The State of the Spin

Jeff Golden

Picture 4 Yeah, I know the State of the Union speech and the flood of punditry measuring Obama's first year isn't particularly about Oregon.  And I know that once opened, this tap could be hard to close.  But one Republican theme is this week is so spectacularly annoying that  BlueOregon therapy is indicated.

It's this:  Obama's 2009 failures come from trying to drive policy so hard to the left.  This morning I heard yet another GOP mouthpiece cite Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts (or, as they all like to put it, "Massachusetts, of all places!") as definitive proof that America has rejected the D's "Government takeover of the health care system." 

Yeah, yeah, I know, what do I expect Republican flacks to say?  Just the same, I'd sure like to see some data to answer one question: which loomed larger in the Mass loss, opposition to the big spending and enhanced govt regulation in the D health plans, or no-show Democrats disgusted with the way Ds have rolled over to the Liebermans and the big lobbies?

More broadly, are national Ds tanking because O and Congressional leaders have galloped

    1) to the Left

    2) or the Right?

I want to say #2 -- I do say #2 -- but don't ask me to prove it.  Can anyone? 

 

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Moveon.org (and DFA) did polling immediately after the election in Mass. (I think they both co-commissioned the same poll [Research 2000]). I think you'll find the data appears to be inline with what you are suggesting here. Add to it our recent election here in Oregon and I think we can safely dismiss much of the blather coming from GOPers viz Brown's election as rank demagoguery.

  • (Show?)

    I'd say that folks are upset because there hasn't been enough progress on key issues that matter - health care, clean energy, etc.

    And that's a result of the National Ds not existing - that is, the 58/57 Ds and 2 Is are a collection of liberals and conservatives, who couldn't find a 60-person consensus on complex policy issues among North Dakota Ds and Oregon Ds and Joe Lieberman. So it's frustrating to watch, and you just want it to fix itself so you yell "change" and the way to do that right now is to vote for Scott Brown.

    Which is a key second point - Massachusetts is MA, it's not the nation. And the race was Brown v. Coakley, not Democrats or Obama vs. Republicans, or liberals vs conservatives. It's impossible to say that most of the hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts voters had the same thing in mind; although polling can get a general sense of things, the electorate is broad and diverse.

    So, my take away is: voters want functioning government that solves problems, protects families, and helps create opportunities. Because of the filibustering Republicans (mainly) and diversity among Democrats (partially), the current Congress hasn't been able to get enough done.

  • William Neuhauser (unverified)
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    Beyond the headline polling, the Research 2000 pool already mentioned showed that 57% of Obama voters who voted for Brown said that they don't think the Ds have delivered the change that was promised. In other words, not a too left/too right issue, but not implementing the (left) agenda that was campaigned on.

    See the question: Generally speaking do you think Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington, DC are delivering enough on the change Obama promised to bring to America during the campaign?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    You know, to get out of bed in the morning, you have to assume that there is a force of 1g pulling your feet to the floor, before you swing them over the bed. This post is a cause for concern. If we need to provide evidence that he has not struck the ball into left field, then I'm going to need to measure the g field around me before I get up in the morning!

    I totally get the initial reaction to the statement. Primal scream. I really don't think there's anything beyond that. Nice to consider if they have a point, but when you realize the statement really is no more than it seems on face value, I would recommend another scream. Some performance/protest art would have been a nice finish. Not sure what I'd recommend, but it could well have involved a black light cattle prod, hysterical screaming, and nudity. My history teacher's favorite expression, "hung by the balls and flogged" also keeps coming to mind.

  • (Show?)

    Losing the election is neither left or right. It is one lost election. President Obama remains focused on the economy and health care.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    It coldn't be about the federalization of health care because MA already has a state run take-over (and it is about broke). It alsoisn't an isolated issue. This would be the third of 4. NJ, VA (governors races) both went from d to r. Upstate NY (congress) stayed d, but more likely due to the r's defeating their own.

    The larges registration in MA is independent by about 400,000. They witness the d's in control of everything that the r's had been in control of do things exactly the same way. There was no change, just the tack and course.

