Top 5 Ways Obama’s ‘All of the Above’ Politics led to Sanders & Trump

By Juan Cole – (Informed Comment) –

It is said that one of the things President Obama wanted to talk to comedian Jon Stewart about was his occasional cynicism. “Obama scolded him for turning young Americans cynical.”

But the approach to politics taken by Obama until recently — of promising genuine change but governing as a Republican Lite — did more to spur cynicism than any of Stewart’s cartoony double-takes at Washington hypocrisy. Obama has some accomplishments, but in key areas he was so willing to compromise that he lost sight of his mandate for change.

Trump Swiftboats McCain the Way W. Swiftboated John Kerry

The feeling that Obama’s administration was in many ways a continuation of rather than a break with Bush is one of the things impelling voters on both sides of the aisle to support mavericks. I do not mean to compare Bernie Sanders in any way to Donald Trump. Sen. Sanders is a thoughtful man with real gravitas. But the discontents into which he has tapped come in part from a feeling in portions of the electorate that Establishment candidates will not serve them.

Here are what I see as turning points in Obama’s gradual betrayal of hope and change:

1. Frontline reported that the National Security Agency waited 2 years, until 2010, to read Obama into their vast spying operation on millions of innocent Americans, a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. It said that Obama just nodded. What?? How is this all right? Although most Americans are so sheepified they don’t mind being tracked this way, the Libertarian Republicans and the left of the Democratic Party are furious.

2. Obama keeps warning about global warming, and is now finally using the EPA to do at least something about it. But his energy slogan was ‘all of the above’ and he actually boasted about the US fracking to get petroleum! He just authorized arctic drilling. Off the top of my head, I figure that during the time he has been in office, the US has emitted about 5.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, or about 34 *billion* tons in six and a half years.That was 34 billion tons the world couldn’t afford. There was only a slight dip, mostly because of the bad economy. I’m just confused by Obama on this issue. And I and the majority of Democrats and a fifth of Republicans are very alarmed. I know Trump’s people don’t believe in human-made climate change, but Obama’s whole style, of which these contradictions are an example, has exasperated everyone. The Status Quo must rule or if changed must change over decades.

3. After the 2008-2009 crash, Obama let Wall Street skate. He has changed so little that exactly the same crisis could now be repeated.

4. Obama’s fascination with drone assassinations makes him judge, jury and executioner. This is Karl Rove / W.’s unitary executive, and Bush deployed drones – but Obama has way outdone him. The democratic left is uneasy with it because it doesn’t like the idea of extra-judicial executions. The Republican right is afraid Obama will use the drones on Americans he doesn’t like.

5. Although Obama decries growing wealth inequality in America and makes fun of our system whereby our 400 billionaires increasingly pick the president, he’s done nothing that I can see about it. There are anti-trust laws on the books. But Eric Holder, who would have been the one to enforce them, is a man of Wall Sreet & now has gone to a law firm that lobbies for big banks. Even Trump tweeted on Sunday:

@realDonaldTrump: I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?

Some of Trump’s popularity may come from people figuring he won’t be beholden to the Wall Street Establishment because he has his own money. Sanders’s constituency is jumping up and down furious about the wealth gap and Citizens United.

The likelihood is that we will get another Establishment all of the above president, and that more Americans will become cynical.

A democracy with a cynical and apathetic electorate is in danger of declining into dictatorship or exploding into social unrest.

47 Responses

  1. Some of us still wish to have sympathy with Obama the man, your clear focus on his policies is a welcome corrective. Unfortunately for our grandchildren, I suspect your social analysis is correct — and don’t forget about the dictatorships that so often get established after explosions of social unrest.

  2. You left out his vote for telecom company immunity in summer ’08–before the election. He didn’t compromise. He’s a corporate tool. Always has been.

  3. I think the prime source of Obama’s failure to live up to promises was his virtual rejection of the left as an ally in governing, even though his promises were intrinsically very leftish. He didn’t think he needed anything but his high intelligence, rhetorical superiority, and fascination with compromise. As a consequence no one was watching his back, or fighting with hard conviction to support his policies. Especially when his fascination with compromise turned out to be a longing for right wing/Wall St/MIC acceptance.

    But I think Obama will be remembered well because he did do some progressive stuff, and his opposition was a bunch of inflexible lunatics. He might have been a truly great president if he had stuck with the powerful, enthusiastic, intelligent, and industrious mob that got him elected.

