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What If? So What?

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Posted on Oct 25, 2010

By Eugene Robinson

Come on down, everybody in our studio audience, and play the exciting new game that may be about to sweep the nation, or at least the Democratic Party: “What If?”

What if President Obama and the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill had pushed through an authentic, righteous, no-holds-barred progressive agenda, perhaps with a thick overlay of pitchfork populism? How different might the political landscape look? Would predictions for the party’s prospects on Election Day still range from gloom all the way to doom? Or would triumphant Democrats be preparing to leave the GOP—or what remained of it—dazed and confused?

This question is being asked, in all seriousness, by thoughtful progressives. They argue that the Obama administration’s political mistake wasn’t pushing its liberal program too hard but not pushing it hard enough. And they contend that the White House seriously misread both the public anger and the national interest when it came to dealing with Wall Street’s greedy excesses—punishing miscreant bankers with love taps rather than cudgel and mace.

Proponents of this view have a point, but not much of one. I say this more in sorrow than in anger, because nothing would have been more satisfying than an FDR-style progressive blitz that set the nation on a path toward being stronger, fairer and more prosperous. And in a number of specific instances, especially early on, Obama erred by offering self-defeating concessions to Republicans who had no good-faith intention of seeking compromise.

The economic stimulus was too small and relied too heavily on the discredited GOP-approved “remedy” of tax cuts. The starting point for the health care debate was that any kind of single-payer system was off the table. It took the administration far too long to realize that the overall Republican strategy was not to negotiate but simply to say no—even to the point of rejecting ideas the party had supported in the past. And, yes, the Obama administration allowed the bankers who nearly brought down the world’s financial system to resume playing roulette with the American economy; in gratitude, they are pouring money into Republican coffers and comparing Obama to Robespierre.

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Had Obama gone rogue and given the bankers some legitimate cause for all their whining, the what-if argument goes, Americans would see that what Sarah Palin called “that hopey, changey stuff” is real—and that it is making, or at least trying to make, a positive difference in their lives. Much of the tea party’s anger over “business as usual” would dissipate, because Obama wouldn’t be doing business as usual. The president and his party would arrive at the midterm election riding high.

So, contestants, what if?

Sorry, but it doesn’t wash. The problem is that for all the talk of changing the way Washington works, you still have to get actual legislation through an actual Congress. In the House, Democratic ranks are swollen with Blue Dogs and other moderates, many of them elected in swing districts as part of the 2008 Democratic landslide. The votes for a full-fledged progressive agenda—single-payer health care, for example—simply were not there.

In the Senate, the terrain was even less favorable. With the Republican caucus voting no as a bloc, passing any piece of legislation meant making concessions and compromises to keep together the needed 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor. The votes weren’t there for a health care bill that would have been cleaner and more transformative than the one that passed, or for climate-change legislation with teeth, or for new rules that could really transform Wall Street’s toxic culture, or for ... fill in the blank.

All right, studio audience, then what if the Democrats had gone all bipartisan and tried to meet the Republicans halfway?

Puh-leeze. They did try. What they discovered is that there’s no halfway point between “do something, anything” and “do nothing at all.”

OK, folks, let’s try one more scenario. What if Obama and the Democrats had devoted every waking hour to the three issues that Americans care about most: jobs, jobs and jobs?

Well, unemployment would still be painfully high; there’s no way the economy could recover 8 million jobs so quickly, no matter what Washington did. And health care reform would still be a distant dream.

Those who play “What If?” are unconstrained by political and economic reality. President Obama and the Democratic leadership, to their misfortune, enjoy no such freedom.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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By kat sullivan, November 20, 2010 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hurt my back going door to door to help Obama get elected and from Day One,
he betrayed his election promises.  We need a real progressive leader; how about
Russ Finegold for 2012!

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By QuantumBubbler, October 31, 2010 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

What if?

Gene’s parellell nemesis had of been overlooked in the tsunami of display of cultural biASS?

Oh, it was!

We are headed to absolute destruction and have a simple resolution available but…

battery low….

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By BR549, October 31, 2010 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Napoleon,

Well said. And more succinctly than I.  :o)

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 31, 2010 at 1:58 am Link to this comment

Again, the republicans are keeping the status quo of rule by fiat… and the democrats are simply the ploy furthering the duped participation of the chattel to believing the fiat and supporting the managerial class.

Collusion of both parties ( which are really one ).

We need new faces, locally chosen and known.

No pedigreed politicos, descendants of the ‘upper class’ people who really have NO CLASS at all.

Term limits in office, no bouncing around from government office to office ( no career hacks ).

And no giving self raises, that is ridiculous.

To serve the public through elected is just that- SERVING.

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By Leefeller, October 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

If Eugine Robertson is labeled as an apologist for Obama, it seems to me most of the people on this thread sound like apologists for Bush?

The fact Obama has not moved mountains, may possibly be because the pile of shit called Congress is locked in fornicating with lobbyists, so the people be damned.

Of course the Republicans know what the American people need, they keep telling us they do!

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Isn’t it a pleasant waste of time to discuss nonsensical issues while our handlers will simply continue to do as planned?

What a waste of your time.

We actually think someone from either Dem or Rep party is going to work for the commoner?

THAT IS A JOKE.

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By Aarky, October 27, 2010 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some great comments from our posters. They sum up the disillusionment and anger at the gutless, nutless, and spineless actions of the Democrats in Congress and their enabler in the WH. Senator McConnell’s comment that the Republicans will work to make certain that Obama is a one term President is understandable because that’s part of their job. What is so infuriating is that Obama is also working hard to ensure that he only gets one term. We seem to have a couple posters/apoligists from the DNC with their babble about all the great things Obama has done. I’m still laughing at their feeble attempts to convince us.