    Is it too left or too right? Hard to say because we don't have enough data. Of course th r's from the hard right wanted to say that they lost 2008 because McCain wasn't far right enough. - uhhm wrong Mccain ran a horrible campaign and went with a poorly chosen running mate.

    It could be that Martha Coakley just ran a really horrible campaign under the assumption that the Senate seat was a d birthright. By all means, however tack further left and let us all find out come November what the outcome is.

  • Michael M. (unverified)
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    Democrats are tanking because the party controls both houses and the Presidency, had a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate for several months, and still came away looking like a complete failure. No environmental legislation, no health care system reform, and a stimulus bill that most everyone reasonable agrees was problemmatic (which is to say, neither a complete disaster nor a stunning triumph, especially with regard to the unemployment rate).

    Looking at the utter lack of progress in 2009, could you seriously expect the Democrats to be held in high regard by anyone but the most stalwart party loyalists? Honestly, I think not just the Democrats but the public would have been better served if the Dems didn't control both houses, or controlled at least the Senate by only a slim majority. I think Reid, Pelosi & Co. would have realized sooner that less ambitious but still beneficial legislation could have made it through without the embarassing and outrageous backroom deals with Nelson, Landrieu, etc. I think key Republicans wouldn't have felt so beleagured and ignored by an opposition that had the numbers to go it alone (theoretically, anyway). Instead, the Dems ran away with themselves, and delivered nothing. They deserve the drubbing they are going to take in 2010.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    As usual, the best posts get few responses and no discussion. Seems you either get it when it comes to intellectual integrity, or are bored shitless. I agree with Jefferson that people get the gov they deserve. I just wish the US wasn't so manipulating of every other countries' agenda, so it would possible to pull up stakes, leave, and get a different result. Unfortunately emigrating is rather like trying to leave the mob.

  • Jim Houser (unverified)
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    OK Z. I'll attempt to further a good post.

    There is currently much journalistic pontificating about Obama’s “leadership”. Everyone is suddenly an expert in political strategy. “Obama has not (visibly) taken the lead.” “Roosevelt would have done this...” “LBJ would have been on the Senate floor with so-and-so by the neck.” “Obama’s legislative agenda would no be in such disarray if he had been more involved (publicly).”

    Missing from these pundit’s assessments is any discussion of the risks, of the negative outcomes if Obama had acted more forcefully and more publicly.

    If Obama’s public efforts to influence legislation, especially with individual legislators, failed, what would be the political consequences? What if Obama went nose-to-nose with Lieberman and L spit in his eye? How many such defeats can a new president endure politically? Obama has only so much political capital to spend.

    Even more problematic are the risks of any overtly public involvement if such a strategy were to “succeed”. Obama has a long way to go with his legislative agenda. What would become the role of (weakened) legislative leadership? How many recalcitrant legislators would subsequently wait, when challenged, and say, “I’ll wait to see what Obama has to offer”. And what of Obama’s infinitely wise decision during the campaign to focus equally on process as outcomes? I would argue that focus on process, eschewing traditional partisan politics, is one of Obama’s greatest strengths with independents. To so blatantly abandon that promise so early in his administration would immediately call in to question all of his other assurances

    I think it is important to note that underlying much of the criticism of Obama is the belief/myth that the US President has the capability (and desirability) to function as something like a potentate; much like Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela is portrayed as ruling. Despite what you think of Chavez or his policies, the reason he can govern as he does is that he has a mass movement at his back. Democracy for America and MoveOn.com are important organizations, but they are not a mass movement. The only way to expect Obama to act more forcefully under current conditions would be the formation of a pro-reform, counter-Tea Party movement. Lacking a mass movement I wouldn’t expect or encourage Obama to act any differently than he has.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    What I want to know is, if HCR leg fails this time, will single payer be back on the table the second time?

  • Jim Houser (unverified)
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    Z. My guess would be 'no' to single payer at this stage. Too much potential anxiety among the independents who are already covered with a (sketchy) health plan and too much unemployment and market turmoil with the dissolution of "health" insurance companies and among those hospital administrative positions currently pushing insurance forms around. I think a strong public health insurance option, one of the most popular features of the reform proposals, would definitely be back at the top of the list.