    • Obama was apparently indoctrinated into service of oligarchy at Ivy League, if not before. He gave it all away with the selection of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff (the real VP). Rahm went on to become known as Mayor 1% in Chicago. Also, AG Holder , the first black AG, was working for Wall St banks before entering government, and he’s working on Wall St right now! So don’t buy the idea that Obama entered the WH with any intention of progressive, even ‘liberal” action.
      I’ve seen long lists of Obama’s accomplishments, which include some nice things. But they are very small in context. Obama has maintained the status quo, has even presided over increased income and wealth extremism. He happened to be around for gay marriage and other social change, he didn’t really back an issue until it was winning!

    • Obama will be remembered well because he was preceded by the Bush disaster. One can truly and sincerely describe Obama as “the best president of the 21st Century” — but in the year 2015, if that isn’t damning with faint praise, I don’t know what is.

  4. That’s a good list. It could be longer–I’m surprised you stopped at five–but it’s depressing enough as is. In fairness, he has a tough job, has done well in many respects, and he has been better than the alternatives we had to vote for. And, in fairness, he has faced many constraints, including irrational critics. Still, for many of his supporters, he has been disappointing in many ways. And, to add insult to injury, his spokesmen and surrogates have often defending him by ridiculing those who believed what he said to get elected, and who expected him to act consistent with that rhetoric. Now THAT is something that will “turn American youth cynical.”

  5. Human nature doesn’t change, the ‘ascent of Man’ is an intellectual delusion; only behaviour patterns change in place and time, and they do so like leaves in a storm. Having reached the estuary of my life, well in sight of the ocean, that is how it seems to me. When I was young, economy was a virtue, things were bought to last and if they broke they were taken to be mended, debt was frowned on, bankruptcy was shameful. Today those values have passed through a mirror, and the thoughtful are becoming uneasily aware of the consequences. I don’t think you can blame Obama, the whole thing is careering out of control, he’s simply in the driver’s seat with no breaks. It’s one thing to stand aside and offer judgement and suggestions but no single leader can actually do anything about it, all Obama can do is respond to the circumstances that appear most pressing today. Besides, it’s not just the US, it’s the whole Western world and beyond. What hope is there when as much if not more media emotion is generated by the death of a lion hunt in Kenya as the wilful incineration of a human baby by Israelis in Palestine? Much of the world lives in poverty and the West has a long way to go before it falls anywhere near the human average. Any real change can only come from below, a change of values such as occurred with smoking, a once fashionable habit which killed off most of my parents’ generation who hadn’t died in one or other of their wars. I suppose we could all start by asking ourselves, each time we are moved to acquire something, Do I really need that or just want it, and relegate wants to the fantasy area occupied by the possibility of a lottery win. That’s what people in straightened circumstances have to do until it becomes second nature. It’s an acquired habit which can prove surprisingly refreshing.

  6. Great exposition. Obama has certainly been a disappointment. He gives good speeches, yet there is usually something unfulfilling even in his good speeches. He has compassion, but (appears to) lack the passion to make himself convincing. Americans want someone who makes us believe that he or she will relentlessly fight. Trump and Sanders clearly have that. Don’t laugh, but George W Bush also had that quality of making clear what he wanted (even with his mangled diction), and that he would not back down!
    Of course, it does not help that Harry Reid is also ostensibly lacking in any kind of leadership skills. Now we have the up and coming Chuck Schumer, who (along with Reid) openly equivocates on whether we should make a deal with Iran or not—whether Obama’s deal can be trusted, etc.
    Does anybody know what the Democratic party stands for?

    • The Democratic Party stands for not being Republican. I’m not kidding. If one party moves towards a particular position, as long as it’s not an oligarchy priority, the other party will move towards the opposite position because it’s what happens when you have two a market duopoly. The Republican Party came to be defined by the winners of the Civil War, and those who felt victimized by those ascendant elites became Democrats, from Southern racists to Northern immigrants, proletarians, and intellectuals. It’s always been a catchall, because that’s how you put together big numbers against the currently-defined “Establishment”. But it’s impossible to discipline or direct or unify, and as we’ve seen it has no natural immunity to bribery by the oligarchs.

      • Good answer. I think you are on to something here. I will poke this concept into my head and see how it fits with what I know about American politics. Who or what is the “oligarchy?” Does this include wall street, big corporations, media elite?

    • “Obama has certainly been a disappointment. He gives good speeches, yet there is usually something unfulfilling even in his good speeches.”

