Welcome Eric Alterman, and Host Will Bunch.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama

Will Bunch, Host:

It’s the debate you’ve been hearing almost since that day 25 months ago when President Barack Obama first took the oath of office and became the 44th president. It rages in political clubs and in taprooms and coffee houses and most frequently in cyberspace – anywhere in America that liberal voices like to gather.

Is Obama a true believer in the great progressive causes that have animated our last century, who also happens to be a political realist who knows when to take when he can get, and has thus given voters half-a-loaf – better than no loaf, right? – on a string of key issues from stimulating the economy to health care reform to cleaning up Wall Street? Or is Obama’s cautious approach really indicative of the fact that he’s a center-right corporatist who deceived starry-eyed liberal voters even as he packed his administration with Wall Street insiders and inside-the-Beltway types with no interest in real reform?

Now here comes Eric Alterman, a defining liberal voice of the last 15 years, to tell you that you’re not even debating the right question.

Late last year, Alterman published an epic magazine piece for The Nation called “Kabuki Democracy” that sought in one fell swoop to redefine the debate over why Obama has not delivered the goods – at least not in the way his biggest supporters were hoping – that he promised America in his epic 2008 campaign. Not only were we asking the wrong questions, Alterman argued, but we weren’t even looking in the right direction.

Now Alterman has expanded the premise into a full-length book – Kabuki Democracy: The System Vs. Barack Obama, published in paperback by Nation Books. The core of Alterman’s argument can be boiled down to this – that Obama’s failures and limited successes have nothing to do with his liberal bona fides, that in 2011 even a political leader with the spiritual fire of a Martin Luther King and the backroom savvy of Lyndon Johnson cannot deliver meaningful change in the toxic air of Washington.

In other words, even if Obama had fully used the bully pulpit of the White House to deliver liberal fire and brimstone, he would have been thwarted by an entrenched system in which campaign dollars and high-flying lobbyists have corrupted lawmakers from both parties, in which antiquated rules give a handful of legislators (particularly from small Republican-dominated states) the power to easily thwart change, and in which the media has drifted too far to the right to describe what’s really happening.

Make no mistake – Alterman is hard on Democrats, especially the milquetoast variety who wander the halls of Congress. Rep. Anthony Weiner notes wanly – and correctly – that typically “Democrats come to a knife fight with library books.” And the author argues persuasively that Obama – no matter what you’ve concluded about his core political beliefs – has failed miserably on his campaign promise to use the Oval Office to inspire Americans in a style – albeit not with identical policies – similar to Ronald Reagan. The political selling of the 2009 stimulus package – especially a considerable tax cut for working Americans that almost nobody seemed to know about – stands out as an epic fail. But even if Obama had done the right thing in these areas, with congressional Democrats standing firmly behind him, Alterman makes a persuasive case that the corporate interests and their well-heeled lobbyists, the Wall Street insiders and a clueless mainstream media with the right-wing veneer of Fox News would have meant that it would have only made a marginal difference.

Who better to deliver this message? It is Alterman, after all, who almost single-handedly planted the flag for a notion of a “so-called liberal media,” or SCLM, with his groundbreaking 2003 book that was called, appropriately enough, What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. The critique of the modern media landscape that Alterman – currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and the CUNY School of Journalism, and a contributor to numerous liberal publications and think tanks – established is still a driving force in today’s debate over the role of Fox News and other right-wing scale tippers. He also published seminal books on the fundamental dishonesty of the George W. Bush administration, and if that hasn’t convinced you of his innate goodness, this should: He is also an authority on the Boss, Bruce Springsteen!

But the issue at hand is how can liberals achieve glory days? The fault, Alterman argues, is not in our star, Barack Obama, but in ourselves. Real change involves getting Big Money out of politics, strengthening labor, overhauling legal immigration, removing the bars to voter participation, and encouraging new forms of media and media criticism – and that won’t come from the White House, but from the people. That won’t be easy – the same powerful foes who have held back Obama would seek to crush these measures as well. But as the people’s protests against mindless Tea Party government grow in Wisconsin with each passing day, we see the glimmer of hope of how it can happen. We’re lucky that Alterman already has a roadmap for the rest of the journey.

440 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Eric Alterman, Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama”

BevW February 20th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Eric, Will, Welcome back to the Lake.

Will, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thanks to both of you

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Welcome Eric, and hello to all you FDLers all over the world. It was quite an honor to be asked to host this book salon; I’m a huge fan of Eric, who was out there fighting the good fights over dishonesty in government and bias in media back when I – and maybe a few others – were still watching from the sideline. If you haven’t checked out Eric’s new “Kabuki Democracy” yet, I would urge you to do so – it’s really terrific, and offers a lot of mental ammunition for carrying the fight through Madison and beyond.

Speaking of which, I wanted to kick this off by asking you a question about that: How you have seen some of the dark forces you describe in “Kabuki Democracy” lining up behind Gov. Scot Walker and his union crushing efforts there? And what is the best hope for fighting back?

eCAHNomics February 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Real change involves getting Big Money out of politics

How do you do that?

sadlyyes February 20th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

im just gonna listen

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

By the way, just seeing the post at top doesn’t have a link for buying Eric’s boook — gross oversight.

For now, here’s a link:

Link to Eric’s Book

dakine01 February 20th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Good afternoon Eric and Will and welcome back to FDL this afternoon

Eric, I have not had an opportunity to read your book but do have a question

How do you think the current protests in the Middle East and in the US will play out in relation to the Tea Party efforts, the Koch brothers, the Republicans, and the cowardly Democrats (yes, I have a preconceived notion about them)?

eCAHNomics February 20th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

What is role of black box voting machines. Not in the list in the introduction.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thanks again Will and I sure have. Did you happen to notice the Atlantic’s Clive Crook attacking Obama for supporting the unions. How dare a Democratic President support unions whose right to collective bargaining is being undermined! (And note that it is only the Democratic-leaning unions, not the cops and the fire fighters.) And if I’m not mistaken, the Atlantic is supposed to be part of the dreaded Liberal Media, is it not?

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The problem with the tea party vis a vis Egypt, aside from its members ignorance, is their inability to see the value of any kind of foreign aid in any situation. Things will be a hellova lot more expensive there if the region goes even further to Hell

EarthquakeWeather February 20th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I haven’t read the book but I agree with premise… in part. PBO can’t do all the heavy lifting himself. But it would help if he didn’t surround himself with the Wall Streeters who oversaw and benefitted from the housing bubble fraud. And if he wouldn’t keep repeating tired old discredited Reaganisms.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Eric, it appears to a lot of us that Obama hasn’t even tried to support policies that Democrats have always supported. He may be entangled in the DC mess but he needed to TRY.

dakine01 February 20th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 10

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and comment number being replied to and makes it easier to follow the ‘conversation’

Note: some browsers do not like to let the Reply work correctly if it is pressed after a page refresh if the page has not completed loading.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Eric, the premise of your book – and it’s one that I overwhelmingly agree with — is that Obama’s 2008 promise of fundamental change has been largely thwarted by institutional forces – big money, K Street, GOP full-blown obstructionism. But you also wonder – as do I – why Obama hasn’t followed though on his promise to be Reaganesque and eloquently take his case to the people. Why has he used his bully pulpit so badly. And given the forces against him, could presidential rhetoric make a difference?

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

He did try. But the question is is, how could the system be made to be more responsive

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Yes Will, that would be my singular criticism of Obama. He spoke beautifully during the campaign, almost Lincolnesque. He was certainly Reagan’s or JFK’s equal. But what happened to that guy. He could have done the country a lot of good

Scarecrow February 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

If the argument is, O would have done more to accomplish a liberal agenda if only he hadn’t been opposed by a powerful corporate structure — then how does one account for what seems to be very aggressive Administration efforts to court the support of the same villains — and to actively pursue their support NOT for the progressive agenda, but to move public to support for the corporate agenda? How else to interpret the recent appointments and the overtures to Chamber of Commerce, etc.

I find it virtually impossible to find a coherent argument that says O did anything other than mislead and betray his supporters — he seems to like where he is — and the polls reinforce that. Comments from Eric or Will?

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Read the book

February 20th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 17

I find it virtually impossible to find a coherent argument that says O did anything other than mislead and betray his supporters — he seems to like where he is — and the polls reinforce that.

x2!

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Read the bookx2

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Obama could have appointed non corporatist to the fcc and the republicans could not have done damn thing. Media reform depends on the fcc. Also how do you explain him fighting so hard to kill public option if he is on our side. It is not like we have sat on our ass. You sound like an excuse maker.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I know, Eric; Obama claims to have studied Reagan but I wonder. Reagan jad an inside game and an outside game — in 1981 he repeatedly went over the head of Congress to speak to the American people about his tax cut (for the rich, mainly). In contrast, Americans in 2009-10 got a tax cut they didn’t even know about!

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Eric, what will it take to shut down K Street, given that Congress is not going to do it, the President can’t do it, and the Supreme Court continues to accelerate the process? Are we to the point that it is going to take some form of nonviolent paralyzing direct action to shut them down, a mega-Madison as it were?

Scarecrow February 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Eric — it’s helpful to commenters here if you use the reply button at the bottom of each comment when replying to that comment. Thanks.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Mr Alterman or Bunch,

I know that to answer this would require speculation, but do you really think that Obama truly believes in the efficacy and validity of New Deal and Fair Deal policies? It seems that his supposed liberalism was simply part of his branding, part of the successful ad campaign waged by the Dems in 2008.

What are the first steps that need to be taken to implement run-off elections and public campaign financing nationwide?

EDIT: I plan to buy the book and read it.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

K Street has the power of money. The only thing that can oppose money is people and the law. But the law as interpreted by the courts is on the side of money. So without a genuine democratic progressive movement that can oppose the power of money, nothing can be done.

People who complain about OBama caving into the power of money are not explaining where that power is supposed to come from.

February 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 20

Given such a dismissive answer, I am now disinclined to purchase much less read the book, x2.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 20

I read the book, and while I wholeheartedly agree with (and have frequently echoed) your analysis of the structural problems, particularly in the realm of the media and the institutionalized corruption of our electoral system, I cannot escape the conclusion that Obama is a creature of this tainted environment and not its helpless victim.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

But I agree with you Will, his communications office was awful and the example you give is one of many. In part it’s a problem of arrogance. But it’s hardly the most important problem

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 27

TY

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

None of us know who Obama “really” is or what he thinks. We do know, however, what rational reactions this system produces

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I was surprised the Dems didn’t make a more serious run at filibuster reform in January. How helpful would that be?

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I was not surprised. Everyone wants to protect his or her little island of power. That’s what the filibuster does–together with the secret hold

sadlyyes February 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 31

can you please use REPLY button,thanx

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 34

gotcha, sorry

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Scarecrow, I think it depends on the issue. When you look at his pro-Wall Street economic team, that absolutely was a betrayal. Closing Gitmo? I think he intended to do that and was thwarted by the system, including his own party — although it is hard to rationalize some of his other national security decisions.

Scarecrow February 20th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 31

Eric — here’s where some of us are stuck. If the core problem is defined as “O is stuck in a corrupt system,” then the task is to help liberate him and us from that corrupt system.

If, on the other hand, the core problem includes “O is a willing part of that corrupt system,” then we have a far more complicated problem, because O is a nominal Democrat (and leader of the party) and so anyone who cares about the party’s future have a very difficult job of removing this corrupt leader without losing a core constituency and destroying the party, knowing that if you don’t replace him, he may destroy the Party’s brand anyway.

Do you not see that getting that diagnosis correct is fundamental? Or, alternatively, is there an anti-corruption path, a political strategy that does not require us to make that initial judgment?

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 36

I don’t like his advisers any better than you do, Will but how was it a “betrayal?” What did he say on the campaign trail that led us to believe he’d appoint Krugman or Stiglitz types?

Mauimom February 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 15

Could we perhaps have a list of his “tries”?

And my response, like that of Twain & Kelly, is that it seems condescending & snotty of you to reply “read the book.”

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 37

Well there is absolutely no chance of replacing him. So that’s a nonstarter. All you can do is elect a crazy Republican, one even worse than Bush.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Fair enough, but was there something that led you to expect Tim Geithner and company, because I did not see that coming.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 37

But if you ask my opinion–and it is only an opinion–I think he is a reflection of his environment. He does the best he can with what he has. He can’t change the system. He can only try to make it work, particularly given the crisis he inherited with the economy and the Republicans going off the deep end

sadlyyes February 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 37

excellent analysis

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Thank you for being here Mr. Alterman.

I can’t accept your premise that Obama is somehow the victim of a system, arrayed against him. Unless you can point to scars where the Republicans have used paper cuts and cigarette burns against him, I won’t forgive him for killing the public option, throwing money at the rich while throwing the 99ers under the bus, failing to close Guantanimo Bay, escalating the war in Afghanistan, stacking his so called deficit commission with people whose stated purpose is to scrap social security, defending DOMA and DADT in court, advocating spending cuts in the middle of a recession, caving in over and over to Republican demands, despite the reality that Republicans only want him to fail and take the country with him, make back room deals with pharma and health insurance corp, gutting LIHEAP…. The list goes on and on and I can’t sit here all afternoon though I certainly have enough material to keep going for a long time. One or two of the items I’ve listed could be dismissed as a necessary compromise but the list in it’s entirety shows a pattern. A pattern of throwing over the poor and the middle class in favor of the rich and big business. He has either embraced trickle down economics as conventional wisdom or he is making one hell of great show at it. Obama has betrayed his constituency and that’s what the reality is. No more votes for Vichy Dems, including our very own Marshal Petain. Yes, the system sucks ass but Obama isn’t working against it, he’s strengthening it.
P.S. Please don’t tell me to read the book. I can’t afford it because I’m one of those 99ers who apparently don’t need help as much as the filthy rich do.

Mauimom February 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 9

Oh please. I think we all [here, at least] know that the “liberal media” tag is just bs.

