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
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.
Good morning everyone! Wonk the Vote here, wishing you a merry and a happy on this Saturday, December the 25th, 2010.
Whatever you celebrate or do not celebrate. I hope your inner child is finding a little peace, a little hope, and a little laughter this holiday season and that as we edge closer to 2011, we are able to keep on keeping on–with a little help from our family and from our friends.
In some ways, blog communities feel like a little of both family and friendship. We have been through a lot side-by-side in the past three years since we gathered together around Hillary 2008.
As a token of gratitude to each and every one of you, I want to share my all-time favorite holiday carol youtube with y’all — Rosemary Clooney’s rendition of “Let It Snow”:
I cannot help but be happy watching that footage! I hope if that doesn’t do the trick for you, you share what makes you happy downthread in the comments.
And, speaking of pure happiness–I am typing this from a brand new MacBook Air! Santa came a little early in the Wonk household, so I got my present on Christmas Eve. My laptop woes are over. Hooray! I can finally get back into the swing of all things news junkie.
Before I get to the news though, let’s take a look back on Christmases past.
On this day, December 25th, in history:
When I went to Italy, I visited a lot of churches. I won’t lie. They all started to blur together for me. Assisi was the one place that really stood out for some reason. Something about St. Francis I guess. Probably also has a lot to do with the first time I ever heard this prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Doubt is as important to me as faith. That’s just the way I am. I do, however, like the idea of reframing all the destructive energy in this world–in other words, turning oneself into an instrument for the universe’s creative energy. I also think that reflexive doubt, just like blind faith, is a corrosive force. It blinds us as individuals and as a populace. It makes us deaf to our own inner voices. I feel that in some ways, this is where America is at right now.
At any rate, St. Francis’ prayer always seems to me a sort of prototype for cognitive-behavioral therapy before its time, as portions of religious texts and prayers often do. I would add one more line to it…
Where there is pain, let there be healing.
All this mythos stuff–in all its purest forms, unadulterated by institutionalism and authoritarianism–reads like one big self-help section on how to understand the world around us and how to do life. We human beings love to understand our world through storytelling–different stories pull us in, but we are all trying to understand some pretty universal themes when it comes down to it–human bonding, suffering, loss, and resilience. That’s what ties us all together. And, we want to hear our human story retold over and over again, in as many ways as possible, until it makes some sort of sense. It’s just the way we are.
Alright, enough of my existential ramblings. I want to touch on some actual newsy items in my holiday roundup.
First, a moment of remembrance for Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on December 27, 2007. CNN has this clip up of an interview with Duane Baughman, director of the recent documentary Bhutto.
Now, for some quick headlines that caught my eye from the top of my news feeds at the moment–keep in mind that between computer chaos and holiday mayhem, I’ve been out of the news junkie loop for about a week, so some of this might be old news to you by now… Karl Rove: Hillary Clinton Will Be A Presidential Candidate In 2016 – Huffington Post December 23, 2010:
“I suspect she will be a candidate. I suspect she is going to think about being a candidate in 2016, and we’ll know by about 2014,”Rove said on Fox News. “If she leaves the administration in 2014 or 2015, in order to give herself a chance to write a book about her experiences and reconnect with the grassroots, then she might entertain it.”
We’ll see about that. I know I’m like a broken record on this one, but it’s all I can think: I can’t blame Hillary if she never runs again.
Longtime Democratic operative Guy Cecil will serve as executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2012 cycle, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced Wednesday. Cecil succeeds J.B. Poersch and is tasked with helping Democrats keep their tenuous majority in the Senate given a tough 2012 map for the party. […] Cecil served as national political director for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Interesting little shift of the Democratic political winds there. Something to keep an eye on, methinks.