      For me the most dismaying thing has been how readily believing Dems are gulled by those speeches. I **expect** his speeches to be nothing but gas — long before his election, when he named Biden and Clinton as his principals, you had to know that Obama was promising nothing but four years of status quo placeholding, and that’s exactly what he’s delivered. But whenever he churns out a pleasing phrase, all the Dems I know start swooning. It’s embarrassing, even creepy.

  7. President Obama’s biggest mistake was one of omission. On his first day in office he should have ordered his AG or appointed a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes of the Bush-Cheney administration.

    • YES !!! This is the big one missing from the list. I couldn’t agree more. As a constitutional scholar, Obama must have know how blatantly Bush broke the law over and over — especially starting a war of choice based on lies — and … crickets. “Not the time to look back..” he said. BS. When is the time?? WHEN???

  8. Sanders’ virtue is that he gives voice to concepts ordinary citizens care about – income inequality, etc.. But there are other aspects to consider. Obama gave a fair number of signals that he was in the pocket of the Establishment, but in the tradition of hope prevailing over reality Obama supporters bought into the illusions he presented. Some people might have learned from this experience so will question which Bernie Sanders they will be voting for – the “people’s Sanders” or the Sanders who has gone along with the Israel Lobby and the M-I complex and is a friend of Hillary? One thing is certain. The plutocrats and the oligarchs they own in both parties will gang up on Sanders if he is elected. The question then will be will Sanders compromise or fight. I say compromise.

  9. There were those of us on the extreme/radical/wacky left who observed Obama’s Clintonian tendencies during the ’08 primaries and early in his presidency. (Cockburn was critical from the start and Chomsky commented on his amoral nature shortly after his inauguration. Tariq Ali was initially excited, but quickly saw what a fraud Obama is.) We were, though, told by Dems and liberals and progressives to shut up and bugger off. Well, America is still a brutal empire and neoliberalism reigns supreme. And we have yet another Clinton to look forward to. Good times. Thanks libs and progs.

    • ‘…who observed Obama’s Clintonian tendencies during the ’08 primaries and early in his presidency…” Good for you. What advanced political insight! What moral authority! Did your observation change anything.

      • “What advanced political insight! What moral authority! Did your observation change anything.”

        Except that he’s right.

        And given the record that “realistic”, “serious” believing Dems have compiled, it’s a bit rich watching **them** condescend to anyone.

  10. Can’t see how any intelligent observer of US politics can possibly remain sane without developing a healthy dose of cynicism.

    • I sometimes see myself as a “cynical optimist”.
      I’m not sure if I’m sane, though. ;-)
      I am optimistic that it’s better than being a “cynical pessimist”. But who’s to say?

  11. Trump is the product of anti media sentiment ..the more the media blasts him ,the more his numbers rise….Bernie is really different,..he is a breath of fresh air..which is needed .by the democratic voters..considering the Clinton stink and the Obamas neglect of the needs of the every man ,especially the poor,minoritys

    • Trump is a media creation. He is a virtual character, a cartoon thought balloon vacuous through and through. He is seen through a filter of commercials, and he is one big self-promotion only. If America buys him as candidate, the system will intensify its disintegration. Trump is a fraud perpetrated by the 1% on the rest of us.

  12. While Professor Cole is accurate in everything he writes here, there needs to be some caveats. In defense of Obama on #2 above, early on in his administration he got the auto companies to agree to changes in CAFE standards. Major changes, in fact, something that hadn’t been done in about 20 years. That was the most significant environmental move of any president for a long time. His latest proposal on power plants and his pushing of alternate energy are also the most done by any president in those areas. His support of Arctic drilling is a black mark for sure. I suspect his basic silence on fracking is probably the price he felt he needed to pay for re-election. What we need to recognize about Obama is that he is an incrementalist who is still tied to parts of the establishment. If you compare any president to some idealized construct, they are going to be considered a failure. FDR approved internment of Japanese Americans. He didn’t really care about the Wagner Act, just told the sponsors he would sign it, but didn’t really push it. It was Eleanor who pushed for better treatment of African Americans, not so much FDR. His first Budget Director was a conservative deficit hawk and FDR at first supported him. There are a number of other weaknesses of FDR from a progressive standpoint and he was probably the most liberal president in history. Politics is the art of the possible and we need to remember that the GOP set out from the day he was inaugerated to oppose every thing Obama did. The Senate was filibuster proof for less than 6 months and there were over 400 bills passed by the House that never got a hearing in the Senate for that reason.

    • I would add FDR’s gigantic betrayal of Upton Sinclair when he ran as a radical Democrat for the CA governorship in ’34, in order to save the party.

