” system . Make it possible for third parties to run without making things worse in the short run.

      In the meantime, I implore Progressives to vote Democratic when opinion polls indicate a close race for any Federal office. Vote Green (or whatever) for State & Local offices. That’s the only real way to build a real 3rd party – bottom up, not top-down.

      • In my heart I’m probably even to the left of you, Elkern, but I realize I have to stay out of a concentration camp to even get to the Promised Land, and a large faction of the GOP has been drooling for years about removing people like me from the streets, so I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying.

        As for Marsh’s insult of Gore not winning his home state, hey, Taylor, you’re talking about Tennessee! How much further to the Right would Gore have to had moved to win there? Well to the Right of Obama, if Harold Ford was any indication.

  22. CK MacLeod 02/01/2012 at 2:48 pm

    Actually, you’re incorrect. Ron Paul’s power began taking root during Bush’s profligate presidency, which was also fueled by his foreign policy adventurism.

    Thanks to all of Juan Cole’s readers, especially the people who made a good faith effort at engaging. I have appreciated this conversation, as well as the emails I’ve gotten at my site on the subject I raised above in my column.

    Americans needs to look beyond the two corporate and Wall Street funded parties. We the people only have power if we do not hand it off to politicians in exchange for something that makes our privacy weaker, our economy weaker, and our hand in the world weaker due to militarism at a time when the tools of soft power would go further.

    • See reply to John Burnham (assuming it ever get out of moderation): The Tea Party is an Obama Era phenomenon. The TP generally refers to the movement that grew up to oppose the Obama agenda, or supposed Obama agenda, and took on the name in the period following Rick Santelli’s famous rant against the “new admninistration” and its interest at the time (early 2009) in aiding distressed homeowners with money from “responsible homeowners” like Rick and his friends.

      Ron Paul has been Ron Paul for a very long time, and has never been the same as the Tea Party. Whether his libertarian far right fusionism anticipated the TP in any critical respects a complicated discussion, but the fact remains that very few self-identified Tea Partiers have ever supported Ron Paul: People like Palin and Bachmann turned the TP into a home for Terror-Warring Christian Zionists and supply siders, not hard money isolationists.

  23. As Jeff Greenfield said last night on Charlie Rose, of the 3 people vying for election to the White House in 2012, none are electable. Neither Newt, Mitt, nor Obama can manage to break 50 percent.

    If I were an American, I would be voting for Gary Johnson in November — not because I’m a Libertarian (far from it), but rather because all three of the above don’t appear to have much use for democracy.

    An American told me this morning that in voting for Johnson, I would be “wasting” my vote. I think America is the only democratic (sic) country where it’s believed that a vote cast for a candidate who almost certainly won’t win is a vote wasted. I guess that’s what “winner takes all” politics means.

    • “Winner take all” and “wasted votes”

      Actually, any vote that doesn’t result in representation for the voter who casts it is, technically, a “wasted vote.” Thus, in US elections, nearly half of all votes have been wasted.

      In elections with a particularly viable third party – think Ross Perot or that Anderson guy – more than half of all votes will be wasted.

      This provides justification for elections in which representation is allocated by the percentage of people voting for each party. We don’t have 21st century systems like that here in the US; our democracy has been frozen in the 18th century by virtue of the closing of the American mind. Representation by geographic districts, winner take all – and the resulting two party system. Add “money = speech” and both of those parties will come to represent the Almighty Dollar.

  24. Everything you say about Obama is true, but you know nothing about what the modern right-wing movement is like. Very few liberals spend any time going to websites like or tracking the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, or even opening up a sleazy gun-nut mag at your supermarket to find out how murderously intolerant the GOP has become.

    I’ve been tracking it for the last 30 years, and I am certain, beyond a doubt, that the goal this entire time has been for a means to guarantee white Christian power regardless of economic or racial reality. The only way to do this is to reconstruct the entirety of 19th century law, unspoken law, culture, and economics. Which necessarily includes Jim Crow, prison slave labor, starvation of the poor, National Guardsmen gunning down strikers in the streets, and the end of all pollution, worker safety and child labor laws. It’s all been pointing this way since the movement began, and there’s no workable place to stop short of total implementation.

