The Vision Thang

I wrote a few days ago that I find it odd that Democrats don’t seem to be able to articulate a clear vision with specific

Dear Liberal Democrats:

programs and agendas they’d like to support given the absolute fanaticism articulated by Tea Party extremists.  The voting populace seems eager to listen at this point.  You would think in the obvious Republican war against Women, Family Planning, Collective Bargaining, and economic recovery that certain Democratic politicians known for their speeches would be able to find some fighting words. It’s not happening.  It’s a pattern.  It’s time for other Democratic leaders to stand up and fill the void.

It was interesting to read similar thoughts expressed by NY Congress Critter Anthony Weiner who is quickly becoming my favorite outspoken liberal. He was interviewed recently by Amanda Terkel writing for HuffPo.

“On our side is this weird squishy affirmative sense of what government should do and how we’re opposed to this cut and that cut, rather than saying, ‘Here are the things: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, environment and education. We’re not cutting those. Those are off the table. That’s non-negotiable,'” said Weiner, adding, “We haven’t really done that very well. That’s because the president fundamentally — he’s not a values guy. He wants to try to get the best deal for the American people and that’s virtuous in its own right, but it becomes very difficult to make a strategy. There’s been much greater global strategy thinking on [progressive media] outlets, frankly, than at 1600 Pennsylvania.”

When asked by The Huffington Post whether what’s happening at the state and local level with labor unions and budget battles would rise to the national stage, Weiner said that the leadership of national officials — including the president — will be essential to push the issue forward.

“We’ve spent a lot of time waiting for Godot when it comes to the Obama White House, and we kind of — to some degree — have to internalize the idea that, you know what? That’s probably not the way to go,” Weiner said. “We have to start initiating some of this.”

Continued Weiner: “It is now pretty clear to me — I’m not saying this is pejorative — the president, he doesn’t animate his day by saying, ‘All right, what is the thing that has me fired up today? I’m going to out and try to move the ball on it.’ He kind of sees his job as to take this calamitous noise that’s going on on the left with people like us and on the right on Fox News, and his path to being a successful president, in his view, is taking that cacophony and trying to make good, level-headed, smart policy out of it and moving it incrementally down the road. That’s nice. That’s a good thing. We need that, obviously. The problem is there’s no substitute for someone really leaning into these values questions. “

The wall of reality between campaign rhetoric, action, and policy has become so noticeable now that even the most loyal partisans see the complete disconnect.  The problem is that they’re standing around waiting for the President to do something. I contend that’s not going to happen.

Republicans on the right wing are now making political hay of the presidential preoccupation with March Madness and the endless dithering on the no-fly zone over Libya, further efforts to encourage job creation in the country, and the lack of engagement on basic Democratic base issues like the assault on collective bargaining happening in states like Wisconsin.  Obama isn’t even standing up for Big Bird. (Unless you count this just released press ‘statement’.) Maybe our old yellow friend needs to dress up like a Jay Hawk to get some attention these days.  Terkel finds other Democratic pols with similar views that are willing to go on record.  I’m hoping this is the start of a few brave souls finding their voices and spines.  It seems some of them are still in some form of denial.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was also at the gathering and later added, in reference to labor and budget battles, “The only regret I have is that the White House isn’t fighting back against this. It’s one thing to say, ‘Well, I stand behind the workers — how far behind, I don’t know.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘I stand with them and in front of them to protect their rights.’ And I’m waiting for that to happen.”

Frankly, I think Kucinich is going to be waiting for Godot.  I have a lot of problems with Kucinich who caved into White House pressure on health care reform after a few flights on air force one.  I also think that he’s still in denial that the President shares Democratic values. Defazio of Oregon appears to have a bit more of a realistic perspective.

DeFazio added that he hopes Obama stands with congressional Democrats rather than agreeing to a compromise with the Republicans, as he did a few months ago on the tax cuts.”The problem is the negotiator-in-chief and where he’ll end up, and whether we can put some steel in his spine,” he said. “I assume he caved in on taxes in December because he was blackmailed on the treaty with Russia with nuclear weapons, which was absolutely critical. But that’s pretty pathetic also.”

We’re beginning to see voices critical of the President coming from within the party itself.  This is something that has been seriously missing for years.  I’m not sure that any amount of steel spinal fortification is what’s at issue here.  No-Drama Obama shows a lot of enthusiasm when the topic suits him.  He lights up like a christmas tree when speaking about himself or the Chicago Bulls.  He just isn’t enthusiastic about basic human rights and Democratic values.  He’s surrounded himself with Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street insiders. This alone should signal his priorities.

The Republicans definitely are a divided party right now.  The budget battle is highlighting the struggle between Tea Party purists and the wheeling dealing business enablers on the right. Boehner’s the one that’s herding cats right now. The 2012 election appears to be shaping itself towards a Democratic resurgence.  Polls show significant buyer’s remorse for the recent crop of Republican governors and legislators.  This is at least true on the local level. But, they’ve blown it before. Just look at the legislature that came out of the pre-lameduck congress. It was loaded with business deals like tax cuts and business subsidies instead of expansion of middle class and main street priorities.  Each bill started from the negotiation process from a center right perspective and moved farther right.  Liberal Democratic senators didn’t even fight to get an optimal stating position.

The biggest problem is that the President is more than just the titular leader of the party and has a responsibility to provide the Vision Thang.  Obama’s vision only seems to go as far as his personal interests and whims.  Any one interested in social justice or economic justice issues has to be increasingly disturbed about this.  I don’t want to fall into the Republican meme machine that’s using this opportunity to create yet another urban myth around Obama.  Yet, it does seem to me that Obama is giving them far too much material to grease the wheels of their machines.  There’s an angry electorate that just eats that up if they’re not given substantive things to think about.

