I still think this essay by Mike Lofgren is one of the best summaries of current American politics that I’ve read in a long time. Another Congressional staffer adds this:
One thing that especially resonated with me about Mike’s piece is the importance of “low information” voters. The mainstream media absolutely fails to understand how little attention average Americans really pay to what goes on in all forms of government. During our 2008 race, our pollster taught me (hard to believe it took me 24 years to learn this) that the average voter spends only 5 minutes thinking about for whom to vote for Congress. All the millions of dollars of TV ads, all the thousands of robo-calls and door-knocks, and it all comes down to having a message that will stick in the voters’ minds during the 5 minutes before they walk into the voting booth.
The media likes to call this group “independents,” which implies that they think so long and deeply about issues that they refuse to be constrained by the philosophy of either party. There may be a couple of people out there who fit that definition, but those are not the persuadable voters campaigns are trying to capture. Every campaign is trying to develop its candidate into an easy-to-remember slogan that makes him or her more appealing than the other guy. Actually, because negative campaigning is so effective, they are more often trying to portray the opponent as more objectionable (“I guess I’ll vote for the crook because at least he won’t slash my Medicare”).
I’m expecting another whipsaw election in 2012 because the “independents” are pissed.
2012, I think you mean.
For me, this is the real tragedy of Democratic in-fighting. It alienates these types of voters.
I guess the voter described above might also include the “undecideds”. The rest of the world really doesn’t understand how they could be undecided after so much push and shove and argument and counterargument.
@Linda Featheringill: yes, thanks.
schlemizel - was Alwhite
I doubt these morons notice it much if at all. They do notice that the Republicans always appear to stand for whatever bullshit insanity they are spouting while Democrats always cave in the end (at lest that is the narrative) ergo ‘Dems are weak Rep as strong’.
These morons also “know” that Dems will raise taxes, are weak on defense, hate real Americans and want to allow the coloreds and atheists have their way with the country. Oh, I almost forgot – that only the super wealthy make jobs & the only way they will make jobs is if we cut their taxes even more.
Yes, we are well & truly fucked
So now independents are pissed? I thought Obama’s actions were supposed to appeal to them, the heart of the nation, rather than to the whiny leftists who don’t even constitute the base of the Democratic Party.
I think you’re right, it will be another whipsaw. Because nobody is doing anything about joblessness. They’re trying first one, then the other. Who can blame them–they are really hurting.
The House goes Dem and the Senate goes Rep? Probably. Pres? Too soon.
“supposed to” doesn’t mean the same thing as “supposed to and did”. alas.
Big Baby DougJ
That sounds more like a high-information voter to me. Granted, I live in New York State.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Semi-OT, but I think I finally figured out why a lot of Democrats don’t like Obama’s style, and the one thing that everyone means when they complain that he isn’t getting anything done compared to Bush: He refuses to run the country for the benefit of the Democratic party. Sure, he goes out and gives speeches about jobs and the environment and marriage equality, but he won’t make the vote about the difference between Democrats and Republicans. He would rather get something passed.
It does seem a bit more obvious now that I have written it down, but obvious isn’t always obvious.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
if you can even get them there
@schlemizel – was Alwhite:
No. that’s what you see.
the basic problem is democracy.
darkskinned immigrants and the children of immigrants are colonizing the electorates of onetime majority anglosaxon christian nations.
i think its a feature, not a bug.
Distributed Jesusland is up in arms over this, but is staring the hammergun of the demographic timer in the face.
The Demographics are against the GOP.
Do you understand what Distributed Jesusland is, mixie?
Its the 2008 Jesusland map….minus the cities.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
Isn’t wanting to get things passed one of the differences between Democrats and Republicans?
That Lofgren piece is great and needs to be spread far and wide.
So, this dude spends 30 years working for the bad GOP actors on the Hill and pulling down some fairly serious bread for his trouble. Then he retires and, oops! comes out with a “shrill” critique like you might expect on your typical lefty blog. How am I supposed to take anything he says seriously, even if I happen agree with most of it?
@cleek: Well, it’s clear that the take-home lesson is that the Democratic Party simply must move further to the right.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
it should not be new news, to anyone, however. he’s been telling us that this is how he rolls, since like 2004. but i guess nobody believed him.
@7: Reading comprehension is your friend. Try it!
It’s cute you came here already primed to be outraged about something though.
@Brian R.: Unfortunately, I don’t see it being mentioned except by a few blogs. Truthout is not widely read. If he wrote the article for Huffington or Politico then maybe the news would pick it up. Would Huffington or Politico even post it?
Why do you do this?
No one put you on that cross; you dragged it to the top of the hill and are asking for help in getting nailed to it.
The post was not about the eternal Obama flame war. It had a different perspective.
Try dealing with it, instead of how terribly oppressed the incessant Obama critics are.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Baud: Not any more it seems. There was a DK post this morning praising an editorial that complained about Obama not leading. (Yes, I know the post was on DK, but the editorial wasn’t.) And I keep thinking about all of the speeches Obama has given, that the media doesn’t cover – if a tree falls in a forest – and that I know most of the DK people know he gives those speeches, so that’s not the issue. So what I was trying to figure out was what they truly want from Obama.
Its the 2008 Jesusland map….minus the cities.
too many links to put the last one in.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
Whatever it is they don’t have, that’s what they want. If they got what they wanted, they’d want something else.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
They want him to threaten to smite his enemies, then actually smite his enemies.
I don’t think “leadership” has ever meant anything in politics; it’s like “momentum” in sports, a concept that _means_ that you’re doing well being used to _explain_ WHY you’re doing well.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Baud: True. I had to do one of those sad laughs at your statement.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@FlipYrWhig: Good point. If I add that to my list of insights, I may end up wanting to solve problems again rather than complain about them.
@Baud: Whom are you speaking of? If Dems, I can laugh. If low-info voters, not so much.
Many of them would say, Why follow politics–all I hear are lies.
And as usual the subtext seems to be — boy the American people sure are stupid and easily led about; they’re lucky they get the right to vote at all!
And then you’re one step away from Matt Vadum.
Could well be. And the jump ball arrow is pointing to the dem team. If wingers pick Romney, the dude will set of record for unwinding his personal pretzel, with fixing so many flip flops, it will be hard to focus on anything he says. And if they pick Perry, I would recommend dems to launch Operation Granny, in a classic anvil and hammer assault on his entitlement hating ass. Might be time to dust off the LBJ Daisy ad for fun and effect.
The fuck. The GOP probly has the worst candidates since my high school class president race. Or else, we might be in a world of shit.
@Baud: (& Cleek)Al beat me to it. If they are not paying attention..er..they are not paying attention – not when Chaz Bono is dancing, anyway.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
they want him to entertain them. barring that, they have a nice comfy narrative (which is a weak version of the firebagger narrative) and they’ll just keep using that until/unless something shakes them out of it. doesn’t matter what he actually does, they already know how they’ll describe it.
Could we at least have a chance to respond to the post (which doesn’t even mention the president) before we start this boring same old crap?
Interpreting polls is tough business. They can provide some good information to candidates and politicians, but they can foster some horrible conventional wisdom if people don’t understand how fickle and impulsive voters are. Most people pay little attention to politics so they change their minds a lot because they don’t have any long-standing political convictions.
