Look, the thing about the GOP is…

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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147 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Of course the GOP (or a significant part of it) is apocalyptic. Follow the money straight to Operation Cast Lead.
    They want a war in the middle east so bad, because it’s religious doctrine to them. And they pay for the “jewish lobby” (NOT JStreet. does that look apocalyptic to you?? c’mon. i meant the other one).Report

  2. This is a much better post, Tod. Perhaps not coincidentally, I agree with it. I think the GOP is different than it was for much of the past 40 years; but I don’t think the change is necessarily radical, and I don’t think its defining influences haven’t been present in American politics for generations.Report

  3. Avatar 62across says:

    Tod –

    While I agree with you that the GOP is not apocalyptic and that they will eventually course correct, I don’t believe we’ve seen the party go as far astray as they likely will go before that course correction is ultimately made. I believe this for a couple of reasons:

    First, some time in the wilderness is needed before a change in direction can take hold. The rise of the Tea Party almost immediately following the 2008 elections and their apparent success in 2010 meant the time of reflection that should have followed the rejection of the GOP in 2008 (and 2006, too) was too short-lived to have impact. What happens in 2012 will matter greatly here. If the economy is even minutely improving a year from now, Obama will be re-elected and the GOP will sink lower, though as you say they will then likely figure it out. However, if there is a second dip of recession Republicans could prevail with a couple of their candidates and the GOP could continue in their current vein for some time. It won’t be pretty.

    The other thing that leads me to believe we haven’t seen the worst of it is what I view as the most significant difference between now and when the Democrats had their time in the wilderness in the 80’s. That’s the rise of what Jon Stewart terms “the 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator”. The conflictinator rewards bad behavior in ways that make the bad behavior more likely and that will make changing course more difficult than it might otherwise have been.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to 62across says:

      62A: I agree with everything you say here 100%. For one thing, those that are the real leaders of the right have seen their stock and stock portfolios rise as the party in general has diminished so I think it’s a safe bet that the drive back to relevance will have to come from the bottom up.

      You’re point about the change in the media and its potential effects is dead on as well.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to 62across says:

      Southerners also want to see Pickett’s charge, again and again. New englanders and Midwesterners are more about compromise from the getgo. they wouldn’t truck with fools who want to never get anything passed.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to 62across says:

      Something to keep in mind:

      The 2006 election had a surprising number of Democrats winning Senate seats. Six.

      The Senate Swung hither to yon.
      Ohio.
      Missouri.
      Montana.
      Pennsylvania.
      Rhode Island.
      Virginia.

      How many of those strike you as “safe”? I’m counting “one”.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        PA counts as safe. but maybe only in the climate of 2006… CFG Toomey is still a nutjob.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

        Vacation-there-and-leave-valuables-in-my-car “safe?” I’m going with Montana, and maybe Rhode Island.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I mean, in an imperfect world with limited resources and an energized Republican base, which of these states will the Republican Party Leadership choose to not bother attempting to re-take, given the possibilities provided by all of the other 15 or 16 states?

          I see Republicans giving up on Rhode Island. Maybe. The rest are seats that I can come up with scenarios resulting in an (R) win.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

            Which I think speaks to 62across’s point. Say Obama wins (which I remain firmly convinced will happen, barring some really, really unforeseen oddity) but the GOP pics up the Senate, and gets a few more in the House to boot. It’s enough of a sniff to keep them from changing tactics.

            I still believe if they had lost seats in ’10 – or even gotten flat results – they would have made some changes in both leadership and message, and would be poised to take the White House right now.Report

            • Avatar 62across in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Senate go Republican and the House go back to the Democrats. At some point, those freshmen elected on the “jobs, jobs, jobs” platform will have to explain why they haven’t come up with any.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          For various reasons, the Montana-Idaho-Wyoming axis is shifting to the right (they got a great reminder of what they don’t like about liberals early this year). Fortunately for the Democrats, only one of those states is remotely competitive anyway, and Tester is standing up pretty well right now. I suspect the numbers in these states will be closer to 2004 than 2008, though.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

            Will –

            “they got a great reminder of what they don’t like about liberals early this year”

            What was this?Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Wolf hunting. Huge, huge issue. Wyoming refused to come up with a hunting plan for wolves. The administration, reasonably, accepted Idaho’s and Montana’s plan. There were lawsuits from environmentalists involved. The environmentalists won and a ban on wolf hunting everywhere took effect. Lots of lectures about how people out here don’t fully understand nature and wildlife. Stories of wolves eating livestock. People saying that they were going to kill wolves anyway. Wildlife people outlining the punishment for unauthorized wolf-killing.

              Then the GOP took over congress and it was taken care of. Tester was out in front of this, though, and so it’s unlikely it can be used against him.

