Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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33 Responses

  1. North says:

    Good analysis E.D. It will be interesting to see how things turn out in the near and long term and in the near especially a lot of it hinges on the Dems oddly enough.

    Obama and the leadership right now look like they’re fumbling their big enchilada (health care). There’s no way in hell that Obama is going to be able to get any serious global warming bill through congress the way things are now so 2010 and of course his fierce advocacy on social issue has had all the ferocity of a geriatric toothless corgi. At this moment 2010 is looking pretty bleak for the Democrats with angry activists, a disappointed base, a dragging economy and alienated independents. Now of course if Obama and his people scale down their ambition on health care and pass something substantive the fundamentals can shift and it’s anyone’s guess what the economy will do. The money seems to be on a chugging but slow recovery which would be in my mind a wash. Not dramatic enough to earn Obama kudos but good enough that he can point to it to prevent much voter wrath.

    What does this have to do with the intra GOP factions? In my mind if Obama and his party screw up and get flattened in 2010 the faction on top in the GOP struggle may get what amounts to a false positive signal that will then lead to them doubling down on unpopular themes and getting utterly devastated in 2012. On the other hand if the economy spruces up more or Obama accomplishes something domestically he could rally the Dems and deliver a disappointment to the GOP in 2010 that ironically enough might be healthy for the party in the long term as it precipitates a genuine reappraisal of their themes among the party rank and file.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to North says:

      Those are good points, North. Utter detestation in 2012 might be a good thing…Report

    • Barry in reply to North says:

      Norther: “What does this have to do with the intra GOP factions? In my mind if Obama and his party screw up and get flattened in 2010 …”

      This is my bet; healthcare reform will *at the very best* be a minor improvement, whose benefits won’t be felt until looooong
      after 2010, and probably after 2012. Right now, I give 50-50 odds (when I’m optimistic) that healthcare reform will pass at all, and 50-50 that it will be a net benefit (as opposed to Medicare Part D, the Sequel).

      The result of this is that Obama has pissed away the better part of a year on something between not much and failure, and has lost a lot of reputation.
      This means that liberals are demoralized, right-wingers are still up in arms about – well, a Democratic president is the root, but any excuse will do. Meanwhile, the economic elites (who are the real and only elites in this country) have had a very good year, know that Obama is highly punkable, and would in any case desire that a Democratic president be castrated, lest he try some actual reform. So they’ll be putting their money into the GOP, and those Dem congressmen who are ‘understanding’.

      The only reason that Obama will probably be re-elected in 2012 is the shortage of GOP candidates worth something.Report

      • North in reply to Barry says:

        Perhaps Barry, but even the healthcare reforms not having an actual effect until later could quite possibly be a plus for the Dems. They got is passed and the sky didn’t fall. Especially now that it looks like the reform that gets passed will not have any of the public options or public option lite versions. The Dems would be able to show their base and the moderates that they can get something done (or at least appear to) and will have dealt a defeat to Republicans who are dead set against anything being passed. So it could go either way. The 800 lb gorilla is a what happens with the economy. The 80 lb gorilla is what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 8 lb gorilla is healthcare. In my mind at least.Report

  2. greginak says:

    The D’s are fumbling with a new fangled idiotic requirement for a super majority to do anything. This will be a significant issue for them to struggle with for the rest of O’s term. whenever R’s get some power….well we’ll have to see if we can have a functioning gov ever again.Report

  3. As I’ve stated before – I think the root of the so-called ‘litmus tests’ were to try and flesh out a platform that anyone calling themselves a Republican can adhere to. The reason for this is a need for unity going forward. Yes, Obama was swept into office with a big, diverse tent…and where has it gotten him? Conservative Democrats are the biggest obstacle to healthcare reform. Other Democrats will pose problems elsewhere. The point is that the GOP wants to avoid those kinds of struggles. For better or for worse, we need to all be on the same page before we get back into power. The litmus test was one idea to try and bring this about.Report

    • Maybe so, Mike, but I think it’s more divisive than unifying. Sometimes the one leads to the other though.Report

      • Well ultimately it sounds good on paper to say, “look how diverse we are! We have moderates, conservatives and Far Righties and everyone in-between,” but how do these people actually work together? I think the Democrats are sort of finding that out now. I think that was one thing Reagan was good at was creating a basic framework which everyone in his Big Tent could latch onto. There’s none of that on the Left right now. They all have their own self-interests and the only common thread is that Obama promised all of them he would take care of their needs.Report

        • Yes, but Mike the Democrats are going to pass healthcare reform. They’re going to have some serious victories. They won’t have totally pure victories like single-payer, but they’ll have much larger victories than if they’d cast out the moderates and conservative dems.Report

          • IF (huge IF) they manage to get healthcare through, it’s certainly not going to be anything worth bragging about. It’s more than likely just going to tick off all their voters in one way or another. Then what? 2010 Obama is going to probably work on jobs but good luck with that. It would be easier to try and locate Noah’s Ark than unlock the mysteries of serious job creation.

