Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why Aren't The Democrats Crazy?

Where The Hell Is Scott Walker!?
Elizabeth Warren, a.k.a. Fauxcahontas, declares she will not run for president in 2016. Legal Insurrection greets this news with a Darth Vader-esque 'Noooooooooooooooooooo,' cleverly noting that:
We needed it as a country, though not for the reasons her supporters think.
In a linked post, LI noted that Warren, darling of the left, would be a perfect foil for Ted Cruz. It would be an ideological showdown at high noon and the Right would have an advantage. I'm not 100% sure of that--but I lean his way: if you put hard left vs. hard right in front of voters with an articulate person on either side? At the very least it evens the playing field.

Warren running in the 'D' column would help a lot with the bad Tea Party aftertaste. Alex Castellanos, writing for CNN, is practically salivating at the possibility of a Warren candidacy or, at least, a good hard lurch to the left he thinks is coming:
Entrepreneurs, start printing tie-died shirts now. They will be hot sellers at the next Democratic Convention. Both sides are in for an interesting ride, but for Democrats, it's going to be an extreme 2016.
But then on HotAir resident 'squish' Jazz Shaw dances with the third-rail by asking the obvious question:
One of the defining characteristics in Republican primary battles during the last couple of cycles has been the much maligned “push to the Right.” ... You see Candidate A take the podium, and he has a position on, for example, immigration. Perhaps he’s concerned about the cost of line to line enforcement and suggests the possibility of electronic monitoring in some areas. Candidate B immediately jumps on him and she’s got a plan to line up soldiers and agents shoulder to shoulder. Three more people try to top her and by the time it gets back to Candidate A, he’s suddenly decided that we can find the money to dig a one mile wide canal from San Benito, Texas to Imperial Beach, California, stocking it with electric eels to boot. ... But why doesn’t this happen to the same degree with the Democrats?
He notes that, just recently, the Left Wing Daily KOS posted a slam piece on The Third Way (a political action group managed by, more or less, Wall Street)--so clearly 'The Left' is aching for some Xtreme Kandidates--AMIRITE?

He isn't entirely wrong. Here are some quotes from the DemocraticUnderground thread on the announcement:
JDPriestly: She should be setting the agenda, not just asking questions. She is the smartest person in the Senate, and she should be in the White House.
blue14u: I think it best I leave this thread for now. I tend to make heads blow up by supporting someone other than the, "inevitable" "its my turn" Hillary camp meme.
So, yeah--you know, there are people there who want her. But really? If you look at that thread? There's a whole bunch of:
  • Hey--focus on 2014--that's where the real action is. --and--
  • Warren is great--we need her in the Senate. --and--
  • I love Warren but I want Hillary for president. --and-- 
  • Well, hey--it's a long shot ... but despite what she says now, she still might run.
In other words: they're reasonable and tactical (The Omnivore will admit to being disappointed with the lack of real red meat there).

On the other hand, back on HotAir, looking to explain why Democrats allow for a more mainstream candidate like Hillary finds some answers:

The Democrats have mastered the art of the dog-whistle and the 'boiled frog'?
Scrumpy: Because they are too cowardly to actually s p e l l it out, they’d rather piecemeal their agenda in bit by bit…
Insidious ‘Rats that they are, worse then the Bubonic Plague…
and ...
ajacksonian: Everyone in the D party and on the Left know that the candidates are lying about what they want to do: they are all Leftists at this point and there is no need to go ‘hard left’ as that is where any candidate is and anything they say to the contrary is a lie to the LIVs. The Hard Left, Far Left, LIVs and voter fraud wins elections.
 Maybe it's the media posing 'tough questions' to the Republicans that force them to move right--but not the Democrats?
Did I miss somebody else make this point? The issue isn’t the candidates, it’s the media.
If the moderator asks the first Republican candidate “According to a recent statement, Candidate X says they support full abortion rights in some cases – as when a young teen is forcibly raped by a family member. Do you also support unrestricted abortion in some cases?” to which the Republican simply MUST move right of that position.
Or maybe it's not actually happening that way at all?
Nobar: Because they are all in ideological agreement. It’s a matter of who will be bold enough to speak the most Marxism.
So What Is Happening With The Dems?
Despite what people may say about Hillary being a mega-communist at heart no one is making up her current battery of centrist cred. While she will certainly (and perhaps steeply) decline from her lofty heights of general approval as Secretary of State when the running starts there can be no question that:
  1. She is not left enough for the hard left (she has not groveled for her support of the Gulf War, for example) --and--
  2. She is still very much the front-runner of the 2016 candidates. Biden comes in a far second. When you're lagging Biden? Hang it up.
So the Right's frustration at her not lurching to, I don't know, quoting Karl Marx in front of the Capitol building is understandable--but why isn't it happening?

