Monday, January 25, 2010

The difference between the parties

Not long ago, I saw a poll advertised. It asked the question: "Whom do you blame for the economic meltdown?" There were pictures indicating the three choices: Obama, W and Clinton. Yes, Clinton! I was not able to see the results, but I'll bet a donut that W came in third.

That poll got me thinking about the early 1980s. Reagan was able to weather severe unemployment in the early years of his administration by continually blaming Carter. In fact, the Reaganoids were still blaming Carter for all of the world's ills as late as 1988.

It's a little hard to believe, looking back on it, that the country experienced such a profound ideological shift in the years 1981-83. The economy was in bad shape, homelessness rose to frightening levels, jobs were scarce, we were losing all sorts of jobs, foreigners began buying up our assets, we ran up massive debts, we were no longer a creditor nation. Yet the nation continued to embrace the toxic effects of Friedmanism while disdaining the Keynesian policies which had brought us so much post-war prosperity. All problems were ascribed to Carter.

Why can't Obama be as successful in blaming our woes on Bush?

Obama now owns this disaster. He had maybe four or five months of non-ownership. Whether he deserves ownership is not the question I'm asking. What I'm curious about is the strange issue of public perception. When Reagan engaged in blame-shifting, the public never accused him of dodging responsibility. If Obama were to blame the guy who came before, everyone would sneer.

I don't think it's just a matter of style or personality. I think the answer has something to do with media, and with the mind-set of this nation. Conservatism is the default position of this country.

Granted, Obama is, in fact, a very conservative president -- at least, he has been so far -- but much of the country nevertheless considers him a socialist, and they believe that socialism has caused our ruin. There is something in our national make-up which leads us to blame the Democrat while excusing the Republican, even when the Democrat more or less is a Republican.

Who says there's no difference between the parties? Dems are much better at playing the scapegoat.
Barack Obama, as far as I know, never made anything.
The closest he has come is writing his book in Bali while his mother was dying of cancer in Hawaii.

Barack Obama then used his mother's plight to garner sympathy for himself during the 2008 election process.

Organizing people to learn how to get money from the government is how Barack Obama appears to have moved his career along.

It just seems like thats all there is.
According to Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, in a youtube I hope goes viral, the problem is the men:

"We go to the ladies room and the Republican women and the Democratic women and we just roll our eyes," she said. "And the Republican women said when we were fighting over the healthcare bill, if we sent the men home..." at which point she was interrupted by loud applause.

If we sent the men home the Republican and Democratic women could agree on issues and get the health bill passed.

I totally agree. Enough of the endless tiresome male posturing and this entire cowboy nation.
Let us not forget the photo op opportunities that Barack Obama has embraced at questionable times or at questionable events.

The Nobel Peace Prize on the front end, and the Olympics in Chicago on the back end.

Who thinks this stuff up, and more scarily, who thinks it and AND TRYS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Meanwhile, 10,000 americans are foreclosed upon every day while the banksters and Barack Obama do some kind of a dance.

Whomever heard of a president who has been equally embraced by both community activists and the banksters.
Obama blames Bush because he really can't think of anything else to do nor does he know how to "get out of the mess" that he helped create as a Senator. Your idea that he is a "conservative" boggles the mind. A conservative doesn't spend trillions of dollars trying to get us out of debt. They understand that that idea is filed under oxymoron. Obama has been leaning, marching and, finally, tugging to the left his whole life. His only restraint is because people aren't as stupid as he thought they were.

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You can the incredible rightward tilt of our political discourse when the respective parties screw up.

When the Democrats screw up, everyone says, "Boy, did those Dems screw up! Those Democrats are sure screw-ups, etc.," and that's the end of it.

When the Repubs screw up, it's a whole different song. Everyone says, "You know...both parties screw up. There's plenty of blame to go around." The Democrats always get cut in on a share of the blame! Even progressives use this bizarre reasoning.
I can't agree with you more. And it is the media's fault for the most part. A couple of examples:
-Glen Beck (on the right)last week had a "documentary" on his program about the evils of Hitler, Stalin and.....Progressives
-Fareed Zakaria (on the left) on Sunday devoted a segment of his program to the election of Scott Browm. At the end Peggy Noonan pronounced the conclusion that Obama should have governed from the centre instead of the left.
The difference between the Dems and Repubs is simple: the Repubs, regardless of how bad the leadership is, stick together no matter what. During the Bush years, and aside from McCain every once in awhile raising his head from underneath the desk, marked in lockstep without a whimper about the awful decision making emanating from the WH.