            Watch the midterms next year to see how unhappy the Big Tent is. American voters, especially those on the Left, are a selfish bunch. When they don’t get what they were promised they will be quick to abandon ship.Report

            • Barry in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              Mike: “Mike at The Big Stick
              “IF (huge IF) they manage to get healthcare through, it’s certainly not going to be anything worth bragging about. It’s more than likely just going to tick off all their voters in one way or another. ”


              “Then what? 2010 Obama is going to probably work on jobs but good luck with that. It would be easier to try and locate Noah’s Ark than unlock the mysteries of serious job creation. ”

              It’s not that, it’s that the GOP does not *want* a stimulus; they’d much rather go into 2010 with a piss-poor economy. And there seems to be 6 alleged Dem Senators who agree with them.

              “Watch the midterms next year to see how unhappy the Big Tent is. American voters, especially those on the Left, are a selfish bunch. When they don’t get what they were promised they will be quick to abandon ship.”

              Go to various centrist blogs (balloon-juice, Brad DeLong, Matthew Yglesias, Washington Monthly) to watch a bunch of puffed-up *ssholes castigate liberals for actually expecting things, while pedantically lecturing them on how the Senate is just an immovable obstacle (after 8 years of a Senate which worked pretty hard for Bush). Then see the cherry of insult added, which is that 60 Dem Senators isn’t enough, so why don’t you liberals work harder.

              I call this ‘the politics of despair’; the final step is for centrists to castigate liberals for not turning out in 2010, and working and donating money to re-elect the same guys who couldn’t get things done.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Barry says:

                after 8 years of a Senate which worked pretty hard for Bush

                (citation needed)Report

              • greginak in reply to Barry says:

                Barry the cancerous growth of the filibuster along with complete Repub intransience has led to the ugly truth that 60 D senators is the bare minimum needed for anything. And the 60 th senator therefore has great power, which is why Lieberman is having so much say.

                For the six years the R’s had the majority in the senate they did not often need to get 60 votes to do anything. The D’s didn’t force the R’s to pass cloture on every damn thing. That is not exactly working hard, more like some sort of majority rule kind of thing.Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              Right on, Mike!
              As the beloved Bubba once said, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and that “Democrat” from Arkansas was right!Report

            • I agree Mike — this myopic obsession with winning and passing grand legislation is meaningless if the legislation is going to destroy the country. If legislation like the currently proposed healthcare reform bill is the standard, then, if I wouldn’t want my fingerprints anywhere on the bill. I’d rather be seen as a member of loyal opposition with dignity intact and a chance for long term gains based on integrity.Report

    • And in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      “for worse” is exactly why the GOP lacks credibility now. What good is power and unity when you don’t use them responsibly?Report

  4. RTod says:

    E.D. –

    I appreciate (and in large part agree) the points you make in this post. However, regarding your initial apology for painting strokes too broad, I have to say PLEASE don’t apologize.

    If there is to be a viable conservative voice in American politics, (and by viable I mean being able to govern, not just win elections), the Movement Conservatives need held accountable their actions. I certainly see folks like Red State willing to pile on Frum, but I don’t any of the movement conservatives condemning or even distancing themselves from Conservapedia. I mean, shit, we’re talking about a highly visible project that is looking to change scripture so that it’s more in line with GOP talking points. And the conservative intellectuals, that are attempting to suck up to conservative Christians, can’t see how this is contemptible, laughable, and will most likely blow up in their face? Or, worse, know all of that but are so cynical and short-sighted that they are willing to embrace it anyway? I mean, are you really going to simultaneously argue that America should derive our laws from the Bible, because it is the inerrant Word of God, and, by the way, it’s also totally fucked up and needs to be totally rewritten?

    I don’t agree with a lot of what the Frums of the world argue, but I have faith that they are grownups. As long as the Movement Conservatives control the debate for the Right, please, please, please continue to paint with your broad, broad brush.


  5. Jaybird says:

    There were a lot of non-Hawkish conservatives burned in the aftermath of 9/11.

    Hey, we *HAVE* to suspend habeus corpus for just this one guy. He was planning on building a dirty bomb, after all. Imagine what would have happened to habeus corpus if that bomb he was planning actually went off in Chicago!