              It’s one of those things that might sound trivial (especially since the problem was taken care of on a bill ultimately signed by the President). And considering we’re talking about all of 1,000 licenses, it might should have been. But it’s one of those coastal interference things that tends to drive people out here crazy, especially since it primarily concerns out here.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                hey! person out there! Do you think that 1000 licenses (which may or may not lead to 1000 dead wolves, I’m familiar with deerhunting, where people really don’t shoot as much as they’ve got permits for) will decimate the population of wolves?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

                According to some estimates, there are only about 1,600 wolves in the region. So 1,000 is a pretty substantial part of the population. Counterpoints: Wolves apparently breed quickly and they’re hard to kill in any event. Countercounterpoint: Kill too many of them, and there are too few over such a wide area and you have to worry about inbreeding.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                … so a bit more than decimate. 600 is too small to form a good breeding population. I think 1600 is also too small.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_populationReport

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                I don’t know enough about MT or WY, but I would have thought that Idaho was going to be ultra-conservative even if the Dems had come in and shot the wolves for them.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                WY too. Idaho you just blame on the Mormons. WY? who the hell knows. MT is just a libertarian bastion, not “conservative” perse.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                And I have a back up question, Will… How much of what you see is the wolves being a very serious problem, and how much is it having outsiders coming in and telling us what to do?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Newspaper reports have tended towards the sensational. A dead cow in some town somewhere makes the news hundreds of miles away. Was it a wolf? The rancher thinks so, and he blames Washington. By the way, in case you forgot, here is the thing about the wolves…

                That being said, hunting tourism is big business out here and wolves kill other game. And it’s easy for me to talk, because I have no livestock to protect.

                At some point, though, I do think it just became a battle. Not just being told what to do, but beyond told what to do (and lectures on the circle of life) by outfits on the coasts. It’s like being told the “right” way to raise children by people who don’t have any (there’s a bit more to it than this, but this is the gist of it).

                When this all started, Idaho and Montana were asking for something on the order of 300-400 kills, which the environmentalists successfully prevented. By the time this was all said and done, the wolves are delisted and we’re looking at potentially over 1,000 with the cap in Idaho being merely symbolic (the governor says there will be no wolf-killing investigations). It sure seems to me that there is an element of “screw you” going on. Particularly in Idaho (Montana is being more judicious, and a regional population dearth means Wyoming had to come to an agreement with the federal government).Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                I hear Governor Bolo-Tie (Schweitzer) is a good guy, and I do sympathize with farmers in general.
                And I hear you on wildlife tourism — and killing a wolf sounds like a lot more fun to some than killing an elk.Report

  4. This is a great post and I don’t have much to add to it, except to say that the picture uptop is even greater.Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    “The GOP is being purposefully obstructionist these days, and it is annoying at best and destructive at worst.”

    This is highly highly pathological because it operates at the level of premise layered under a lot of things. And it’s just not true. If Harry Reid had come out with the Reid plan two months or whatever before he actually did, the world would look a lot different now.

    And if we didn’t have PPACA, the world be actually be a lot different than it is now.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

      And if the GOP had not been purposefully obstructionist then likely we wouldn’t have PPACA; we’d have something better.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

        The PPACA, which I couldn’t bring myself to support, is a heck of a lot better than the Republicans deserved.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

          Oh yes, it’s after all a scrunched up version of the 1994 GOP proposal. But all of that is due to Obama’s mistakes (naiveté say his proponents, stupidity/arrogance say his detractors) and GOP intransigence/greed (they thought they could pull off another 1994).
          If, instead, the GOP had actually put their minds to the problem of health care in America and offered constructive suggestions or if Obama had not made the great errors he made (naiveté, political stupidly/arrogance) and had forced them to do so I think we’d have ended up with a better bill.

          That said, there are probably no small number of righties who consider PPACA’s warts a feature rather than a bug.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

            … he created an industry-backed bill, and outmaneuvered the industry when they wanted to tank the bill they wrote. Don’t mistake Obama’s corporatism for naiveness.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kim says:

              Kim – “an industry-backed bill” – what industry?Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kim says:

              Kim, this is right – the idea that Obama wanted to strike a bargain with the stakeholders and get the thing signed, and I should have made more reference to this below. I said that a different bill would have had to start at the White House, which suggests perhaps they wanted to do that but opted against. No, it’s true they wanted to cut a deal that was agreeable to the interests, on the assumption that a few Republicans would play ball (which they did until Mitch McConnell intervened). One correction I’d hazard thing: I don’t think that Obama “created” or was really in the driver seat when the basic outlines of this deal were being hashed out. In fact I think it’s basically been in the works between Congressional Democrats and the stakeholders for years, maybe since the failure of Hillarycare. Tom Daschle certainly knew basically what the bill that would move at such time as there were Democratic majorities and a Democratic president was going to look like well before he knew who that president would be. This is a Democratic bill far more than it is Obama’s bill in truth.Report

          • Avatar 62across in reply to North says:

            I’m not denying errors (even great ones) were made, but how could Obama have “forced” the GOP to put their minds to the problem of health care?Report

            • Avatar North in reply to 62across says:

              62across oddly enough Obama could have “forced” the GOP to be constructive, oddly enough, by playing harder ball.
              Consider the alternatives outcomes in the healthcare battle as the field opened in 2009:
              A) Obama fails to achieve a healthcare bill of any material significance. Call this 1994 redux.
              B) Obama crafts a compromise bill with the opposition party. This bill is a compromise between the left and right and this has buy in from both parties and provides cover for both parties against voter displeasure for the aspects of the bill they don’t like.
              C) Obama rams a bill through using only his own Party’s votes. This bill is uninfluenced by the GOP/Right and so caters only to the interests of the left. With no cover Obama and his party are stuck with the bills successes and failures on their own.