      I think the big change since FDR’s time is the collapse of a Left organized outside of electoral politics. In his time, the unions were the big progressive power, which meant progressivism had to include economic equality. The fact that unions existed independently of the Democratic Party and spread across the spectrum all the way to Communism meant that FDR could play good cop and scare the capitalists into compromise with him, instead of the other way around as we see with Obama.

      An example of this is that when Obama or any other Democrat finally does something that the activist left agrees with, they do nothing to reward him, so he’s exposed to the full fury of a highly organized, ideological and dogmatic right-wing army. Our side only knows how to punish, not reward. Will you see anyone, I mean anyone, marching to support Obama’s peace treaty with Iran? Nope, we’ll wait to march until the bad guys get back in and declare war and the bombers are waiting on the runways. The unions were always marching for FDR when he was moving in their direction.

      • Marches don’t move the 1%. Only threats to their economic dominance move them into action. Usually that action is violent repression. See Occupy. There is plenty of progressive organization and action. I don’t know how you’re missing it unless you’re looking only on the front pages of papers for ‘important’ marches.

        • plenty of progressive … action ?
          unless you mean social issues like homosexual marriage and abortion,
          I doubt the veracity of that assertion.

      • “An example of this is that when Obama or any other Democrat finally does something that the activist left agrees with, they do nothing to reward him, so he’s exposed to the full fury of a highly organized, ideological and dogmatic right-wing army”

        This is the lamest, most self-serving trope served up by believing Dems, and it’s one we’ve been hearing throughout Obama’s tenure.

        Poor Obama! Winner of a solid majority in ’08, president of the most powerful government in human history, de facto leader of the de facto majority party of the U.S. Yet strangely paralyzed, hog-tied, unless Dems turn out in the streets en masse to give him affirmations, and tell him what to do.

        In fact Obama had the core of a solid, once-in-a-generation political coalition — and he let it dribble away within TWO YEARS. Among other things, he pissed it away with idiotic genuflections toward “bipartisanship” when everybody more sentient than a cabbage knew that Republicans were interested in nothing more than opposition for it’s own sake. I mean, Republicans were saying as much in the most candid possible terms. Surely even the 11-dimensional chess master had to pick up on a little of that.

        Another genius Obama tactic for squandering his coalition was **not delivering**. During his campaign he said he was going to push for “card check”, to ease and encourage union organizing. You know, labor unions — I think they’re kinda sorta prominent in Dem folklore, somewhere. But once he took the oath, card check went straight down the memory hole.

        Summers, Goolsbee, Clinton, Nuland, Geithner…. The self-dealing hack list goes on and on…

        It’s nice that Obama’s finally got around to introducing some sanity in our relationship with Iran. It took him long enough, but whatever, it’s a really solid accomplishment. On the other hand, do you think it’s going to help some schlub in Albany make his car payment? You expect people should “reward” the Maximum Leader for something so far removed from their daily concerns?!?!

    • We seem to be in a time where incrementalism is hopelessly inadequate. And Obama’s incrementalist change is glacial, if positive at all. Arctic drilling, and record domestic drilling more than cancel out new power plant standards that will take 7 years to implement. By then, as many as two presidents could reverse these standards. But Obama will be spinning tales about his legacy, at 325k/ hr.

  13. For all of this whining and hand-wringing about how Obama wasn’t some super liberal able to steer the world to that paradise of rainbows, unicorns, faerie glitter and no fossil fuels, consider an alternative:

    As President John McCain nears the end of his term, Republican frontrunner VP Sarah Palin has vowed to extend the war in Iran and expand drilling in ANWR and offshore.

  14. I take issue on the matter of drones. We Americans always have to be bombing and killing dark-skinned people somewhere in the world. It’s what we do, it’s how we roll. If Obama hadn’t continued the tradition he would have been considered less than a man (if not flat-out crazy) and been kicked out of office long ago. At least drone warfare is more targeted and kills fewer civilians than the usual military procedures. Give me Jack Bauer over Gen. Buck Turgidson any day. Given popular opinion in this country, this is as good as it gets.