    The Patriot Act is required for the safety of ourselves and our The Children and you’ll excuse me if I care a little bit more about whether or not my child is dead than I care about whether the government knows that you keep renewing Dean Koontz books (as if you can’t read them in the two weeks the library lets you borrow them).

    Look, I understand that you fiscal types aren’t crazy about the bailouts but there are people who are being hurt by being out of work and millions more who will be prevented from being hurt by being out of work by this money being pumped into the economy. Do you really want to hand Bush’s opponents a victory at this point?

    And so on and so forth.

    And that’s just the stuff that stuck in my craw on the fiscon side. I imagine that a sufficiently socially conservative voter would have equal complaints about how the Hawks kept explaining that social conservative victories needed to be deferred just a little bit longer.

    If the Republicans win any victories in the next few years, it will be because of one of two things:

    1) Another Ronald Reagan
    2) The Democrats screw things up to the point where independents say “throw the bums out, the other guys couldn’t possibly be worse!”

    Neither is sustainable.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Well maybe so, Jaybird. I think you’re right – either of those solutions is unsustainable. So defeat may be necessary first. And out of the ashes….Report

    • Barry in reply to Jaybird says:

      “If the Republicans win any victories in the next few years, it will be because of one of two things:”

      Dem screw-ups. The frustrating thing is, it won’t be screwing up by being leftist, it’ll be because the elites have bought so much of the Dem leadership that they can have the leadership screw over everybody else (more than usual).Report

  6. The GOP will gain seats in 2010, but not enough to control either chamber. I think that is actually a bad thing, as control of one chamber would force Republicans to be adults. In doing so they’d likely lose the support of the teabaggers. To me, that is a good outcome.Report

  7. Cascadian says:

    E.D., this post was a bit confusing to me. You mention a number of different factions, none of which are legitimately “small government” yet blanket conservatism with the notion. At the end you briefly mention the Paul contingency then say this faction must suffer defeat. I’m not sure which faction you’re speaking of. What do you make of the Paul faction? Are they part of the Tea Bag Brigade, or something else on the fringe like Larison?Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Cascadian says:

      Not at all, Cascadian. There are small government factions. But the one I was speaking of is the largest and it is the “oppositional faction” which I think controls the tea parties and the main thrust of the conservative movement. Ron Paul may have some supporters in the tea parties but I think that this reflects the fact that the tea parties themselves are not a homogeneous faction but have their own fractured elements as well.Report

  8. trizzlor says:

    Let’s pretend we have a black box machine that takes the wilderness party as input and then spits out a presidential candidate. For the left a few years ago the input would be: a vocal but fringe pacifist/netroots movement (end both wars, divest from Israel, a Daily Kos purity test for senators like Lieberman); Al Gore’s heightened environmentalism; a flaccid do-nothing congressional minority, and maybe youth GOTV (fill me in if I’m missing any pillars of the movement). And out of all this primordial soup … we get Obama.

    Now imagine the candidate if we were to feed the modern-day conservative movement into the machine. Would it be bad? How do we ensure that the machine acts the same way?Report

  9. Clay Barham says:

    I love roots. Seeing the beginning of something that becomes a conflict helps me understand the whole tree, so to speak. For example, Obama said the interests of the community are more important than are individual interests. That is a root! That tells us individual interests conflict with community interests in some way. Now, we know community has no brain or heart, so someone must decide what is in the interest of community. In our case, that would be elite like Obama, Pelosi and Reid, and their immediate helpers. Then, the opposite is individual freedom to make decisions, which worked well in America resulting in a free market. But, that means too many uninformed, unintelligent individuals. Those in the ranks of the elite few who expect to rule look on the many in community as stupid, unable to foresee future events and solve problems at hand. They feel their calling is to make sure individuals do not decide what it right or wrong for them, their families and communities closest to them. Whenever you see one of those elite being interviewed and worshipped by interviewers, you hear them make statements that sound arrogant and demeaning to the average man and woman. In addition, you see the same arrogance in media and academia, which is where the elite in government come from. The private sector is made up more of non-elite and small business folks, who are seen as having no intelligence. Hear what they say, then measure it against this root. Claysamerica.comReport

  10. Bruce Smith says:

    Instead of trying to eat each other the Republicans need to get their heads round the fact that it was a form of Communism that recently rescued private capitalism to the tune world-wide of $14,000 billion. The fact that they are pretending it was all the fault of too much regulation reveals their disconnect with reality and worse their ideological bankruptcy.Report

  11. Bruce Smith says:

    Or maybe not. As Ronald Reagan used to say the one set of words you don’t want to hear are “I’m from the government (tax payer) and I’m here to help.”Report