              From the GOP standpoint the ideal goal is A, the bad outcome is B if you care about the electoral welfare of the GOP or C if you care about conservative values.
              From Obama’s standpoint the ideal is B for his electoral fortunes, C is less good unless the Dem’s had a stellar plan of their own and A is Armageddon (I can’t imagine his presidency would have survived it).

              Starting out the gate Obama attempted to achieve GOP buy in to option B early on with a vast raft of compromises and an utter firehose of bipartisan rhetoric. This made the GOP forget or disassociate in their own minds that Obama had the votes to pull off option C.
              Because they felt like the options on the table were a huge triumphant victory for Obama or else no bill at all they went for option A. I can’t claim they were secretive about this, Waterloo was trotted out and asserted early on. But for whatever reason: arrogance/naiveté or simply a dogged insistence on sticking with his goo-goo new way of politics campaign rhetoric Obama essentially ignored all the signaling and blew pretty much his entire honeymoon waiting for the GOP to negotiate in earnest. On top of that he pretty much did his above it all “I’m too principled for politics” act which allowed the GOP to pretty much have the messaging field to itself. Next thing he knows he’s lost half a year, the electorate is in an uproar, the tea party has risen and his compromise bill wallowing around in different forms in the House and Senate. Then, boom pow, Brown comes along and Obama wakes up at long last and realizes “Great Ghosts of Hillary Clinton I could actually loose this thing and get stuck with option A!!” So he panics and freezes, Nancy Pelosi and Reid pull a last minute rescue and rather than options A, B or C we end up with sortof a horrible mutant child of options B and C where you have a bill only half baked and packed full of GOP enticements but shoved through with only Democratic votes.

              Consider if, instead, Obama had made eminently clear from the get go that if the GOP didn’t play ball that he’d pass a bill all by himself. He can do everything he actually did but he also asks the House and Senate to start the process on a Democrat only version that is a compromise only between the Blue Dogs in the Senate and the left wing of their own party. This does a few useful things: First, it sends a clear message to both the GOP and corporate healthcare: something is going to be done with or without you. If you eliminate option A then the incentive for the GOP to get involved becomes huge. Their corporate backers want a say in the bill. Their conservative principles say that if they don’t get into the fray and play ball then they’re going to have a left wing bill. Suddenly the specter of legacies is floating before GOP senators eyes. The pressure on them to break ranks becomes really strong.

              Ironically enough with all his outreach and post partisan gesturing Obama tried to signal compromise but what the GOP heard was weakness and they went for the whole enchilada. If Pelosi and Reid had been only slightly more timid the GOP would have pulled it off too. Instead we ended up with a hybrid bill that no one particularly likes. I don’t excuse the GOP for their obstructionism and dishonesty on the matter but Obama was calling the shots on this and it looks like he completely was blinded by his own professed ideals.Report

              • Avatar 62across in reply to North says:

                North –

                I’ve heard this alternate scenario before, but I just don’t see it. I’m with you on the whole lack of hardball thing, but the problem was his own party’s votes. With Al Franken unseated for so long and Ted Kennedy dead, in the scenario you’re proposing you’d have to explain how he would have gotten Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln for the cloture vote. He was knee-capped by his own.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to 62across says:

                He was kneecapped by the inevitable power of the last-required vote, whosever that might have been. There would have been Cornhusker Kickbacks somewhere. The public option would have been held hostage and ultimately ritually sacrificed by the 50th vote as much as by the 60th, because of the power of the ins. cos.

                The only question is whether this or another president could have made the whole thing seem awesome by the power of his words alone despite all that. Who knows. I’m skeptical. In any case, it’s convenient-because-untestable claim for critics of the president to rely on, which they do.

                As it happens, I think his speech tonight was nothing short of pathetic, mainly because of its timing, so I’m not loathe to criticize. I just want to do it in a smart way.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to 62across says:

                62, I don’t see him having the same difficulty negotiating with his 59th and 60th democratic vote that he did with the GOP. With members of his own party he’d have had all the leverage in the world. Keep in mind that this would not have been Obama desperately begging at the last minute for the buy in; this would have been Obama early on asking for cooperation with the various implicit levers available for encouraging cooperation (Blue dogs are not the most loyal party votes but there wasn’t a one of them that’d want to cross the entire party from the get go).

                And certainly he could have, ya know, not given away most of the things he gave the GOP at the getgo. Considering that the options he gave them were either his total defeat or he passes their own 1994 healthcare plan why the heck wouldn’t they go for broke?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

                I don’t see him having the same difficulty negotiating with his 59th and 60th democratic vote that he did with the GOP.