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By RayLan, October 27, 2010 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

“God and country” are the three most frightening words in the English language.

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By wardad, October 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gene,

I love your work.  However, there you go again apologizing for BHO with the same old tropes.

1.  How do you know the votes were not there?  Is not that what LBJ told MLK before he turned around and found them groveling under their own shame?  LBJ fought for the issue, Gene.  And he won.  BHO could have done the same thing.  BHO needs to read The Prince.

2.  If you push hard enough against an intractable foe, you move the agenda by moving the “window.”  With a leader out in front and Congressmen echoing his language and message, he drives the debate and the intractable foe
(conservadems) are forced by the threat of a primary challenge to compromise in your direction.  I do not even care about the Party of No, with Tea or otherwise.  He had 60 votes
and he could have gotten a much better deal had he fought for it within his own party.  Sorry Gene, but your dismissal does not wash.

3.  Just because we pay people to make laws does not mean we have to pass laws.  We do not have to “get legislation through.”  It is just not true.  If the opposition wants to shut down the agenda the American people voted for, then let it stand.  We can vote them out too.  The administration
played a weak hand when they were holding a strong one.  They tipped their hand and folded, before they even placed their bet.  They thought it was better to be loved than to be feared.  Mac broke down the problem with that way of thinking along time ago.  Ask Dick Cheney.

4.  Can we please stop using contractions?  It is so annoying.

Peace,
wardad

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By morristhewise, October 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Not all presidents were as influential as Ronal Reagan, when he spoke politicians
listened. The talents of Obama point in a different direction, he is inspirational and
has encouraged millions of unemployed workers not to give up hope.  Gay
youngster who were being bullied got up from the ground after the president
promised them that there were better day`s ahead. The nation was lacking a
fatherly president who loved us all, he cannot be replaced by an insensitive
political leader who is only interested in pleasing lobbyists. Fortunately his
affection will be with us for many years, it is no wonder he was awarded the peace
prize.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Gentlemen, some who penned the Constitution surely may have been Christians.  Now, in the biblical sense?, that is up for debate but… WHO KNOWS OTHER THAN GOD!

Some others were for an allowance to have the Paradigm alignment of the ‘inference’ and ‘intention’ of an Almighty, All Knowing Presence to help them pen that writ… which they were invoking to Bless their venture.

Majority were the ‘backbone’ of America as far as wealth, public presence and persona.

ALL of these men were of a certain pedigreed ethnicity, a group born out of the ruling English Empire.

What “Amerika” and regular good ole boy Amerikans DON’T either comprehend, or fail to conceive, is the fact that the remnant lineage and all nouveau-riche since then is still very much in control of the means of production, the seats of government and the influence in the economic sector, now abroad and circumventing the globe… and THESE folks are at the behest of the money changers, the foreign bankster owners of the FED Reserve and the changing of the weights and measures at their credence and to their gain, the collective loss of the chattel.

These gentlemen WILL NOT give up their influence nor deny their opulence in order to ‘do the right thing’ or what ‘their conscience’ screams at them, but play along with the created mythology of America….

Now Amerika…

Thanks to the numbing and dumbing down of the chattel by-way of media mind manipulation and economic slavery… the latter due to the ignorance most common folks ( the masses ) have regarding their discipline and the knowledge of money, and what it really is.

Capitalism + Fiat Currency + Mass Programming benefiting the ruling class = an easily managed, impotent, dis-unified and ignorant society.

God Bless Amerika

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By lasmog, October 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

The bailout of the banks is far from over and it continues under Obama.  The main bailout to the banks was not TARP money, it was the hundreds of billions paid by Fannie and Freddie to purchase the toxic mortgage debt from the banks at sweetheart rates.  The bank bailout also continues with these same banks getting virtually unlimited government money at .25% interest rates and then using this money to buy government bonds that pay 3% to 4% interest. This continuing bank bailout is costing our government trillions of dollars and it has the full support of President Obama.

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By BR549, October 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

mack894, October 27 at 3:42 pm
“Do you really believe that true Americans are Christians?”—— Who said that? I certainly didn’t. We do have “In God We Trust” emblazoned on every coin and bill in order for people to interpret it however they wish. Get a grip for Christ’s sake.

“If you don’t want health care personally and would rather pay for it out of pocket, go ahead. But I’m uncomfortable with people, families, children dying or suffering for want of an insurance card.”——- You obviously are not all that familiar with the bill then.

“Our govt has a constitution, a bill of rights, and a system of govt that defines how the country functions and for whom.”  ——You have GOT to be kidding us.

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By mack894, October 27, 2010 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

e majority of us who were brought up referring to “God” as their creator, a
concept that the majority of TRUE Americans are familiar with, are basically
penalized because of their religious beliefs. In essence, the Jews and the
Christians get screwed on a piece of legislation that does NOT apply to all.

************

True Americans—is there a true American?  Do you really believe that true
Americans are Christians?  Why do you believe this?  This country was based on
religious freedom and belief in Christianity is not a requirement.  In fact, you
can disbelieve the concept of God and still be a true American. God has
absolutely nothing to do with democracy or citizenship.  God has nothing to do
with organized religion.  This country is not a theocracy.