Of course these voters have to be called ‘independents’, the other (and more accurate) label would be:
Cheryl from Maryland
I don’t know what one can do with these people, but they are out there.
My mother in law is a party switcher — she voted for a Democrat once because he shook her hand the day before election. Another salient and depressing moment was an interview with a woman who planned to vote for George Allen — because he had three kids just like her, so she was sure he would look out after her interests.
You would think the optics of the Obamas would pick up these types of voters, but there are other optics which seem to get the most play.
Apparently I’m the only one who thinks this, but it’s my own pet theory that high gas prices are what’s driving discontent.
Even people who are so “low information” that they dont pay any attention to what they pay at the pump, and have never ever given any thought what-so-ever about why gas prices are what they are, keep coming up short at the end of the month.
A big jobs program at the white house wont help. If fact, it would prolly make it worse.
What America really needs right now is wider roads, and more consumer spending. Especially consumer spending on stuff that will jack up oil demand. Like you know, houses in the burbs, cars, and anything that needs to be shipped.
I sure could use a three thousand mile salad right about now.
no, i think they wanted the republican party effectively demolished and driven from power for two solid decades like they were after the great depression. to the point where the only republican to win anything of importance in those days was like fiorello laguardia or some shit.
didn’t happen this time. the country is too polarized and the president is too black.
@Keith G: They’re not paying attention to the details; the mood and attitude that the in-fighting creates permeates the air.
This does give a methodological advantage to the GOP. A centralized, bumper sticker message constantly repeated on a variety of platforms (including some seriously bizarre dog and pony shows) will get market penetration.
then they are delusional people who believe presidents are magical beings.
annihilo Republicans! probably wouldn’t work even in the Harry Potter universe.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@aisce: I wonder how many Blog-Democrats believe that it was FDR that decimated the Republicans and not what they did to themselves.
@ant: When you feel the inflation of things like food/gas/utilities that cannot be avoided, and then hear through the press that there is no appreciable inflation, so no COLA for you, it kinda sours your outlook.
@Mino: Persistent Obama and Dem critics.
No sh*t! I couldn’t agree more. This guy plans the party and then bitches when it gets here! Unbelievable. The worst is that he posts his “beliefs” in a blog directed at those of us who already knew how venal his party is and we have known for some time. I say no absolution. He is a selfish coward.
There’s no chance this post will draw 665 comment.
I want to say one thing that’s sort of tangential but I’ve been thinking about in response to folks who criticize “the left” for the White House having problems of perception and enthusiasm with “the base.” (I think this is a false description on several levels, but that’s beside the point.) After digging through a lot of huffing and puffing over the Ozone regs decision – along with some good basic information, mostly from environmental groups – on various sides of the issue, I realized that Sherrod Brown, a popular Senator with “the left” was one of the major voices pushing the White House to delay any change in the ozone regs. Why the hell didn’t the WH use Brown in explaining their decision. I happen to think that the notion the regs are bad in this economy is mostly bullshit – since any excuse to spend capital on real work is a plus, given the particulars of our current fuckitude – and a terrible “frame” for the issue since it’s straight out of the CofC playbook, but Senator Brown could have helped diffuse a lot of the more outer-limits umbrage and at least put the decision on the table in a way that would have not seemed simply like a cave to Republicans.
Obviously it was more complex than that “analysis” and Brown could have taken the edge off of a lot of the charges of political malpractice. But so far as I know, the entire decision was put in terms that made it sound like it was solely driven by concern for business interests. Having Brown – with Dems understanding the importance of Ohio politically – out there would have clarified that there might be some more canny politics going on than trying to make the Chamber of Commerce like the White House more. But the WH literally forced folks like me to read around and do homework to figure out the complexity. Even the major post here defending the decision didn’t really explain the political context except in generalities or mention Brown and other Dem Senators. Sherrod Brown could have been the ace in the hole for a shitty decision with understandably disgruntled folks who hate dirty air. Folks who hate Obama are a lost cause on either side of the spectrum – but there was a large group who don’t need to be tagged with “Firebagger” or “freak-out” who could have been brought along and who could at least have been given more context than was apparent in the way the decision went down. This is something that is totally the White House’s fault, in that while they aren’t in control of the politics, they should be in control of the way they communicate and how skillfully they play calls they know will have negative repercussions among rank-and-file Dems who follow the issues.
In fairness — I’m not American, but if I were, I wouldn’t even need five seconds to decide which candidate to vote for.
@Big Baby DougJ: More like a high misinformation voter. Personally, I think the high misinformation voters are a much bigger problem than the low information voters.
I hope that’s wrong. Because if it’s right then reasonable, carefully crafted speeches mean less for those voters than something short and catchy like “Where’s the beef?” or “There you go again!”
My sister is a poll worker in Idaho and had one woman come in for the primary who, when she asked whether she wanted a Republican or Democratic ballot said she didn’t know, but that she wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. “Whichever one Hillary Clinton is on.” This country is just, well, fucked.
@Baud: I see what you mean, I just can’t see that it matters right now. It will matter next year, so I would like to (forgive me) lance this boil soon; have the serious discussions, and fights, now. And I think that means all parties on our side taking responsibility for their
fuck upsmissed opportunities – including one Barak H. Obama.
@Samara Morgan: It’s happened before, and the solution has always been to make some part of the othered groups into “whites.” If the country doesn’t become a dictatorship, which remains unlikely but not implausible, that will happen again, for precisely the reasons you outline. Once the Republicans start reliably losing election after election, they will retool, or another party will rise to displace them.
@Samara Morgan: #14
I saw a discussion this weekend about whether democracy can successfully govern a large and complex country. One of the problems mentioned was that since most people aren’t good at planning for 10 or 20 years into the future, the only programs that will get a majority approval will be those with short-term benefits. This hypothetical country is doomed to decay because the long-term needs won’t be met.
The panel reached the point where they were recommending some sort of combination of democracy and “aristocratic” governance.
They didn’t actually get to the point where they were calling for a strong man to make the trains run on time but they were calling for power to make decisions by people who were not subject to popular votes.
What do I think? I don’t know.
@Keith G: Sounds fair to me. I’m ready to move forward.
I would agree with the quote from the OP. Most people don’t pay attention to politics that closely. And of course, the high frequency voters are older, and while an anecdote isn’t data, it seems that my boomer parents and their friends are mostly influenced by crazy chain e-mails that their friends send them..
That, and local news. I can’t understand why anyone watches local TV news anymore, but there it is.
just guessing, but maybe the WH thought they could use it to demonstrate that the GOP’s ceaseless cries that the WH is anti-business are lies. and remember, they cut a ton of regs just a week or so ago; so, add this one to the pile. “look, we’re not as bad as critics say! look at all the regs we’ve cut!”
so the enviros (who obviously couldn’t bother to learn the truth of the situation) are mad at Obama? well, of course they are. the “left” has already proven it has no interest in reality, and just wants to scream and cry. so, fuck em.
see also: Sista Souljah
@Brian R.: I dropped it into my FB feed on Sunday and it took off from there quickly. It really seems to resonate with people, and not necessarily among those I might have expected. One thing I found useful: I noted that it was a long piece but definitely worth the read.