                But that’s exactly what happened, in the end. The Republicans checked out and he had to negotiate with the 59th and 60th, who feared voting for PPACA would cost them re-election. There’s nothing that Obama would have been able to threaten them with if their own re-election were in peril, which was what Obama was up against.

                I have difficulty believing that the Democrats that killed the Public Option would have signed on to something more ambitious.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                Will, I’m talking about a scenario where Obama was negotiating with the Blue Dogs at the outset not at the last minute. I would think the dynamic would have been entirely different if he was the newly elected President asking for their cooperation rather than the man who was coming asking for them to salvage the bill at the last minute. If any given blue dog had been uncooperative from day one the threat would have been a challenge from the left or a the myriad ways an angry party can make their own Senators lives miserable. Fear of losing the election over it didn’t harden that much until the Tea Party freak out in August. The whole theory was that if the GOP credibly thought that Obama was capable and willing of closing the deal without them they’d have broken ranks in order to influence the final outcome.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                North, I understand your critique that the president shouldn’t have focussed on getting a bipartisan bill. i think you should just leave it that, because the fact is an alternative Dem-only track would just have blown up any negotiations with the GOP, and Obama would have been left with a very possibly not-viable Left-only bill. There is maybe a 10% chance that your scenario in which the GOP is “forced” into playing ball comes to pass. Perhaps he should have been okay with that, but he on the merits wanted a bipartisan bill. I don’t believe he was wrong to, either, but we can certainly differ. Tom Van Dyke accuse him of crass majoritarianism with the path he did take, so fair enough I guess. In my view Tom is just wrong; Obama did seek bipartisanship; that is to his credit; and the alternative-track hardball route you suggest would have killed any possible argument Obama wanted to make that he was not pursuing major social legislation on a purely partisan track. I don’t think that was remotely the wrong decision given that I think it was right on the merits, and the fact that I think you are smoking something with respect to the likely outcome of your two-track scenario. But again, you can differ. I just think you should differ by just saying he should have just pursued a partisan approach to major legislation full-stop, because the two describe in which he does both, gets credit for both, and comes out smelling like a rose sounds like friggin’ acid trip to me.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                Perhaps Michael, but consider the outcome Obama got with his chosen path: His preemptive concessions were pocketted by the GOP which then denied they’d ever been offered. His bipartisan gestures and sacrifices were ignored and as you note right wingers routinely howl about how he rammed the bill through partisan. So by my lights he has the left livid with him for what he did do, the right livid for what they imagine he did and the low information voters in the middle ignorant because they’re low information voters and he never tried countering the GOP narrative.
                I mean could he have ended up with an outcome worse than PPACA? Only if he’d have had nothing at all and I can even imagine outcomes where having nothing could have put him in a better position than he otherwise was. It remains to be seen I guess.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                Yes, he could have neded up with a worse outcome. he could have said to mainstream GOP Senators, write me a bill I can call conprehensive and I’ll sign it. We’d have ended up with John McCain’s health care plank, and Obama would be cruising to reelection. I have considered the outcome he got. it’s essentially exactly what he set out to pass, without the public option, which was not a pre-emptive concession, but a last-minute concession that got the thing passed. It’s not even clear to me that the left is livid with him over it. Disappointed, yes, but I think most of them who don’t have bottom-line political issues with him recognize PPACA as a major progressive advance, and largely the one he set out for.

                The question is whether the cost was too high, and what he could have done to lower it. Those are very good questions, and ones I only have inklings as to the answer to. But what is not realistic is to imagine that there wasn’t going to be political cost to getting a major bill through. That, in my view, is fanciful. That’s how political capital works.

                If you think that the cost was too hight and we may have been better off with no reform now, that is a perfectly fair position. It does make me wonder how important you think the issue was to begin with. And I hosently don’t know what the scheme of reform you think he could have gotten but didn’t was that makes PPACA seem to you that it must be the absolute worst thing he could have gotten short of nothing, if not worse than nothing.

                We know why conservatives feel that way; they are fundamentally in opposition to the basic thrust of this reform. I didn’t understand you to be, however. Can you describe to the law that should have been but wasn’t to be?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’d invite any reader to address any of the points or questions I pose here.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                MD, I am skeptical that Obama set out to pass the ’94 GOP healthcare plan. I’m also skeptical that the plan he ended up with was the plan he wanted considering that what he ended up with was essentially only the first phase of the legislation that the Dems had ostensibly intended to smooth out through reconciliation. My criticisms of Obama are not that he got this plan (if I was intent on criticizing PPACA I’d be better advised to aim my slings at Pelosi and Reid; the true authors of the bill). My criticisms of Obama are:
                -He played a naive and foolish political game either from an honest inability to listen to and gauge the position of his opponents or from a misplaced attachment to his campaign rhetoric.
                -He gave away policy after policy and moved right without getting anything in return (not even acknowledgement of his concessions).
                -He surrendered the political field to his opponents.
                -He permitted his opponents to string him along for much of 2009 which cost him invaluable time and ended up with his party over a barrel to their rightward wing at the last minute due to the fiasco of Brown’s election (a debacle at partly attributable to his failures in some of the previous criticisms though to be fair primarily due to the horrible performance of the Dem candidate).
                -That time issue screwed him over pretty much for his entire presidency. The debt limit fiasco for instance was a direct result of his frittering away too much time on PPACA.