  15. In Obama’s defense, he also did the following. He singlehandedly rescued the American auto industry from collapse. He pushed through the stimulus bill that did keep unemployment lower than it would have been. His judicial appointments have been competent. He put into place a major expansion of health care insurance, with an estimated 22 million newly covered Americans after less than two years. He also has changed the face of American health care, with some of the other aspects of Obamacare, including free birth control for women, allowing parents to keep their adult children insured, and changing the rules on pre-existing coverage. He has mostly ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has not got us involved in a new large war. Most of the problems in the Middle East still stem from the Pottery Barn rule used, expressed by Colin Powell to George Bush, that if you break it, you buy it. Obama has tried to push our ally Israel to a more sane policy, but has little support domestically. Obama was effective in putting the Iranian sanctions in place, and has now achieved a major accomplishment with the Iranian nuclear deal.
    One thing that we should remember about Obama. No other American president has faced the kind of political pushback like he has experienced the past six years. The Republicans have been savagely fighting his every move, even things like the health care bill, originally a Republican plan.

    • I join your defense of Obama – even though I passionately wish he’d been the passionate progressive he campaigned as. I’ll add that he added more wildnerness, national parks, and other preservations of nature and historic sites than any other president in the history of the country. He made 100’s of positive changes, mostly through executive orders (because what was his alternative?). I beg to differ on your calling the Affordable Care Act originally a Republican plan. That’s a common counterproductive misunderstanding. No Republican EVER formulated, advanced, or introduced into legislation a healthcare system or program that covers millions of people like Obama’s Medicaid expansion has. Nor did any Republican offering ever include ending Big Insurance’s policies of exclusion from healthcare, ending lifetime allowances for coverage, and many other people-first policies that Obama’s ACA instituted and are now law. Let’s let that ‘Obamacare was a Republican program’ myth die right now. The GOP doesn’t want people to have fair and accessible healthcare, or they would have introduced and passed it long ago. The GOP has ONLY ever adamantly opposed healthcare for the people, including Medicare and Medicaid. They opposed Social Security too, of course, and still want to end it.

    • ” He has mostly ended the war[] in … Afghanistan.”

      that’s an interesting take.
      When Obama took office, there were about 33,000 uniformed military and 10,000 US Mercenaries in A’stan, plus assorted support contractors.
      Today there are about 13,000 military troops. see link to
      I haven’t kept up on the number of Mercenaries. Maybe someone else knows. But even if their numbers are about the same, the totals went from about 45,000 to about 25,000.

      I wouldn’t call that “mostly ended.”
      I’d agree that that’s a significant reduction,
      but don’t overlook that Obama tripled the number of military in A’stan in 2009.

  16. Promising genuine change the governing like an Eisenhower Republican was the old bait and switch. Obama has had a history throughout his career of projecting a progressive image then serving the powerful when in office.
    Obama is mostly about image, not substance. He wants to be seen as serious and high minded, but it’s about what he wants to be seen as not what he wants to do. Note the passive voice. He doesn’t want to grab the reins.
    In 2009 when democrats had huge majorities in both houses, Obama could have gotten a budget reconciliation bill with a carbon tax, the public option and a Christmas stocking full of progressive priorities without any Republican votes. “But that’s not bipartisan.” For Republicans, bipartisanship is intimidating a few Democrats to support you. For Obama, bipartisanship is capitulation. the public option in budget reconciliation could have been the battering ram that could have open the gates to single-payer healthcare reform. But that’s not the way the dainty Obama does things.

  17. You can’t filibuster a budget reconciliation bill. That Obama and the Democrats didn’t pass one was political malpractice and a betrayal of their supporters of the highest order. It felt like the Democrats, especially Obama, were relieved to lose both houses. At least the onus was no longer on them to stand and deliver. Much easier to whimper in the corner.

  18. “Politics is the art of the possible and we need to remember that the GOP set out from the day he was inaugerated to oppose every thing Obama did.”

    Obama’s Middle-Eastern policies will have to be judged against the nature and quality of his Congressional opposition; it has been reactionary, neither classically conservative nor justified as in our interests in its neo-conservative form. The former, goes back to Burke, grudgingly tolerating gradual, carefully considered and necessary change, and the risks associated with it, while the latter is clearly a painfully recent theory *primarily* tailored, soto voce, to benefit another country without admitting it openly. Most neo-conservatives display serious conflicts of interest and will rail against those who point out their influence and associated taboos in public. They need to be brushed aside in the interests of the American people. Any President has the executive power to do it.

    Mr. Obama’s patient stewardship is looking good at this point. It seems as though he may have prevented a fourth or fifth war in the region which, presuming success, will be seen as a triumph. One of the tools he crafted in this effort is the Iran agreement. He seems to also be successful in related matters in the UNSC. The deal has been ratified by the Council and is now international law. I see no way that the U.S. Congress can back that up and believe that that matter will be over.