Let’s not waste time debating on whether these idiots [NYT, WaPoo, Atlantic] are “liberal media.”

Let’s talk about whether poor, poor Obama The Victim has made ANY effort on behalf of working Americans.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 27

Hear! Hear!

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 42

What about his open contempt for his own progressive base? If he actually shared our policy goals, I would expect him to be a lot more sympathetic.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 39

What is condescending and snotty? If someone tells me that they find it “impossible” to believe what I’ve just gone to the trouble of writing an entire book trying to explain, without bothering to read it, or the article upon which it was based, well, then, that’s not my problem. That’s their problem. I’m not about write a whole book here

lcypher February 20th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Your analysis makes no sense when you look at the corporatist shills Obama rushed to put in positions of authority. The very first thing Obama did as President was make sure the crimes (illegal acts, offenses which require incarceration) of the former administration were covered up. If there is one golden rule in Washington, it’s that none of the Elite will ever pay for their crimes.

He is either a victim, or a willing participant. He can’t be both.

Stephen February 20th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 38

He said lots during the presidential campaign denouncing the Washington machine. “Hope and change” ring a bell?

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Margaret @ 44

The catfood commission is an especially excellent example – he did that all on his own initiative, no one forced him to. The Republicans even voted down a congressional version IIRC.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Have I wandered into DKos?

Scarecrow February 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 41

Will, can you also use the “reply” button when responding to specific comments. It’s really helpful. Thanks.

ubetchaiam February 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Having fought over local election officials not following “Use Procedures” for Diebold/Premier opscan and touchscreen voting machines and having the CA Sec’y of State Debra Bowen -a supposed liberal- ignore my complaint despite witnesses and an attorney vouching for the veracity of responses by the CIO of the local election official, the money issues of which you speak are not just tied to Federal elections/politics but extend all the way to local issues. And it’s not just money but the ‘status quo’ of operations of non-elected officials that get in the way of change.

I -and others- have come to the conclusion that there simply are too many ‘comfortably numb’ people and that until/unless blood is shed -like in the Middle East- nothing will really change.

What gives you optimism?

February 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 48

Could be partly your problem.

Obama is extending Republican framing on so many issues; the budget is like a family’s budget, need shared sacrifices, spending problem not a revenue problem.

Those aren’t system problems. Those are Obama problems. The “veal pen” answer of “who ya gonna vote for, crazy Republicans?” just doesn’t cut it.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Eli @ 47

I fucking hate those comments of Gibbs, Rahm, and even Obama. (And hey non-readers, there are attacks on them and him in the book for that.) But that is a reflection, I think of what the culture Washington does to people. And just calling them idiots and morons doesn’t really help.

I absolutely believe in primarying Democrats who act like Republicans, regardless of what the White House wants. But that didn’t happen. So where is the base? The Republicans have to face theirs but the Democrats do not

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Eli @ 47

Excellent question! I’m tired of being called names, dismissed and suggested that I be drug tested. What “system” made Obama do all of that?

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 4

By joining these guys.. http://youstreet.org/ At least it is a start..

Tammany Tiger February 20th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

What frustrates me about Obama is that I supported him in the primaries because he offered the best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, who was the establishment/DLC candidate. What we got was almost exactly the same cast of characters that Clinton would have brought in. Which, to me, raises serious questions about who runs the Democratic Party and whether it is even possible to change it from within.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Margaret @ 57

Margaret did the system make OBAMA lie about the Public Option

Obama kills the PO in July

Obama acts like he is for the PO in September

does the system make you a bad liar?

I agree with you Margaret

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 55

Well, if there are actually crazy Republicans and they are the only alternative than I think it’s pretty powerful answer. It’s up to progressives to build a powerful counterpressure to the right, but if they don’t and all the power and money is on one side, well then it’s awfully naive to expect politicians to commit suicide on behalf of principles that have no hope of getting enacted

sadlyyes February 20th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

and then their is this

The Obama administration went to the mat to defend its predecessors from a torture prosecution in Spain last year, a leaked State Department cable shows.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I think Obama came in with a set of ideas about how to get re-elected and be a “successful” president, and one of these — unfortunately, and ridiculously — is lashing out at the left, something he does way too ofren. I think he got that idea from Clinton (Bill, I mean), who liked to lash out at the “damn liberal media.”

Stephen February 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Stephen @ 50

Barack Obama appointed eleven members of the Trilateral Commission to top-level and key positions in his administration within his first ten days in office. Who’s bright idea was that considering “hope and change”, again.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 48

If someone tells me that they find it “impossible” to believe what I’ve just gone to the trouble of writing an entire book trying to explain, without bothering to read it…

That’s pretty condescending right there I’m sorry to say. You’ve “gone to the trouble of writing an entire book…”? Please. Maybe if you were giving it away, rather than trying to make money on it, I would have more sympathy for all of your trouble. NOT that I begrudge you the right or the ability to make money from it but don’t expect me to find it above and beyond of you to do what is essentially your job.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 61

No. You either have principles or you don’t. Under that statement we wouldn’t even exist because the Founding Fathers would have folded.

Mauimom February 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 48

I invite you to review some prior book salons here. A large percentage of the participants HAVEN’T read the book under discussion, and are visiting to determine whether it is worthy of their purchase.

A non-snotty response would be, “I think you’d find that I discussed X in general in my book, and my main point would be . . .”

“Read the book” comes off as “send me some money,” not “let me see what I can do to cultivate discussion.”

Also, usually the “introductory essay” attempts to be a fairly exhaustive summary of the main points of the book in question. I know that when I read this one, it seemed to me that you had written an apology/excuse for Obama, without an examination of his “intent” or critique of his efforts. Your comments/responses thus far confirm that.

And what Margaret said at #44 above.

sadlyyes February 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 61

uhm,they could run as Republicans though

Tammany Tiger February 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 56

The Arkansas Senate primary was a real eye-opener. The progressive wing of the party went after Blanche Lincoln, who richly deserved to be swept out. The party establishment backed her–even OFA got into the act–despite polls showing that she would almost certainly lose the general election.

Botton line: in Arkansas, the party mandarins served notice that they have both the motivation and the means to crush challenges to their authority.

Mauimom February 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to Twain @ 52

No, Twain.

Come sit by me.

egregious February 20th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Truce please on the comments about each other – let’s discuss the book.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I think the lashing out reflects a frustration at criticism that does not take into account the difficulty that the system presents in passing progressive legislation, I think it’s wrong and unfair and misdirected, but it’s also understandable. It’s not Obama’s fault that there was no Public Option. It didn’t have the votes. Pure and simple. He could have fought harder for it, but it still wouldn’t have passed. And it’s not as if there’s no cost to a president spending lots of time on things that he can’t win

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to lcypher @ 49

Excellent comment.

“It’s hard to get a man (or President) to understand something when his paycheck ($$corporate sponsors) depends upon not understanding it.”

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to egregious @ 71

We’re trying but we haven’t read it.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 61

I agree. It’s up to Progressives to build an alternative but don’t expect me to waste any more time defending the Vichy Democrats or helping elect them or giving to their campaigns. “We suck less” isn’t going to work for me anymore. Ever again. Obama isn’t a pawn or a puppet.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

let us define Democratic Party

the Democratic Party Obama belongs to is made up of a lot of trojan horses. the Obama dem party hates the progressive base.

the actual DEM Party Base loves FDR, JFK, LBJ, etc. and hates Reagan

Yes? Obama loves Reagan

real dems are working now, on ways to kick out the trojan horses that have sit up tent in the DEM party

let us not forget, OBAMA lied his way in the WH

who on here heard Obama say this in 2008, ” I Obama will get the Dems to pass the BOB DOLE HEALTH CARE BILL with an individual mandate and no public option”

Glenn February 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Mr. Alterman, I’m sorry but I just can’t accept your premise. The Bush administration committed a whole series of enormous crimes, starting with stealing the 2000 Presidential election. If Obama had really been interested in changing the system, he would prosecuted the criminals who preceeded him for crimes like torture. Instead, the only people he’s interested in prosecuting are whistle blowers like Bradley Manning. If Obama really wanted to change the system, he could have declassified the government files in which US government misconduct is hidden. Don’t you think that allowing the American people to see what the US government had really done over the last twenty or thirty years would have dramatically changed the political dynamic?

February 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 61

They call him a Socialist and a Muslim anyway. What’s Obama got to lose by actually acting according to principal?

This is easily resolved, and there is no “system” problem once one accepts that people in power only do what they want to do.

ubetchaiam February 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 63

Maybe so but what rationale besides ‘keeping the deal with pHarma’ explains his actions to blindside Durbin’s efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices? It wasn’t a ‘system’ -except if you view such as getting the money deemed necessary for being re-elected- but outright abandonment of principle.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

Except once the Democrats resorted to passing the HCR “fix” bill via budget reconciliation, the public option would have only needed a simple majority, which was attainable.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

OK, talk about the weak points in that Kabuki system, points at which public pressure between elections can be successfully applied.

Kitt February 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 61

it’s awfully naive to expect politicians to commit suicide on behalf of principles that have no hope of getting enacted

I don’t expect politicians to commit suicide, but what’s the point of keeping a seat in a house or senate that you know you have no hope of having your principles heard and acted upon? If you are in the seat of power in the Senate or House, please use it or help us all to find and elect someone who can and will use it. Otherwise you are serving no purpose but to institutionalize and strengthen in a more negative way this horribly corrupt government that we are now suffering under.

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

good point!

perris February 20th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Now Alterman has expanded the premise into a full-length book – Kabuki Democracy: The System Vs. Barack Obama, published in paperback by Nation Books. The core of Alterman’s argument can be boiled down to this – that Obama’s failures and limited successes have nothing to do with his liberal bona fides, that in 2011 even a political leader with the spiritual fire of a Martin Luther King and the backroom savvy of Lyndon Johnson cannot deliver meaningful change in the toxic air of Washington.

eric, you might be correct, that no matter how obama handled his presidency his policies might have been thwarted (I personally doubt it) however obama doesn’t have, nor never had progressive bonafides

he is has been, always was a corporatist

now at the lake we have long understood that the democratic party and all politics are being bought and paid for by corporate america, we also understand that the media has been increasingly corporate directed

however that does NOT change the fact that obama could have accomplished FAR more then he has for progressive politics and this country, he CHOSE not to

every time obama posed progressive pros the electorate rallied for him, we of course soon enough found out he dealt away the programs we were rallying for long before he even went to air
he is a corporatist and that is the main reason he is failing and democrats are getting un-elected

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thank you for being here this afternoon Mr. Alterman but I believe I should get on with my Sunday.
Good day to all.

Kirk Murphy February 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 48

Mr Alterman, like our commenters, you are a guest here. Could you please display more courtesy and less arrogance in your responses? Doing so will only add to your credibility and the power of your arguments.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 78

Well, the systemic problem is that it creates politicians like Obama and all the other pretend Democrats.

I believe that if Democrats didn’t have to rely on gobs of corporate money to get elected, they wouldn’t act like corporate shills almost all of the time.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 67

Look, when someone tells me, because they’ve not bothered to read what I’ve written, that they find it “impossible” to accept my argument, well, that’s fine with me. But I’m not really interested in having that conversation. I’m much more interested in someone who is either willing to discuss what I’ve actually argued or is willing, at least, to consider it at least “possible” that I have something worthwhile to say. But “impossible?” No thanks. That strikes me as a waste of both of our time.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

what poll said the USA wanted the BOB DOLE HEALTH CARE BILL? “the USA 98% of Americans live in is in a DEPRESSION.”

a below avg Dem would have kept it simple the first 2 years and focus on JOBS and the ECONOMY

yes? the economy is still broke

no one was begging OBAMA to pass a GOP health care bill

Obama is not a moron! Obama knows what he is doing

the current system is about to crash, because it can’t deal with reality!

the USA econ is in the tank! and has been in the tank since 2008

lcypher February 20th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Obama is the classic Manchurian Candidate. The Powers That Be saw that change was coming and they needed to make sure none of that change involved them. So they propped up a connected pol from Chicago (ominous sign #1) to be that Agent of Change. It is no mistake that Goldman Sachs was Obama’s #1 contributor. They all knew Obama was their man and he was bought and paid for. That is why he raked in the corporate cash (bribes) hand over fist. He didn’t even have to ask for it or pretend he was going to do anything for them. THEY KNEW.

And so should you, by now. The gig is up. The banks win and everybody else loses. To act like Obama is a victim of these circumstances and not a prime mover behind them is a farce.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

What is the kabuki politics system that has Obama trapped, and exactly how will primarying Democrats or even election outcomes affect it?

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Eric and Will, welcome to both of you and thank you for joining us at FDL today. I think this line from Will’s post appears to summarize the situation well:

Real change involves getting Big Money out of politics, strengthening labor, overhauling legal immigration, removing the bars to voter participation, and encouraging new forms of media and media criticism – and that won’t come from the White House, but from the people.

I admit, I did not get delivery of my copy of Eric’s book until Tuesday of Wednesday and have not had a chance to finish it yet, but I agree with most of what I have seen and it is quite well presented. As Scarecrow and others have noted, the liberals seem to be getting their asses kicked on every one of those factors described by Will as necessary for progress. I have been toying with the thought that we may need a real revolution of youth in the US akin to what we are seeing in North Africa and the Middle East. I was wondering if Eric might lend his thoughts on the efficacy of this, and how it could be generated.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to perris @ 84

Those are not my words. I would not have have said “nothing.” But they are not the main problem. The system is.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

It’s not Obama’s fault that there was no Public Option. It didn’t have the votes. Pure and simple.

They could have used the Byrd rule to get a public option if Obushma had fought for it. The salient point is that he did not, and bargained (actually just discarded) it away at the beginning (Greenwald and others have conclusively proven this).