                My criticisms have been the politics of the matter, not so much the policy arena. How the policy aspect of PPACA turns out remains to be seen. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say he would have been better off without PPACA. The whole point of the counterfactual would be to point out how being tougher with the GOP would have incented them to be more cooperative. What it boils down to is that while Obama has my vote and I’m glad that PPACA was passed I think that he paid dearly for it in political capital but especially in precious legislative time and that his poor showing on healthcare was merely one of many instances where his conciliatory political style and choices have hindered him without giving him much benefit. Modo rather acerbically accuses him of being a second string politician and I have difficulty not agreeing with her.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                HE certainly paid dearly. With a better political performance, he might have paid a little less dearly – not a lot. There was no pretty way through that process. I think you are just making implausible, to say nothing of supportable, things up about the effects on how the process smelled and its length that “being tougher” on the GOP would have had, but I suppose we’ll never know. I don’t necessarily trust my judgement on that above yours, though, so that’s why I keep eliciting other views.

                On the compromising, certainly there were compromises. If they were pre-emptive or well-timed, to me it’s hard to say, but final success of a bill should not be an irrelevant consideration in making that determination. But on the overall shape of the legislation compared with what was the initial aim, other than the public option, I have to say that my confidence level is pretty high that they are more similar than radically different. And I’m also quite sure that no significantly more ‘left” or otherwise more dramatic legislation was ever seriously considered by the Administration as a target final product. On this, I’m entirely open to evidence, or even just claims about specific kinds of bills that wre considered, or a list of concessions that shows that initially something we should have been quite happy with was being considered and that through his pre-emptive concessions this was turned into a travest we should be sorely disappointed with. I asked for such specifics in my previous comment, and you declined to provide any, but I’m still all ears.

                But as you say, you are focused on the politics. Here’s how I look at the politics. One reiaable model for predicting midterm election outcomes that takes into account nothing but the number of seats held by the majority and the disposable income of households would ahve predicted a 45 seat loss in the House for Dems in 2010. Knowing nothing else. Do we think that other factors outside in this term cut in favor of greater or lesser losses for Dems? I’d say greater, so let’s call the baseline a loss of 50 seats. You can let me know if that’s unfair. I’m not denying that he didn’t do the politics of HCR (much less anything else) well. All I’m denying is that doing the politics HCR better would have radically transformed the political environment or election outcome. And I won’t accept an analsis that suggests that passing comprehensive HCR in the economic environment of 2009-2010 was going to come without political cost, even if played perfectly politically. Okay, I guess by definition playing it perfectly would get you gains. But anything short of perfect is going to involve costs for this kind of reform. The actual number of seats lost in the House was 63. 63-50 = 13 seats that in my view weren’t pretty much baked into the situation in the country in 2010 in my view. And, on the assumption that HCR was going to involve the loss of some number of seats no matter how you play the politics short of perfectly, let’s say that 5 of those were simply going to be the cost of getting a HCR bull through. I personally think that’s generous. That leaves at most 8 seats to assign causally to Obama’s bungling the politics of HCR, though in fact, it also leaves all other factors to also be accounted for within those 8 seats. If O’s HCR bungling caused the loss of 8 more seats from doing HCR than were necessary, then more the woe for him, by all measn. But I’m just not seeing why we’d rend garents over it, even from a purely partisan Democratic perspective. Comprehensive HCR was passed. So we come to the real question in my view: is that worth 5-13 seats in the House in one cycle to you? If the cut-off number was somewhere between 5 and 13, fair enough, but in my view, if losing HCR wasn’t 5-13 seats wasn’t worth getting generational HCR to someone, then the question it seems to me wasn’t whether Obama bungled the politics, but whether you really favored pursuing that reform during that period. And if it on reflection wasn’t, then that is a position I can fully respect. But what I have a hrad time reconciling is focusing on how bad the politics were done, when the cost of those bad politics was on the margins, not fundamental. The Tea Party pre-dated the HCR fight; their grievances were far broader than just HCR; and by all means were not susceptible to a better political performance by Obama. I give them that much credit.