Devout people can get exemptions from most things if they conflict with
lifelong principles.  If you don’t want health care personally and would rather
pay for it out of pocket, go ahead. But I’m uncomfortable with people, families,
children dying or suffering for want of an insurance card. I’m sure Jesus would
be, too.  Medicare provides for everyone who has worked and is an American
citizen—if someone chooses to opt out of it and pay for their own health care
instead, that’s their choice.

This painting of the president of some kind of sinister figure is appalling and so
far from reality, it’s delusional. Our govt has a constitution, a bill of rights, and
a system of govt that defines how the country functions and for whom. God
and christianity, bhuddism, allah, yahweh, etc. have absolutely nothing to do
with it or citizenship.

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By morristhewise, October 27, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

having a college education for blacks is not a sure ticket to a job, their
unemployment rate is around 10% while whites with a similar background have an
unemployment rate of only 4%. There are many theories for this phenomena, but
they are no more than guess work.

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By Devon Noll, MPA, October 27, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I voted for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and I will vote for them again in 2012 because the alternatives are so much worse.  I have voted for Democrats this time as well since the only alternatives were Republicans.  Why?  Without apology - because I do not want what the GOP and others offer, period.  Now the question is do I expect much change from my choices?  No.  Why?  There are several reasons.

1.  With a corporate, Clinton controlled DNC and a Congress led by the likes of Harry “I can’t lead” Reid and Nancy “I stacked the House with Blue Dogs” Pelosi actively controlling all legislation and ignoring the agenda that they were voted in with in 2006 and 2008, nothing will change.

2.  President Obama was, and is, an outsider to the DNC and Washington white upper-class politics.  He ran against their chosen saint and beat her pants off at the ballot box, then caved to save their precious party.  Now we all pay the price.

3.  The President believed that when you are dealing with adults that you treat them accordingly, instead of like spoiled, over-indulged children who should be spanked and sent home.  He controlled his anger and did not take the members of his own party to task when he should have, and as a result, he failed to lead.

4.  The President allowed others to chose his cabinet, his staff, and his policy approaches, like Sebelius who announced single-payer was off the table, forcing the President to back his new Sec. of HHS.  She oversaw one of the worst health care systems in the nation and should never have been put in this position - except the DNC wanted to pay back a favor.

5.  This President’s PR people did not understand that the American people really did want change, and they were willing to back an angry man who would stand up and fight - demanding heavier regulation of Wall Street, climate legislation, end to war and Gitmo, decent health care.  Instead they insisted that such a man would scare America and not to push too hard.  We knew, or thought we knew, what a fighter looked like - we had seen it in every speech throughout 2008 and we were not afraid of it!  We voted for it!

The biggest problem that this President has had has not be from the GOP (although I must admit that they have created a situation that could easily destroy this nation), but from within his own party and their craven cowardice and pandering.  I said in 2008, vote for whomever for President, but make sure that you get a Congress that represents the people - vote for real progressives (not the FAUX progressives like Pelosi and Reid) and independents for Congress.  But instead we sent back the same old cowards and idiots who caved to Bush and Cheney for 8 years and have been in the pockets of corporate America, and now we are poised to do so again, only this time it will be a GOP majority of corporatists and Tea Party radicals, with the Democrats crying in their beards and cowering in the corners, with nary a progressive in sight.

The American people have failed because they do not understand how their nation is governed and now we are looking for a scapegoat.  We failed because we did not stand up and yell “Foul” under Bush and Cheney and hold Congress accountable for not impeaching those traitors in 2006.  We failed because we did not put the fear of our power into the DNC, the Clintons, and the members of Congress of both parties when they bailed out banks and did not regulate or pandered to insurance companies while selling us out on health care.  We failed when we did not shout down Tea Partiers at town halls and in other public forums or file complaints against FOX News every time they incited someone to murder or supported white supremacy diatribes by Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity. 

The American People failed because we let ourselves fail.  We failed because we are unwilling to make the effort to create change in our own communities.

The President did not Fail.  Congress Failed.  But mostly, WE FAILED!

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By PRGP, October 27, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

All of the religious references in these comments are illustrative of the delusions of the right.  There is no just and loving god - are you out of your mind? or just stupid?  Humans must either agree to take care of each other or allow the few to screw over the many (Republican/fascist credo).  Read late 18th century French history to find what happens to the plutocrat/oligarch class when enought people get pissed at greedy hubris.  Pitchforks, torches and the guillotine.  Righties beware, your idiocy leaves you unprepared.

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By oldog, October 27, 2010 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

What if Demos had put forward a democratic agenda?

For example: What if Obama had driven to the left by
starting with single payer, and letting the
Republicans drag it right until we compromised in the
middle with a robust healthcare including a national
exchange?

Instead Obama and Demos started bargaining way out in
right field, where Bush had dragged us over the
previous eight years.

Your reasoning, like Obama’s, conceded 90% of the
victory before we even started.

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By BR549, October 27, 2010 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

Gene, Gene, Gene; still doing your pipe dream thing again, eh? Blaming
everything on Congress now? Still can’t imagine that your golden boy in the
White House is a fraud? Get a grip.

No matter how you try to rewrap Obama’s Health Care package, the fact is that no one wants what’s inside that Pandora’s Box. Did either you or your buddy Barry explain to the American public the “Dhimmitude” part of the health care bill that exempts Muslims from having to participate in the bill? No, I didn’t think so.

Granted that the Amish, Christian Scientists, and the American Indians don’t have to either, but what this essentially means is that the majority of us who were brought up referring to “God” as their creator, a concept that the majority of TRUE Americans are familiar with, are basically penalized because of their religious beliefs. In essence, the Jews and the Christians get screwed on a piece of legislation that does NOT apply to all.

