Saturday, August 27, 2011

Understanding the end game

BooMan makes a great point at the end of his post about the Pew Research poll I wrote about yesterday.

People now are much more likely to tell pollsters that they want to see the president take a confrontational tone with Republicans rather than cooperate with them. That plays right into Obama's hands as he shifts to campaign mode.

I thought of this the other day when Trumka issued his big warning to President Obama about wanting to see a jobs proposal. Haven't we known for a couple of weeks that Obama is going to present a jobs proposal? When he does, Trumka thinks he's positioned himself to go back to his members and say, "See, look what I got for you." Except he didn't get a damn thing, we all know the President was going to do it anyway.

So get ready for it, when the President goes into campaign mode - as we all know he's going to do - there are plenty of people who will say "See, he's finally doing what we told him to do." We've seen it happen over and over again. And its nothing more than an attempt to stay blind to President Obama's long game strategy and build up their own egos (and clicks to their blogs).

As I said yesterday, Jonathan Chait is someone who seems to understand.

The question hanging over Obama's political strategy has always been the endgame. His obsession with seeming reasonable makes sense if he uses it as an asset to spend down at the end. You do everything to show your willingness to compromise, and when the opposition refuses and refuses, finally you assail them for their fanaticism.

The poutragers always seem to miss that its the President's reasonableness that sets up the end game...not their constant yelling about it.


  1. It's so obvious though. Why don't more people get this?

  2. Because they are stupid. They have ceded their ability to think critically to the airheaded and racist likes of Joan Walsh.

  3. Well that's fine, if being reelected is the be-all and end-all. But isn't an elected official supposed to serve his or her constituents? By eschewing confrontation, Obama has surrendered the possibility of doing anything meaningful to help all of those who are in terrible economic straits. It may make sense as a campaign strategy but it doesn't exactly keep faith with all those who desperately need him as an advocate right now.

  4. Seriously why the hell does anyone want to get elected to that office if not to accomplish something? Look at the way it ages people. Look at the toll it takes on their lives. If the whole purpose of getting elected is to get re-elected, then what is the point?

    No, I'm with the folks who say he does have an agenda and his agenda is corporatist. If the goal now is to get re-elected, it's only to engage in more destruction of the middle class.

  5. 14All

    Different strategies are called for in different situations. When President Obama had a Democratic House and Senate, he passed more progressive legislation than any President in my lifetime...including doing things that created/saved millions of jobs. That usually required negotiating with the Centrists in his own party.

    Then the 2010 election changed things. The Republicans have backed themselves into an unsustainable corner and the President has demonstrated - for all to see - that he's the reasonable one and they're the hostage-takers. If they'd made another decision - we'd be off to the races solving some of these problems. But it was their choice to stonewall everything.

    Now we're moving into campaign season and he'll be letting the voters see the choices they have to make. The more we call all draw that contrast - the better the results will be for the next 4 years.

    Or...we can sit back and call him a corporatist and watch everything go to hell.

    I know what I'm going to do.

  6. Are you making a virtue of necessity? He has to “stand up to them,” while running for election. That ignores the fact that he’s done a pretty good job of conceding away the New Deal. What’s left to give up?
    He’s not a progressive / liberal, I knew that before he was elected. I looked at his record and didn’t see much support for liberal causes, I wasn’t impressed then, and I don’t particularly feel like waving pom-poms for him today. I will probably vote for him to insure the next president isn’t worse. That is hardly a ringing endorsement.
    Your devotion is touching, but frankly you sound like a disappointed true believer.

  7. The post of this blogger is precisely the sort of inside baseball nonsense of someone who might as well majored in communications. There is no endgame. It is just Obama and his campaign managers trying to fool us into thinking Obama cares about promoting New Deal values starting with jobs. He doesn't care. He simply wants to manage the decline of our nation.

    We should not be like lemmings going over a cliff if we have the opportunity for a New Deal based primary challenge against Obama. There is still time for a prominent Democratic Party person to act. Gene McCarthy did not announce until late October or early November 1967. And that was in a horse and buggy era of media when it was difficult to get information out to the public. To put it another way, we need a Winston Churchill to stand up to this Neville Chamberlain that is Obama.

  8. I'm not disappointed at all. Like you - I was VERY aware of who I was voting for. And he's been an even better President than I had hoped for.

    Perhaps you'll have to inform me of how he's conceded away the New Deal. I haven't heard of any changes to it. The truth is - we've been reforming Social Security and Medicare since they were passed. I'm sure there will be further reforms. Those are going to be needed if we're to keep those programs alive in the future.

    And as a matter of fact, President Obama has done more to strengthen and expand programs like Medicaid and Medicare through ACA than I've seen in my lifetime. Those are pretty progressive/liberal policies he fought hard for.

    And mark my words - he will demonstrate the differences with Republicans in this upcoming election. His upcoming jobs/deficit reduction proposal will demonstrate that.