As Dr. Dean Baker has pointed out, if our per capita health care costs were in line with other nations, we would be looking at projected budget surpluses and not deficits, so the rule applies.

nycterrierist February 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to lcypher @ 90

Thank you.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to bmaz @ 92

x2, but it might be a revolution of baby boomer geezers and public employees

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to lcypher @ 90

thank you!

we finally all know what the SYSTEM is!

Obama is NO VICTIM! Obama lied to the left to get elected, and stab us all in back once he got in the WH

the MEDIA wants to act like OBAMA is DUMB as PALIN. He is not

a below avg DEM could have wipe the GOP out!

the GOP has no ideas or plans to fixed the USA economy

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Response to Eric Alterman @72

How do you explain his failure to protect net neutrality with decent liberal appointments to fcc.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Alright folks, Mr. Alterman and the host Mr. Bunch are NOT the enemy and are not behind your frustrations with life in the US body politic. Treat them with respect please.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

So the system is the problem. What are the first steps to implementing full public financing of elections, term limits, and a run-off system to allow for multi-party viability?

perris February 20th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 93

the system is surely the main problem eric, however obama is a willing part of that system, he isn’t a victim of of this depraved system he is a tool of it

nycterrierist February 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to perris @ 101

This.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to bmaz @ 92

I don’t believe revolutions work out very well, the American revolution being the primary exception, and it wasn’t much of a revolution. And while I don’t think the system can ever be made to be truly fair, I do think it can be improved, and the first thing to do is to try to reduce the power of money, so that Democrats do not feel they need to be as responsible to it as they are. But the tone of this conversation appears to be one in which there is fury only at the politicians, rather than a willingness to look at the deeper forces that control their actions. This mirrors the superficial coverage in the MSM, alas, and it was exactly what I was trying to get past by writing this book. It does, unfortunately, take an entire book to explain these problems, though, I have to say, this is by far my shortest one.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 67

I agree — the times that I’ve done Book Salon as an author I’ve been so grateful for folks showing up and taking an interest in what I have to day; I assume that all but a couple have NOT read the book because that’s the whole point of being here, to convince people that it’s worth buying.
In fact, I may even plug my own two books before the night’s over because I assume most people here have not read them — considering that most people in general have not read them.

perris February 20th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to bmaz @ 99

I know eric is not the enemy here bmaz, and I surely grateful we have him here demonstrating the greater issues at hand then this president

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 103

a liberal appointment to fcc, not to mention liberal appointments to his administration would have reduced they power of money on the system. We simply cannot reduce the power of money without politicians that help us out, unless we do a revolution.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 103

What do you see as the most effective technique for getting rid of Big Money….that can’t be quashed by Big Money?

nycterrierist February 20th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

“But the tone of this conversation appears to be one in which there is fury only at the politicians, rather than a willingness to look at the deeper forces that control their actions.”

FDLers are not distracted by the cult of personality like the msm.
I think what is happening here is that you seem to imply that Obama
has no agency here, that what he advertised himself to be – his brand of hope and change, if you will – and what he has delivered – the status quo -
are moot.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 104

I’m actually not here to sell the book. I don’t really care if the book sells. I’ve already been paid. I’m interested in having an intelligent, respectful and well-informed discussion of the issues it raises. And I’m happy to respond to comments on that basis. Otherwise, I’m not really needed.

On the other hand, Will’s book on Reagan, is really an excellent antidote to the discussions of late and I relied on his work for my most recent Nation column.

Since almost nobody here is willing to grant the premise that OBama is a pretty good guy trying to do his best in a corrupt system, then perhaps we should discuss Will’s book on Reagan.

Will, take it away…

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Have corporate donations been responsible for the dismal record exhibited by the current DOJ and Eric Holder?

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 103

FDR saved the system

the good news is OBAMA is going to destroy the system

the System works when people believe the illusion of the AMERICAN DREAM

once the dream becomes a NIGHTMARE, people demand a new System

don’t under estimate what you are looking at in MADISON

the elites have a lot of reasons to be nervous! there is no FDR in DC to save them from themselves

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Even if Obama had fully used the bully pulpit of the White House to deliver liberal fire and brimstone, he would have been thwarted by an entrenched system in which campaign dollars and high-flying lobbyists have corrupted lawmakers from both parties, in which antiquated rules give a handful of legislators (particularly from small Republican-dominated states) the power to easily thwart change.

The system is broken because the insiders of both parties have been corrupted. No doubt.

But the analysis here is wrong. Had Obama fully used the bully pulpit of the White House to deliver liberal fire and brimstone, he could have gotten around the handful of legislators from small Republican-dominated states who wanted to thwart change.

The real problem was that just enough Democrats sided with Republicans to thwart change. Obama didn’t go after the Democrats who were thwarting change.

Had they needed 10 Democrats to thwart change, there would have been 10. And Obama would not have fought them.

Had they needed 4 Democrats to thwart change, there would have been 4. And Obama would not have fought them.

Had they needed 1 Democrat to thwart change, there would have been 1. And Obama would not have fought him.

Now that’s KABUKI.

The fault, Alterman argues, is not in our star, Barack Obama, but in ourselves.

This is true only in so far as too many of us still think the Republican Party is the problem and the Democratic Party is the solution. In other words, Barack Obama is a big part of the problem, and we’re at fault only if we don’t recognize it.

chett February 20th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I’m very interested in the discussion about how to get Big Money out of the system. It seems to me you have to literally buy Congress back for the progressives first.

Kitt February 20th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

Since almost nobody here is willing to grant the premise that OBama is a pretty good guy trying to do his best in a corrupt system,

How you can expect that premise to fly is honestly beyond my comprehension.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 59

Alas, I predicted that of the two candidates, only Hillary would be held to account by the left and by Congressional Dems, that Obama would get a pass on way too many things.

Which has happened. And many on the left still can’t quite grasp that it is the actions of Obama which count, not the lovely words. And, recently, even his words are pretty drab. Also negative toward any on the left.

I fear Mr. Alterman has devised a clever way to try to excuse Obama. See, if only conditions allowed it, Obama would be a very good president for all the people. It’s just that all the real money comes from, well the moneied class, the Uberwealthy, and Big Bidness and Big Bankster and Big PhRma and…etc.

So, what’s a newbie Dem prez to do? Stand up for the principles of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party? Stand up for the little people? Or suck up to the Powers That Be? Roll over and make backroom and behind closed door deals, then lie about them to the rubes? Well, it’s pretty obvious to me which approach has taken.

And now Eric Alterman is trying make people believe that, really gang, Obsma would do all those good things for people, if he only could. But, hey, he can’t. And he’s marginally better than the batshit crazy Republicans, so keep voting for him.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

I don’t think that premise is really all that essential to the book, though. I read it as an explication of all the ways in which our political system has become corrupted and dysfunctional, and it seemed like you were almost agnostic on whether Obama was a good guy or not.

The system is the problem, regardless of whether Obama is its agent or its victim.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 103

Oh, I agree; fury aimed entirely at “the politicians” is misguided, it is “we the people” who elect the idiots – and keep reelecting them in spite of less than poor performance. But there has to be a leverage point somewhere to effect this change. It does not have to be a physical revolution so much as perhaps an awakening and willingness to bring a collective voice to bear. Such as is being done in Wisconsin. There is a difference between collective activism within the constitutional system and a revolution to overthrow it.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Kitt @ 114

lol!!! :)

a lot of us do not like USA jobless recoveries.

and a lot of us hate OBAMA favorite book “THE HOPE A DOPE” written and directed by OBAMA

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

Since almost nobody here is willing to grant the premise that OBama is a pretty good guy trying to do his best in a corrupt system.

Why should anyone take such a premise for granted? Indeed, your premise is the flaw in your argument.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to chett @ 113

Well, the best thing would be to make a rejection of the doctrines of “corporate personhood” and “$=speech” a litmus test for judicial appointees. But even that would take a long time. In the meantime, activists who work on every issue need to make public financing of Congressional elections a fundamental part of their argument, no matter what issue they focus on. Without facing up to the power of $ in the system, the left is wasting its time. The money is always there after the activists go home…

gila February 20th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Remember the “Billy” ad?

Deliberately putting up Billy Tauzin as a poster boy for what fundamentally ails us. The revolving door (i.e. corruption) between powerful industry and government.

Obama’s action upon gaining office? Have Tauzin into the WH on multiple occasions to cut a deal with pharma that grossly favored pharma.

This type of action, along with his deliberately appointing the very faces of the failure of Wall Street (people like Geithner and Summers), is where your premise breaks down.

Yes, the system is badly corrupted and ripping people off. And no, Barack Obama is not an innocent caught up in that. He has unequivocally supported and buttressed those systems over and over again.

And what have we progressives/lefties done to change it? How about sending Mr. Hope and Change to Washington? Putting a candidate into the WH that ran under a clearly progressive banner of needing to change the systems that are corrupting and ripping us off. Of reestablishing constitutional principles on torture and privacy.

Your premise that the system is badly corrupted is correct. But that’s not really any big secret to anyone. Your conclusion that Barack Obama is hopelessly caught up in it is false. He is a willing participant.

How to arrive at this conclusion, which is contrary to your own? I refrain from imagining what is in his head, and I simply observe his actual behaviour.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

You can’t know what would have happened if it didn’t. Just speculation, interesting but never conclusive.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

a lot of us do not like USA jobless recoveries.

Especially those of us who are still jobless and watching Obama and Congress setting up to make things much, MUCH worse.

masaccio February 20th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 40

Electing a nutcase Republican is not as frightening as it used to be, now that it is clear that the Obama meliorist strategy is a total fail. Nothing changes while this crowd of weak democrats and triumphalist republicans runs the political structure, cravenly attending to the demands of the 50,000 richest Americans.

ubetchaiam February 20th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 93

“But they are not the main problem. The system is”; absolutely.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 120

you are looking at world the wrong way

corporations can easily be attacked by the left

for example, the left can hate Wal-Mart and Target

however, we can launch a campaign to only shop at Wal-Mart, thus destroying Target

the sames games be played with banks, car companies, hardware stores, etc.

we are beyond yelling at the elites, the best way to get their attention may be to destroy one of their beloved corporations.

RevBev February 20th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

What makes you say he is a “good guy”? I would love to believe that. But in the face of how he has caved on so many things (EX.going after Bush & criminality/seeming support for the banks’ with their duplicity, fcc appointments) what is the basis of your view? I mean, really, what has been your evidence? And I am a willing listener.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

You may be right

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

Since almost nobody here is willing to grant the premise that OBama is a pretty good guy trying to do his best in a corrupt system…

I’m sorry Mr. Alterman but I see about as much evidence for that as I see for young Earth creationism: exactly none. In fact everything I do see would seem to indicate, if not outright prove, the opposite.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to masaccio @ 124

I wonder what Obama’s chances are if the Republicans elect someone who appears sane and reasonable, like, say, Huntsman or Romney. I’m not entirely convinced that they would be any worse, and Huntsman might even be an improvement…

kall February 20th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I’m sorry, I’m not trying to pick a fight with Eric here or be long-winded, I just don’t accept the premise that Obama tried, at all. To me, making an effort means using the communication platform of the Presidential office to argue for something, explain something, and explain the importance of something that is very important to get across. It means rallying the public behind something substantial. It doesn’t mean meeting with Billy Tauzin in the White House eleven times to cut deals with the pharmaceutical lobby to preserve the current health insurance oligopoly.

When did Obama do anything to challenge the system? He had public sentiment firmly on the side of doing so, on a level afforded few Presidents. On Day 2 after being elected he filled his administration with the Wall Street crowd and the Clintonites who had no interest in challenging the system, and started granting waivers to his “no lobbyists in his government” rules. He even chose Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as his chief economic advisors. These people green-lighted the deregulation that led to this.

I then watched him never present any articulated argument about what categorically needed to be in the economic stimulus and why, and just accepted whatever came out of the Senate, inadequate as it was. Then, when it predictably failed to make a significant dent in unemployment because it was too small and too larded with tax cuts, the opposition cut it to shreds. I watched as he not only failed to articulate an argument as to what needed to be in the health care bill and just accepted whatever Ben Nelson coughed up, he never even mentioned why US health care costs are so high compared to other countries because they have more government involvement in health care. All while the Republican Party was simultaneously scaring seniors at the prospect of cuts to single-payer Medicare while freaking out at the prospect of a government takeover of health care. How hard would highlighting that contradiction have been?

So at the end, predictably, what passed was an entrenchment of the current private system that won’t address the real problem, and people do not buy into.

Let’s take at face value that he did these things because he didn’t want to try for real reform and fail and risk looking weak, and having Democrats take an electoral punishment. How well did that work in 2010? Surely, common sense would dictate to choose a different strategy going forward if it has an honest miscalculation and the desired level of reform was really something else.

But then after the midterm demonstration of the results of passing and championing inadequate measures, he extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich. He said himself he chose not to fight on that because he was “itching for a fight” on other stuff and the economy needed the meagre stimulus of the Bush tax cuts. But now he’s cutting the deficit he chose to enlarge by cutting LIHEAP etc. so the effect will be more than offset.

Now, you can argue that he might have failed if he had tried. And you may be right. But at least there would have been an argument, and a presented rationale for why what ends up passing is inadequate. Instead, Obama embraces pre-compromised compromises that are guaranteed to not adequately address the underlying problem, and when it inevitably fails to address the problem, the proposed legislation is rejected. So it’s not even “pragmatic”.

Wall Street bonuses are setting record highs after they did the financial equivalent of blowing up the world. They’re doing great, and the general public got left in the ditch. People are furious about it. Does the White House think their “pragmatic” financial reform bill is going to sell in 2012?

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to RevBev @ 127

Thanks for asking that.