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By David J. Cyr, October 27, 2010 at 2:30 am Link to this comment

Liberals say they want to do good,
but then they vote for Democrats.

Imagine this:

What if all the liberal (D)upes stopped being (D)isgraceful, (D)elusional, (D)isingenuous, (D)ishonest, (D)evious, (D)eceitful, (D)ecadent, (D)espicable, (D)epraved, (D)egenerates?

What if all the liberals stopped being (D) Evil?

What if all the liberals, who keep saying they really, really want progress, started to sincerely actually vote for progress
(for a change),
and therefore never voted for any Democrat ever again?

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By solerso, October 26, 2010 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene. we know that “the votes werent there”. progressives have been paying very close attention these past 2 years. What we are pissed off about is WHY the votes werent there.  National Polling during and since the HCR sham showed OVERWHELMING public support for “a national health care bill”. The bill the democrats passed is massively unpopular because people arent as stupid as you make them out to be. People know the difference between “healthcare” and health “insurance”. The dems passed an insurance industry sop. The individual mandate is wildly, universally unpopular but even with the mandate, polling showed Americans would have supported the bill if it had included a “public option”, the best would have been a medicare buy in. STOP LYING Eugene. I had a great deal of respect for you until you decided you were going to devote your considerable talents to drfending a democratic regime not worthy of defense. INCLUDING Pres. Obama. On the issues of LGBT rights, abortion, universal health care, fin reg, election reform, and ENDING the imperialist wars, public opinion is progressive. PERIOD. Benighted, low information Teabaggers notwithsatnding THIS is why democrats are getting creamed. THE BASE and an increasingly younger and more left sympathetic electorate is making the conscious decision to stay home. The country is not “moving to the right”.YOU KNOW THIS TOO, Eugene or you wouldnt be wasting bandwith here on truth dig, berating us and pleading for votes. WE KNOW(now for certain) that democrats are unrepentant tools of our corporate oligarchy.Thats “settled law” with progressives, what we are concerned with is how do we fight now.

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By RayLan, October 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment

“If you don’t vote, they succeed.”
And if we do ‘they’ succeed . ‘They’ are indistinguishable from the oligarchic sycophants. Wake up.

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By Go Right Young Man, October 26, 2010 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson — “The votes for a full-fledged progressive agenda—single-payer health care, for example—simply were not there.”

-

That’s right.  And the reason almost everything else in this latest Robinson article is off-kilter.

After two years of a democratic Legislature and White House not a single major piece of legislation, proposed or passed, has enjoyed the support of the majority of the voting public.  Not even one.

Last week the President of the United States stated very clearly that he always believed the republicans could come along for the ride but, must “sit in the back”.  On the other hand there remains people like Mr. Robinson who regurgitate how the President has exhausted himself by trying to work with the “party of no”.

Eugene has once again misread the nations entire political atmosphere.  To moderates, conservatives, independents and libertarians the “Party of No” is getting a healthy and resounding second look.  In other words; the Party of No obstructed an unpopular agenda. 

- Democrats with a progressive agenda are about to get spanked, hard, for their behavior. 

- Democratic candidates all over the nation, from mayors to governors to the senate, are renouncing the “Progressive” Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  The Speaker is not to be found near any campaign outside of 5 small, heavily democratic, districts within the entire U.S..

-

I have been writing for eighteen months how enormous the mistake in labeling all opponents as racists.  Large portions of the Tea Party identify themselves as independents.  Precisely the people who decide elections. 

Robinson has, to date, been right there leading this massive, bigoted, monumental mistake.  A careless and dangerous mistake.

Robinson needs to get past his obsession with the “Black Man in Office” and begin to listen.

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By Jess Money, October 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robinson is so full of shit his eyes are brown. The GOP in Congress had nothing to do with the watered-down faux HCR bill. The Dems passed it using reconciliation with NO GOP votes. It didn’t have a public option for only one reason: Obama never wanted it and he secretly sold it off to AHIP, AHA, and PHrma.

Going after the banksters is also something Obama could have done unilaterally. He has this little department in the executive branch known as the DOJ. Not to mention the FBI, the financial crimes unit of the Secret Service, and the investigative and enforcement powers of the SEC.

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By rbrooks, October 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What if Obama had appointed progressives to his cabinet?
- instead of turning over the economy to the Wall Street thieves and deregulators who pulled off - and are still pulling off - the catastrophic trillion-dollar theft from the citizens of this country?
- instead of expanding and institutionalizing some of the most vicious, lawless, and repugnant of Bush’s policies?
- instead of continuing to empower Bush’s perpetual-war generals, who are murdering Pakistani and Afghan civilians with Obama’s favorite standup joke, the drone?
- instead of appointing Clinton/NAFTA/Monsanto revolving door hacks to run his ag department, to oversee food safety?
- and suppose he had appointed a progressive, or even merely a person with, oh, say, dignity, or experience, or integrity, instead of the thuggish hit man he appointed to RUN HIS WHITE HOUSE, Rahm DLC progressives-are-the-enemy Emanuel?
Well, he didn’t. I believe that your implication that he probably meant well is completely unfounded. I believe you must judge the man and his intentions by the people he appointed to carry them out.
Either Obama is an accomplished liar, or he is just not the smartest man in the room. Either way, whoever is in the White House is, let’s face it, not Candidate Obama. It serves no useful purpose to continue to pretend that he is.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

.. can be BRANDED any silly thing which is media produced and stamp approved for MASS consumption.