Now they stand, hip to hip, in denouncing the spending that is going on under the Dems. Under Bush, they all thought it was wonderful. Under Obama, bad.

The Dems, on the other hand, fight amongst themselves. The "reform" bill is one example. Ripping one another apart, name calling, chucking one another behind the ankle. Whereas the Repubs, one after another, have never resisted their leadership.

If this was a Repub reform bill, there would be nary a whimper on getting this passed regardless of how each individual member thought it that it stunk.

This is the difference: one party unified not matter how bad the policy; the other divided because some choose to think of the consequences.
It does not matter b/c OOoo is destroying the democratic party. DC is a corrupt town anyway.

Congressman Berry basically confirmed my belief that OOoo is a trojan horse who was hired to destroy the old lib party.
You err in assuming that BO's agenda has ever included the interests of the Democratic Party.
I knew that this would be another one of those "reading comprehension" posts where people responded to what they THINK I wrote as opposed to what I actually wrote.

Okay, let's try it this way.

ANY Democrat -- whatever his policies -- would have "owned" the poor economy within three months. Conservative D, liberal D, radical D, real D, fake D -- doesn't matter. As long as he had a D next to his name, he would be responsible for Bush's recession.

Whereas Reagan never really owned the long, long recession that marked his first term. He was always able to blame Carter.

Get the point now? My question is not about Obama. It's about the default ideological position of AMerican society.
It has *everything* to do with the media.
The GOPers also claimed that the peace and prosperity of the Clinton era was due to Reagan/Bush.

Democrats get all the blame, none of the credit.

From Ian:

While we give tax cuts to those who don't need it.

China invests its tax receipts in science that helps you lead in technology and that helps your country be strong and prosperous.
Regardless of our opinion of the action, by August 1981, major legislation championed by Reagan was signed into law by Congress - the so-called income tax reform. Reagan was able to run on this to re-election.

Any similarities between Reagan's situation in his first term and Obama's end there, at least for now. Until Obama has _something_ foreign or domestic policy achievement - to run on, I see no reason to believe he will be reelected.

Clinton was reelected in large part because despite his loss of congress to the opposition party, he still had a reasonably decent economy to run on in 1996. It doesn't seem like Obama has that either.

I would say right, the smart money is on Obama's defeat. There's still time for him to pull it out though and save us from President Palin or Huckabee.
Lets think this through some more. When the republicans warlock hunted Bill Clinton, the democrats DID stand with Bill Clinton during the impeachment process.

However, that memory, along with the memory of how many democrats lost seats in both houses in 1994, helped seal the democratic higher ups decision to actually back Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton at the expense of the democratic voting base.

Who cares if the country went through decent times back then, what matter to the selfish democratic leadership was they keep their job.

Joseph, I recall you being a big Hillary Clinton supporter back then, I'm surprised you are not embracing her ongoing popularity.
It's true that Reagan alibied by forever blaming Carter, but it's not really true that he 'weathered' the bad economy by that alibiing, since he was hammered in his job approval numbers to the low 40%s, and I think he got as low as 38% job approval. So he still got blamed by the public, and still suffered greatly in his job approval numbers, and the GOP got a bad result in the '82 mid-term-- because the public gets angry when there is widespread unemployment.

Oddly enough, as one Pat Buchanan reminded the McLaughlin Group a few weeks back, in '86 Reagan had a 60% range job approval rating, and still saw the GOP slaughtered in their Senate membership, losing the Senate majority.

Then the Bush the Wiser presidency found HIM losing a 80%+ approval rating after the first Gulf War success to the 40%s or higher 30%s, because of the recovery's sluggish job creation, wherein the '92 unemployment went from 7.1% to 7.8% during a full recovery year.

So GOP presidents have themselves been bedeviled by bad economies, however much more they are willing to or allowed to, by the commentariat, blame their predecessors (although Bush the wiser couldn't really do that).

Still, there is something to the analysis. The best explanation I know was written by Robert Parry, the former AP/Newsweek/Frontline reporter, now of He details the very large investments in media spent consistently over some decades by the right which has created a robust conservative media infrastructure.

Richard Mellon Scaife alone averaged $6 million a year, and with the Coors heir, co-founded the Heritage Foundation. The Olin Foundation did the same, as did several others. The Moonie Washington Times lost tens of millions a year for 30 years pushing their right-leaning line.

