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Thursday, June 17, 2010

 
It's Not Personal, It's Strictly Business

by digby

A friend of mine went to an event last night featuring Jonathan Alter and reported this back:

1) I overheard Mickey Kaus talking to his flavor of the month. About... yes, of course, about the Al Gore-Laurie David rumors. Perfect.

2) Alter provided the typical warmed over Village sentiments, particularly as it relates to liberal critics of the President. But this sequence amused me most. During the Q&A, he made an argument that Obama isn't into making gestures, just into getting things done. It might be cathartic for the left to see him take on Republicans, Alter said, but ultimately he's about moving things forward.

TEN MINUTES LATER, he is asked why Obama seems so intent on bipartisanship. Alter says, I kid you not, "You have to understand, he has to look bipartisan to improve his image relative to Republicans, he has to make the gesture..." He literally said the phrase "make the gesture" ten minutes after saying Obama doesn't believe in gestures.


I'm afraid consistency is not required in these hippies vs Real Americans debates. RAs must be coddled, hippies must be punched, everyone knows that. Only small minded moonbats worry about such hobgoblins.

It's amazing how the political press clings to these outmoded ideas of how Washington works. If it wasn't clear by the time Obama took office that Republicans saw "gestures" as a sign of weakness then surely it should be by now. And that's why it makes his rank and file so frustrated. It's not because we want catharsis --- we got plenty of that with Bush's ignominious last two years and the routs of 2006 and 2008. And we don't want gestures either. We're not like the trained dogs of the right wing.

It's not some emotional need that's driving criticism of the president at this point. It's not even politics. It's a legitimate fear that he is either using the wrong political strategy or adopting the wrong policy prescriptions (or both) in dealing with the very serious problems we face.

I don't care if he "acts tough" with BP as long as he makes sure the government does all it can to deal with this crisis and ensures there is accountability for it. (The 20b is a good sign.) But I'd also like him to be politically astute enough to use this issue to persuade the public to back real energy and climate change legislation so that we can get off this noxious spigot before it kills us all. I'd like him to stop coddling the financial sector and fight this trumped up deficit crisis rather than enabling it in another Grand Bargain fantasy that will never work politically in the short or long term and protecting those who perpetuate this economic instability. I'd like the administration to be principled on civil liberties period and take a skeptical position with the military.

I suppose there are some people who are disillusioned, but I'm not. I'm not even particularly surprised. Our political system is so skewed to the conservative side after 30+ years of non-stop propaganda that it's difficult to shift gears. But I do wish the Democrats would join the Republicans in the recognition that the electorate and the political system really are polarized, that we have different philosophies and ideals and that choices have to be made. This quest for transpartisan utopia simply isn't possible in a society fractured and riven by competing ideas of what we stand for.

It's not an emotional need to kick Republicans or an egotistical desire for gestures that drives the criticism right now. It's a disagreement over policy and strategy and it's a serious one.


And as for Mickey Kaus and gossip about Al and Tipper. Well --- he's still dining out on his crusade against Edwards, so I suppose this is par for the course.


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