I majored in Communications… my POV is not a populous one that’s for sure.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Tea Party your pinky old chum.

Not everyone who believes in a just and loving God… & sees the plight of his fellow man… AND is dismayed that the veil of illusions by-way of fiat chicanery has capture most Amerikans.. including you buddy.

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By rico, suave, October 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Napolean:

Why you old Tea Partayer you! Wanting to get rid of the Fed?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

That’s why all of them end up being lackey’s to the programmed matrix of money doling.

Aren’t we all on the dole as well?

Even we who have our own means of production?

Even the most staunch of capitalist progressive liberal ( whatever else word is someone NOT desiring to inflict the hindrance of interest bearing debt on your fellow man ).

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

Obama and every other person on the hill kowtows because they KNOW they will not make it home the day they vote or decide to eliminate the FED’s hold on the money changing.

Is this not clear to those who see?

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By SteveK9, October 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mack894:

You said it all.  Ditto.

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By Daniel Padilla, October 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What if we were to act with conviction about what we believe and not what is politically correct. It may take awhile for true change to happen, but I would rather be on the side fighting for justice, peace, and a better world. To change this country it is impossible to work across the aisle with the very people who maintain and will stop at nothing to continue the present systems. There is no middle ground it is all, or nothing. It takes conviction, will, compassion and love of humanity.

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By mack894, October 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, Eugene.  It’s your arguments that don’t wash here.  Progressives knew
there would be a fight to get hope and change. We never expected a cake walk.
The small window of opportunity that Obama and the Democrats had to push
things through, when the numbers were more in their favor in the House and
Senate, was wasted over bipartanship. Hope and change was why he was
elected…period.

I wouldn’t have cared about failures so much if the President had only fought
like hell.  The people who elected him would have supported him with the
same, even more fervor than displayed during his election. You predicate your
“what ifs” on success instead of effort and intensity.  People love a fighter, and
we would have supported this party wholeheartedly if they had only climbed
into the ring and gone the 12 rounds instead of folding for a decision.

President Obama made political decisions after he took office.  But he should
have been laying that groundwork before he even got in the oval office—did so
much change between Nov 2008 and January 2009?  between Sept 2008 and Jan
2009?  Something so dramatic that he had to eviscerate his platform?

The fight is still possible—look at this bank and foreclosure mess. All Pres
Obama has said is that he’s opposed to a moratorium and that he’s satisfied
there aren’t any systemic problems.  His tendency to lowball, echoed with the
BP situation, is troubling.

But I’m not going to rule him out on the basis of 2 years.  It’s not like there are a
lot of alternatives, and I am still hoping for a change.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Gmonst, if folks would do what you suggested.. then they would be thinking for themselves and wouldn’t be blindly obeying the talking heads on tv and radio…

Not sure if you know, but the chattel have been well conditioned to be defunct in their logic.

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By Gmonst, October 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

What if,  What if you worry about whether or not to vote for Obama two years from now when he is actually running for election?  What if you look at who is running in your own locality and vote how and for whom you think will best serve you and your neighbors regardless of any party affiliation?

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By gerard, October 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, Leefeller.  Can’t be said too often.

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By joell, October 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

@Chip….“How can any sane person defend him.” (Obama)

what do you expect? he’s employed by   the Washington Post

“I wonder what he did to Kucinich on that airplane trip.
Maybe waterboarded?”

actually all it took was the threat of a well funded primary challenger to convince kucinich to make the “safe” vote. career politicians do it all the time.

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By lasmog, October 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Let’s face it; we got conned. We voted for progressive change and got oligarchy-lite, Bill Clinton 2.0.

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By adc14, October 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

What if you stopped apologizing for Obama and Juan Williams and actually behaved like a REAL journalist? BTW, as I recall, Obama told us to hold him accountable. Like so much else he’s said, I guess he didn’t really mean that either.

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By April Campbell, October 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What if Obama had actually done what he promised to do instead of recycling the crooks that got us into this mess in the first place? Sorry, Eugene, but there’s a price to be paid for screwing your base.

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By chip, October 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Obama is bought and sold.

It was apparent from start.

How can any sane person defend him.

He is just in a rush to get to wall street and rake in some of our cash he gave them.

I wonder what he did to Kucinich on that airplane trip.

Maybe waterboarded?

After wasting a year they passed insurance care bill WITHOUT their precious 60 votes.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

The failure in looking at the political landscape is the FACT that our paradigms and points of view are DRASTICALLY different from REALITY.

The veil is over so many eyes, that ‘reporters’ and columnists alike haven’t the fuzziest idea what they are looking at nor how to define it and put it into words.

The blind leading the blind it is called.

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By No Shineola, October 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Well it looks like we won’t have to worry about the bluedogs anymore. What a brilliant strategy for purging the democratic ranks. Now all we have to do is get the house back. Oh, we lost the voters too?

You strike when the iron is hot. You put a few heads on a pike in front of the castle. Why is this so difficult to understand?

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By GoyToy, October 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Eugene, there you go again. What if CANDIDATE Obama had not categorically stated that AfPak was the right war? We’d then be a trillion dollars or so richer.

And further, Eugene, there is more than the Democratic and Republican parties we can vote for, if we so choose. As for me, I’d rather vote for real progressive and have my candidate lose than vote for a corporate shill.

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By Leefeller, October 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

With all such constant manipulations and deceptions, outright lies and atrocious amounts of horse doo doo, I have decided to post something which has alleged listed of facts or fiction? This is from Truth out, anyone know who they are and sponsored by?  By the way whatever happened to ridding the halls of congress of lobbyists?