Some theories:
  1. It really IS the lying. She's hard-left and the base knows it (but no one else other than the half the country that votes Republican does).
  2. It really IS the media. It's always the media ( :: looks around :: if it wasn't the media causing the unpopularity of the R candidates then ... what ... NO! DON'T GO THERE! IT'S THE MEDIA!!)
  3. Maybe it's triangulation? Clinton orchestrated a Lurch To The Middle and is the most popular ex-President going. Has that stuck?
  4. Are the Democrats really cowed into a tactical lock-step to put up moderate candidates they don't agree with but vote for anyway because of strong-arm iron-clad party discipline?
  5. What if the Democrats aren't that radical after all?
Let's see ...

The Lying Liars Who Lie With Lying
It's not hard to find Obama accused of being a liar. After all, could you keep your insurance? And what about closing Gitmo--remember that? Oh, yeah--and Benghazi. That video thing. He's totally a liar. Is he such a good liar that he's bamboozled the public though about his politics? After all:
  • He's deported more people than Bush.
  • He's droned more people than Bush.
  • He sided with Bush on the TARP bank bail-out.
  • He didn't break up the banks.
  • He didn't prosecute bankers.
  • He has yet to grab any guns.
  • He jettisoned the Public Option for the ACA as the opening move of the negotiations.
  • etc ...
His hard left credentials seem to include: Private Insurance exchanges modeled after the program created by the GOP's 2012 candidate and influenced by a Heritage Foundation plan. While he maybe salvaged auto-makers just for the unions it's also possible that a bankruptcy using private equity during the meltdown wouldn't have been possible. Or, maybe it was just good politics (it really helped him in the all-important Ohio battle).

In short there is just no evidence that however left-wing Obama is he's going to be some kind of Marxist-Socialist Super-Warrior. The hard left is furious at him for drones, after all (for all his Muslim apologizing).

What About The Media?
Blaming the media for the Republican brand-damage is the band-aid that prevents the GOP base from having to take responsibility for their message and actions. It's an enabling tactic that is used to explain why their ideas (or lack of ideas) are not popular. 

Yes, the media is generally more left than right.

Yes, that does skew reporting in some--perhaps many (or almost all) instances.

But, no, that doesn't make the GOP's massive litany of self-inflicted wounds imaginary. It also doesn't mean that everyone who rejects their ideas doesn't understand them: a whole lot of the GOP is talking revolutionary rhetoric and impeachment (without actually using "the i-word"). The idea that this is healthy behavior simply doesn't pass the sniff test.

Triangulation? Anyone? Bueler?
Here's a 2009 article from CounterPunch--the lefty-McLeft-of-the-clan-McLeft web-zine.
[L]ooking at Obama’s choices for key posts, many progressive activists who went all-out for months to get him elected are disappointed. The foreign-policy team, dominated by strong backers of the Iraq invasion, hardly seems oriented toward implementing Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to “end the mindset that got us into war.” On the domestic side, big-business ties and Wall Street sensibilities are most of the baseline. Overall, it’s hard to argue that the glass is half full when so much is missing.
Is Obama triangulating enough to bring home the middle while still appealing to the base? Possibly: Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline was, The Omnivore asserts, far more about throwing a bone to the base than any ideology. Read here:
Obama might have left himself some room to approve the pipeline. We'll have to see how the State Department ultimately comes down on this emissions question. My colleague Juliet Eilperin reports that "the administration will examine whether vetoing the project—which would mean the oil would likely be shipped by rail—would translate into higher emissions than building it."
In other words, Obama may well just be playing the middle. Keep in mind that his slow-movement on Syria is now in context of secret Oman-based negotiations with Iran going on at the time. Perhaps he felt not bombing Assad was the key to getting a deal on the nuclear program? Time will tell.

Over all it's quite possible that Clinton's legacy has created a space where Obama--and other Democratic candidates--have room to maneuver that the GOP simply doesn't have. We can't discount this theory.