    So until the Left is ready and willing to organize mass disruptions of a magnitude comparable to what it took to bring down the 19th century model in the first place, all we can do is frustrate the extremists’ goal of implementing disenfranchisement before there are too many minority voters to hold back. By 2050 it will be too late for them, and that’s why they have more urgency than us.

    • What you said.

      And it will be interesting to see what today’s “troops” do when “deployed” to activate the ol’ Operation Garden Plot contingency plan, and ordered to shoot into the crowds of Their Fellow Americans doing mass disruption. Yeah, “it’s just a contingency plan, and our leaders would be remiss if they didn’t have it in place.” “It’s just some CT silliness.”

      Judge for yourself (.pdf):

      link to

      And read it with Sections 1030-1032 of the National Defense Authorization Act. Here’s the government lawyers’ take on what the detention powers the NDAA that Obama signed “with misgivings” consist of:

      link to

      You decide whether to pooh-pooh, or maybe chew-chew your nails some more.

  25. I will vote for Obama and do so proudly and with clear-headed understanding of what is called reality.

    Rush Limbaugh is real. Sean Hannity is real. Mark Levin is real. When I drive to work each morning in the D.C. area I cannot get a talk station on the radio that is not 18hrs six days a week of pure ‘Great American’ hatred of liberals progressives, and anything tied to the Democratic Party.

    DC is Blue. Maryland is Blue. Northern Virgina is Blue. But the radio and nine times out of ten the Washington Post is RED.

    Where are all you pious hard core lefties when this president needs you to have his back? Whining? Whining for what? Purity.

    Let me tell you that the politically active on the right are hellbent on taking anything to the left of them out. The mushy middle (thats the reality – the mooshiness in the American moderate) can be fear-stoked up into believing anything the righties will throw at them.

    The Cheney Family is real. Mitt Romney is real. Newt Gingrich for God’s sakes is in second place in the GOP race.

    Do you want to split Hard left to moderate to soft right up to have a three way race with the Tea Party?

    Give America a break and get off your white horse in November and vote for the best man for the job for four more years…

    He deserves it whether when you consider what he’s been up against.

  26. After I finished struggling through Taylor Marsh’s guest article, I couldn’t believe it, and I wondered what it was doing being published on Informed Comment. Usually the stuff that Juan Cole writes or even just hosts comes from a much calmer and more well-reasoned and enlightened point of view than this rant about all that is wrong about some of the many approaches that B. Obama has or has not taken, while being written as if the author has paid little attention to all the horrible things that the Republican Party has been stooping to advocate, not just in this primary season but for years and even decades. So that in the end Marsh shows how lacking his presentation was by saying that the argument that Republicans are worse is no longer enough, presumably as a basis for voting.

    My question is, why isn’t it enough, and more than enough? Since there is no other alternative available to American voters at this time, in terms of actually occupying the Oval Office, the author in effect is advocating bringing the Repubs back into power. But does he or any other sensible person really want that? Are memories really so short that people don’t recall the many messes that Bush & Co, certified Republicans if I recall correctly, had been creating in all the previous eight years and that Obama inherited little more than three short years ago? And don’t they also recall that almost on the day that Obama took office, R. Limbaugh, the guiding ayatollah of the Republicans, vowed to do all that he could to make sure than Obama’s presidency would not be successful? That was an anti-American act if I ever saw one, for it was the duty of every American to help the new President dispose of all those messes. Yet the Republican Congress especially took Limbaugh’s lead, and have done all they could to obstruct or poison everything that Obama has ever tried to do to set things straight, while at the same time firing up a chorus of concerted personal hatred toward Obama in preference to doing or thinking anything else, just so that they can guickly take over the reins and pick up again their ruinous deeds where they left off in 2009.

    If the Obama re-election campaign hasn’t adopted a slogan as yet, it undoubtedly is because it has so many to chose from that it’s hard to decide, from the abundance of riches furnished by the staggering Republican poverty of ideas and of soul.

  27. Work for a system that allows for 3rd party candidates. Some sort of run-off would be fine. Until then, it only makes sense if you believe the difference between Obama and Romney is small.

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