The NY Times and WaPost became public corporations, were heavily pressured to drop reporters and op-ed columnists of the wrong (liberal) sort, and staffed up with right-wingers. The 'alternative' press was bought up and turned right, if not closed entirely. The remaining 'left' publications became beholden to financing from either apolitical or center-right-leaning foundations, and became as much 'kept' as 'left.'

The net result is that those forces are able to bring it hot, heavy, and loud on any particular issue they target, without any counter-weight communication of the same scale or fervor opposing them. Plus they leverage their message by coordinating their messaging via national committees like CPAC, daily blast faxes of talking points to their on-air screamers, etc. (You see this wherever you look, when some outrage du jour nobody ever heard of yesterday becomes the dominant theme instantly today.)

Through in the continued concentration of media allowed via the Communications Deregulation Act, which provides for near-monopoly of talk radio, and oligarchical control of all media by what, 6 companies, none of whom are liberal, and you have this perfect storm.

Hard to say what the American people would believe or gravitate to absent this strongly biasing factor, which is as subtle as a jackhammer being operated two feet away.

I think it has to do with how the brain processes information. The brain tends to link items as well as search for meaning.

Emotional appeals are what work especially when an emotional linkage is made. Think “liberal elite.”

The best explanation of this I have ever read is Drew Weston’s “The Political Brain.” The Republicans are far better at emotional appeals like this and have been for decades whether consciously or unconsciously. If you want to court the middle class working man and woman what better way than to brand them as “elite.”? And over time this branding becomes so strong in the neurons of the brain it becomes automatic to think ‘elite’ when you hear ‘liberal.’ This is a very short and very abbreviated discussion of Weston’s theory.

Democrats think people will respond to rational discourse, when actually they respond to emotional ones.

Read the book. It explains a lot.
"Joseph, I recall you being a big Hillary Clinton supporter back then, I'm surprised you are not embracing her ongoing popularity."

Alessandro, my views on Hillary were and are more complex.

I have long said that I wished Hillary had never run. I just don't cotton to the idea of political dynasties, even when I happen to admire individuals within that dynasty.

Also, to be frank, I was sick of hearing all of that right-wing "Vince Foster!" crap. My thinking (as of late 2007) was that if we fielded another candidate, at least the GOP smears would be new and interesting, and we wouldn't be fighting the battles of 1993 well into 2013.

(I don't think that way now, obviously.)

On the other hand, I always thought Hillary would make a good president. I think events have proven that she would have been much better than the guy we have.

But throughout 2008, I made clear that I supported Hillary only because she was the only thing standing between Obama and the nomination. I was not a Hillary "fan" per se. In fact, I was a die-hard Edwards fan for a long time.

I, uh...I feel kind of bad about that right now.

That said, I did come to admire greatly Hillary's never-say-die persnicketiness.
So the question seems to be begged - what would President Hillary have done differently than Obama? Because my alternate world crystal ball says she would not be in the same pickle that Obama has found himself. She might be facing body blows in Congress in the 2010 midterms but I think she would be in a much better place.

I know this will gall Joseph but I don't think she would have touched healthcare. But she would have found some reasonably progressive initiative that impacts the middle and lower class, still popular among the mass of Americans. Not sure what that is, but I suspect that by now she would have already signed it into law.

I don't think in the end there IS a whole lot of difference between the parties. Both of them want to get re-elected and don't much care how they do it. What matters and counts is governance. Reagan - love him or hate him - governed. Obama hasn't. He shows very little signs of doing so.
Roberta, thanks for that comment...I will look for that book. It's highly annoying but absolutely true. Emotional appeals shut off people's capacity for rational thought.

Joseph, regarding Edwards. Who knows. Maybe he always was a jerk, or maybe he lost his way. It wasn't until NH that I saw him for the tool he was.
I thought the reason to reject Hillary, from a party standpoint, was to avoid the obvious right wing slander-fest that would have immediately ensued. However, that was unavoidable regardless of whom the nominee was.

The wishful thinking of that nature prevented the election of someone VERY familiar with that kind of relentless attack, who was strong enough and prepared to fight back. BHO made a pretense that it was an avoidable situation, if only HE eschewed partisan lines of argument. No and no.

The old line had it that liberals were so even-handed that they'd refuse to take their own side in an argument. Almost certainly that would not have been true had Hillary won the office.

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