                And that’s how I see the politics.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North says:

                Out of curiosity, North, did you come up with this alternative multi-track course on your own, or did you read it suggested somewhere else? Any links?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

                I’ve read it suggested in various iterations all over the blogosphere. It’s certainly not a new concept though I don’t think it’s unique to any one person.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North says:

                It has no origin but always was, then? It’s everywhere and nowhere?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

                I’m sorry Michael, I guess I’m missing your point?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                I have a hard time taking it seriously b/c to TBH it sounds extremely fantastical, dependent on wild assumptions about supposedly necessary GOP responses, and I’ve only seen it from you, multiple times, in these highly-developed formulations that make me think it’s a bit of a stalking horse for you. But if I could see it repeated (or pre-existing) and presented slightly differently by one or a few other critics, I think I could assess it more objectively. Up to you. Do you have links?Report

              • I’m not following, Michael. Why does an imagined alternative universe theory frm a commenter need links to anything? Can’t it either be determined by the listener/reader to be valid or not?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Well it’s pure speculation as all such counterfactuals are so I’m not sure how much seriousness it deserves. As much as any other counterfactual? Would your position be, then, that Obama negotiated and navigated the political currents well in the affairs over PPACA? What grade would you give him?

                I’m a little mystified at the stalking horse idea , I’m not aping or quoting the concept whole hog from any single article or writer that I can recall but I am quite certain this is nothing like an original idea on my part. My initial googling attempts haven’t bourn much fruit, sorry.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Did I say anything about “need”? As it stands, this seems fanciful to me. But perhaps seeing some other people with the same view express it a bit differently could make me see what I am missing? Is there some reason why the discussion must be hermetically sealed in here, Tod? North can provide links or not. I literally wrote, “Up to you.” As it stands, I don’t think much of his theory, as I think I made clear. But yeah, it could perhaps matter how/who puts it differently elsewhere. What about it?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                He could have done better with a better plan, but that’s not where things started. The on;ly way there could have been better plan is if he’d run the thing from the WH Hillary-style, and I think there was ample reason to choose not to do that. I do thnk he could have made the case for the plan that did emerge better, but I don’t think it would have mattered much. he was next to powerless to change the ways of the Senate in any case. The ultimate question is whether comprehensive reform should have been undertaken; once it was it was going to get ugly. Obama could have te it a little better for himself and Dems, but only a little. You, OTOH are suggesting a Grandmaster move that would have ended up carrying the day. I think it’s completely fanciful. Perhaps more people subscribing to it could make me think it’s less fanciful, however. Pardon me if that’s some kind of logical sin around here. It’s up to you whether you choose to provide any evidence anyone else sees this as the obvious-in-2009 play that you seem to think it should have been.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

                I’m not aware that I indicated taking offense MD so there’s certainly no need to apologize. We simply have different opinions on the political dynamic of what Obama did and how he did it. From what I gather you think he did a B+ maneuver and I think he scraped by with a D. I don’t subscribe to any grand master chess maneuvers, my point was merely that by being unswervingly conciliatory and by eschewing practical politics Obama made it very easy to oppose him and very easy to demonize him. I think a more aggressive strategy would have yielded him both better policy and political outcomes, that’s certainly not an attitude unique to me. If I run across a real writer who lays it out in detail I’ll be sure to refer you.Report

              • @Michael Drew: “But perhaps seeing some other people with the same view express it a bit differently could make me see what I am missing? Is there some reason why the discussion must be hermetically sealed in here, Tod?”

                No, of course not. I was more trying to see where you were coming from. The “perhaps seeing some other people with the same view express it a bit differently could make me” not only makes sense, but strikes me as one of those “that’s such a clever way to get where someone is coming from” method I wish I’d come across it earlier.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Will Truman says:

          Forgive me Will, that’s bullshit. We could have the status quo before PPACA and less unemployment which at least the GOP deserves, even if the Demo’s don’t.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Koz says:

      Koz, allow me for simplicity to use the example of the Presidents action in Lybia:

      Revolts Happen, We Wait = President needs to go into Lybia, by not doing so he is endangering America

      We Have Waited, We Go Into Lybia = President has no right to go into Lybia, by doing so he is endangering America

      Lybia Seems (for very, very brief moment that we all know won’t last) to Have Worked Out OK for America = President should have done exactly what he did, but more! – and by not doing more he has endangered AmericaReport

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Ok, I’m not getting the context here. You’re meaning to consider the GOP and Libya together literally, or metaphorically?

        Literally doesn’t compute for me. The GOP’s stance wrt Libya has pretty much been to defer to the President of a different party. In fact, it works pretty good as a counterexample to the OP. If you’re making some metaphorical point, I’m not getting it.Report

  6. Avatar Koz says:

    “The first is because of what I call the Tom Cruise Rule. “

    This one is interesting actually. Both for Tom Cruise and for politics, I think it’s important to understand this is a tendency, not a certainty. I’m thinking back to _Minority Report_, and iirc the movie really isn’t about Tom Cruise, certainly not the Tom Cruise formula, even though he is the lead actor.

    Similarly for politics. The sociology of the parties makes it much more likely that Republican office-holders are going to be motivated by civic-mindedness, whereas Demo’s are much more likely to be following the career path for ward-heelers.

    It’s very important to bear this in mind when thinking that the parties are the same. Very often they’re not.Report

  7. And if I’m wrong and they are the real deal? Let them introduce bills eliminating their constituents’ Medicare and Social Security and we’ll see how long they last.