@Bruce S: And if, after this unnecessary kerfluffle, he goes ahead with the Keystone pipeline, I’m afraid that will affirm the fears of a segment of the base.
Same with health care, same with….
As in football, “Winning isn’t a sometime thing. It is an all the time thing.” At this time, messaging, communications and marketing must be a well considered, all the time thing.
I hope the White House can get better at this.
the phrase of the year is “confirmation bias”
@46 Bruce S:
Great comment, one disagreement.
I’m a consistent Obama critic and an even fiercer Obot critic and I don’t “hate Obama and I sure the hell don’t want to be a lost cause to the Democratic party. However I have yet to see any of the “political smarts” from the Obama administration along the lines you just described. What I’ve seen is a constant litany of get in line and STFU, any criticism is met with FIREBAGGER, emo-progressive, magical pony, etc.
It gets kind of old after awhile and sure the hell isn’t the way to make friends and convince people to your point of view.
@JPL: The article got a huge amount of play on Twitter, but the tweeters seem not to have highlighted it on their blogs.
That is kind of what the government bureaucracy is for. You swap out the people at the top, but the main body keeps on trucking. Which is why the Republicans keep trying to trash entire Departments and/or staff them with nutjobs.
@cleek: Well, to be fair to the enviros, who are obviously one-issue peeps, the Republicans are going to bash the administration for being anti-business regardless. He could club a baby seal with the printout of legislation getting rid of the Clean Air Act and they’d call him anti-business. The enviros’ priorities are different than the administrations, but while I’m not in arms over the EPA rules being dropped, I’m not surprised that they’re angry.
I don’t think they’re not attached to reality, I think they’re just narrow in their focus. And that’s not awful, you need people like that, but you also need those with a bigger picture attitude.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): It’s classic disenchantment: They want someone to blame for their failure to change the world.
I knew Sherrod Brown was a factor before that Ozone post went up and mentioned it in the thread. If Obama explains the politics of this and mentions guys like Sherrod Brown, he’ll be accused of passing the buck. Ultimately it’s his decision and he owned it. I hope it helps guys like Brown. We can’t afford to lose them.
I don’t think the WH normally narcs on his own party. Also, Stabenow, McCaskill & Mancin, up in 2012, wanted them held up. I found out on Twitter. Rockefeller wants it delayed, too, but he’s not even up in 2012. Also, if the prez wants to keep the Senate himself; he’s not going to narc on himself!
@56 – cleek:
The Republicans will NEVER like Obama, no matter what he does they will NEVER like him. And they call us unrealistic.
Thank you for the hippie punch, can I have another.
Bullshit story. Idaho is a caucus state. There are no poll workers handing out paper ballots in a caucus. The Republicans have a closed primary in Idaho.
High gasoline prices:
The price of gasoline isn’t going to get better, or if it does it will only be temporary. Relatively cheap oil is getting scarce.
You’ve said that before.
I agreed then. I agree now.
Good post. The White House communications department leaves a lot to be desired. Also, since the death of Kennedy and Byrd there is no senator of any stature left. Noone claims an issue, noone wants to get big stuff done.
@cleek: Well, when he is through Sister Souljah-ing the different elements of his base to make points with the CofC (who won’t be impressed, believe me)or some other Rep coterie, I guess those elements can be excused if they are not red-hot in the general.
Does he really ignore the trade-off? Scorn them as infantile? Good luck with that.
People are bombarded, deluged, inundated, overwhelmed with an tsunami of advertising every single day, it’s like telephone poles and the associated wires, most people mentally erase them from their landscapes.
But the echo of those ads is still there, repeated many, many times things like “Where’s the beef.” end up in the minds of people that may well have never heard the original ad.
A comforting and simple lie that appeals to our biases is far more likely to be believed than an uncomfortable complex truth that rubs against our mental grain.
They hate us for our freedoms indeed.
Very unfortunately true. It’s been the trend forever, and I don’t know how to stop it.
The only “comforting” thought is that for that to happen, the Real American base has to be ready to accept these Others as white, and that takes time. (E.G. Catholics are considered white now… they were white enough in the sixties, for Kennedy to win an election… but in the twenties, absolutely not).
Thus we can hope that while the Hispanic population keeps growing, the Angry White Conservative base’s hate for all Others consigns them to minority status for long enough that the Democrats can make meaningful changes.
@dogwood: I figured she was working at the general, thus making the story even a sadder tale.
Of course, you can always attack without seeking clarification.
The US auto industry had the support of many Democratic Senators in auto manufacturing states when it came to opposing all efforts to increase fuel efficiency standards.
not talking about pleasing Republicans. talking about demonstrating to business (which is not a subset of the GOP) that all the nonsense the GOP is spouting is nonsense. yeah, the CoC will lie about it because the CoC is a subset of the GOP, but the CoC is not the same as ‘business’.
don’t have any right now. but i’ll put you down for one and let you know as soon as they come in.
It’s unreasonable to be upset with any criticism of Obama. However, the complaint that I have (repeatedly) voiced is not that I can’t accept *any* criticism of his policies. I will challenge criticism of Obama that is poorly thought through, factually misinformed, or misleading. I welcome dialog on the substance of the critiques.
Accusations of “hippy-punching” amount to a refusal to accept any disagreement as being based on substance. And a lot of Obama critics seem remarkably thin-skinned and unwilling to engage in the actual matter being discussed – moving straight to accusations of censorship, hippy-punching, or robotic cultism. Everyone doesn’t do this, of course, but a depressing number of people do.
That’s what motivates me. YMMV.
@daveNYC: That is another virulent legacy of Reagan (remember James Watt) and what BushII excelled at. And lots of those civil servants are still in place.
@schlemizel – was Alwhite:
Again: Humans are pack animals. Those who would presume to lead them need to project a sense of strength, or they lose.
Even the liberal New Republic thinks so. (via TPM).
@dogwood: Sorry, I misread a post, then could not edit after my error. I need to stop multitasking now.
What part of the post? The “whipsaw election in 2012”? You want to discuss that without mentioning Obama?
For years now, the conventional wisdom here has been that administration has been on point, both in message and substance, and to claim otherwise would invariably bring in a shitstorm of invective. So what is the point of this thread? What has changed?
The Sunday Mpls Star Tribune printed an oped by Jonathan Alter, “Is Obama really as bad as all that? If you think so, prove it”. Alter annoys me half the time but he seems to be as irritated as I am by the constant Obama fail bum rap as I am.
I don’t agree with Lofgren assertion that people in 1890 or 1932, knew who was screwing them.
Race (and immigration) was used, especially in the South, to make sure the poor couldn’t organize against the rich plantation owners and demand land reform.
I don’t think people back then really knew, who was screwing them, with the exception of maybe a pocket of Midwest farmers.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
Much like the Teabaggers a return to an America that never was, where everyone was part of a union, had health insurance provided by their employers, had a guaranteed pension provided by their employers and where only one person in the household had to work 40 hours a week to support a family of 4.
They would achieve this by ratcheting tax rates up to what they were in the 1950’s, especially the 90% rate on the wealthiest, promote union membership and I’m not sure what else.
Yes, let’s not use this incredibly damning insider’s critique of the Republican Party because the author used to be on the other side and made money while he was there.