I’m all ears,too.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Eli @ 130

Well, personally, I don’t see how, but even if Huntsman were an “improvement,” personally, as you say, over Obama, do you truly believe that someone who received the Republican presidential nomination circa 2012 could end up governing in a way you find preferable to that of Obama?

lsls February 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

I definitely agree that the system is corrupt, but unfortunately I find it hard to consider Obama “a good guy”, when he continues, and even expands, the policies put in place by the Neocons. I think he’s a closet Republican imposter. Also, there definitely are crazy Republicans (Dems too)…:>
JMHO

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Kitt @ 114

This whole discussion is beyond my comprehension. I thought FDL was past having obama apologisers on this site. I actually personally find obama/democratic apologizers more disgusting then republican ones. Why? Because Obama and the dems are pathological liars. Whereas the Republicans have an open disdain for democracy so you know what you get with them at least.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 107

What do you see as the most effective technique for getting rid of Big Money….that can’t be quashed by Big Money?

Bingo. And that is especially cogent in light of the ubiquitous Citizens United decision (a decision I very much dislike, but think foreseeable and arguably supportable under the Constitution and existing precedent on corporate personhood). I am just not sure how the hell we “get the money out” at this point.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 120

Without facing up to the power of $ in the system, the left is wasting its time.

Too true. When the people stop letting the corporatist a$$holes of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party divide them with kabuki theatre nonsense and start protesting in the streets against corruption in the system, corporate personhood and Citizens United have to be very near to the top of the list of grievances.

masaccio February 20th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to bmaz @ 92

I’ve been thinking the same thing. UKuncut has the same potential for showing the way.

Us old people have a big stake in the current system, we don’t want our retirements blown up by huge cuts to Social Security and Medicare. I thought by voting for Obama, I would get some of the change that would help my kids and grandchild, and that didn’t happen.

It looks like us oldies will have to follow our kids deeper into the morass, like el-Baradei and the old men of the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to kall @ 131

The citizens deserve an open argument on issues that help or hurt us all. Obama does everything behind closed doors. Yes, money in the system is the main problem and Obama is getting his share.

brel1 February 20th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Late in the game here, but just something to consider, perhaps Obama is playing along and playing it cool to insure he will be re-elected and then he can make more extreme changes to the system. While having been very disappointed with much of his leadership so far I hold out hope that if he is re-elected he will be able to get more done. And perhaps the Right has figured that out since they are going ballistic to keep him from being re-elected. I have not read the book but totally see how the system is a monster and Obama is one small ant against it.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to masaccio @ 124

Nothing changes while this crowd of weak democrats and triumphalist republicans runs the political structure, cravenly attending to the demands of the 50,000 richest Americans.

You’re assuming that the democrats are “weak” rather than just doing their part in the kabuki.

Stephen February 20th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ok, so Obama declaring “no one is above the law” represents what thought process in a man, when he knows in advance the corporate criminals are going to be off the hook right from the get go? That is flat out deceit in my book.

endtimesgal February 20th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

“They didn’t have the votes.” Could you get anymore cliched with the Beltway lingo??? I have heard that line for YEARS. I’m sure that’s worth buying a book for??!!! This books sounds to me like selling the same old tripe. I logged on in fire when I heard that comment. Obama is a victim of K street and money. Got it. Basically he is an empty suit. Anyone can fill that chair. Got it. Obama bears no responsibility for his actions and it’s only US that are to blame.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to Eli @ 130

It depends on the Congresses that they bring in with them. Huntsman with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress would be every bit as hamstrung, possibly more, than Obama was with Democratic control of both houses.

I see weaknesses in the Democratic bench of appointees who know the players within the senior civil service ranks and the external players that put pressure on agencies. Weaknesses in the Democratic state organizations to get Democrats elected on Democratic terms (let alone progressive terms), and as thin an electoral bench as the Republicans have. Exactly the combination that the Village can eat up.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

Gosh, whatever happened to royalties? — I know that’s an impossible dream for most authors, but a guy can dream….

It’s a shame that people can’t have a healthy and civil debate about the issues at hand (it’s partly the moderator’s fault). Personally, I think that rather than waste value time trying to know the unknowable — what’s in Obama’s heart — that progressives should be out there fighting for the things we believe in, and hopefully Obama will follow, if necessary. You might want to look to Madison to see how that works.

chett February 20th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

It’s weird to me how, despite every one here’s sincere desire to change this corrupt system, the discussion about that is being put aside in favor of splitting hairs over how much of an asshole Obama himself turned out to be.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 137

Spot on. The Democratic and Republican parties don’t even pretend to be disparate anymore. They are all one big party, geared toward and intent on servicing big money for the crumbs they are thrown. I like to use the analogy of the old two headed quarter one used to be able to buy at joke shops. Except the joke’s on us.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to kall @ 131

I can’t reply to everything you’ve written, and my book is quite critical of how little he did to challenge the system. But if Obama were to be asked that question, I think he would point to the economic crisis he faced, to the fact that 80,000 jobs were disappearing from the economy every month and the Dow was falling thousands of points and confidence was collapsing, and something had to be done right away to make the system respond. There was not the luxury, much as he would have liked it, to try to transform it under those conditions. I’m not sure the argument is wrong and I don’t see how anyone can be.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to endtimesgal @ 143

Ya i guess the fact that the dems had super majorities or at least majorities for what 4 years and did absolutely nothing except make excuses why they couldnt do anything really doesnt matter.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

I beg to differ that it was not Obama’s fault that there was no so-called Public Option (PO). For one thing, during the primaries, he had to be dragged kicking and almost screaming into saying that he believed health care was a right. He even campaigned on a mandate only for parents to purchase insurance for their children!

But, the Big Health Insurers needed a mandate to drive new customers to their products. And Obama accommodated them.

Then, from the git go, he announced single payer was “off the table,” but there would a “public option.” Since he never really defined what PO meant to him, it appears to me he really had no desire to work for that so-called PO. Negotiation 101 might suggest you start out a bit more to the left in order to reach a compromise which would do the most good for all the people. But, nooooo. Obama started from center right and moved rightward.

So, I for one hold him accountable for pushing for, appointing staff which had worked for Big Health Insurance Players, working to get conservative Dems in the Senate to manage the bill (Were any of Ted Kennedy’s staff included in working on the legisation??), and making backroom deals in order develop a Big Health Industry Players Profit Protection Plan (BHIP-PPP). That’s what the mandate to purchase private insurance is all about: assuring them continued profits. That’s what refusing to negotiate about drugs is all about.

And who held Obama accountable?

lsls February 20th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 145

A gentle reminder that progressives were told to “buck up” and “stop whining”…He is not a progressive, and he has basically lost his base. He may have a new one..but not the old one.

Tammany Tiger February 20th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 141

Exactly. For years, I thought the Democrats were the LA Clippers of politics–a perennial-loser organization. More recently, I’ve come to view them as the Washington Generals, the famous patsy team that lost almost every game the played against the Globetrotters.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 133

Whether by design (my personal belief, although it was not initially) or pragmatic compromise, Obama has governed like a moderate Republican. So replacing him with another moderate Republican – who would at least be occasionally opposed by the Democrats, and do his damage to the Republican brand – doesn’t really scare me all that much.

And politically speaking, if Obama can’t use “I know you think I suck, but look how scary my opponent is!” in 2012, I think he’s toast.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I was actually going to buy this book but, after reading the comments here and your responses to them, I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. Obama is, as Paul Street has said, a brand, nothing more and nothing less. He isn’t a liberal and the thought that a president who could be so dismissive of the people who constitute the base of his party as to basically spit in their eye by actively opposing their interests could actually be acting that way because he’s being forced to by the machine in Washington is duplicitous.

All the apologies for this fake should be called out for what they are. This bait-and-switch artist currently residing in the White House used rhetorical flourishes to trick people into voting for him when all along the plan was to continue the consolidation of executive branch power over the rest of the government and to continue active collusion with the monied interests in this country to break the backs of the working class in this country.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 145

You are so right. Obama had about 70% of the country behind him when he took office. If he had stayed in touch with the people, they would have done the pushing for him with their respective members of Congress. Instead he withdrew and took on his friends instead of the opposition. Makes no sense to me, either personally or politically. Have reached the conclusion that the entire administration is politically deaf and blind.

brel1 February 20th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 154

That was really a trick. Who were you going to vote for, McCain?

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 137

remember Knoxville the SYSTEM went broke in 2008

all of us on here BAILED OUT THE SYSTEM to the tone of 13 trillion USA tax dollars

the SYSTEM did not give main street crap

the SYSTEM is made up of a few RICH PEOPLE,

is there anything new under the SUN? NO

this movie ends with the BOTTOM 98% taking down 2% because they want a new SYSTEM. this is an old movie that started hundreds of years ago.

the SYSTEM IS NOT THAT intelligent

the SYSTEM TEA PARTY NUT CASES are about to destroy the SYSTEM

the Tea Party is waking up the 100,000 pound GORILLA and the GORILLA is PISSED

it wants jobs
it wants a future for their kids
and it hates rich people who hate the USA

Wall Street needs to move to CHINA

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to chett @ 146

I think it’s pretty relevant in the context that Mr. Alterman seems to think that the Democratic Party is worth saving, (or maybe he thinks it is not beyond saving), but I don’t think it is. For me it’s not “how much of an asshole Obama is”, it’s more about how corrupt and deteriorated the Democratic Party establishment is. During a house fire, there comes a time when it’s best to try to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the street rather than attempting to save a structure that’s already a lost cause. It’s my belief that we are beyond that point. Any attempt to save an already lost cause is just endangering the rest of the us.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to brel1 @ 156

I voted for Cynthia McKinney.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 154

In defense of the book, it really is a very good summation of all the ways in which our political system has been compromised and co-opted by the right and the corporations, and it’s really more about that than any kind of apologia for Obama.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Eli @ 153

Agree with you completely Eli. Im actually planning to vote repubican in the next election simply to get rid of obama. The republicans are terrible. But they are open about it and dont lie through their teeth about their corruption. Which personally i prefer.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Here here!

lsls February 20th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

They open their mouths and all that comes out are lies. What are you talking about. You better think that one through again. Just sayin’.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Margaret @ 158

Yeah, I’m in reluctant agreement.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I’ve said here as recently as last week that at this point in time I’d rather vote for an honest Republican who’s upfront about how badly s/he’s gonna fuck me over, than for a Democrat who looks me in the eye and lies like Obama.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Eli @ 160

Sorry but to just blame the right seems a little narrow minded. The dems have been complete enablers and sycophants of the right.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 148

you are joking

Obama saved the USA economy? it depends on where you are sitting I guess

the majority of the USA thinks the USA economy is in the tank and going no where.

Obama is making HOOVER smile.

Hoover will no longer be considered the worse USA president ever, that title is going to belong to OBAMA.

endtimesgal February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 112

Bravo. Damn it, the people on Firedoglake pay attention.

We know the Kabuki bullshit and no one played it better than Barrack Hussein Obama with the not having enough votes on the “public option”. He made sure that there weren’t enough votes by doing nothing, zero, nada to make sure there were. I watched every second of it. And no matter how many times Chris Matthews or insert any Beltway alive pundit left, right, center, or Canadian (yeah I have a sense of humour and YEAH I would like Canadian health care-I am such a commie) tells me otherwise I actually paid attention to what he actually DID and not just what he said.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 159

I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I looked at Bob Barr, as well, but couldn’t support the platform.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to masaccio @ 124

masaccio, I could never say it better.

rmwarnick February 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

The public option passed the House, and it had the nominal support of a majority of senators. Given that the Affordable Care Act passed via reconciliation, I think we were owed a Senate vote on the public option, that we never got. IMHO it’s too simplistic to say, “didn’t have the votes.” The crucial vote was never taken.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Listen, I gave a warning above. This is going to be the last time. Be respectful of the guest and host, or you will be toast. That is simply not how guests and hosts get treated here. Comprendo?

Ah, I see a mod beat me to it. Please folks, treat each other and our guests with respect and kindness.

lsls February 20th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 165

That makes a whole lot of sense./s

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’m not going to vote Republican, nor am I going to vote for Obama. I’m tired of the “lesser of two evils” false dichotomy and I’m with Eli: Republicans don’t scare me and “I suck less” isn’t a campaign slogan, it’s an apology.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Margaret @ 158

Well, that’s a view, and of course I disagree, but I think it behooves you to have an alternative. I don’t mean to be insulting, I promise, when I say this, but it sounds to me an awful lot like Ralph Nader’s argument in 2000. If people truly believe there is no difference between today’s Republican Party and Obama, just as Nader believed there was not “a dime’s worth of difference” between the two parties, then our premises are so distant from one another so as to preclude useful discussion.

Nader by the way, called Obama an “Uncle Tom for corporate America.” He remains committed to his original analysis–one I find personally indefensible–and if a significant portion of the left wants to go down that road a second (or third or fourth or fifth) time, then I’d have to say that the situation for progressive politics in this country really is hopeless.

chett February 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to Margaret @ 158

Right, but doesn’t it seem like everyone here is basically on the same page about their disappointment? Disappointment in the Democratic party is disappointment in the whole system. It just seems like we’ve established that this administration didn’t remotely live up to its promise, and that we’ve established that the two-party system is corrupt, and revisiting whether Obama himself was a tool or a conman just beats a dead horse. As far as I can tell, the premise of the book is that whomever gets elected is irrelevant.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to jedimsnbcko19 @ 167

It’s way easy for people with an income to pretend everything is both hunky and dory I suppose.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I think it’s still early enough to consider starting a campaign to encourage all Americans to vote for anyone other than Democratic Party or Republican Party candidates.

Rather than find a viable third party candidate, let’s acknowledge as a people that the leaders of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the heart of the problem (the MOTU are the brain, and money is the blood).

Time to stand up to the beast.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 165

The “good” thing about republicans too is since they are so open they eventually piss people off enough and hopefully that means maybe the people will start thinking about the issues more. With dems they dont do that because they are so half assed and make up so many excuses that their supports become confused and robots. Like what were seeing in florida and wisconsin.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 103

Getting Big Money’s horrible weight off the way our political system works would be a start. And Obama did say he felt the Supremes did overstep their role in the Citizens United decision.

BUT…he then went on to appoints centrist SCOTUS nominees. I can’t predict how the two nominees will eventually work out, but Kagin comes from supporting expansions of executive power.