Christmas came early for song man Steve Tyrell and his glam fiancéKaren Pulaski when former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton popped in at the Cafe Carlyle in New York on Thursday night to catch the holiday show by Tyrell, one of the former president’s favorite singers. The Clintons, including daughter Chelsea, had primo seats, posed for photos with the Tyrell/Pulaski clan and wished the couple all the best with their wedding, which will take place at the Carlyle Hotel on Sunday. Yes, the day after Christmas. When Tyrell dedicated The Way You Look Tonight to the Clintons, Chelsea moved to sit next to her father. They held hands, and according to Tyrell, the former president wiped a tear from his eye. You might remember The Way You Look Tonight as the song that Tyrell sang inFather of the Bride and it was his version of the tune that Bill and Chelsea chose as their first dance at her wedding.
So that’s a little of what the Clintons have been up to for the holidays. Sounds delightful! Check out the links for a few nice photos.
I’m not even going to excerpt on that one. Mostly my reaction is no comment. It’s an Examiner article, so grains of salt and all that.
Fierce Urgency of Inevitably Sometime? Via memeorandum.com:
Another story I saw pop up on memeorandum:
Kamala Harris: Democrats’ anti-Palin (Ben Smith/The Politico)December 25, 2010
I really wanted to read the profile on Kamala, but the constant defining of her as “the anti-Palin” or “the female” Obama made me tune out before I could get past the first page. The genius messengers of the Democratic party just don’t quit, do they?
Going to switch from memeorandum to Raw Story for the next few stories…
From the link:
“When told of the Pentagon’s statement that he did indeed receive exercise, Manning’s reply was that he is able to exercise insofar as walking in chains is a form of exercise,” House wrote.
Firedoglake was also featuring an online petition asking supporters to demand an improvement to the conditions of Manning’s detention.
Sigh. What continues to go on in our names is a disgrace to all the hope this season is supposed to bring. I’m not sure a petition is enough to make a dent here, but at least it’s something.
Also from Raw Story:
New rules to allow Blackberries, iPads on House floor December 24, 2010 David Edwards
One more RS link:
Device uses sunlight to make liquid fuel December 24, 2010 Eric W. Dolan
I’m intrigued. I’d love to hear from someone with some expertise.
Like I said, I’m just playing catch up here. Y’all can probably add some fresher links of what’s going on in the world in the comments.
Moving away from the headlines back to a holiday link, here’s a concise history on Thomas Nast’s Christmas illustrations, including “Santa Claus and His Works,” featured in Harper’s Weekly on December 1866. (via the Gray Lady):
Nast was instrumental in standardizing and nationalizing the image of a jolly, kind, and portly Santa in a red, fur-trimmed suit delivering toys from his North Pole workshop. This was accomplished through his work in the pages of Harper’s Weekly, his contributions to other publications, and by Christmas-card merchants in the 1870s and 1880s who relied heavily upon his portraiture.
As Nast’s own children entered and left their teen years, knowing that Santa was really their father, the artist’s illustrations finally showed direct communication and interaction between Santa Claus and the pictured children. In a postdated January 1879 issue, a girl drops a letter to Santa in a mailbox (the first time the artist depicted a letter from a child to Santa), and in December 1884, Santa and a girl are able to speak with each other by using a relatively new invention, the telephone. In the January 1879 issue, another Nast cartoon portrays Santa Claus in the midst of a group of gleeful children who he embraces affectionately. Santa is now recognized as part of the family, whose shared love is the greatest gift. Nast’s Santa makes his last appearance in Harper’s Weeklythe next year when the jolly old (man-size) elf offers himself as a present. Nast’s last two Christmas illustrations in Harper’s Weekly appeared in December 1886, when he resigned from the newspaper, but his impact on the popular image of Santa Claus continued and remains potent to this day.
Well, that’s all I’ve got! I know today is busy for lots of people, so if you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading and here’s wishing you a day of whatever brings you peace and joy. I’ve got to get going. I’m out of town and have a Christmas breakfast to go to this morning. As always, treat this as an open thread to share your Saturday reads and thoughts.