    This is the one line that jumped out at me and gave me pause. By voting against raising the debt ceiling, this is what a great many of the newest GOP MOCs nearly did. True, they weren’t bills to eliminate Medicare and Social Security outright, but it would have stopped Medicare and Soc Sec payments in an instant. Now, I imagine most of them would have shaped up reeeeeeeeeal quick when their constituents actually stopped receiving those checks, but as far as a willingness to cut them off goes, the willingness seems to be there to me.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I just think you’r eunderstimating how much the Debt Ceiling Standoff freaked out the establishment outside of the establishment media, which absolutely cannot ever show that they are truly freaked out by anything either major party does, and can’t say either is doing anything much worse than the other. But the real financial and governmental establishment was well and truly spooked. And that’s why you have this mild-mannered Republican budget-expert tye decide that his party must have been taken over not just by a cult, but by an apocalyptic cult.

    I don’t disagree that one can see it otherwise from an objective place (I have no view on apocalyptic cult metaphors in politics, excpet that in general they probably are just a bit hyperbolic, yeah). But I think it’s not unfairly generous to let this guy say how things look to him from where he stands, and from there, the idea of what happened in late July was truly something like seeing Judgement Day come nigh and then unexpectedly recede. And from the perspective of a plain-old conservative deficit hawk-type 40+-year Republican, again, I don’t blame the guy for seeing the TP as the driving reason why these things were happening now. Many other similar types saw things in just the same way & said. Bruce Bartlett and others like him. I don’t know the institutional truths well enough to say, myself. I do know that in matters of tracing institutional development, it’s pretty juvenile to dismiss taking into account decades of insider experience inside the institutions in the way of a graduate student dismissing “argument from authority.”

    But I don’t really know.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I was quoting Paul O’Neil the other day… Bush’s former Treasury Secretary — the guy who runs Alcoa and Rand.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

      the fiscal establishment was suddenly confronted with 20% of congress NOT LISTENING TO THEM. Now they know how the rest of us feel — and they’re giving to the democrats.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Meant to say that I have no view on the apocalyptic cult metaphor in this instance, but that yeah, in general they might be just a tad overdrawn. Even in the case of Iran.Report

    • Michael, I think you may be thinking I’m coming from places I’m not. Regarding this sentiment, which is in both paragraphs of your comment:

      “But I think it’s not unfairly generous to let this guy say how things look to him from where he stands, and from there, the idea of what happened in late July was truly something like seeing Judgement Day come nigh and then unexpectedly recede.”

      I totally agree. I am in no way trying to slam Lofgren; I just look at the data and have come to a different conclusion about what I think will happen with the GOP. Regarding this sentiment:

      “Many other similar types saw things in just the same way & said.”

      Again, I agree. I feel like I went to lengths to say throughout my post that just about everybody I am aware of that is a critic of the GOP agrees with both Erik and Lofgren. And this:

      “it’s pretty juvenile to dismiss taking into account decades of insider experience inside the institutions in the way of a graduate student dismissing “argument from authority.””

      I’m not even sure where any of this is coming from. Where are you getting from my post that I am dismissing anything Lofgren has to say? And where do you see me “dismissing “argument from authority?” If I do not agree with someone’s analysis, can I not write about my opinion without it being a pre wrestling grudge match?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        It’s not that I see you dismissing his arguments entirely, but in comments to your initial post, someone pointed out that this guy’s been around these institutions for several decades and that perhaps we should give his account a pretty good hearing and perhaps some deference. And you were pretty glib about whether all that had any impact on the value of yours and his observations comparatively. Which is the whole point of giving some deference to relevant experience.Report

        • I get this. I think my response to that had more to do with Max’s assertion that until I had been a staffer for 20+ years I had no business disagreeing with someone who had. I still find still a bit silly, especially since staffers themselves don’t agree on much.

          But inMax’s defense, I think that a lot of what I took from his tone to be hostility was responding to my post which, admittedly after rereading the next day, came off as sounding hostile in a way I didn’t either feel or intend. (Elias said he was confused by why I had chosen a condescending tone; the answer was that I hadn’t chosen it, I had just written poorly.)Report

  9. Avatar Jib says:

    Housekeeping note: I may be the only person not up on all this but could you at least provide links when you reference other articles? That way those of us who have not followed this all along can get up to speed.Report

  10. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Changes approved. In the future, never write ambivalent attacks on the GOP — it convolutes the strategy. Your temporary probation is lifted, and your party badge will be returned. Nice work, comrade.