FYI quotes not my opinion but worthy of reflection:

“Eight False Things the Public “Knows” Prior to Election Day

Friday 22 October 2010

by: Dave Johnson   |  Campaign for America’s Future | Report”

“There are a number of things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.”

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By rico, suave, October 26, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

exploitedtimes:

Are you saying Obama is a multibillionaire?

Also, if the Republican Party disappeared today the US would be a whole lot worse off.

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By guy miller, October 26, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Back when Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator, he was asked about Single Payer Health Care. He responded, “First we need a Democratic Senate, than we need a Democratic House, and finally we need a Democrat in the White House.” In 2008 we had all three. Not only would Obama not fight for Sincle Payer, he wouldn’t even allow it to be mentioned. To paraphrase Saint Just, he who makes a reform half way, digs his own grave.
From the Rhode Island teachers to Shirley Sherrod to the appointment of Geithner and Summers, Obama, and his adminstration have proven to be political cowards. And they wonder why their progressive supporters aren’t energized…

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By exploitedtimes, October 26, 2010 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

This comes off as some type of excuse for Obama and the Democrats, and that is what won’t ‘wash.’ The fact is Obama made countless deals with the devil to get where he is today, which is exactly where he planned to be: reaping billions off dirty wars and other deceptions of Americans and the rest of the world. HOw’s that Nobel Peace Prize sitting now? He and the Dems are every bit is culpable as the Republicans this piece blames. Republicans are a distraction, not the problem. If the entire Republican party disappeared today all our problems would persist, quite contrary to the suggestion of this article.
But all this is a sad distraction from the fact that these so-called two parties exist only to distract. Follow the money, I assure you it leads to corrupt Dems as well as Repubs, just as sure as it will lead to big corrupt business who contribute big dollars to whichever way it wants the wind to blow.
Sorry, but this piece is a gutless excuse for progression. Read Chris Hedges; liberal whining doesn’t help anything and it isn’t even entertaining. Wake up and take a stand. Bail the two-party egg-toss, the sooner the better.
Thanks

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By rico, suave, October 26, 2010 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

Many posters blame the current debacle on Obama’s and the Democratic Congress’ failure to follow through on their promises.

I don’t know for certain, but I’d bet the farm that Obama would not have won were it not for $4 gasoline and a poorly run war effort in Iraq. Furthermore, the independents who elected him didn’t do so because of his promises, they did so DESPITE them because they were fed up with Bush the big government big spender and his Republican enablers in Congress. The voters would have elected Mrs O’Leary’s cow in 2008.

I think progressives are deluding themselves when they blame Obama for abandoning them. He had no clue how to govern once the speechifying was over.

Rush Limbaugh had a great riff the other day- All you Hillary Clinton fans need to stay away from the polls next Tuesday. That way the Republican victory will be so big that the Democrats will be forced to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with Obama. They will tell him he can’t win in 2012. And guess who is waiting in the wings to save the Democrats’ bacon?

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By DavidByron, October 26, 2010 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

“Proponents of this view have a point, but not much of one.”

Thank you for the view from the flat earth society.  But I doubt this guy is as dumb as he sounds.  Just another corporate apologist.

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By David J. Cyr, October 26, 2010 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (Question asked and wrongly answered): “If the GOP can maintain discipline to get the shittiest programs through, how come the Dems can’t do it to get needed ones through?  Answer? Not guts to enforce discipline.”

Good question. Totally wrong answer.

Democrats have exceptional discipline.

The Democrats ever reliably keep liberals lined up in mindless solely faith-based formations to regularly civil obediently vote to ensure that evil is always done… and that every evil is done particularly well whenever Democrats get their turn to do it.

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By felicity, October 26, 2010 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

FiftyGigs writes of Nader and Kucinich, the former
perpetually in the ‘wings’ and the latter little more
that the butt of jokes and I’m reminded of when
Feingold stood on the floor of the Senate trying to
move his fellow Dems to censure Bush and was told by
his fellow Dems to sit down and shut up.  Feingold’s
been quiet ever since. And who can forget the Speaker
of the House, second day in office?,  declaring
impeachment off the table.

Republicans aren’t Obama’s ‘problem,’ it’s people
posing as Democrats, fake Democrats, fake
progressives, all of them.

Got to wonder, though, what course Obama would have
taken if Mitch McConnell had made his recent
statement (for the next two years all legislation
will be suspended as we Republicans will only work to
defeat Obama in 2012).

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By Inherit The Wind, October 26, 2010 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

I usually respect ER but not this time.  He doesn’t ask the REAL “What If?” question.

What if the Democratic leadership had used the same whips and chains to keep their party membership in line that the GOP does TO GET THE AGENDA DONE!

There was no reason to EVER give in to the Blue Dogs or court the phony GOP “moderates” like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.  IF they were interested and promised to vote on a bill they could support, maybe make some compromises, but Snowe bullshitted the Dem leaders brilliantly.

Remember when Barton apologized to BP?  Boehner and Blunt made him take it back OPENLY saying they’d strip him of his desired committee seats.  Did Reid or Pelosi do that?  Did Nelson or Baucus EVER fear for their seats or for funding to their states or their campaigns? NO!

So…What If the Democratic leadership had DEMANDED a single party agenda and beat the asses off every member who deviated from it, stripping their seats and chairmanships, relegating them to “Garbage Collection In National Parks sub-sub-Committee” and moving them out of choice offices into leaky basements?

Maybe then something would have gotten done.  If the GOP can maintain discipline to get the shittiest programs through, how come the Dems can’t do it to get needed ones through?  Answer? Not guts to enforce discipline.