Republicans Fall In Love, Democrats Fall In Line?
How about the theory that Democrats will vote for whoever they're told to vote for because they don't have any core convictions and just want to win? Uh .... Well ...
  • The GOP does seem to have decided that, to an extent, a pure but unimplemented policy is preferable to an impure but implemented one. This is what would have been called "living in the real world" in 2007 ... but today it's a delusional plank of the party.
  • The idea that Democrats vote for "whoever they are told to" is utterly at odds with the 2008 hack-and-slash that was Hillary vs. Obama. The PUMAS, for example, didn't ever vote for who they were told to--they defected to McCain (and it turned out there weren't many of them).
  • The fact that Romney was not exactly an "acceptable candidate" to a lot of the GOP for most of the election and then the least sold--the white, southern evangelicals, did turn out to vote for him (Proving the Theory: Mormon > Muslim) should indicate statistically that if the GOP base isn't with the one they love they will love the one they're with. Conversely, as the articles linked above note, you pretty much needed an electron microscope to determine the policy differences between Hillary and Obama in 2008. Basically the Dems had two candidates they thought were great.
On the other hand, we have to acknowledge a few truths on the other side:
  1. Nadar. The lowest point of Democratic third-party politics, the, you could say, nadir*, came in 2003 when it looked like statistically following your heart (voting Ralph Nadar) led you straight into an Iraqi invasion that no one thinks Gore would have started. This experience may have been a still relevant abject lesson in picking ideological candidates. See also Mondale->Clinton.
  2. We also have to admit that in the current climate of polarization Romney, an on-paper pretty centrist candidate, was pushed right to become utterly unacceptable to any center-left voter. In other words, if the guy from the 1st Debate had run all along he might've won. Unfortunately he had to be Mr. Self-Deportation for half the year.
What If The Democrats Are Reasonable?
We can read CounterPunch and find -- oh, go search something: 'North Korea' and ... voila! I give you: 
North Korea's Justifiable Anger
The corporate media reduces the DPRK (North Korea) to the Kim family and prefaces their names with the terms “madman”, “evil” and “brutal”. Such vilifications of foreign leaders are used here not only to signify they are target for US overthrow. They are meant to intimidate and isolate anti-war activists as being out in left field for ever wanting to oppose a war against countries ruled by “madmen” – be they Saddam, Fidel, Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Qaddaffi.
The piece continues like that. I mean, I'm not even trying and I found a giant apology for North Korea. So, uh, are the Democrats sane? Well ... I didn't ask about the ultra-left base of the party. I don't know how the dude who wrote that votes--but it might very well not be Democrat (real left-wing blogs really, really don't like Obama) and even if he did, we'd need to see polling on how many Democrats actually think North Korea is just dandy.

I bet it's a tiny number.

When we look at Democratic Underground (above) we find what are actually pretty measured comments. Sure, a bunch of them like Warren--but they're not clamoring for her to run a quixotic attack on Hillary. While I haven't seen too many self-aware posts that suggest they 'know Warren would lose' I think it's safe to say that they, for the most part, are also not claiming that someone who wants to literally apologize to Al Queada for framing them for 9/11 would sweep into the White House either.

That's the equivalent claim the Right makes when they posit that Rick Santorum woulda smeared Obama in 2012. Rick Santorum would have won a Dakota. Not both.

So I have to say that my read here is that while the Democrat's base may not have better policy ideas (Single Payer over even the Public Option) than the GOP's base (Let Him Die--okay, Single Payer is better than that) they seem to not have ingested the poisonous ideas the GOP has.

So What Really IS Going On?
Here's the answer: Capitalism. FOX News, Limbaugh, and Beck have discovered a positive feedback loop that makes them rich. Infuriating the base--playing to their feelings of victimhood--enabling a sense of having been cheated--and providing a battery of conspiracy theories to soothingly remove any sense of personal responsibility for their circumstances has proven a huge moneymaker.

You just have to out-do the other guy to get to the top of the heap. This leads to crazier and crazier theories and higher and higher flames of outrage.

I've plunged in and listened to Rachel Maddow. I've tried Stewart and Colbert. I can't stand Maher--but the big left-wing outlets? They are way, way less conspiracy ridden and, frankly way less enraged than the right-wing ones. 

Buzzfeed, a viral information powerhouse, has left-wing politics and it's viral-data-shell is cute kittens ... not Benghazi theories or birth certificates. The reason Democrats aren't demanding every more ridiculous ideological purity is, to a significant extent, because the people they trust and listen to are not demanding they do so. 

It's not that everyone's a robot, guys--it's that Darwinian mega-corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising ... because it works. Right now? It's working on Republicans.

* Did you see what I--yeah? I know, right!?

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