    (just kidding) I think you’re missing an important shift in society which is anti-progressive.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to MFarmer says:

      … is it a shift, or just the Know-Nothings with a big fat megaphone courtsey of Koch and co?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

      This may well be the thread winner.Report

    • Avatar 62across in reply to MFarmer says:

      There is anti-progressive sentiment out there and it may be increasing. But, as Tod gets to in the OP, I’d need to see “I Don’t Want Entitlements Except When I Want Them” change to “I Don’t Want Entitlements Even Mine” before I could characterize this as an important shift.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to 62across says:

        You’re making an excellent argument for why states should rip up the sections of interstate highway that run through them. After all, those roads are an entitlement, constructed with federal funds, right?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            “I don’t want entitlements even mine”, the man said, implying that anything from the federal government ought to be refused. Since, y’know, that’s an entitlement.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I may be projecting, but I think he’s saying that there is the expectation that those who oppose federal funding have some sort of obligation to tear their own roads up first.

            This is actually a sort of pet peeve of mine, arm-in-arm with the Beneficiary/Donor map. If you accept Medicare, you’re a hypocrite if you oppose a single payer system. That sort of thing.

            Which is not to say that the point is devoid of value. The Republicans did themselves no favors by arguing against socialized health care while freaking out about Medicare cuts. There is an argument as to why you can actually take these positions, and a counter-argument pointing out the flaws of that argument. But that wasn’t the discussion that was had. Instead, it tended to be “hypocrite!” often with the implication that anybody (such as Joe Wilson) for accepting government health care but opposing the expansion of it.Report

            • Avatar 62across in reply to Will Truman says:

              Sorry, Will, but that’s not the point I was trying to make. I don’t care much for the hypocrite charge either. If the existing law entitles you to some government benefit or services, you should get it. If the state builds an interstate highway near you, drive on it by all means.

              My point regards calls for changes in policy. When the drivers in a state rally for coverting their interstates to toll roads, then something new in politics is happening.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to 62across says:

                Fair enough. I didn’t know which point you were trying to make.

                “If we’re cutting government, we’re going to be cutting X, Y, and Z, all of which will affect you” which is perfectly fair.

                Or

                “They say they don’t want entitlements but they’re still cashing their Medicare checks,” which is I think how Mr. Farmer read it.Report

            • Avatar FridayNext in reply to Will Truman says:

              This point was debated by Kevin Drum and Steve Benen earlier this week and I agree with Steve (so did Kevin eventually). What bothers me, and Steve, is that these politicians, especially local ones and especially especially governors are not only opposed to these programs but claim that spending by governments do not create jobs and then turn around and take credit for those jobs that DO IN FACT get created when there are ribbons to cut. On the same note, what rankles about all those people who took medicare or other government run and/or administered healthcare kept telling us how bad the healthcare administered by the government under Obamacare would be. McCain was particularly galling in this regard in that he has had government healthcare most of his life between the military and congress, care which he complimented several times in the past, only to turn around and try to tell us that if the government ran or administered the healthcare of us plebeians it would suck because it would be run by the same people who run the DMV. (Don’t know if McCain used those exact words, but he did use those sentiments and the DMV trope was very popular)

              That’s the type of hypocrisy that angers me.Report

        • Avatar 62across in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

          I’m saying it’s easy to call for limiting government that goes to “them.” A societal shift would entail calls for limiting government that goes to “us.”Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to 62across says:

        This is the height of statist arrogance — enforce a big government program on people and make them pay into it for 40 something years, then blame them, when the program is broke from government theft and incompetence, for wanting what they paid in paid back. You act as if these people demanded this program a few years ago, and it was something generously given to them from government funds.Report

    • Avatar 62across in reply to MFarmer says:

      On further thought, I think we have a test case on this before us in the next year.

      Rick Perry’s position in his book (and proudly defended at the debate last night) is that Social Security is a failure and a Ponzi scheme.

      A) If Mr. Perry walks that position back between now and the Iowa caucuses, then the anti-progressive shift (APS after) is overblown.

      B) If Mr. Perry holds his position on SS and manages to win a few primaries, then the APS is real, but of limited impact.

      C) If Mr. Perry holds his position on SS and manages to win the Republican nomination for POTUS, then the APS is truly significant.

      D) If Mr. Perry holds his position on SS and manages to win the WH, then the APS is an important change in society that will change government as we know it.

      I’m thinking A is most likely, how about you?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to 62across says:

        Interesting way to set the table, 62. Like you, I am pretty confident that A is what we’ll see if Perry gets the nod. Although, I can’t say I would be overly shocked with B, at least temporarily. I think B would absolutely lose the general for the GOP.

        If C or D, then Lofgern will truly have been something of a prophet and I will curse myself for not taking his warnings more seriously.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to 62across says:

        … does mr perry also believe that the stock market is a ponzi scheme? because the greater fool argument really holds water with that one.Report

  11. Getting to this awful late, but better than never. Tod’s first post is the best (it would be good even if it weren’t the only) rebuttal of Lofgren’s article and Truthout’s spin (the hed). Unfortunately, he backtracks with this post and brings up several of his own ideas – mostly unrelated to his central point – that are misguided at best. (Which part of “suffering long-term health problems” do you not understand?)

    I’ve included mostly quotes in my latest blog post linking to here, but have written 5 other posts on Lofgren. A reader would be nice. Thanks. http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/2011/09/thinking-like-genius.htmlReport

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