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By dihey, October 26, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The standard excuse of some progressives for president Obama’s continued compromises is that he was stymied by the Republicans and Blue-Dog Democrats. While that may be true there was one arena in which he did not need to ask for support of these wrecking-ball crews, namely the arena of war and peace. When the monthly job-firing numbers during the first few months of his presidency remained in the hundreds of thousands the president should have truly ended the war in Iraq by taking out all government-paid contractor personnel first and then all military personnel after that within the shortest possible time. He could have justified this order by stating that the time had come to rebuild our country
He should have stated that he might do the same for Afghanistan if the unemployment figures continued to rise alarmingly as they did in 2009.

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By balkas, October 26, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Yet another piece of sensation sans causation. The moment one omits to posit
causes for our ills or all salient facts that pertain, one already deceives.

AS for uncle sam having two disparate agents to represent him, raises the
question: why not two divergent sets of interpreters of a diktat that in fact US
constitution is?

This fact is always omitted and by all well-paid, welfared/pensioned/secured
scribes.
So guess on whose side they r on? Tnx for ur Right Ears or the Finger!

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By Rigor, October 26, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Sounds like a fun project for a high school class, but
“what if” won’t buy the groceries, or pay the heating
bills this winter.
It doesn’t matter who’s in office - politicians don’t
care about the common folk, and there doesn’t seem to
be anything we can do about it. Vote out one rat and
vote for the honest guy/gal, just to watch the system
morph them into rats as well….
We need the Constitution, but a new system to
represent “WE THE PEOPLE”.

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By Louis Proyect, October 26, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

Reading Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne here reminds me why I should not send in a penny to Truthdig when there is a fund-drive. With the left being attacked mercilessly in the Washington Post on a regular basis, why should we fund a “progressive” website that prints the same tripe?

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By David J. Cyr, October 26, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

When the Democrats that liberals vote for don’t have a majority, they say, “We just couldn’t do any good because the nasty Republican majority wouldn’t let us do any good.”

When the Democrats that liberals vote for have full control of the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress, they then say, “Too many of our Democrats are Republicans, so our nasty Democrats wouldn’t let us do any actual good, but all that amazing ‘historic’ evil that we did accomplish was as ‘progressive’ as it could possibly be… because when Democrats do evil we definitely do that real good.”

Democrats never do the good they said they could when they can.

People who vote for Democrats are either consummately evil, or dumber than cows.

Always vote, but never ever vote for any of the corporate (R) & (D) party’s “electable” candidates.

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By Anarcissie, October 26, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

I advanced a similar question to someone from Chicago who has observed Mr. O for most of his political career, and his answer was ‘What if pigs could fly?’

As for the folk wanting, or not wanting, government intervention: the infantile-monarchical mode with which American politics is soaked dispenses with any need for knowledge or logical consistency.  We are permitted to desire, hate, fear and demand the same ill-defined things, because Big Daddy is going to take care of everything, and if he doesn’t, well, we won’t like him any more and we’ll get a new Big Daddy.

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By G.Anderson, October 26, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

What if? Then people wouldn’t have seen a white house that betrayed all the reasons
why they were voted into office to begin with.

They wouldn’t have seen the audacity of hope turn into the mediocrity of compromise
and sell out.

They wouldn’t have seen the impossible dream they voted for, turn into play it safe
politics. Because he apparently didn’t believe in his own message.

They wouldn’t have seen a Democratic party cowering to the people who destroyed the
economy of this country, and also see the people who did it appointed to positions of
power in this administration.

The wouldn’t have seen media whores like Robinson suck it up instead of doing their
job.

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By rico, suave, October 26, 2010 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

FiftyGigs:

If “49 Republican Senators” (there are only 41) could stop Dennis Kucinich style progressivism, why couldn’t 59 Democratic Senators, with the help of Obama, promote it?

Not to worry. After the election the Democrats can become the obstructionist party and the Republicans will be as powerless as you claim the Dems are now?

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By rico, suave, October 26, 2010 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Let’s take the hard core supporters of progressivism and conservatism out of the equation. Then there’s the majority who remain, the moderates and “independents”.

Polls show that those voters, who elected Obama, are deserting him in droves. Robinson seems to think that they deserted him for not being progressive enough.

More polls show that the opposite is true. They oppose Obamacare, not because it does too little. They oppose the stimulus not because it created too many jobs. They oppose the bank and GM bailouts because it favored the fatcats.

If Robinson is right about the majority of the population yearning for another FDR, why weren’t a host of Progressive candidates ousting all those Blue Dog Democrats during the Congressional primaries by running on green, anti-war, and national health care themes? Where was the left’s Tea Party equivalent? Whre were the SEIU and the teachers?

The TP had little trouble telling the RINO Republicans to shape up or ship out because the populism of the TP more approximates the mood of the country than Robinson’s dreamworld pitchfork progressive populism variety.

The “enough is enough” theme is far more popular than the “we want more” theme. Robinson’s call for Obama to double down will guarantee a one-term presidency.

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By FiftyGigs, October 26, 2010 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

I love these armchair quarterbacks. Obama should’a, could’a. They’ll quote Matt Taibbi’s latest smackdown, but nary a peep out of them about Rolling Stone’s impressive recounting of President Obama’s accomplishments.

Two years, and the armchair quarterbacks are spent. Done. On the field for maybe a quarter, and the rest of the game they sit on the sidelines and complain about the plays the coach calls.

Weak.