I mean, that’s exactly what the Republicans did when Whittaker Chambers came forth, right? They just shunned him on principle and refused to use his testimony to assault liberals at large, right?
Jesus, no wonder our side gets its ass handed to it all the time. We’re all too fucking pure to play the game.
@78 – cleek:
So why above did you say it was about pleasing Republicans.
Nice bait and switch, switching out Republicans for business/CoC and hoping that no one would notice. Its all about pleasing Republicans.
I have a pretty hard head so your hand will end up hurting more than my head so I suggest that you stop now. Also, my turn to do some punching will come sometime around Nov. 2012 and I guarantee you its going to hurt.
Don’t discount the power of demonstrating to blue-collar and conservative Democrats, who are often susceptible to Republican arguments about how liberal Democrats care more about nature than about putting people back to work — e.g., loggers vs. the spotted owl. I think the decision does to a degree concede that regulations are a burden on businesses, but when what you need above all is someone, anyone hiring — especially in some of these post-industrial localities — that may be a blow you have to absorb (like, for instance, the abortion language Stupak demanded in the HCR bill, bad in its own right, but perhaps a sacrifice worth exchanging for other benefits, although obviously not everyone agrees).
Interesting. I didn’t know that.
ETA: I very much doubt that all my firebagger friends and rellies know it, either.
Obama’s polls are dropping.
Election coming up..
That quotation doesn’t say demonstrating _to Republicans_ that the GOP’s ceaseless cries are lies. The GOP’s lies work on a lot of people who aren’t Republicans.
I guess what has me most worried is the loss of Brand. That is very important to low info voters. And what they’ve seen is both parties are Wall Street parties. Dems used to be perceived as a Main street party.
here it is.
ah… more of that good-ol a-historic magical thinking.
you can’t use the FDR playbook unless, like FDR, you have a 200 seat majority in the House.
No one’s asking you to throw the guy a parade. Put your precious little fee-fees on the shelf and realize that this guy — like him or hate him — has just handed us an incredibly useful tool in bringing down the Republican party.
His criticisms have power precisely BECAUSE he was a Republican insider. It’s not that he’s said anything new at all, it’s that he’s confirmed what we’ve all known and can vouch for it to the mainstream media idiots and the low information voters who would dismiss anything Krugman and Company have said along the same lines because they don’t trust those liberal sources.
Stop worrying about whether this guy gives a shit about if the liberal blogosphere likes him now (hint: he doesn’t) and just pick up the tool he handed you and start using it.
Jesus Fucking Christ.
@Svensker: We did talk about it here, quite a lot: a group of Democrats have been pleading with the White House for a long time not to go forward with the regulation, and that group includes some dickbags like Joe Manchin but also some mensches like Sherrod Brown. But I don’t think Obama needs to do a lot of explaining of each action he takes in the hopes of soothing a blogosphere that runs on distilled disappointment.
i didn’t, hippie.
Speaking of Freddie Mercury, have you been to Google?
I quote this from Fallows column. It is by a democratic ex-staffer.
“I’m writing because now that I have been out of the Beltway Bubble, I have gained a little more perspective on how real people see the work of Washington, and I am scared that they are close to revolt.”
Does any one else notice that people who are close to revolt are DEFINITELY paying attention, and that it refutes the first part about low information voters?.
My take is that he is wrong about revolt and right about extreme lack of attention to politics and civil society.
My observation is that until we have 25% unemployment, there will be more attention paid to Chaz Bono dancing than to politics – which is a mixed blessing.
No need to apologize. I was pretty “snippy” as Marge Gunderson might say. I try to be civil but I tend to lose my patience when people make up stuff to further their narratives. The sad thing is as Chief Bromden might say – “Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” I’m sure shit like the fictitious Idaho poll worker tale happens all the time.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@gene108: Well, other than the pension part, which would not work because business is in part about cutting costs, I want a similar outcome. What drives me nuts is we’re fighting over that. It’s like the end of the Simpsons episode where Bart tried to become Catholic, and both armies were fighting over Bart saving the world.
I agree. I think it helped though that the robber barons of the day were perceived as the uppity know-it-all Northeastern elites, especially in the South and West. And that capitalism was still the new, up-and-coming thing and that many people were finding this new world very hard to adapt to.
This comment was posted last fall and made some pretty good points about the similarity between liberals (don’t just mean “the professional left”) and social conservatives.
Just one more symptom of an unwell society
In my close to 40-year lifetime, Dems also used to be perceived as the party of wild-eyed freaks — soft on crime, doling out welfare, taking away guns, etc. That dampened that other image you’re evoking, Democrats as the party of the little guy against the fat-cat, country-club Republicans. Still does, in fact. That’s why Republicans use that gambit of calling Democratic initiatives “class war,” because it stitches together the wild-eyed radical image and the downtrodden image.
@FlipYrWhig: Ha, got me there. And yes, when social issues took the upper hand, Dems suffered. But when it was the economy, stupid, again and again, voters looked to Dems for help and they pretty much delivered. and yes, even Carter.
@FlipYrWhig: Remember, it’s only class war when the people on the bottom are agitating against the people on the top. The other way around is just business, you know, like the goddamn last 30 years.
I mostly agree, and I don’t like the harsh tone on either side. I have to say that it’s a HUGE ‘They Started It’ situation, though. Post something good about Obama here, and you’re drowning in vitriolic accusations of Obotness long before anybody starts actually arguing against the post. This started from day one, or perhaps before, and I’ve watched it turn people like Stuck from concentrated solely on issues and providing information into just as angry themselves. It really, really chafes Obama’s supporters’ gizzards after awhile.
I’m sure the Republicans will point out that a war requires two sides to be fighting. So when they were unleashing hell on working families and the middle classes, technically, that wasn’t a war but more of a genocide type of thing.
Therefore, when Democrats fight back, they’re the ones who start the whole “class war” thing.
It makes sense if you’re a sociopathic asshole. You know, a Republican.
#56 cleek – this kind of bs “fuck ’em” comment is why I don’t take you or a lot of the “ABL fanbase” seriously. You’re as clueless as Hamsher…except at least she’s got some balls.
@Frankensteinbeck: This is true, but the other side of the coin applies. Post something about how you don’t like how the administration handled X, and soon you’ve got people calling you a ratfucker and telling you to go to redstate.
It’s a shitty situation. The only solution is for people to chill and be reasonable, and yeah, we’re on the internet, so that’s not going to happen.
rdb, I think that you are on to something, as is the post you responded to.
#66 & #67 – the President didn’t have to “narc” or “pass the buck” – they should simply have had Brown, along with some other Dem Senators who felt they were affected, lined up to go public. If Brown had gone on the dreaded Olbermann and discussed this issue in balance, it would have done a world of good for creating “context.”
I just don’t buy this BS where everything Obama does, ever and always is the smartest possible thing for some folks here. That’s self-infantilization. The President is reliant on a whole bunch of people to be very canny most of the time. The reality is that a lot of his folks circle wagons and enter echo chambers. It’s part of the nature of the operation, and it’s not helpful. Anyone who’s been around politics for more than the last couple of years knows that White House staff/advisors/political operatives often fuck up and are out-of-touch and defensive as a matter of habit. Let’s hold them accountable and not cover for incompetents when they don’t serve the Prez well. That’s what this is actually about.