  • Oksy Moreon (unverified)
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    Re: "...if HCR leg fails this time, will single payer be back on the table the second time?"

    Not if us Progressive Democrats have anything to say about it.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    I'll prove that Obama & Co. are going way, way to the "Right' (if that term is accepted as having taken up a real military belligerence, and not just in the oft-discussed theaters of action):

    www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17169

    What the heck is to be gained with the saber-rattling at Russia and the arms deal with Taiwan? Contracting dollars for the usual suspects?

    The Nobel War Laureate. Obama's beginning to rival Kissinger as the worst-ever choice for that accolade.

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  • Abby NORML (unverified)
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    I don't quite get all the rhetoric that appeared here about "getting tough" and missing LBJ, since a lot of the same crew are saying no single payer now. Too much for now. Wouldn't getting tough be to say, "We tried it the nice way, now we'll do it the hard way"? At this point the Democrats need to be thinking about what they will have to show at mid-terms. Frankly, I think they're heading towards nada. If that is the case, wouldn't it be better to have put up the best health care reform package in the history of the planet, so at least they have something decent to show?

    Which would you give them more credit for, passing the pig's ear that is in front of the Congress now, or failing to pass a really great package? Vote #2 for me.

    You never know. It could pass.

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Posted by: paulie | Jan 30, 2010 6:59:59 AM

    Losing the election is neither left or right. It is one lost election. President Obama remains focused on the economy and health care.

    I'm still waiting for that moment when the faithful switch from "give him more time" to "he did the best with what he inherited". Make no mistake, they intend to support him regardless of what he does. They know he will do nothing, but are still planning their relection attack. They have all the free thinking of a labrador deciding whether or not to chew something up.

    These people are so fake. If Dick Armey were the Prez, and changed parties, and became really popular, a lot of these people would suddenly discover how much they agree with him. People. That's using the word casually. They're organic robots, programmed to spin any fact in favor of "their guy".

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    Very well said, Anita. Sad but true that that is the paradigm which determines our political leadership, that accomplishments are not the criteria, but rather, loyalty is (loyalty to The Party).

    Kind of like the mafia.

  • rw (unverified)
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    this post shows measures 66 and 67 are a shadow of the topside; so look within that legislation for where the small people are shaved along-with:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204575039132987274858.html?mod=WSJ-hpp-LEADNewsCollection

  • Emmit Goldman (unverified)
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    Obama, like Bush, has sought to undermine the legal rights of those detained and the victims of torture who seek accountability. Obama continues to refuse to release pictures (evidence) of detainee abuse, preventing Americans from really understanding what their government is guilty of. Obama has also refused detainees in so-called “black sites” (U.S. Bagram Air Base, for example) access to attorneys or courts. Finally, by not prosecuting anyone for torture crimes in the Bush administration, Obama is guaranteeing that the worst forms of torture will continue, since institutionalized behavior rarely stops unless rewards or punishments are implemented.

    In the end, the act of torture is impossible to separate from war in general. The “rules of war” are always ignored by both sides, who implement the most barbaric acts to terrorize their opponents into submission.

    Obama’s wars, like Bush’s, are wars of conquest. U.S. corporations want the oil and other raw materials in the region. They also want to privatize the conquered state-owned companies, and to sell U.S. products in the new markets the war has opened up. Many corporations benefit from the act of war itself (arms manufacturers and corporate-employed mercenaries), or from the reconstruction opportunities the destruction creates.

    Torture Never Stopped Under Obama, http://www.opednews.com/articles/Torture-Never-Stopped-Unde-by-shamus-cooke-100125-160.html

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    <h2>Torture is arguably worse, morally, under Obama than under Bush. Bush's cronies could always argue about the gray area they imagined in the law. Under Obama, we have an Italian criminal court handing down criminal convictions for renditioning activities by specific CIA assets. This makes him more of an outlaw than Bush.</h2>

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