We need more Democratic politicians that are willing to articulate Democratic values and an agenda that forwards issues that concern most Americans.  If the President doesn’t appear interested in doing it, then I wish we could put people like Anthony Weiner in better positions to articulate the vision thang to the public and to the press.  He might be in a better position to really do this than popular lightening rods like Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. I think they have to stop waiting for the President to “steel” himself or say something.  By now, it ought to be obvious that it’s not going to happen.

18 Comments on “The Vision Thang”

  1. Woman Voter says:

    The Democrats need to get their platform in order and focus on the important issues, and they need to be TRANSPARENT!

    • paper doll says:

      Retirees protest closure of 105 senior centers in New York City

      Last Friday, over 300 senior citizens gathered at City Hall in Manhattan to protest Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts that would reduce funding for senior centers in all five boroughs. 105 senior centers across the city will be permanently closed on April 1 if the state Legislature approves Cuomo’s budget proposal, which includes nearly $4 billion in brutal spending cuts….

      Here’s what passes for a Democrat today is doing and it’s pretty transparent.

      For your score cards : The GOP is now pro wrestling brought to you by the RinglingKock Bros.and the Democrats are the new Reagan GOP.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Dak, thank you for articulating my concerns about the future of the Dem Party. I have seen the right blogs and media being vocal about the President’s lack of leadership. But not so much in the left blog/media…(Or am I just missing it?) I haven’t gone over the Daily Kos lately, but what are the Obots discussing these days?

  3. Peggy Sue says:

    I absolutely agree that liberal Democrats in DC need to start leaning on Obama, insisting that he lead rather than ‘go along to get along.’ It’s becoming painfully obvious that the man is ill-suited to the WH position.

    The Obama apologists are out in force right now: he’s a ‘different’ kind of leader [hahaha], he’s thoughtful and tries to see all sides [primarily the Republican side, if you ask me] and that we [the critics] simply don’t see all the work he’s doing behind the scenes [I’m sure that phone call to Japan last night was backbreaking].

    Bernie Sanders should not be the lone voice in DC when it comes to raising serious questions about where this WH is going. The Republicans have no vision beyond turning the country over to their crony capitalist friends and donors. But Obama seems to be on their tag team, not only in financial matters but in the moral and ethical direction the country is tacking to.

    For instance, the Manning case is a huge black eye for the Dems and anyone who believes that protecting civil rights should be front and center. And Obama’s response–Manning’s treatment is appropriate?

    There was chatter about a week ago that Manning’s family had not complained about their son’s treatment. The slant was that if the family was silent then the conditions must be okay. Yesterday, I read Manning’s father has indeed come out and said the military has crossed the line, that the conditions underwhich his son is being held is completely without reason and merit. Interestingly enough, the father said if his son did what he was accused of he was definitely wrong. But this kid has not been tried as yet and from what I understand the evidence is pretty sketchy, despite the endless charges. This is a continuaton of the Bush/Cheney doctrine that we now have 3 classes of prisoners: civil, military, and we can do whatever the hell we want types. Personally, I find the whole mess sickening.

    This isn’t just about the Democrats. There’s a battle being waged over the very soul of the country. Not knowing where POTUS stands or how far he’s willing to compromise on a whole host of issues is a very scary proposition. And if liberal legislators don’t stand up now, then they don’t stand for anything.

    • Sophie says:

      It’s more of that 11 dimensional chess. You think by now, he might have at least captured a pawn or two.

  4. fiscalliberal says:

    Obama seems to categorize everything in terms of what it will take to get elected, as do Pelosi and Reid.

    The Republican noise machine full of arguments out of context and outright lies. The Democrats do not counter them.

    The politics of getting re-elected is essentially defense along with corruption to get campaign funding. It should be interesting to see what his Health program is doing before the election. That is the Democrats signature issue and its status (good or bad) will influence the election.

    It just seems like the Democrats are deer in the headlights and are getting cowed. That will continue as long as Obama and Reid are in position.

    If you think about it, Peolosi got the legislation going in the Democratic vision format. It was the Senate and President caved or negotiated it away.

    • cwaltz says:

      “Obama seems to categorize everything in terms of what it will take to get elected”

      It’s this part that concerns me. Right now Social Security and Medicare are off the table. What happens though in 2012 when Obama no longer has the idea of re election to contend with?

      In other words whether I vote Dem or GOP, I suspect that those two programs are endangered species.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Waiting around for Obama “to do something” is like waiting around for Charlie Sheen to become “normal”. Ain’t gonna happen.

    Which is why I love Anthony Weiner. At least he articulates what I am sure are the same beliefs the rest of the Dems serving today have expressed in private.

    As the GOP rams through their hateful agenda, President I Could Not Care Less is looking at the upcoming contenders for 2012 and voting “present”. Not having to exert a muscle of involvement, he can slink away for another game of hoops while the rest of us in the middle sink up to our chins in this morass.

    I’m just thankful that somebody from “our side” has the guts to say it aloud.

  6. foxyladi14 says:

    love this guy.looks like Presidential material to me. 🙂

  7. fiscalliberal says:

    We need to remeber that according to the Social Security Trustee report Soc Sec is funder to 2040’s – we have time to solve the proglem.

    Medicaid is the weak sibling and it needs to be addressed. I do not think the Obama (Democratic) health care program will do the job in reducing costs.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      I listened to Harry Reid last night say that nothing, absolutely nothing should be done to SS for 20 years; it’s self-sustaining for another 30 years. He will support no changes, tweaks or pretense that we can solve the debt problem on the backs of the elderly.


      But then there’s Obama, who seems to be willing to concede to . . . just about everything.