  9. Mitchell

    I'd suggest that if all you have are Chamberlain comparisons - you might want to blog somewhere else.

    But keep dreaming about a primary. Let me know when someone with an ounce of sense or integrity decides to take that one on.

    Otherwise you have provided not one thing by way of substance to even respond to. So I won't.

    But jeeze, its interesting that of all the things I've written here, this is the post that brings out the poutragers.

  10. OK, now I understand the interest here, Infidel753 included this in a roundup at C&L.

    Thanks for the mention Infidel!!!!!

  11. Medicare – Medicaid = Great Society, not the New Deal. Frankly I’ve always considered those to be national security projects. We can’t risk having the most unwashed of the great unwashed and old folks acting as incubators for the next Spanish Influenza now can we.
    I’m not going to blame Obama for the using the SS surpluses, and frankly that money should have been used to reduce foreign borrowing. Not pointing out that one set of Government IOU’s should be indistinguishable from another is bargaining away the New Deal.
    Previous reforms have generally increased the scope of benefits, not reduced them. Increasing the minimum age is a reduction. It creates a situation where African Americans and other groups with lower life expectancies (poorer people in general) pay in but can’t expect to see the benefits. Should the revenue side of the reforms have happened at the same time, certainly.
    I don’t think we disagree particularly. I just refuse to pretend Obama represents my ideals in any way shape or form. They are convenient words to trot out at election time, but not values to be held. That’s’ OK, he’ll trot out a sop, people will say look he’s standing up for us and after the election it will be big business as usual. As I said, he’ll get my vote, but I think I’ll make campaign donations to folks who might listen to me.

  12. Except he never, yet, has "assailed them for their fanaticism."

    Even recently the closest he comes is by blaming "Congress" or "some folks in Congress."

    In all those bus tour speeches it has never been about republican obstructionism, its like he refuses to use the word, how does that help reelect incumbent dems?

  13. P.S.
    The continued use of the “poutgrage” line is tiresome. You choose to lecture others, but fail to demonstrate any respect for differing points of view, and in effect seem to be in support culling the portion of the Democratic base that have not been satisfied. Even Obama’s staff waits till they’re leaving to start the hippy punching.

  14. So if I get your point - you are arguing for the proverbial "lock box" when it comes to SS. And to not implement that is "bargaining away the New Deal."

    OK, if that's your argument then I hear that President Obama hasn't done that. But neither has any other President and its not something he ever talked about doing (campaign or otherwise).

    The minimum age for SS was raised years ago.

    I suppose if these are things you wanted Obama to address, you have reason for being disappointed in him. But I'd suggest that you also have a lot of work to do to convince voters that these issues are important. Because frankly, they're not even on the table right now.

  15. You must not remember the whole line Obama used during the 2010 election about "not giving the Republicans the keys back." He's never been shy about pointing out the differences when he's in campaign mode. There are plenty of other examples. One of my favorites was a devastating speech he gave for Sen. Reid's re-election talking about Angle.

    That's what's coming.

    I seriously don't care whether or not people like the term "poutragers." It the shoe fits...

    I don't consider it my job to lure any of the folks you refer to as "the Democratic base" to support Obama. You have to make up your own minds about that. I'm here to present my views and don't, in fact, feel the need to "lecture" others. If you want to talk - fine. But one of the reasons I'm here instead of one of the regular poutrage sites is that I have no need to try to convince any of them about anything. I've been there...done that. And its simply turns into a shout-fest.

    For more of my thoughts on that - you might check out this post.

  16. Ahh, thanks for the pointer. So here’s the problem I agree with you to some extent, but what the organizers don’t seem to remember is that they actually need people to organize, and since they aren’t you know “actual employers”, the big hammer of unemployment isn’t an issue here. The “do gooders” may be flaky, but they do provide the muscle. So saying, “fuck you,” to the folks who don’t entirely fall in line seems like a way to make sure they don’t have anyone to organize.

    On the other hand this is what the Democrats are truly masters of. Telling the idealists they’re stupid and should go Cheney themselves. And they wonder why they’re losing the battle.

    Guess I’ll go back to thinking the “pragmatists,” are every bit as moronic as the “idealists.”

  17. You're going to have to explain to me how the "do-gooders" provide the muscle.

    The folks I'm referring to as poutragers are those who sit at their keyboards and whine. The best they seem to know how to do is yell at politicians for what they do/don't do. Its who Giordano refers to as "activists."

    I see those folks are being pretty irrelevant these days. I personally am not telling them to "fuck off." I'm merely saying that they don't contribute and until they decide to actually DO something, they won't. So its time to move on and work with the folks that are actually out there organizing to get stuff done.