It isn’t about attracting Republicans. It is about those indipendents and Democrats who are terrified by the economy and will back the Republicans this time if they think the Democrats are even arguably sacrificing the economy to other priorities.
You’re right, of course. A few trolls are all it took and now the whole room’s shouting. It doesn’t help that these issues are IMPORTANT, and we have a lot invested emotionally. I try to keep my temper and stick to the issues, but… damn, you know?
i suppose i could have made it clearer, but that comment, including the second para, was a guess as to what the WH might be thinking. the ‘fuck em’ was supposed to be from the POV of the WH.
i do have a pretty low opinion of the pure progressive pony patrol, but i don’t think “fuck em” is exactly the right attitude. i’d rather convince them of the error of their ways and welcome them back to reality with open arms. i don’t know if that’s possible. we will all suffer, if it’s not.
it would be a serious mistake to include me in the ABL fanbase.
yes, it takes real balls to be a professional internet malcontent. what a singular accomplishment.
I’m less pessimistic, perhaps by nature. Those who are actually sincere can step back. We need the time-outs, bans, etc. for those who can’t play nice.
That’s an odd response.
I expect environmental advocates to strongly push for issue that matter to them, and see absolutely nothing wrong with them being vocally upset.
However, people who have no track record of interest in the environment seem more interested in using this ruling as a club to beat Obama with. In their case the issue itself doesn’t appear to matter at all, except as confirming evidence in the story that they want to tell (“How has Obama betrayed you today?”)
I want to hear from the former, and (like cleek) don’t think that the latter can be reached or reasoned with any more.
So I don’t think cleek is doing what you’re saying he is.
Typical. Americans like simple solutions to complex issues which is almost never possible and would rather be spoonfed these kind of memes without context than read or hear the whole story. Driveby information gathering.
@Brian R.: He knows he’s a selfish coward. He admits it in the piece:
He got out before they gutted his pension. He must be a student of history. He knows how “first they came for the communists…” ends.
@107 – Frankensteinbeck:
Agree with you that its a HUGE “They Started IT” issue. From the other side, post an Obama criticism and watch the FIREBAGGER, emo-progressive, magical pony chants get started.
This started with the primary election, I noticed that if you questioned Obama whether it was his policies or his experience you got shellacked. I had legitimate questions (how are you going to get your policies pass an opposition who is determined to defeat them) that were never answered or answered in a way that was not based in reality – we’re going to change the tone of Washington, I’m the adult in the room.
Since that time any criticism that says guys I don’t think this is working is met with one of the chants, no reflection, no discussion of dissenting views, just chants. Also I’ve noticed as things have really gone off the rails the true believers have gotten more strident in their invectives.
I think Lofgren’s piece is interesting because everyone in the Democratic party seems to see Mike Lofgren’s article as a generally correct analysis of the Democrat’s dilemma.
So why is it that both sides can agree on a Lofgren’s article, which is a long, multi-page version of what is going on, while they violently disagree when the concepts are boiled down into sentences like “obama needs to lead more” or “you’re an idiot for attacking the president over every little thing”?
Here are some thoughts:
The Democrats and Republicans are fighting two battles: (A) enacting policy, and (B) changing public opinion. In general, Obama has been focused on (A), and not (B).
When the so-called “professional left” complains about Obama not leading or not using the bully pulpit, they are really talking about moving public opinion. Meanwhile, when Obama supporters (I include myself in this group) respond, they typically answer in terms of legislative reality.
Here’s a typical firebagger-obot exchange:
Q: Why didn’t Obama fight harder?
A: Do you think that fighting harder would have changed Ben Nelson’s mind?
The problem is that the question is about (B) and the answer is about (A).
Here are my beliefs:
1) Shaping policy and shaping public opinion are equally important. (In other words, (A) and (B) are equally important).
2) In general, we are doing a good job of (A) and a lousy job of (B).
3) In order to get better at (B), we need better message discipline, which means being more consistent in how we talk about things, and using simpler, easier to understand words.
4) While it is tempting to put all of this at Obama’s feet, it is really a problem that the whole party faces. The president can’t do it alone.
In terms of messaging, I especially liked the specific words that Lofgren used in his piece. Can’t Democrats use the phrase “earned benefits” from now on instead of “entitlements?” And why wasn’t the ARRA (aka “the stimulus”) called the “Jobs Bill”?
And I would love it if we could find other simple words to combat BS like the especially odious term “job creators”. More like “vultures” if you ask me.
Nom de Plume
I know it’s fun feeling superior to these “independent” voters who pay absolutely no attention until they walk into the booth. But really, when it comes to the end result, us “engaged” voters are even more predictable than the low-information types. We talk about the issues endlessly, debate amongst ourselves, feel smart and awesome for knowing so much, and then…when it comes time to vote, we do exactly as we always knew we would. With very few exceptions.
“Independents” can at least claim to have truly weighed their choices, even if it’s in a very shallow way. But for us, it’s all a foregone conclusion, with a lot of noise beforehand.
What makes you think Brown wants his role in this known to the base? He’s a liberal that many will just assume is against Obama’s policies. He gets to be a jobs/anti-reg guy locally while staying pure to the broader national audience. Why would he want to give up that sweet deal. And sharing the stage with Brown would probably feel good for the Pres., but it won’t get him off the hook with those who hate the decision and could cause some blowback on Brown.
I resemble that remark.
the Dems have always sucked at messaging. and even when they try, the press just yawns. they need someone like a Frank Luntz to punch up their rhetoric.
I think that yours is a very perceptive analysis but you left one thing out,
and it is the very thing that has many of us so frustrated with those who may not be named
Moving public Opinion is hugely important, but it is the very attacks, hysteria, distortions and lies from those who seem to be so anxious over (B) that, in fact, destroy message discipline and end up swamping messaging.
#116 – “fuck ’em” is pretty clear. cleek’s outrage is ginned up and phony and part of a pattern of bullshit demonization of any and all critics of the administration. I’ve seen it. I’ve been called a “Firebagger” in ABL threads for not echoing their party line. It’s pathological. The notion that the only people who had a right to be concerned by this reversal are those who spend 24/7 on environmental issues is ridiculous. If you want to imagine that the problems the President might have in rousing “the base” in 2012 is because Jane Hamsher says mean things about him, you’re delusional. I don’t even think that critics who actually have a bit of a platform or name recognition among segments of “the base” like Tavis Smiley or Cornel West have much impact. They’re symptomatic of something that’s much bigger – the economy is a total mess and the President, fair or not, is going to both “own” it in 2012, and is also going to have to shape a credible message for how we move forward. If his message doesn’t resonate, seem credible and up to the crisis, or cut through mountains of bullshit and media noise that have nothing to do with the Daily Kos, its basically on the President and his team. Whining about how “the left” needs to shut up is about the least serious approach to helping strengthen current Dem politics and “messaging” I can imagine. This crap from that corner is a total joke. It’s masturbation, bogus hysterics and buck-passing because things aren’t as pretty as one had hoped or as simple as one would like.
It might help you, quite a bit, to reflect on your own words and actions.
I don’t see you even listening to what other people write. You’re just repeating a story, one where you are always being wronged, and you’re not acknowledging any contrary information.