    There is only one major step left in his pivot away from a policy of allowing Israel to wield our veto regarding peace negotiations of global significance. The French Resolution will require only a refusal to use the veto and an “Aye” vote. We may then stand back, not interfering with the subsequent measures which the international community and the Europeans will choose to take. I’m going to use the acronym: Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions at national and international levels. I doubt that we would even have to participate.

    For what it’s worth, I think it will not take long for Israel’s business class to conclude that cooperation is in her long term interest. Its power is unquestionably equal to the task. There will be a settlement pursuant to the Saudi Plan.

    The next step, probably to be left for the next Administration, is to work on a nuclear free zone.

  19. Katty Wampus is right. But lets go even further back: the left’s love of Nader gave us Bush 2.

    Im afraid politics is still the art of the possible and i think Barack Obama is/was and always will be a deeply honorable man and a fantastic president. Not so, a republican congress.

    But why dont you, professor, and the indominately perfect Bill Bodden run for pres & vice pres and watch as your vision for a perfect world garners a miniscule fraction of the vote.

    Democracy, in this country, wouldnt have you. That, i believe, is the source of your constant complaint.

    • But lets go even further back: the left’s love of Nader gave us Bush 2.

      It wasn’t that simple or simplistic. The right wing of the Supreme Court, the machinations in Florida under then-governor Jeb Bush, and the contemptible campaign run by Al Gore and vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT and Israel) were much bigger factors. Ralph Nader’s role is tossed in as a red herring to obscure the facts. I once thought the criticism of Nader had been put to rest but apparently not.

    • … the left’s love of Nader gave us Bush 2.

      The problem wasn’t so much that so many people voted for Nader instead of Gore, the problem was that so many people voted for Gore instead of Nader. There wouldn’t have been a war on Iraq under President Nader, but there could have been one under the Gore-Lieberman administration. Gore was vice president when Clinton and Madeline Albright administered the sanctions that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives. Presumably, Gore agreed with Albright that “it was worth it.”

    • A terrible campaign by Gore, where he didn’t even win his home state, and two out of five Supreme Court justices not having recused themselves (Scalia and O’Connor) when they had well-known and publicly declared conflicts of interest, gave us Dubya. The blaming of Nader is total bullshit, just a way for fiscally conservative Republi-Dems who own a Prius and have attended one gay wedding to scold the actual Democrats in the party for wanting a party that behaves like a Democratic Party.

    • Gore himself is on record admitting that if he had won HIS OWN state, Nader’s candidacy would have had no effect. Further, Gore actually DID gain a majority of Florida votes.

      I used to buy into Nader blame, but after watching Dem idiocy and cowardice ever since, I suspect the problem has a lot less to do with Ralph than the Donk wants to let on.

    • … vision for a perfect world …

      In a debate or negotiation, it is better to push for the highest desired level of success. Facing reality and conceding a willingness to accept a lower goal as a starting point guarantees failure or something close to it.

    • … a perfect world …

      It is beyond the realm of possibilities for a world inhabited by people to ever become perfect, but we can reduce the number and degree of its defects.

      … your vision for a perfect world garners a miniscule fraction of the vote.

      And, what does that say about Americans who are eligible to vote?

    • The problem with comments such as yours, Paris68, and Katty Wampus is that sometimes incremental or “centrist” (ugh!) solutions or approaches are to things that represent dire existential threats. Human driven climate change is just such a threat, and our collective response has been abysmal. We are not talking about perfection (pace Katty Wampus), we are simply talking, on this issue, about handing down a livable planet to our children.

  20. Compromise is essential in politics, but some people appear to fail to recognize there are times when they need to draw a line. This would be an excellent topic to engage at this time. In the case of the Israel Lobby it might be political suicide for candidates to be critical of Israel so mealy-mouth statements might be in order, but surely when elected they should draw a line when it comes to endorsing Israeli actions that are deemed international crimes by eminent international authorities.

  21. It should be noted how far the Right has shifted the Overton Window that Bernie is now considered a fringe candidate by someone like Professor Cole. Bernie would have been middle of the aisle in the Democratic Caucus of the 60s, 70s, or 80s, indistinguishable from Birch Bayh or Mo Udall or Tip O’Neill. Now that reinstating Glass-Steagall is equated to Stalinism and belonging to a union an act of treason, Bernie seems like Angela Freakin’ Davis, but he’s actually a pretty centrist corporatist power-friendly politician. Warren, Franken, and Grayson are all well to his left, and even they would have been run-of-the-mill Democrats a generation ago, all to the right of Ted Kennedy or Hayakawa.

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