  18. They are the muscle the same way that the Tea Party folks are the muscle. You can either offer ponies to everyone, or you can make them believe in some greater ideal. That’s been the failure of this administration in my opinion. Yes, there have been successes, not as many as some might hope, but real nonetheless. Those successes have required compromise, if you can’t live with that join the GOP. That being said many of those compromises have been accompanied by abusive language directed at the liberal idealists.
    I hear what you’re saying, and I’m inclined to agree that whining isn’t helping. They don’t seem to be succeeding in “making him do it,” but if they sit out the election like 2010 Obama will loose. It’s a fragile coalition, and unlike the Tea Party folks they may not be willing to shoulder the abuse. The image I have in mind is bringing a parasol to a gunfight.
    You may be right about the strategy, I’m not sure. I am sure that the right wants him gone, and there are highly motivated people who will go to (perhaps) any lengths to make that happen. Right now those “poutragers” are not supporting him. I see no strong desire to support him at all. Strategy with out enthusiasm may not cut it.

  19. That's a great theory, that O is just setting them up by being so accommodating. The problem is that O has gone much further than acommodating their demands for practical action as if they arose from a competing ideology that, given the results of the 2010 elections, he had to compromise with. If that had been the case, while offering to compromise on practical measures, he would have been doubly careful to keep clear the underlying ideological differences.

    Instead, O went over to spouting their ideology, that we have a deficit crisis first and foremost, that we need austerity.

    So, great, you imagine that now that he has trapped the other side into spouting all that austerity nonsense, now he lets loose on them with the grapeshot of a jobs plan. Except that O has spent the last six months spouting the same austerity nonsense, teling the nation that we are in a very real, very grave, deficit crisis. How does he start talking like a Democrat again without making the point chiefly that he is a flip-flopper?

    It's one thing to accept some parts of the other side's program in order to get them to accept parts of your program. That's compromise. But spouting the other side's ideology is something else again. That's just compromising.

  20. Goody! Obama is ramping-up into "campaign mode".
    Can't wait to hear him tell us all how awesome Ronald Reagan was as President, and how much he admired St. Ronnie.

  21. Yes I do remember that, they put it in the ditch, and now won't even help us push, and are on the sidelines sipping a slurpee.

    However, I would hardly call a made up story, from nearly a year ago, with no specifics whatsoever, an assailing of fanaticism.

    He basically stopped telling it as soon as the campaign ended, and never said one thing like, "they've obstructed so many of my appointees that many federal agencies have gone without heads for years now," or "even conservative judges have written letters requesting that they confirm my appointees because there is a huge backlog in cases because the judiciary is understaffed,"

    Instead he stuck to the simplistic ditch analogy, never mentioning how unprecedented the obstruction or filibuster use was.

    That is an epic failure of messaging, the only points he hits consistently are, "balanced approach" and "shared sacrifice"

  22. I used the ditch story as an example of Obama taking on the Republicans. It had its time and place as an analogy about why the economic proposals the Republicans were putting on the table wouldn't work. But it demonstrates that the President is ready and able to make the choices clear between the Democrats and Republicans. He does that very clearly.

    The balanced approach and shared sacrifice message are perfect examples of the possibility for drawing distinctions between the two parties this coming election. Republican obstruction has made that the perfect message for Democrats.

  23. Except that were O to come out now fighting, with a jobs program, after spending the last six months agreeing with the Rs that it's the deficit that's the real problem, he's the one who's the obstructionist suddenly unwilling to engage in shared sacrifice.

  24. President Obama has been very clear that he'll be proposing a jobs program for the short term and long term deficit reduction. Its what almost all economists say we need to do.

  25. Hey guys, you have good points, but 98% of us are fighting for daily existence right now. We must face the reality of America's forgotten society of the homeless, hunger, sickness and poverty. You know, the 45.6 million who are surviving on food stamps so they can eat? They are without hope and live in fear of what politicians and their rich benefactors will do to them next.

    Obama and the Dems have clearly sided with the GOP and the rich and powerful in our views. FDR and Robert Kennedy's legacies have been destroyed. Life, Liberty and Justice for all have taken a swift free-fall into the bowels of the earth, replaced by a totalitarian, plutocratic, "let them eat cake" America.

    By the way, we were the ones who were inspired, believed, volunteered, gave our hard earned money and waited in long lines to vote in 2008.

    It is evident that the decline of our beloved country is progressing at a rapid rate. Small pockets of hope rise in Wisconsin and Ohio when people fight for their rights, but its not enough.

    Millions of people are frustrated, angry and fearful. We do not have an FDR or John Kennedy to inspire or reassure us that things will get better. What we have is a "Capitulator-in-Chief" who has betrayed us time and time again, when all we want is a fair chance to provide for ourselves and our families.

  26. If you could be specific on how Obama has betrayed you - perhaps we could talk. Or is it just a feeling that you have?

    Its clear to me that the President has not "sided with the GOP." There are clear and stark differences between the two.

    I can understand people being disappointed in the administration's failure on a particular issue. What I don't get is any equation between the two parties.