I can sympathize with people who are frustrated by Obama, because that group includes me. But I see a hell of a lot of groupthink in the online left, and a lot of sloppy thinking.
You’ve now had numerous people articulating the difference between suppressing criticism and weeding out good arguments from bad ones. Why repost (yet again) the claim that Obama critics – who rule the roost in most online forums – are oppressed?
Davis X. Machina
It is having the favor of the gods.
Baraka, in other words.
@Davis X. Machina:
That is extraordinarily neat.
I didn’t know the word nor see the film.
#112 – Jesus, dogwood, Brown wrote a public letter to the President. It was printed on Politico back in Jan or Feb.
I don’t even think that the President should have “shared the stage” with Brown. But if Brown is advocating for putting off a change in regs, what’s the downside of his making his own position clear – which is already public for anyone who cares to check it out – when the folks he appeals to on the national stage are having LEGITIMATE CONCERNS about a shitty reversal on EPA standards that actually, because of weird circumstances about how these things are implemented, sets the limits as worse than what Bush had mandated. Is Brown concerned that folks outside of Ohio who read FDL or Daily Kos won’t donate to his campaign when he sends out emails or has an ACtBlue page? If that’s the reason, he’s the chickenshit in this mini-drama. He loses nothing among his voters and could help maintain that all-important Democratic unity. Or is that unity not as important as usual suspects being able to blame some subset for the party’s political weakness?
PS – also I think it was your comments buried deep in some back-and-forth thread that was mostly ad hominem nonsense that nudged me to research Brown’s role. And I linked his letter. But most of the discussion around this stuff is not hinged to anything more substantive than knee-jerk emotionalism and finger-pointing. I appreciate your actually having some data points.
Haven’t read the book, but Gary Wills totally trashed it in the NY Review of Books here.
I wind up not reading a lot of books because the NYRB or the LRB either dismisses or, more often, gives enough of the gist. It’s lazy, but it works for me.
@127 – Marc:
Thanks for the advice, I’ll put it with all the advice I’ve gotten from the other Obots.
I’ve got to admit thought you’re a
littlelot better than the typical Obot, your insults are at least couched in a nice non-threatening tone.
@wrb: Totally correct. I wish that would stop. But how?
Message discipline has to start from somewhere, and I suggest that it needs to start from the leadership of the Democratic caucus (Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al.) They need to be using strong, consistent words to clearly explain the Democratic point of view.
@cleek: Yes, I agree. But having a Frank Luntz isn’t enough. I think there is a deep problem in how we think about politics that needs to be corrected.
Someone on BJ once compared the Democratic version of public discourse as being similar to how scientists debate, while Republicans think of their jobs as being similar to how lawyers debate.
Both systems are valid ways of arriving at “the truth” (TM). The scientific community is generally more about working together and arguing all sides to try to come to a consensus view. Lawyers use an adversarial system, and they are paid to ONLY talk about the parts of the debate that are advantageous to their side.
The “scientist” thought pattern is one of the causes of Democratic infighting. Whenever a policy proposal comes up, everyone tries to outsmart each other about whether the policy is the best possible policy. That’s just normal when your mental model is that we should work together and argue in order to come up with the “right” answer.
Meanwhile, image a courtroom with three blue lawyers on one side and three red lawyers on the other side. Could you imagine one of the three blue lawyers arguing with another blue lawyer in front of the rest of the court? Of course not. They would settle their differences privately and show a unified front. Because in an adversarial system, that’s just what you do. When in public, you always fight for your team.
Given that the other side is treating politics as an adversarial sport, I think we need to stop thinking like scientists and start thinking like lawyers.
Or if you don’t like lawyers, feel free to insert a sports analogy or high school debate team or whatever.
@133 – MagicPanda:
Could you imaging one of the blue lawyers using the framing and language of the other side.
You’ve been thoughtful here, and in a few recent threads. I think you’re substantively correct on quite a lot. For example, there clearly have been a lot of misfires from the White House political team; they really should have thought about how the recent EPA regulations would have been perceived among their allies, and he hasn’t been served well by his staff on other things (like the scheduling of his jobs speech.)
But I also think you’re missing on some of the dynamics. There is a large fraction of the online left that is reflexively hostile to the president, and this includes a number of A-list bloggers and opinion-setters. The hostility to Obama, or anyone who supports him, is swift, deep, and absolutely relentless.
It’s impossible to avoid – you can’t get a dozen responses into any political post before someone injects it. This is a perfect example: the main topic is about a republican staffer; the subtext was about the challenges of low-information voters. And yet here we are, yet again, debating the problem of People Being Mean to Obama Critics on The Left.
I think the cumulative effect of this hostility and lack of trust is actually large. Politically engaged liberals who come to the internet have intense dislike of Obama in their face at every turn. Maybe there is cause for that dislike, and Lord knows I get exasperated with some of what he does. But after awhile the sheer level or repetition, and the abrasive arrogance of it all, and the sheer uselessnees of the perpetual venting…
It just gets to me. It pisses me off, and it doesn’t bring out my best side. And I think that any effect that it does have is negative for liberal politics.
kindly turn off your mind-reading device; it’s malfunctioning and interfering with my iPod.
right back at ya; Hamsher, too.
#135 – Marc:
Yeah, but that’s like complaining about the press. The way to deal with the reflexive anti-Obama types (and that includes a couple of folks I generally like, rely on and consider essential voices, like Paul Krugman) is to have a better argument, not to dismiss their concerns. (I actually think Krugman has a weird thing with Obama – not as weird or totally narcissistic as Cornel West’s, but it’s there. That said, the way to deal with folks who share Krugman’s concerns isn’t by dimissing them or calling them names. It’s by putting the information out there that provides context and a counter-narrative.) People always talk like the problem with the “left” is their “fee-fees.” A fave among the dismissive types. But I see the “fee-fee” problem as at least as huge among some of the Obama defenders. A more substantive example of what bothers me is when a guy who actually had a lot of good points – can’t remember his name offhand, but the guy who ABL linked to on the ozone regs – tries to make the issue of concern and controversy a “freak out” by “the left.” It just undercuts my sense of the seriousness of the comments and whether the motivation is anything other than “party line” in the worst sense. I guess I don’t take the “online left” as seriously as you do. Maybe because my wife – who is more normal and representative of a typical Democratic voter than I am – thinks I’m nuts to spend as much time as I do reading blogs or blogging myhself, so she’s insulated from a lot of this, but she likes watching Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. Who is the least “zealous” of their anchors. And she gets upset sometimes when Obama does stuff like the ozone reg thing. She would never in a million years support some “left” challenge to Obmama, she’s African-American so theres’s a deeper bond to the Prez than to the average Dem pol, but she’s exactly the kind of person the White House needs to speak to more effectively. Her issues have zip to do with Atrios or whoever – she doesn’t know who these folks are. But she’s susceptible to wondering whether the Prez is as consistent as she would like him to be. It’s almost more a matter of projecting “spine” than particular issues. My point is there’s a real messaging and image problem out there – it’s not a creation of the Left. And it’s the Obama team’s responsibility to deal with it, someway somehow. It’s tough.
#136 – cleek: “kindly turn off your mind-reading device; it’s malfunctioning and interfering with my iPod.”