The stark truth is Robinson has pretty much nailed it. Pick your poison—Nadar? Kucinich? No progressive has been able to amass voting of any consequence to affect a single progressive idea.

President Obama and a Democratic Congress, on the other hand, delivered the beginning of health reform, finance reform, gay rights, nuclear disarmament, peaceful co-existence with Muslims, a green movement that’s actually moving. In two years.

Who’s really the weak element here?

What stopped a full-bore progressive “blitz”—to borrow a term from another article—was 49 Republican Senator committed to destructivism, confident that their control of communication would allow them to avoid the consequences of their actual behavior.

If you don’t vote, they succeed.

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By RayLan, October 26, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Reps are corporate bulldogs and Dems are corporate bitches

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By Hank Van den Berg, October 26, 2010 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene, you have now revealed yourself to be corrupt.  You are just another well-paid liberal commentator putting forward Democratic Party talking points.  It doesn’t work, Eugene.  We can see through this.
Obama has failed miserably, I believe because he never intended to succeed as progressives hoped.  Obama, like all politicians, has been bought, and continues to be bought, by special interests. 
I certainly will never vote Republican, but I also will never vote for Obama again.  Nor will I vote for any Democrat that does not prove to me before the next election that she actively promotes progressive issues. 
In this election, I will not play the game of voting for the “least of two evils” either.  Leaving the ballot blank where we only have false promises to go on is a perfectly good voting strategy to let the Democrats know that they will have to deliver to get the votes of their base.  I wish commentators like you, Eugene, would realize that as well.

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By madisolation, October 26, 2010 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

Oh, listen to Eugene, the first to show up at Beltway cocktail parties, give us a lecture on how it all works. Isn’t he just the fount of wisdom?
Like we don’t know Harry could have changed the childish sixty-vote rule the Senate boys made up a few years back. Like we’re supposed to forget Obama promised transparency, and the first thing he does is get behind closed doors with his banking and insurance buddies. Like we’re supposed to shut up about Obama’s betrayal of that “authentic, righteous, no-holds-barred progressive agenda.” 
Not that it matters a whit to Eugene. He grovels at the feet of the Liar Obama, the Fat Larry Summers, and Manly Harry Reid for money and fun. Got some advice for you, Eugene: quit lecturing to people that are far wiser and tougher than you. It makes you look stupid and it just annoys us.

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By Ignatz Farquad, October 26, 2010 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

But he could look at himself in the mirror and say, as Jack Nicholson said in One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest: “At least I TRIED.”

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By Roberto, October 26, 2010 at 3:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a non American I can’t help but wonder how long until your train runs off the cliff..and what country/s may pick up the pieces?

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By Hammond Eggs, October 26, 2010 at 2:35 am Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson has his gig which I’m sure pays very very well.  He lives in Fat City.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 26, 2010 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

Spineless Democrat, thy name is Robinson.

With the Tea Party steeped in fear and buzzed on anger, the last thing we need to
hear is more of that ol’ Clintony centrist clap trap.

It’s Robinson’s sort of mentality that fuels the growing sense of disillusionment
and disenchantment that characterizes today’s politics. The left and the right have
about as much chance of getting back together as Mel and Oksana, but the one
thing we really could break crumpets together over is that whenever team red and
team blue play, it’s only the man who wins.

Eugene, you need to read Chris Hedges latest entry. You might relate.

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By eir, October 26, 2010 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

Why don’t we ask this man “what if?  So What?”  Brian Cowell, California Teacher

Here’s how FDR did it.  On FDR & Glass-Steagall

Granted, we’re talking about a truly transcendent politician who defended the population as Gov. of New York, not this politician who consistently voted “present” in the Illinois Legislature.

We’ve got a president who is merely “present” during one of the worst crisis in American history.  He will not defend the American population.  This is clear.

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By BarbieQue, October 26, 2010 at 1:30 am Link to this comment

Ohiolibgal beat me to it but I can’t resist.

I want to play Eugenes game too.

What if Max Baucus and his stacked “committee” had listened to the single payer advocates instead of having them arrested?

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090513_baucus_raucous_caucus/

From that day forward, and despite the denials of those that are fake (D)‘s the Democrats will have to live with the fact that they are the party that arrested physicians and nurses at a “hearing”. And if a Republican did that, there would have been marches on DC. The funny (not) thing about this is that it was a Republican plan that the 2010 (D)‘s passed. Another reason it’s strange to see Democratic loyalists jump around with their hair on fire praising this (R) bill.

Never going to let that get Orwelled.

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By ohiolibgal, October 26, 2010 at 1:08 am Link to this comment

Yep, what if - what if he had passed real health care reform instead of further rewarding the leeches that suck the wallets and life out of the masses so some CEO can make 15 million a year?

What if….he had not hired a chief of staff who thinks progressives are “retards”? What if he hadn’t hired the in and out of Wall Street/Goldman Sachs crowd to reign in Wall Street - in other words the foxes to guard the chicken coop.

I worked hard to help elect the man, I believed what he was selling while running, silly me. Once in office - right turn to another Clintonesque republican lite president.

Once again, as the midterms loom, he’s talking like a real democrat. But…what’s that old adage that our mentally challenged ex president tried to say…fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

In other words his credibility with me and many others is on life support, he’s on double secret probation until he shows by actions that he means what he says in election mode - this time.

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By FRTothus, October 26, 2010 at 12:48 am Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson plays Eyeore: It never would have
worked… we’re doomed.”  Who needs enemies with
“friends” like Eugene?  I hear National Petroleum Radio
(NPR) has an opening.

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