How will we get that abomination of a decision reversed without real supporters of the Constitution on the bench?

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

As described in the book, the right has spent decades building up institutions and think tanks to get their message out, culminating with the creation of the mammoth conservative propaganda operations that are Fox News and talk radio.

I would say that the Democrats are more in thrall to corporations than the right per se, but that’s probably a distinction without much of a difference.

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Margaret @ 174

I agree with you and eli

the tea party just woke up everyone in Wisconsin, and are going to help the REAL LEFT take over DC

the intelligent left is using the TEA PARTY to destroy the GOP, this is what OBAMA should have done

February 20th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Eli @ 160

If I wanted to read about how Washington affects the party structure I’d re-read Jeff Taylor’s Where’s The Party Go?

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 145

C’mon Will, you know we’re a tough audience. But thanks for convincing Eric to come into the arena.

I’m disappointed that someone so close to the Village that he can cite names and events has no clue about how to get money out of politics. Maybe his next book should lay out the structure – Democratic and Republican of the interlocking lobbying firms, the industries they represent, and the major players in this two-party shakedown. Starting with Tony Podesta and Dick Armey.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Mr. Alterman, I have read your work for a long time and always enjoyed it. I do think you have missed what FDL is like. The writers and commenters here are very well informed and truly enjoy a good conversation. Your one sentence replies and “read the book” didn’t give us much to work with quite frankly. I usually read the Book Salon and then decide whether or not I want to buy. We have 2 Book Salons each weekend and it’s impossible for everyone to have read the books featured.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

I can only judge what Obama actually does and does not do; I don’t know if he’a a “good guy.”

I’d prefer a principled, active real Dem to a “good guy.” Altho’ those two things shouldn’t be anithetical.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 169

What was it about McKinney that scared you? At least she’s got a right to claim the legacy of Martin Luther King and has the political balls enough to try breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza? Obama? He just keeps doing the same old bullshit in every single area that we all said we detested under Bush. Yet still Obamabots make excuses for him and the Democrats.

The Democratic Party is moribund.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to jawbone @ 180

That would be great. And it is good to have a discussion about changes to the system that are desparately needed. But it needs to be done WITHOUT the apologizing for the people involved. If you want to talk about issues then fine. But not about why Obama really just needs a hug. And we all just need to be nice to him. Please what are we 2 years old. Seriously.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 175

I’m not a Nader fan as you seem to suggest and despite his being correct about Obama, that doesn’t justify the racial overtones he used to describe him. Nader is saying that the Democrats are a lost cause and I agree with him. That doesn’t mean I’m ever going to support him for dog catcher, let alone president.
I am a bit offended that you would equate what I said to an obvious racial slur though and it’s because of that that I agree with you: useful discussion is now precluded. Again, thank you for your time.

brel1 February 20th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Guess all these angry frustrated people here might want to try and figure out how this kind of thinking and voting resulted in the House being taken by the Republicans.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 184

Heh, well as I said @136 above, I have no idea how to get the money out either.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Well, if the corruption is systemic, then theoretically, an honest Republican would be helpless to effect any change either,no?

jedimsnbcko19 February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 175

Edited by Moderator. Be respectful, even when you disagree
Obama is not that into Progressives, read below Eric

1st Obama endorses the Bush agenda of spying on and killing americans
2nd Obama attacks Unions (the F! the UAW moment screams republican)
3rd Obama double downs on Bush Wars, (now they are Obama wars)
4th Obama attacks Teacher Unions (teacher unions now hate OBAMA)
5th Obama does not attack the Banks? he bails them out? (sorta like what the GOP does)
6th Obama passes the Bob Dole Health Care Bill (Bob Dole is a republican)
7th Obama kills the Public Option
8Th Obama kills Drug Importation
9Th Obama APPOINTS an insurance executive to manage his health care Bill
10th Obama does not APPOINT Dawn Johnsen
11th Obama hand picks the cat food commission to destroy Social Security
12th Obama supports Blanche Lincoln, a candidate who hates Unions, and has no chance of winning
13 Guantanomo still open for business
14.Patriot Act renewed
15. renditions continue
16. Bernanke reappointed
17. Americans targeted for assassination
18 Obama is all for sending more USA jobs off shore
19 Obama is for tax cuts for the RICH!
20. Obama and the TSA porno Scandal
21 Obama freezes federal wages for 2 years
22. OBAMA TARP Funds for Legal Services for Foreclosure Victims Blocked By Treasury
23. Obama lowers estate tax for the rich
24. Obama tax bill of 2010 GUTS Social Security
25. Obama wants WikiLeaks Assange charged with espionage.
26 Obama Fake Net Neutrality Caves to AT&T,Comcast
27 Obama Wall Street Buddies foreclose on USA soldiers Homes

jwill5587 February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 175

So basically you’re saying “Rise up, get mad but work within the system.” Every liberal victory in the history of this country was brought about by people who refused to “work within the system.” Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Martin Luther King, and yes the man you despise Ralph Nader. I can’t speak for everyone here but the days of me choosing between the lesser of two evils are over. If you don’t represent my values then you’re not getting my vote. That simple. I don’t care how “right-wing crazy” the opponent is.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to jawbone @ 186

This is why i actually supported Dean back in 2003. He WAS principled and talked about the issues rather then just some marketing crap to get elected. Unfortunately hes become nothing but an apologist now and i find him frankly disgusting.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 178

Not a bad idea when it comes to the Congress and state legislatures. If there are enough multiple parties, the system in legislatures becomes a de facto parliamentary system.

Sort of irrelevant when it comes to an executive. Except for the pools from which appointments will be drawn.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to bmaz @ 191

I wish I could figure out how to get some of the money to me.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to brel1 @ 190

I think it had to do with the worst economy since the great depression, but sure, you can blame it on the liberals, too, if you’d like.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Margaret @ 177

George Lakoff posted an excellent article yesterday explaining the conservative moral system.

Unfortunately, he too doesn’t want to face the fact that the Democratic Party has been infested by sellouts and that it’s become part of the problem.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 120

Unfortunately, Obama himself decided to be the first presidential candidate to eschew public financing for his run for the general election.

Trust actions, not words.

Knut February 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Mr. Alterman. Thank you for coming into the lion’s den. And I, for one, am going to read your book. I’ve thought long and hard whether Obama could have tried harder; I accept that he like all other politicians is trapped. It took a lot of money for hiom to submerge a truly inferior candidate last time round, and it won’t take that much less next time round. We all know that one reason even our reasonable reps don’t seem to be up on current issues (like, for example Bradley Manning’s intolerable confinement) is because they are spending almost all their waking hours drumming up campaign funds. As you say, the whole system has become impossibly corrupt. And we can’t just wish that corruption away.

I am very interested as Tarheel is, about your views on the efficacy of non-violent protest along the lines presently going on in Madison. And as to whether Obama is like the Republicans in almost all respects, I think we can see what a real Thug President would do in the actions of Governor Walker.

We are not in the worst of all possible worlds, but we seem to be getting pretty close.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 184

What does “so close to the Village” mean? I live hundreds of miles away. I have never worked for any Democratic politician and have hardly ever even given any money to one, unless Bruce Springsteen was doing a concert for him.

And, in fact, I believe I do “lay out the structure, Democratic and Republican” of the power of lobbyists in the system.

May I ask if you have read the book? And if not, what, may I also ask, would be the basis of your criticism of it?

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Eli @ 160

I agree Eli, that’s exactly the point. I think we cold have elected a president combing the best qualities of JFK and RFK and MLK and it might not have made a major difference, not with the current stacked deck. As I point out in my own recent book “The Backlash,” Obama arrived on Day One with an infrastructure questioning his legitimacy as president.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to brel1 @ 190

The House was taken over by the Republicans through the loss of a bunch of Blue Dogs and New Democrats and the two most improbable progressives in the House – Tom Perriello and Alan Grayson. And Perriello didn’t lose by much. For 3/4 of the country, progressive bloggers are irrelevant to election results.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 203

His base could have helped him but he hated us.

masaccio February 20th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I think there is substantial agreement on the points our guest makes about the nature of our democracy. I do not attribute bad motives to Obama, and I agree with Eric that Obama has tried to deal rationally with the weak democrats he inherited and the crazed republicans, and the greedy rich who, with their corporate wealth, control the political.

I think the Gordian Knot is that there is no solution to the problem Eric poses which can be accomplished within the existing systems. We need some outside force, maybe a real labor party, a party set up to represent only the interests of working and unemployed Americans; maybe a middle class revolt like #UKuncut or #USuncut.

Maybe something like the families turning out in Wisconsin to oppose destruction of the rights of working families.

It isn’t going to come from the ordinary political process.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to Eli @ 130

Plus, Dems seem to be more effective (marginally) at being in the opposition than in working with a center right president.

Knut February 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 165

You should vote for Walker, then. He’s a real winner. And by the way, if you live in AZ you will get to vote for the Sheriff! They are up and front and big in your face as you can get.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Twain @ 185

My response in those two cases, I repeat, were specifically in response to the comments that someone found my argument “impossible” to believe, Forgive me but before I say I find something “impossible” to believe, I try to go to the trouble to find out what it is he or she is saying. If they are not willing to do that, well, again, I don’t see the point.

The problem may be that this happened before I know how to press the specific “reply” button. I was replying to those specific comments. I’ve given a ton of talks about the book since it appeared and I’ve not given that reply at any other time, though of course, hardly everyone who responds to it can be expected to agree with it.

February 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

You know, just before the election in November, Obama was saying that as a gesture to those on Social Security who weren’t going to get a COLA increase, he’d have them receive $250. Now that $250 represents $125 a year for people who depend on Social Security for survival since it’s been two years since recipients received any kind of COLA increase.

What happened to even that paltry amount? Typical Chicago-style politics, spread around some shekels just before the election. Only this time he didn’t even deliver on that.

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 175

Even if you presume Nader responsible for Gores loss, which is kind of weak, since Gore ran a lackluster campaign, with a neocon vp, and you must presume that green votes would naturally default to him without Nader. It is not at all clear Gores win would have produced different result than what we got. He comes from the dlc wing of the party and the almost universally supported iwr. His vp was Joseph Lieberman, and his mentor was Martin Peretz, both of whom were extreme Iraq war hawks.

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 120

http://youstreet.org/ go here it IS a start at least!

ubetchaiam February 20th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 148

I haven’t read your book but you do make a point re what Obama faced I can agree with. What I think many readers/commenters sometimes don’t/won’t recognize is how the various pension funds throughout the nation were hammered by the fall of Stocks and what that meant to many people, in particular the State of New York, and what not doing something to address those situations would have been even worse than it has been.

The flipside of that coin is his ignoring the amount of stimulus that was necessary just like Bush,et all, ignored Shinseki.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to Dameocrat @ 211

Well, there was no more effective opponent of the war before we went in than Al Gore, so that’s a pretty difficult case to make, in light of actual history…

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 202

I find it interesting that you say you want to have a polite discourse about the issues and yet every time someone criticises or questions you, you lash out at them and say condescending things towards them. And play 1 billion dimensional chess as to why obama just really needs a hug. If you want to talk about the issues then fine. But talk about them and respect other people in this discussion please. Some of us are none too pleased watching the dems who are supposed to be the liberals and opposition party basically enable the right wing policies at every chance they can and make up excuses which are often times complete lies when they cant get liberal policies passed. Thanks.

endtimesgal February 20th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 203

Yes, and that legitmacy question does come down to racism in my opinion. And that would have been there with any president of color with a D behind his name due to the right wing noise machine in this country. It hasn’t really had that much to do with what Obama has done, however.

My husband was an early and fervent supporter of Obama.He is no more. He wanted to see the president use the internet, use all the small army of donors and supporters he had built up during the campaign to continue to achieve his goals. But once elected, he had no use for them. He and I both think he could have done amazing things with his eloquence and that fervor that he had going into that office in 2009. But that is not the man he is.

He only used those supporters to get elected. Not to get anything he claimed he wanted, done.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I find it interesting that you say you want to have a polite discourse about the issues and yet every time someone criticises or questions you, you lash out at them and say condescending things towards them.

Or equates their comments to racial slurs delivered by third parties…

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 214

He had already left office and could not stop the war if he wanted too. There are many politicians that suddenly take good positions when they are not politicians anymore and can not make a difference, either way.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 202

With all due respect, maybe I confused you with someone else. If so, regrets.

I unfortunately have not read the book yet; I’m way down in the hold list at my library. I now am interested in reading it.

My criticism was based on the fact that you were pretty vague the several times you were asked about how to get the money out of the system. bmaz has stated the legal catch-22. At that point it becomes less of a matter of legislation than one of political culture and business culture. There is a culture of shamelessness, in which unlike Abe Fortas, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are not likely to resign. And a brazenness in the buying of Congress that allows the Koch brothers to gloat in their notoriety.

ubetchaiam February 20th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Mr.Alterman; your take on Russ Feingold’s new pac:
http://www.npr.org/2011/02/16/133816020/Ex-Wisconsin-Sen-Feingold-Launches-New-PAC

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to masaccio @ 206

I agree with the first part of your comments, of course, but not with the second. This is a two party system given the winner-take all nature of the stakes. I don’t like it but that’s the way it is. So the proper response, indeed the only option open to progressives would be to do what the right did to the Republicans, isn’t it?

Why is that not the focus of progressive strategy, rather than all this hostility toward those who do their best with the system as they find it?

Do the people on this list hate Barney Frank and Al Franken as well? I’m genuinely curious…

February 20th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Knut @ 208

I’ve voted for Democrats my entire life. I was disciplined when I returned from Vietnam while I was in the Marine Corps for organizing on Marine Corps Base Quantico for McGovern. I voted for Jesse Jackson and I held my nose and voted for Clinton once.

I’m a retired public service worker eking out a meager existence in New York who is sick and fucking tired of being fucked over by Democrats and then being told to get over it by pundits. Walker is a demagogue who is taking care of his cronies while pocketing money.

