Saturday, August 02, 2014

The way we were

I'm not a Jeff Greenfield fan, for reasons best explained by this story over on CTKA. And I'm not entirely convinced by Greenfield's argument in the Daily Beast that the Democrats are going to lose huge in the 1998 midterms. But this bit is worth quoting...
So how did the Democrats actually pick up five House seats in 1998, and not lose a single Senate seat, at a time when the incumbent Democratic President had been pummeled all year by accusations of sexual misconduct and possible perjury? On August 17, just a few weeks before the fall campaign iced off, he had to go on national TV to offer a mea kinda sorta culpa.

Yes, part of the explanation was Republican overreach, which, combined with Independent Counsel Ken Starr's imitation of Inspector Javert, brought Clinton’s supporters to the polls. The far more powerful explanation was the now-famous phrase pinned on James Carville’s campaign office wall: it’s the economy, stupid.

Describing the economy in 1998 makes it hard to believe we’re looking at the same country: unemployment at 4.5 percent. Inflation at 1.5 percent. Real GDP growth over 4 percent. The projected budget surplus was so high that a serious economic debate was underway that asked: should we wipe out the national debt, or do we need a bit of debt to keep credit flowing?

As for the national mood? In the fall of 1998, the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported that, by a 55-31 margin, the public believed things were pretty much headed in the right direction. All of which meant that while the public may not have trusted Clinton with their young daughters, they did trust him to mind the store.
It's easy to forget how much better things were in the days before the neocons and the libertarians screwed everything up.

Personally, I think that Republican overreach had a lot to do with Democratic gains in 1998. After years of propaganda designed to convey the impression that Clinton was behind every conceivable type of conspiratorial evil (including drug-running and murder), the Starr inquisition revealed that none of these claims had a factual basis. All we got was an inane sex scandal -- hardly grounds for impeachment. The voters simply decided not to reward the GOP's slimeball tactics. We didn't want to see any smirks on the faces of those lying bastards.

A similar factor may play a role in 2014. Few of us love Obama, but the GOP's anti-Obama propaganda is so over-the-top as to be repellent. People are angry with Obama, but not with the pseudo-Obama who exists in the Republican imagination.

Does anyone really care about Boehner's lawsuit? (Aside from Democratic fundraisers, that is. The lawsuit threat has loosened the money spigots.) I haven't written about Boehner's gimmick previously because the whole thing is Dullsville compared to events overseas -- Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Iraq and beyond. That stuff is interesting. When I try to read an article about what Boehner is up to, I start yawning before paragraph three.

And so do you, in all likelihood. Be honest: Can you even recall offhand what this effing suit is supposed to be about? Sometimes we hear that it has something to do with the ACA and the employer mandate. Other times we hear that it is a reaction to executive overreach. This thing feels like Whitewater all over again: I can't keep the story straight even when I try to follow it.

This article conveys the impression that the lawsuit exists for its own sake: After deciding that there should be a lawsuit, the Republicans went scurrying around for a plausible cause. Of course, the only reasonable-sounding cause they've come up with -- executive overreach -- was also a notorious feature of the Dubya years, when Republicans argued that the President was a quasi-supernatural being who stood above and beyond such petty concerns as the separation of powers. (That was Cheney's defense of Reagan's sale of arms to the Iranians: The President-God may do as he pleases.)

There has also been talk of impeaching Obama. Boehner probably went the lawsuit route to quell the voices in his party demanding impeachment. On what grounds? God only knows. Policy disagreement is not a criminal offense and not a reason for removal from office. The Republicans haven't fixed on a single cause or rallying point; they simply want to punish Obama for the crime of Presidentin' While Democrat.

Pelosi on impeachment. If you really want to be infuriated, check this out...
Republicans who think they have a legitimate beef against Obama for abuse of power probably weren’t in the Congress in 2007 when Pelosi became speaker in a Democratic-controlled House elected on a wave of anti-war fervor. Liberal Democrats wanted to impeach President George W. Bush, but Pelosi took it off the table. Why didn’t she pursue impeachment? “I didn’t think it was right for the American people,” she said. “We were starting our new majority, and the first thing we do is impeach President Bush?” She didn’t think so, saying, “History makes its assessment and verdict.”
I think that verdict has gone against Bush. And Pelosi. Starting a war over a lie is an impeachable offense. Of course, Pelosi had to face the not-inconsiderable fact that all the polls indicated that the public did not favor impeachment.

If only we had an opposition party willing to make a case against Obama based on something real. Drones, for example. If Boehner wanted to sue or impeach Obama over his reliance on drones, he'd have my blessing. But the Republicans won't talk about that topic because they want a Republican president to be able to use the same weapons with giddy abandon.

This nation's partisan bickering would be a lot more tolerable if we bickered over something real.
Greenfield may be a hack, but he is talking about the possibility the mid-terms this year will not follow the usual path for the WH occupant, even though dismissing it with his analysis. It seems pre-emptory as though intended to push-back on any speculation that might give Dems some confidence. That would seem consistent with his Mentor's MO. I don't know if his reference to Brer Rabbit is a slam at the Tar Baby, but it sounds like he's trying to get ahead of some disparate polling curve.

I would like to see Obama, starting the day after the midterms, use his executive power to accomplish everything he can in a big way. Bang, bang, bang. Make the Rebublicans' heads spin. To announce each set of executive actions (e.g. immigration reform) he should give a powerful and convincing speech explaining to the American people why this was necessary and a good thing. He should close each speech by saying (to Boehner and the GOP):

"So sue me."

It could be a running joke, even a meme.
That's funny!
I like that.
I naturally assume everybody in America has seen "Schoolhouse Rock" so I assume they know this but: the legislature passes laws and the executive branch enforces them.

On issues across the board, Obama has chosen "selective enforcement". Wow, he really is a Constitutional professor - who knew?

On Obamacare alone, Obama has ignored a dozen specific deadlines and statutes including the employer mandate which SHALL begin on Jan. 1, 2014. If a President can just entirely ignore ratified law, what separates him from a tyrant?

Tell you what: say that Obama can flout the law this way. But that means a Republican President can cut taxes 20% by telling Americans he will NOT enforce tax collections.


C4E: Your argument would be a lot stronger if you could prove to me that you -- ON THE FUCKING RECORD (give dates and an exact citation) -- ever opposed Bush's selective enforcement of laws, as announced via his signing statements.

Are you a partisan hack? Or do you stand for principle? I've criticized Obama many, many times -- my record is clear. Did you criticize Bush -- WHILE HE WAS IN OFFICE?

If not, you're a hack.
I think the definition of a hack is somebody who can't respond to a reasonably offered and logical argument so instead responds with "What about Booooosh!!!"

Well-played, sir. You're everything I've come to expect from the Left side of the blogs.

Jesus, listen to yourself with your "citation!" bullshit. Clinton had more signing statements than Bush and they were both based on Constitutional questions that could be addressed by Congress. They weren't "does January 1st 2014 mean January 1st 2014? I don't think it does."

CLinton's signing statements weren't like Bush's. Bush explicitly stated that he was not going to execute the law. That was an impeachable offense right there.

You have shown yourself to be a partisan hack. My record is clear -- I've been registering disgust with Obama since early 2008. And I was no apologist for Clinton.

You don't give a damn for principle. You would never in a million years criticize a Republican. You fucking conservatives are robots who do as told by Central Command.

Prove me wrong. Point to a single occasion when you castigated Bush in public...while he was in office. You've just proven that you can't do it.

Also, you're a coward who can't write under your own name, as I do.

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