Everything having to do with you is turned off. No worries.
I thought highly of the the book, although I share many of Will’s criticisms.
I particularly disagree with the weight the importance given what they call the “whoosh” moment, and in the absurd, but to me minor, assertion that people prior Augustine lacked interiority.
Other than that, I thought the journey offered frequent insights.
I think they stopped short- finishing with whoosh and a recovery of craft,- of the conclusion they had really set up, probably because they realized that after an arduous journey they had come to the threshold of a place to which many have come before, one perhaps not only unoriginal but unhip in the urban 21st century: a return to the status prior to the monotheistic interruption, to the entirety of the ancient sacred, the locating of the god -stuff directly in nature, call it Greek polytheism, American Transcendentalism or Buddhism.
So I just finished it in my mind.
Well worth picking up, imo.
Absolutely, If he was extremely good he might even use it jujitsu-style, as Obama does.
ok then, right back at ya.
The Right, as has been pointed up thread, is very disciplined in their messaging. Not just Republican politicians, but every right-wing person in the media gets on the same page and pushes out the “message of the day”.
If it is “death panels”, by god they will all be talking about the ways Obama will kill grandma.
This is why Republicans out perform Democrats, when most people would prefer Democratic policies. There is a cohesion coming out of the Right and the Left does not understand at some level you shut-up and stay on message, so the “team” does better.
Will Republicans overturn Roe v. Wade? Probably not, but they at least will make life harder to get an abortion, which amounts to the same thing, so right-wing fundie preachers exhort their congregations to vote Republican.
Will Democrats achieve 100% universal health care? Probably not, but they gave it a good shot in 1994 and did get it so we’ll be closer than we’ve ever been by 2014 (assuming the GOP doesn’t take control of government and overturn the whole thing in 2012).
The Left’s “reward” to Democrats was basically disowning President Obama.
At some level politics is about winning. Period.
The Right gets this.
The Left does not.
What I’m getting at is how do you reach the low-info voter? As the quote at the start of this thread says, it’s by getting a slogan that sticks in their heads.
How do you do it, when you don’t have any media coherence? The MSM may skim some left-wing blogs. Read about how Obama sucks and then report that Obama is weak, a failure, etc. and every9on
It does matter, now more than ever, to stay on message and put your personal feelings aside.
The opposition will spend time tearing your side down, there’s no reason to help them.
Think of messages that will stick with voters and support your side, because there’s no way Republicans will give you the time of day, when you ask them about the importance of universal health care, labor rights, etc.
I thought this was laid out pretty concisely for you already:
Lot of misdirected angst around the liberal blogosphere these days. Funny that.
Um, yes, easily? Think of a murder trial where the defense is not that the guy didn’t do it but that it was justifiable. “We all realize that a man is dead and that there is no greater crime under the sun. But the reasons why aren’t exactly what the State would have you believe.” OMFG they’re admitting the guy is dead validating framing and language ASDIHJSDgoifjeorits! ! one!
There is definitely a real problem with the way that the Obama team has been handling things. It’ll be interesting to see how the speech this week plays out; I expect that he’ll be pretty forceful.
You really can’t read responses to criticisms of Obama, however, without putting them in a context where such sentiments are getting beamed at you all of the time. It’s like being trapped in a waiting room with Fox News on the TV. Getting exasperated may be a bad tactical move, but it’s understandable given extreme provocation.
More broadly, I think the online left has created a culture that celebrates aggressive verbal assault, and we’re discovering that this has bad consequences when employed among allies.
@Midnight Marauder: Or maybe Sherrod Brown doesn’t like what he was pressuring Obama to do but feels like he has to do it to stick up for home-state interests, and would rather not make the rounds of the talk shows explaining his views on how best to balance jump-starting Ohio industry and protecting Ohio air, because such things tend to make people start yelling at each other, and he’d rather let Obama be the one taking the heat, which Obama over and over shows himself willing to do.
@Baud: For the last thirty years or so, that’s the case.
Yes, definitely, and it’s because we feel like when conservatives shout they intimidate people and get their way, and here we are with all the good ideas and all the smart, creative people, and what the fuck, dude? My feeling, though, is that liberal-left aggressiveness does not go over well with the general public; conservative-right aggressiveness doesn’t either, but it’s more expected, so it’s essentially graded on a curve: when a liberal shoots off his mouth, it’s shocking and out of bounds, but when a conservative shoots off his mouth, it’s because they’re just Manny being Manny. The media, of course, inflames this perception.
I think Will did an expert job of attacking the book, but, to me, the attack was unbalanced and overwrought: he was in his role of intellectual knight-defender of the Catholic faith, attempting to say an enemy threat.
On reflection, I also don’t think the book quite makes the claim about the invention of interiority that Wills asserts. It is more subtle
I disagree, up to a point. There’s something to be said for the “declare victory” method of PR.
When HCR was finally passed (assuming Republicans don’t take control of Congress in 2012 and the White House and overturn it before the meat of it goes into effect in 2014), the message from the Right was “this is terrible”. The message from the left was “this is terrible”.
The low info voter hears this and thinks, “they wasted a year and half on this terrible law, Obama does not get ‘It'(whatever ‘It’ is)”.
As far as jobs goes and lot of other things, the Left spends more time attacking President Obama than they do the Republicans, which just reinforces whatever uncertainty people have about what government can do for them.
For example, when the ARRA was negotiated, and some compromise had to be reached with the Snow Queens of Maine in the Senate, to get it past the Republican filibuster (Dem’s only had 57 or 58 seats at the time – Spectar was still an R and the MN race hadn’t been settled), the message from the Left was Obama folded.
The message should be that Republicans are obstructing government from helping Americans, by their tactics in Congress.
I know people (my mom’s one of them), who are Democrats, but aren’t tuned into politics and all they see is nothing getting done.
I am just pointing out that if Republicans cause a problem, point that out a 1,000 times before sniping at Democrats for negotiating with them.
I do believe it can make a huge difference in the public’s opinion. If a message is repeated over and over again, people will believe it is true.
No, this is too much of an empirically based deduction and there is NO PLACE FOR THAT KIND OF THINKING ON THE LEFT!
Good day to you.
“I thought this was laid out pretty concisely for you already”
But I didn’t because it’s a bullshit argument IMHO. I also explained that Brown’s position is a matter of public record – not some behind-closed-doors scenario. And why Brown going on a couple of shows would have likely tamped down at least some of the “people yelling at each other.” But whining about Olbermann is no doubt a better strategy…
Sorry I don’t live in your superior brain. Or is it just arrogant?
there are simple explanations for all of this.
conservative “personalities” have RWA (right wing authority) tendency.
that is why they go in lockstep and dont crit their fellow travelers.
its red/blue genetics in action.
conservatives also self-select, like rubberbanding in game theory.
they get social capital for religiosity and lack of education.
they play the game that rewards their genetic and memetic tendency.
@FlipYrWhig: Nice straw man.
Agreeing that a man is dead or that murder is wrong isn’t an example agreeing to the other side’s framing.
When people say “agreeing to framing” what they mean is “playing into the other side’s spin on things”.
Saying (or acting as if) the deficit is the most important problem facing the nation is agreeing to framing. Saying words like “entitlement” instead of “earned benefits” is agreeing to the other side’s framing.