T Allen February 20th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I really wish Nader hadn’t run (although of course I would’ve preferred him to Gore). And I certainly will vote for Obushma again, because on SC appointments alone it would be worth it to see him in the WH over a tea bag hack.

It seems more brainstorming needs to be focused on the fundamental problem of “the system”, and how to change it by implementing full public campaign financing, term limits, and run-offs to facilitate multi-party development.

I look forward to reading your book, Mr. Alterman. Thanks for staying in the maw of the firebagger den for a few. And thank you, too, Mr. Bunch (I’ll be checking out your book as well).

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 175

If a significant portion of the left wants to go down that road a second (or third or fourth or fifth) time, then I’d have to say that the situation for progressive politics in this country really is hopeless.

Before I saw the results during the presidency of George W. Bush, I accepted the New Deal Democrats’ views as not totally without merit.

That was the ’90s.

Now, more than a decade later, and it’s already becoming clearer to many that Nader was right when he said that there’s not “a dime’s worth of difference” between the two parties.

Your argument that Obama’s a decent guy who has to go along with the screwing over of the American people proves the point that the people have to oppose the two parties and effect real change via that opposition.

Knut February 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to endtimesgal @ 216

I agree with this point. Why didn’t Obama or at least one of his people like Plouffe exploit the internet group that was the source of so much enthusiasm? He could have run it as an outside operation independent of the White House, but as a threat to anyone on the Democratic side who crossed him. He seems to have wasted a strategic asset.

seeker561 February 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

“…could end up governing in a way you find preferable to that of Obama?”

I prefer honesty I disagree with to duplicity and lies.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Margaret @ 217

I did not equate anyone’s criticisms to Nader’s racial slur. I merely pointed out that he made it.

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 221

I consider Frank and apologist for Bankers. Frankin is a partisan dem which means when they embrace bipartisan semirepublican positions he supports it to save the party. Progressivism is definitely a lower priority for Frankin.

bmaz February 20th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 203

I agree with that completely. By the same token, that destructive infrastructure was crystal clear and known from day one. Obama was better situated than any other person elected could possibly have been (by my estimation anyway) to simply fight on a different and higher plane; he did not and, instead, ended up giving the noise strength and credibility with the endless “reaching out” and “compromise” blather and action. I have no idea if it would =have proven any more successful or not, but there was a diametrically different way for Obama to have gone – the one that he painted himself as representing.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to T Allen @ 223

Thanks very much for for the minority view!

nycterrierist February 20th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to Will Bunch @ 203

And a ginormous mandate for change!
How can we discount that?

BevW February 20th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Eric, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon discussing your new book and the Obama Administration.

Will, Thank you for Hosting this Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Eric’s website and book

Will’s website and book (the Backlash)

Thanks all,
Have a great week!!

February 20th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I don’t think Obama’s any bargain when it comes to Supreme Court picks. He had a chance to nominate some outstanding scholars and instead he puts up a corporate endorser and Elena Kagan?

Let the right wing load the court; let the people see how batshit crazy the right is when it comes to voting for corporate interests over the people. Maybe then we’ll get around to going into the streets instead of listening to people tell us to just give the guy in the White House a chance, he’s doing the best he can. The one we have now isn’t even doing the best I could.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 221

Yes the two party system is part of the problem. But to say that we have no choice so we just have to suck it up. I mean im not a nader supporter and like margeret said i woudnt vote for him for dog catcher. But what he said about the the parties being the same is true. The fact is that americans political system is one of the most broken and corrupt in the entire world but the serfs should simply accept what it is and accept that the dems are are our only choice is ludicrous. And maybe if more people realized that theyd fight harder.

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thanks to you Beverly and to you, Will also for your fine book(s)

Knut February 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 222

Thanks for the reply. I apologise if I offended you. We have a choice between terrible and catastrophic. My only point is that we have a living example in Madison of the catastrophic. This is like Weimar. We are really getting to that point.

juslin February 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

wow! its like i stumbled into a rightwing blog!! well all you progs get ready for your republican president… guess destroying women’s healthcare for poor & middleclass is enough to vote repug… oh and the continued drain of jobs moving offshore is good. getting rid of PBS & NPR is dandy.. why are we NOT attacking those who are eliminating worthwhile programs… no one has mentioned the bloated defense budget… i’m just mystified – do we do an Egypt now? finally? jus saying

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 227

I merely pointed out that he made it.

And connected it with my comment though I never mentioned Nader. In fact, I never even considered Nader as I was making the comment. You brought him up and you felt it necessary to put his slur into a response to my comment, reaching pretty far to make sure it got in there in the process in my opinion.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 221

Do the people on this list hate Barney Frank and Al Franken as well? I’m genuinely curious…

No, by and large, we don’t. But there are a lot of different opinions represented at FDL and it is an incredibly well informed bunch of folks who don’t tolerate much BS.

Twain February 20th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 230

At one time that was the majority view. I think most of the people at FDL gave money to Obama (I certainly did) and more than anything, wanted him to succeed, to be a great president. The progressives are like the bride left at the altar and we’re angry because he didn’t even TRY. Lackluster responses to everything. He had a firm base and kicked it aside. We won’t be fooled again.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Perhaps an alternate title for this book could have been:

“If You’re Not a Part of the Solution,You’re Part of The System.”

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to Margaret @ 238

Weak arguments can only be supported with weak evidence.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 235

Thanks much for coming. You can leave your FDL-issued asbestos coveralls with the moderator.

Will Bunch February 20th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Thanks everybody from my end for a lively discussion in the FDL tradition. Thanks Eric for agreeing to do that and thanks Bev for asking me to moderate. Good night!

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 221

Seems to me if you really wanted to focus on what was needed to change the system you would have written a book about that and not a book proving Obama is a helpless victim who we should still vote for because he make such a big difference relative to the republicans.

Naomi Klien shares your view of the utter hopelessness of voting for Pathetic Dem politicians and focuses on other types of activism.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I’d like to thank everyone for a healthy and worthwhile discussion.

February 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to Knut @ 236

No problem. If you haven’t yet, give Robert O. Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism a read. We are at the tipping point. One of the prerequisites for fascism is when people view their governing institutions as ineffective and weak. The Tea Party and right-wingers like the Koch Bros. are moving their agenda along nicely.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Read Yves Smith’s Feb 18 post “Why Liberal Are Lame.” Right. On. The. Money. You’ll pardon the expression. If Eric Alterman wants to defend Obama, OK. He can probably afford to. I’ve been there, I know how that goes. It’s Ronald Reagan replying to the question about the problems of people in 10 percent unemployment that everyone he knew was doing fine. I guess so, Ronnie. Does depend on who you know, doesn’t it.

Dameocrat February 20th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

yep!

jwill5587 February 20th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 233

I agree with what you said. Most liberals(I fucking hate that chicken-shit word progressive)would rather compromise than risk losing what they have. Only when your anger outweighs your fear will change happen. I grew up poor so I’m used to having to fight.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 224

New Deal Democrats

I meant New Dems (i.e. DLC types), not New Deal.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 241

Funny!

February 20th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to msmolly @ 239

I think Barney Frank is in the pocket of the banking industry and that he made sure whatever financial reform came out of Washington wouldn’t hurt his peeps. I haven’t seen enough of Franken yet to form an opinion.

letsbegin February 20th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to kall @ 131

That’s it, Kall. Hammer-finding-nail-head sound.

Eric, sir–

Obama, a victim of the system? Hard to swallow, given the soaring rhetoric that captivated so many and vaulted Obama over his anointed opponent, HRC. Those hopeful many made the mistake of believing their lying ears, I guess.

Others have noted that stealing from the naive is still stealing.Hard to excuse a moral failing that egregious.Typical library-book liebrul–blame the social forces. Sigh.

RevBev February 20th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Austin to have a march tomorrow to support Wis….

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to Dameocrat @ 245

I dont know that much about Eric. Ive heard his name around on tv or somewhere. But frankly im shocked at how offensive his comments were. And how much he seemed more interested in blaming us then actually talking about the issues. It would be nice to have an author on that as you say talks about the issues and isnt obviously partisan. I actually believe he walked away from here thinking that were all just leftists who need to get with the program. Disgusting.

By the way i didnt realize that obama was supreme ruler of the universe and that everything revolves around him. I mean there are issues in this country and the world that arent about him. Maybe we can talk about them sometime.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Couldn’t have been more different from last week’s Salon with Wendell Potter, could it?

February 20th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I’ll think twice before I read anything this man has to say, in a book or on a blog.
Maybe Obama can find a place for him in his PR machine.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
In response to RevBev @ 255

Excellent news. Rick Perry needs a shot over the bow.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:08 pm
In response to Twain @ 240

Marshall Ganz put it very well. Obama campaigned as a transformational candidate and has presided as a transactional President. “If you’re ready for change…” as he backed away from the podium in that dramatic flourish to end the stump speech. What a load!

endtimesgal February 20th, 2011 at 4:10 pm
In response to bmaz @ 229

Yes, yes, yes. People were in love with Obama. YES, there are and were plenty that hate him, but love is stronger than hate. He did nothing NOTHING with a mandate for change. It was a great ad campaign though.

It’s like we elected Dukakis, we kinda thought Obama was something new out of the Dem wood pile, not the same old shit in a time when the Republican memes had been sold for 30 years.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:10 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 260

FWIW, that quote is actually in the book.

RevBev February 20th, 2011 at 4:10 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 259

Local paper today had excellent piece about him by Gail Collins…reflecting on TX shortcomings…really good. It’s the Statesman, but she’s in lots of papers.

NorskeFlamethrower February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 247

Citizen mattcarmody:

Joseph Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” is still the best starting point though I think we are now long past the point of intellectualizing and establishing a vocabulary…democracy remains the only truly revolutionary idea left in politics. And we better understand that the struggle toward the idea is all we have ever had since we started walkin upright.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to msmolly @ 257

I actually dont know. I dont usually follow these actually. :-). Usually the conversation moves faster then i can type. But ive heard of Alterman but i couldnt remember anything about him so i figured i would look. Plus when i read the description as oppposed to the title of the book and saw it was just about apologizing for obama and i got a wee bit annoyed and figured id check it out.

I notice he never replied to any of my comments. I guess im just a big bad leftist who needs to get with the program for a beltway pundit to be willing to acknowledge. Oh well. :-)

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Well, I never learned anything new when I was do all the talking,OR the blogging,BUT….the “system” was in place long before Obama first came to Washington some years back.It wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Could an apologia entitled “The System vs. George W. Bush” be somewhere on the horizon?

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 253

Off the top of my head State Street and Fidelity are MA headquartered. I’m sure there are more.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I actually believe he walked away from here thinking that were all just leftists who need to get with the program. Disgusting.

I’m not sure it matters what he walked away from here thinking about us.

JaneaneTheAcerbicGoblin February 20th, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to Knut @ 225

He seems to have wasted a strategic asset.

Obama’s wasted a lot of strategic assets, including supermajorities in Congress. He took all his political capital in 2009 (which was considerable), and wasted it kowtowing to the GOP and trashing his liberal base with a sadistic glee.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:13 pm
In response to Eli @ 262

Which book, Obama’s or Alterman’s?

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I rad about fascism i think when i was younger. I thought it was all just leftist conspiracy frankly. But ever since then and really over the last 10 years ive seen it all come true. And its not pretty frankly. And when you have people like Eric enabling these people it makes it even worse.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:14 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 266

I thought George did that. Wrong?

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 4:14 pm
In response to Twain @ 240

It’s like the Bride on that very special first night already saying “Not tonight Honey” or for that matter eveah!

CalGeorge February 20th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

My Obama is perfectly summed up in these lyrics:

“He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn’t there”

He’s not some outsider, he’s the consummate bullshit artist who appeals to populist sentiment while catering to corporate America. That is the system in American politics and Obama is a master of it.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 268

Ya. :-). I was just kidding around. I guess thats why ive come to like the people at FDL. Some of us here arent interesting in the whoring. We just want issues dealt with already.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 268

He’s probably thinking he ain’t gonna sell many books here this afternoon.

He’s right,at least in my case.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
In response to CalGeorge @ 274

Ya. Well put. Then again isnt his hero Reagan?

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
In response to RevBev @ 263

It won’t be easy. It will take him overreaching with respect to a major constituency. The thing about Wisconsin is that public unions are so mainstreamed in local communities that rank-and-file members of public unions and likely more than few could have voted for Walker. If Perry did something to screw over farmers, he could see an equivalent public response–not that that is likely.

twobeers February 20th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I can’t believe I was moderated out for pointing out Alterman’s Paradox(tm):

1. Because the problem is not with our politicians, it’s with the system, we shouldn’t complain about politicians;

2. Revolutions are bad; therefore, the only way to effect systemic change is through our polticians.

3. See #1.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 276

Ya! I personally dont read any political books. I dont have the time and im a bad reader. So to have to sit through things that i alrady know about or have my time wasted is just not something that im interested in.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 270

Heh. Alterman’s. Strange as it sounds, his book seems to be less pro-Obama than he is.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 272

Will be prominently displayed in a place of honor,over at his Greatest Works collection in his Texas library /s

JaneaneTheAcerbicGoblin February 20th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

The whole tone of Alterman seems to be “you know, at heart, Obama’s a good guy trying his best”. I remember hearing the same crap about Clinton back during his days, and all we got was NAFTA, the Internet bubble, welfare “reform”, GATT, and we nearly got a bipartisan deal where Social Security would have been partially privatized (luckily, Clinton didn’t get to do that, and he was deeply disappointed in that).

I didn’t buy it with Clinton, and I don’t buy it with Obama.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:18 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 266

That was the theme of the 2000 election.

JaneaneTheAcerbicGoblin February 20th, 2011 at 4:18 pm
In response to twobeers @ 279

Sounds like a computer loop where your programme never ends.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Book Salon Welcomes Wendell Potter

Go read. He responded to every comment or question.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

We heard a lot of the “get with the program” bullshit last year. A lot of it came out of the sphincter that is dkos. Even many of them started eating their own words.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:21 pm
In response to msmolly @ 286

He even responded to me when I wrote after it was over to say I was sorry to have missed the conversation!

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:21 pm
In response to msmolly @ 257

That’s the difference between a journalist (who hears stuff second-hand) and a whistleblower (who saw it firsthand).

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:22 pm
In response to msmolly @ 286

What a supreme disappointment that I was unable to participate in that Salon!

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Its called an infinite loop. Im a programmer. :-). Im uisually able to avoid them but i actually was learning a new language about 6 months ago and was trying to learn loops. And guess what i kept creating infinite ones. Ughhh.

Theres also though a function that calls itself. For some reason the name escapes me though. Oh recursive duh.

Nice name by the way.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Only if you stay within the context of the loop.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 289

Painting with too broad a brush maybe?

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 290

It may have been the best one I’ve seen — granted, I skip the ones that don’t interest me. But it was great!

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to Eli @ 281

…his book seems to be less pro-Obama than he is.

Reality intrudes?

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:25 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 287

Thats why i said he should go on dkos or huffpost or places like that. There are many arent there. Why he came here i dont know. I guess Will Bunch who i also know very little about invited him. Whats somewhat annoying is that they simply both left after not exactly being polite to the people here. It was like a drive by shooting.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:25 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 290

It would be worth your time to go read the post and comments!

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:26 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 293

I always thought that whitewash was most efficiently applied with a very broad brush.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:26 pm
In response to msmolly @ 297

Thanks. Will do!

earlofhuntingdon February 20th, 2011 at 4:27 pm
In response to Eli @ 160

A pithy, professional response one might have expected from the book’s author. Enough, please, with the “Class, you haven’t read the assignment so I’m canceling my lecture.”

There is substantial goodwill for Mr. Alterman and his views. Please nourish and direct that goodwill with succinct comments beyond, see footnote no. 34. Thanks.

jawbone February 20th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Eric ALterman may not live in DC, but the power of access to MOTU’s and their political servants is…sometimes overwhelming of good analysis. And addictive. It sounds to me as if Eric has become enough of an insider of Versailles to regard us as “the great unwashed” or just plebes who can’t conceive of the intricacies of managing power.

I can’t know this; it’s my guess as to why he has reacted as he did to challenges and criticism from some of us here.

And I have to admit Obama’s actions have made me highly skeptical of politicians and the MCM’s (Mainstream Corporat Media’s) actions in enabling the bamboozling of the American public into supporting Bush/Cheney’s Iraq Invasion has led to my doublechecking what I read/hear from MCMers.

It was so much easier way bacj when I felt I could trust, say, the NYTimes….

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:28 pm
In response to Margaret @ 295

In the introduction he basically says he’s not really sure if Obama’s a good guy hamstrung by the system, and he *is* very critical of his pre-compromising and incompetent messaging (especially his mocking of his own base, and his refusal to defend or explain anything).

The book is an indictment of our political system much more than a defense of Obama, and it would still work as such whether Alan Grayson or Michele Bachmann was president.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I once wrote a recursive program in a text formatting language that had rudimentary control structures. It was a 44-line program for formatting a table on a page. It depended on the routine feeding it to provide an end-of-operation instruction (like a in HTML). The geniuses writing the routine feeding it failed to do that for a 500-page table. And wondered why my program ballooned up to 400,000 lines and clogged processing. That paradox loop needs the insertion of some kind of end-of-operation instruction. What is happening in Madison is one way of doing that. Elections are too far away to apply pressure on politicians, and they have been cagey in shutting off means of communications other than with campaign donors.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

FDL invited Eric, then invited Will to serve as host.

twobeers February 20th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I haven’t read his book, but that’s what his argument seems to be to me.

It makes me feel like a mouse on a wheel: don’t stop to think that you’re not getting anywhere, just keep doing the same things (supporting the same old politicians who pretend to be on our side).

If we’re going to talk about problems with the system, at what point will we be permitted to mention that the problems we face are fundamental and endemic to capitalism?

earlofhuntingdon February 20th, 2011 at 4:32 pm
In response to masaccio @ 206

Mr. Obama does seem to negotiate by giving away key points before he starts negotiating, which means of course he’s been negotiating and lost, but hasn’t made his case to the public. He acts as if his access to the bully pulpit is only a resource that can be used after he’s done, to rationalize outcomes, when it’s a resource that might change those outcomes.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I’m glad he came here, though I don’t recall him responding to any of my comments and some of his reactions to comments today seemed odd and even (in one case) absurd.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:32 pm
In response to Eli @ 302

Thank you for that and I appreciate Eric being here and Will hosting but it might have gone better had he not been so dismissive of people with other opinions than his.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 293

Actually I was describing an occupational (or role) limitation on knowing events. Wendell Potter was able to be very specific whereas Alterman tended to be vague. Lived details are easier to recall.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
In response to mattcarmody @ 187

Agree about Obama, disagree about McKinney. I find McKinney unsavory and I suspect her motives in running on the Green ticket. She pushed aside some authentic Green candidates to seize the ballot line. I’m not sure why Green convention voters chose a Dem retread over several long time party candidates, but that’s their thing and they’re entitled to their choices. I point out that the TX Greens took right wing money to get themselves onto the ballot and I found that unsavory, as well.

I think the Greens are clueless and grasping at straws because after how many years now? they’re not making the kind of poll progress a properly organized and energized third party could. The Farmer-Laborites are a strong presence in WI. It can be done.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

According to Mr. Alterman’s Wiki:

In September 2004, Viking Press published When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences –- a version of his doctoral dissertation –– on lies of major consequence told by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.

I would buy an update of this book if it would include the official deceptions of major consequence by this current administration.

Eric Alterman – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaEric Alterman (b. January 14, 1960) is an American historian, journalist, author , media critic, blogger, and educator. His political weblog named …

Education – Career – Criticism of Ralph Nader – Major Works
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Alterman – Cached – Similar

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:34 pm
In response to Margaret @ 308

I agree, and I wish he hadn’t put so much effort into defending Obama, which was pretty much guaranteed to derail the conversation about our systemic problems.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:35 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 303

Right. Elections these days are almost useless. Since little if anything happens. This is one thing thats frustrated me even about liberals and democrats. Too much emphasis on elections and nothing really on what happens in between them. The interesting thing about wisconson of course is that its happening because of an extreme right wing politician. So while they are awful at least they are openly awful which wakes the people up because its so blatant. I guess its kind of like the saying of a frog. When you throw a frog into boiling water it tries to escape. But when you slowly boil it it wont do anything and will eventually die.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:36 pm
In response to Eli @ 281

He probably likes the guy personally. It’s really, really hard to admit that someone you like personally is shitty at his job. And evidentially(coinage, coinage) dishonest. Like throwing a close relative under the wheels of justice. How many people do that?

CalGeorge February 20th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

A guy who says, “we have to make America the best place on Earth to do business,” is not hamstrung by the system.

A guy who says, “look, I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market,” is not hamstrung by the system.

A guy who says, “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system,” is not hamstrung by the system.

JaneaneTheAcerbicGoblin February 20th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Its called an infinite loop. Im a programmer. :-). Im uisually able to avoid them but i actually was learning a new language about 6 months ago and was trying to learn loops. And guess what i kept creating infinite ones. Ughhh.

I used to do that all the time in my programming classes in high school. Which would explain why I’m not a computer programmer.

recursive

Recursion, when procedures fall back on themselves.

Actually learned that from a Doctor Who episode, Castrovalva (Davison’s first one).

Nice name by the way.

Thanks.

jaango February 20th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Eric Alterman and the white guys, “just don’t get it!”.

I personify and perpetuate the identity politics acribed to me by the likes of Nixon and his co-horts in politics. And subsequently, I represent the Native American/Chicano Mindset.

Therefore, one of the problems is not Big Money in politics, since public financing at the state level demonstrates that new “ideas” have entered the mainstream, and thusly, the philosophy and ideology on the Right has been a “door-opening” systemic for themselves and their crazy ideas. To wit, with public financing, Democrats have marginalized themselves with the screeching lack of “new” Ideas. Consequently, America is now seeing a rash of highly-charged “nationalistic rhetoric” and behavior that was mainstreamed during the Reagan Era, and today, citizeship is now defined by the anti-immigrationist behavior and rhetoric. And my Arizona, is now an exemplar, not for a Laboratory for Democracy, but for a Laboratory for Lobotomies.

However, Democrats created what is today’s poliltical behavior in that in the early 1970′s, Senator “Scoop” Jackson and his neo-liberal co-horts, or with more precision and accuracy on my part, the arch-conservatives in Democratic Party regalia and camouflage, climed down from America’s “political attic” and proceded to attune themselves to their First Cousins, the Neo Conservatives or arch-conservatives, and married each other, in terms of philosopy, ideology and “nationalic rhetoric”. And this collective behavior manifested itself in the mid-1970, when the military draft was discontinued. As such, the Middle Class was doomed and forced to accept a political behavior for being cavlierly dismissed and for being abjectly rejected.

Now, much can be said regarding President Obama and Vice President Biden, but in our respective realities for Native Americans and Chicanos, both are considered arch-conservatives or Neo-libersls, given their august assault on the Middle Class and the Low-income. Therefore, we have written the political premise for Obama’s Legacy and which is the Era of Squandered Opportunities. And how this will be receive by the African American Community remains to be seen.

Therefore, from the early 1970′s and into the Future or about the year 2050, an approximate 75% of America will consist of Diversity, and this Construct of the Native Americans/Chicanos will be the “driving force” in American politics, and yet, I as I look around at what the white Guys are either saying or speaking, none are either willing or capable of speaking to this political impact, but they are “experts” in today’s context and where the PEW, continues to “lay down the acceptable mantra” for these self-perceived “experts”.

Moreover, in the next forty years, and in which Diversity achieves it capacity for being at the “top of America’s bankrupted heap” given that the Arch-conservatives have decimated the Middle Class, the “game changer” will come forth in the form of a “40-Year Agenda” and which is being written today and done, by America’s military veterans–Native Americans and Chicanos, collectively, and without much input from either the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Perhaps, white Progressives will come to epitomize the historical “northeastern progressive” Republican and which will be found in the “new” Republican Party of an annualized year of 2050. Or until the 20 Republican-led State Legislatures take the collective decision to create the New Confederacy and subsequently, rejecting Diversity, and done on the basis of the banal “nationalist rhetoric” that is prevalent in today’s political toxicity.

In closing, I will expect to “hear” the loud voices of the white “experts” on a much grander canvas than is today’s painters for Social Justice. And if not, I will be greatly disappointed. As to Eric Alterman in particular, I can only say, “Go get ‘em Tiger”!

Jaango

earlofhuntingdon February 20th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
In response to Eli @ 302

I hope this was just a “bad hair day”.

My main criticism of Mr. Obama is that he blithely accepted much of what Bush left him (eg, a corrupted DoJ and weakened federal bureaucracy across the board). He had control of both houses, but chose not to move the midfield line back to the fifty yard line, or even to recognize that as a task to be done. He then asks for indulgences because he finds it so hard to score touch downs with poor field position.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
In response to Eli @ 302

Then why did he react the way he did to reasonable comments? It seems like he got offended by anyone saying anything bad about Obama when he should have pointed out the focus of his own book and stayed focused on it.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 303

Oops. When did the machine give up?

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
In response to Eli @ 312

Yeah, sorta flies in the face of a basic rule of speaking: Know your audience! Anyway, I’ll leave it there.

madma February 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 40

I know this is late, but on this one I had to respond. Are you crazy? Really, that is all the choices we have in this country? Get real… You sound like a co-dependent enabling a drunk. There is no reason for him to do anything for the people with people like you around. and yes, I would rather have a crazy republican, at least then people like you would report the truth about them and people on the left would stand up and make them be accountable to the people.

econobuzz February 20th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Tough crowd. Well done :-)

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:40 pm
In response to Eli @ 312

You’ve already addressed my question @ 319. Too bad, indeed.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:40 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 310

The Greens around here think they can jump to electing a President without developing a local bench. I understand that there are some localities where there are Greens in local governments. I have heard of none breaking into a state legislature yet. Even socialist Bernie Sanders started in local politics and made it to the national level. So it can be done.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:41 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 307

Ya. I dont think he expected the, uhhh, reaction that he got. I guess he thought wed all just sympothize with him and agree and that would be that. Guess he doesnt follow the site much. Well there were alot of comments. Mine were longer, actually much longer, then i intended so i wasnt suprised actually. I did find some of his comments rather bizarre though. It seemed like the people here know vastly more about things then he does. So people had to correct him several times. And thats the problem that i have with people like him. And many of the elite these days. They seem to have a filter that only sees what they want to see. Very much like conservatives.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Now that probably nobody is still here, I want to ask a question. Mods, admins, someone? How come there is no link up top to the other partner sites or even to the main FDL site, like there is on the other sites? I have to retype the URL to return to the main site, and it’s odd and a nuisance.

andreww February 20th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

To this Alterman guy: he’s simply the embodiment of the only American virtue: hucksterism.

I’m not all that interested in how much Obama can or can’t influence politics/legislation. What we can all agree on–I think–is that he really hasn’t done much outside of preserve the status quo. Does that make him bad (or even ineffectual)? I don’t know. But the evidence that he has even *tried* even just a little bit to advance progressive legislation is next to nil. Still, I’m not sure what that says about him–I’m not being snide; I really don’t know what it says about him. I’m certainly agnostic on this.

But I think what is pretty important to consider, but hasn’t been discussed, is that a genuinely non-moneyed, non-coopted, truly grassroots progressive movement is likely impossible in this country. Does anyone think the Wisconsin protests are going to scare any other Republican governors? I mean, I’m a big believer in not needing hope to persevere and all that, but I also think that Senators and Presidents are probably protected enough to ignore even a deeply vituperative and concentrated labor/progressive movement.