I can take an opponent’s words and use them to advance my agenda (in effect, co-opting their verbal tools); or I can be “giving in” to my opponents and “adopting their frames.”
I think Obama is doing the former, and a lot of his left-wing critics think he’s doing the latter. That’s the origin of the divide.
I dislike spending a lot of time on topics like that because it gets completely circular. Instead of talking about good policy, you end squabbling about “framing” or “Overton windows” and putting up with a lot of psychobabble and magical thinking.
If Obama uses Republican language about deficits to convince people to raise taxes on the rich he’s doing a good thing; if we end up slashing the short-term budget it’s a bad thing (at least right now). That is what we should be using to distinguish between good and bad tactics.
@Marc: I see your point, even though I don’t 100% agree with it.
And as for whether “framing” or “Overton Windows” are important, I would make my point more simply.
I believe that the Democrats have to reponsibilities. (A) Pass good policies. (B) Convince the public that the things you believe in are important.
I believe that we have been doing pretty well at (A) and not as well at (B). We can talk about framing or Overton or what have you, and we can agree or disagree, but at the day, I believe that moving public opinion is important, and that we should be working to do a better job.
I agree with you, in that if Obama (and the rest of us) can better move public opinion by using Republican language, then awesome!
It happens to be my belief that using words like “entitlement” isn’t particularly helpful compared to using words like “earned benefit”, but at the end of the day, the goal is to move public opinion, and I agree that it’s the end result that counts.
@156 – @Marc: 157 – MagicPanda:
A little something for your framing discussion.
Quote of the Day: Voting for the Real Deal
Should Democrats Play by Republican Rules?
@Bruce S: @Bruce S:
I’m sorry I stepped into this. You wrote a comment that I thought was interesting. I simply tried to offer a possible explanation as to why the White House didn’t handle it the way you thought would have been more effective
I’m too lazy to look it up, but in that thread I responded to someone who said the president had caved to republicans on the smog regs. I simply pointed out that there were Dems in favor of this and mentioned Sherrod Brown in order to put a name to it. That’s not an attack and it’s not ad hominem. Hell, if I remember correctly, the guys screen name was something like “NoBallsObama” which is more provocative than anything I’d have to say. But, what the heck, I shouldn’t be defending myself. I’m pretty thick skinned. Keep writing; your comments are interesting.
dogwood – I thought I was separating your info from the rest of that thread, which tended to not be much more than the usual back-and-forth rooted in one’s pair of cement shoes. Didn’t mean to tag you with that – and my more general comments are a reaction to the overall discussion. And on tht that more general point, I don’t see any “downside” (corrected) for Brown to not come off to “the left” like a reliable liberal who defends the President’s position on this one, given that his state is apparently affected. It seems like the kind of thing that would help the party. Brown isn’t dependent on the far left for his survival or his credibility. Quite the contrary, obviously. Didn’t mean to direct ire at you – although I know probably sounded that way.
nothing personal, but this one seems a little silly, to me. an entitlement is something you’re entitled to. and to be entitled to something means you have a specific legal right to it. and right now, people do have specific legal rights to SS income and Medicare benefits. they are entitled, by law, to those benefits. the “spoiled” connotation is based on the idea that you’re really not entitled to something but act like you are. but that’s not the case here.
why go on the defense and go through the trouble of inventing and establishing new terminology ? why not just explain, if asked, why the current words work just fine ?
stand firm! fight! hold your ground! bully pulpits for all!
@Bruce S: No problem. I misread your comment and appreciate the clarification. I really wasn’t offended. Writing rapidly with clear purpose is a tremendously difficult cognitive skill. It’s easy in a forum like this for people to misread intent and tone, One of the problems on blogs is that people engage in conversation about serious issues that they have emotional and intellectual interest in with people they don’t know from Adam. This can cause problems. Last night in the McCarthy thread someone came on and made some comments that I thought were completely disingenuous and I immediately hit the reply button, but for some reason I changed my mind and stayed quiet. Later in another thread he posted a great story about traveling as a teenager and I was glad I had backed off earlier. Seeing that side of him actually made me less angry about the earlier post. And being less angry is almost always a good thing.
Yes, I know, but that conversation goes to absurd lengths. The most salient recent example is the number of people who say that when Obama compares the federal budget to a household budget, he’s validating Republican frames, memes, etc. But if he takes that analogy and gives it a twist, that’s something different: there’s a gulf between saying “you have to tighten your belt, so should the government, and thus we’re slashing all federal funding for biomedical research” and “you have to tighten your belt, so should the government, and thus we have to rein in exploding medical costs and curb tax breaks that go to already well-off people.” The way it gets discussed in the blogosphere, though, the predicate never comes up, and Obama is deemed to have been wrong from the get-go, even though he’s not using the language the way Republicans do, and in fact it might not be “Republican” language at all, just a graspable analogy that Republicans have perverted into a justification for their abhorrent ideology. The Manson Family took “Helter Skelter” and made it a slogan for murder, but not everyone who plays the song since then has to be referring back to that.
@cleek: I think you explain it yourself. Being “entitled” sounds like you’re a spoiled brat. Yes, you can explain the actual meaning to someone if you sit down with them for five minutes, but why subject yourself to that?
As it is, the country is rife with people who feel (incorrectly) that half the country is full of lazy slackers who don’t pay taxes and are sitting around collecting checks because they feel entitled to these benefits.
So yes, the word “entitlement” might be factually correct, but it sets off the wrong connotations in people who aren’t following politics closely.
@FlipYrWhig: Yes, I basically agree with what you say.
I agree with you.
The fact that he is willing to take good ideas from whomever or wherever, is an asset.
But, it is also, at times, perceived to be his biggest flaw.
He has a style of governing we are not used to. Hence, there are those who can’t, or won’t, understand why he doesn’t batter his opponents.
it might be easier than trying to define a new term for something people already know.
i really don’t think it does.
to me, it seems like this guy said “boo!” and libs everywhere jumped 10 feet straight up. as usual.
@cleek: To be honest, it’s more like confirmation bias in my case. I’d always hated the term and it was nice to hear someone else say they thought it was counterproductive to the Democratic agenda.
But we can agree to disagree on this particular word. You think that this word is perfectly fine, and perhaps you’re right.
Bullshit. Pure and simple. A lot of “high information” voters are simply stuck into ideological positions, whether right or left, and do everything they can to make sure that they are immune to facts.
@Nom de Plume:
Sometimes it’s more that “engaged” voters simply stake out a position, and defend it to rhetorical death, especially when the “debate” is particularly meaningless. An continuing example that has been beat to death here are the flame wars over whether Obama could have passed health care reform with a public option, and whether he deliberately scuttled single payer. After a while it was comical to see people arguing about what Obama should have done, as opposed to what should happen next to keep health care reform alive.
Other times, “engaged voters” pick up cues and themes from the Village and argue over issues that simply perpetuate ignorance.
But I agree with your larger point that “engaged” voters are even more predictable than the low-information types.
This was an incredible essay by Lofgren. I quoted a lot of it on my FB page and linked to the article. Don’t know if any of my friends or family read it, but I’m keeping a copy of it to refer to when I lose sight of the critical issues in the next election.