So then what?

koolearl February 20th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Whenever I find myself thinking that perhaps I am being too harsh on President Obama for the same “trapped in a system” reasons Mr Alterman puts forth, I remember the Shirley Sherrod incident and I snap back to my senses.

madma February 20th, 2011 at 4:43 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 48

why would anyone want to read your book when you say that we have no better choice then Obama. I would far rather read the book of a creative person who has some ideas of getting us out of the mess obama has contributed to. You need to turn off the corporate media, which is just about everything

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I’m sure his book salon at daily Kos will go much better, (though to be honest he might get flak for not defending Obama enough)

veganrevolution February 20th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Who cares about Obama or the Democrats. The real stuff is happening in Madison. Barry is a lost cause.

Power to the people! Change will never come from politicians. That’s why I’m an anarchist.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
In response to madma @ 330

He actually *does* talk about potential remedies in his conclusion, I don’t understand why he didn’t seem to want to talk about them here.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
In response to msmolly @ 327

Click on MyFDL at the top of this page. Then click on FIREDOGLAKE on the next page. It gets you back to FDL’s front page.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
In response to koolearl @ 329

I remember ACORN and all of the other things Obama has wrung his hands about in silence.

john in sacramento February 20th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Wow. The author’s tone.

Reminds me of a time my Mom needed a vacuum cleaner, so I gave her a ride to shop around. We got to one store, walked inside, and noticed that there were no price tags anywhere.

I asked the salesman in the store “how much are the vacuums?”

And he said, “how much do you have?”

I thought that was a rude question, and I said, “I don’t know, how much are they?”

Then he started getting even more rude, “how much do you have?” More insistent

I said, “look, I just want to know how much the vacuums are?”

Then he started getting real rude. So, I said to my Mom “we’re leaving,” and as we were going out the store he started using profanity

Needless to say, he didn’t get a sale, and that store is now out of business

madma February 20th, 2011 at 4:46 pm
In response to Margaret @ 44

I just love you margaret

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:46 pm
In response to Margaret @ 331

The tide may be turning there. I’ve seen outright denunciations that receive supporting comments. Time will tell.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:47 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 325

Well im not personally a green. I know my name is thirdpartyplease but im really an independent bordering heavily on the progressive side. The name is very tongue in cheek. Unfortunately there really are no feasible parties anymore. I looked at the green party and it became obvious they just arent a very strong party. They have some good ideas but they never really go anywhere. And dont have very good candidates. Kind of like libertarians. Which is sad because they we end up being stuck with the “two party system”. And we all know how effective that is these days.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

What happened in 2010 was that the House and Governors victories on a Tea Party platform were so massive that the newly elected did not constrain to be charming like the GOP conservatives were from Reagan onward. If there is any footage, see how Simpson and Cheney and crowd handled the media during the 1980s. They were on a charm offensive.

The current crowd is so sure of the majority (the Tea Party and media delusion) and their power that they have overreached early. And in doing that they struck at the interests of some of the people who voted for them on other issues.

Gitcheegumee February 20th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Thanks to all for an intriguing and informative interlude.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:47 pm
In response to msmolly @ 327

I’ve got it bookmarked, then it’s just a drop down menu and one click.

Adams February 20th, 2011 at 4:48 pm
In response to CalGeorge @ 274

Nice, Flackmeister. For me that describes Clinton more than Obama. But I read his books before voting for him.

Props to EA for showing up. We’re all haters here.

Me too, I got nothing for Barry. Not even a vote this time.

Can’t stand the corporatists; maybe things have to get worse. Much worse.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Wow! And I thought I couldn’t sell Ice cubes in Hell….

veganrevolution February 20th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

It’s a world-wide revolution–look at the Middle East. People are sick of the rich bastards who run the world. You can see it everywhere. I’m really stoked by what’s happening lately. Obama is a nonentity. Support the Mad Town protesters and the brave Libyans who are dying for freedom. Electoral politics is bullshit.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:50 pm
In response to msmolly @ 327

I think they do that to give the writer emphasis and to give the discussion emphasis. You should be able to just click the back button. One issue i have is having to refresh. They added this nice ajaxy comment in place system but after you leave a comment or if you dont leave a comment you have to keep refreshing. Which gets confusing after a while. Also it would be nice if they somehow combined the replies. Having to read comment 400 that was in reply to comment 10 is really difficult.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:51 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 338

I pointed out there the other day that in reality “Obama derangement syndrome” is what the people who defend him are suffering from, not an affliction of his detractors.

I haven’t gotten a single tip since then. What a shame! :-D

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:51 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 325

The evangelical right took over the Republican party by starting at the local level and determinedly working their way up. It didn’t happen overnight and they knew going in it wouldn’t. They had a workable plan with supporting tactics and they worked their plan. Ta Da. Here we are. Yes, it certainly can be done. Rayne, where are you?

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

You can click the (show text) button to read the comment being replied to. Although if you need to read the comment that *that* comment was replying to…

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm
In response to madma @ 337

I like your comments too madma. :)

andreww February 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

It’s made rising in the morning a little less onerous. I can’t lie.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 4:53 pm
In response to Margaret @ 347

If you weren’t HR’d, that’s considerable progress. Persistence counts!

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 4:55 pm
In response to Eli @ 349

Youre right. Thats actually what i meant to say. I dont think they had that for a while so maybe im remembering that. Discussions sytems are difficult to get right. Theres a few sites i read daily that have long discussion threads. This being one of them. And it seems none of them really get it right. Theres a system though called DISQUS that FDL might want to look into.

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:55 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 352

Oh no. I never give them an excuse for that but it’s kinda like a hobby to me. Though I like to have a reasonable conversation, I also like to see how many other people I can get moderated by their going off on me. Evil, eh?

andreww February 20th, 2011 at 4:56 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 348

A progressive movement mirroring that of the rise of evangelical right through churches and parishes could happen, but like the right’s movement, it will require being coopted by some big money. And big money–corporate underwriters–by its nature is at odds with progressive values.

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 4:56 pm
In response to andreww @ 328

a genuinely non-moneyed, non-coopted, truly grassroots progressive movement is likely impossible in this country.

As long as that is believed, it is true.

As long as Egyptians believed that the regime could intimidate them, it was true.

When someone stands up, the spell is broken. Whether Madison is that moment depends on how many ordinary non-political people turn out and for how long. And whether Madison spreads to Columbus and Lansing and Indianapolis and Trenton and Tallahassee and Oklahoma City and Austin….

And whether that state-level protest gets some national demands. All of these governors are in power because of the national money that swamped their opponents in a media blitz and because of a dishonest corporate media narrative. It’s easy to place demands on a state government. Can demands for a change in media policy and corporate political engagement be wrangled out of corporations through direct action? Or reducing the linkage between Congress and K Street through direct action? No one knows because no one has tried a really serious and well-timed strategy. And even imagining what that strategy would be is difficult, as shown by your comment.

koolearl February 20th, 2011 at 4:57 pm
In response to Margaret @ 335

I am one who kept trying give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, but after the accumulations of disappointments that started almost immediately after he was elected (when he announced his economic team)the Sherrod incident was the final nail for me. Hey, I tried to be fair.

Eli February 20th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Nooo, no nested comments. It’s an absolute nightmare to try to find new comments when you get up over, say, 20.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:58 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 311

From his bio:

Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduation School of Journalism, a columnist for The Nation, Moment, and The Daily Beast, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Maybe he wasn’t accustomed to the “students” talking back?

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 4:59 pm
In response to koolearl @ 357

I did too. I defended Obama all through the health care debate kabuki but not anymore. Not ever again.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 4:59 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 334

Oh yeah, Knox, I *know* how to get there. I have an RSS feed for FDL among other things. But why a minimum of two steps, and are newcomers going to know the path?

Margaret February 20th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
In response to msmolly @ 359

Well CAP has always been in the tank and the same can be said to a lesser extent for The Nation. As for The Daily Beast…you might as well read Politico.

veganrevolution February 20th, 2011 at 5:01 pm
In response to andreww @ 351

Hell, yeah! The movement has begun folks! Forget Eric Alterman and Obama. The real important stuff is happening in the street. Get your strength and inspiration from these courageous folk fighting for their rights!

Power to the fucking people, man!

dakine01 February 20th, 2011 at 5:01 pm
In response to msmolly @ 361

I have a vague recollection of seeing something that Book Salon is a not for profit piece now so it may have to do with that. If you notice, there aren’t any ads at Book Salon either so it may be some tax thing that forces a separation like you describe (I’m like Margaret as I have all the FDL sites book marked)

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

On the other hand, have you experienced the nested comments in the MyFDL diaries? Those are a nightmare for the opposite reason — you have to keep scrolling back to see replies to a specific comment — including your own.

And I do know how to navigate, my question was simply why not the links up top to the other sites, like there are on those sites? The URL is different, too. Book Salon is its own second-level domain.

freesociety February 20th, 2011 at 5:03 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Eric your premise is totally, 100% wrong here.

Remember that Obama is the guy here who, by his own free choice, has hired and surrounded himself with nothing but anti-Reform, Corporatist-WallStreet, Neocons like Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Giethner, Lawrence Summers, Robert Gates, Bill Daley, Robert Gibbs, David Patraeus, Hillary Clinton (a committed Neocon-fascist for the last 9 years), and other pro-Establishment, pro-NAFTA, pro-WallStreet insiders, Banking crooks, and Bushman. Obama is the guy who, by his own choice, even gave a pro-preemptive War speech while accepting the Nobel Peace prize (making a disgraceful mockery of the whole event). Martin L. King would clearly be ashamed, and so should we.

So don’t tell me that someone with genuine progressive bonafides would not have done better than this. That is a total lie, and a cop out.

Even President John Kerry would have done much better here. Obama has given us a Dick Cheney Department-of-Justice, a Reagan-Bush trickle-down Tax policy, a Nixonian-Bush crimialization of whistleblowers and peace advocates, a Cheney-Bush mass-murdering War & Occupation policy, a Mitt-Romney-Bob-Dole Insurance boondoggle, and a Hank Paulson Bank Bailout to Wall Street crooks. And he has done this all, when other choices and other decisions were clearly possible (in fact, most of the public was crying out for them).

Obama was not powerless here — especially not during his first two years when the Democrats had overwhelming control of both chambers. For all along, Obama did have the political power here to appoint non-corrupt Cabinet members and advisors that were not beholden to the craven interests and Corporate crimes of Wall Street. Obama did have the political power here to reverse and reject core elements of the Bush-Cheney policy bankrupt trajectory of Endless War, Endless Foreign Occupations, human rights atrocities, private Contractors looting, and criminal preemptive mass-violence — instead of just aggressively promote, ratify, and expand it.

Rather than being just a powerless weakling (as he only appears), Obama has been very aggressive and very forceful about rejecting genuine reform ideas and progressive policy making — even to the point of frequently mocking and insulting his own base publically (by either him or his surrogates).

For Obama did have 50 Senators that would have gladly considered the reimportation of cheaper generic drugs, lowering the age of Medicare to 55, a public option, and other meaningful reforms — he just never had 60 (a number that he didn’t need). But he and Rahm Emanuel aggressively shot those provisions down themselves (before any votes were ever taken) because they themselves didn’t want those policies, and they didn’t want even a debate on it. They shot it down.

Obama’s also the guy who sneered at single-payer advocates at a town-hall meeting — calling them “the little people“. He’s the guy who rehired Bush’s War Secretary, who everyone thought the 2008 election had finally put out of power — giving us 8 more years of Foreign Occupations, mass-murder of civilians, detentions, and violations of international law.

The truth is that Obama was not, and is not some helpless victim of the system. Of course, the system is rotten, but he has chosen to be the star salesman and promoter of this corrupt system, and he by choice seeks only the most Establishment-blessed non-answers to our Country’s critical problems.

As long as the progressive base continues to give Barack Obama a free pass for running a more hostile, anti-progressive Presidency than either Nixon or Reagan did at their very worst — then there will be no chance for a new narrative or new Dialog in this Country.

Barack Obama needs to be Primaried.

And this needs to happen regardless of the consequences, for he has already given us Bush-III on Foreign Policy and Mitt Romney on domestic policy — so there is nothing left for us to lose here.

The only hope for Americans is to rise up like Eygpt and reject Obama’s status-quo Militarism and Corporatism that is ruining our Country. Obama may not have started these policies, but even when he had Democratic Majorities to work with, he wanted and sought for those criminal policies to continue, as we have all seen with our own eyes.

Recently, Obama just gave George H. W. Bush a Presidential Medal of Freedom award (I suppose Dick Cheney is next), and announced that he is reading a biography of Ronald Reagan (his new hero).

No folks. We don’t just have to take this crap anymore.
Obama is squarely to blame here, and we need to PRIMARY him!

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 5:03 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 348

You have it backwards. In 1979, Republican operatives in the Southern Baptist Convention took over the convention to undercut Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter’s election chances in the South. By the early Reagan administration Republican operatives formed Focus on the Family and other social conservative groups that exploited contacts with Catholics and evangelicals on the abortion issue to bring them into Republican politics. The Religious Right did not take over the Republican Party; the Republican Party created the Religious Right to turn out Southern and Catholic voters. And the monster the Republican leadership created has swallowed the Republican Party. The Tea Party libertarians are going to eat the party the same way.

I watched this process unfold in the South; it split many churches, family, and friendships.

Knox February 20th, 2011 at 5:05 pm
In response to Margaret @ 360

I opposed Obama during the nomination process in 2008 because I thought he was an unknown who wouldn’t have a clue how to navigate the system to get anything worthwhile done.

Between Feb and July 2009, he had a real opportunity to win people like me over. Instead, he caved in and started selling out. That’s about the time I found FDL. I’ll never trust a politician just because of flowery rhetoric or party label again.

Stephen February 20th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

After all that discussion I still don’t think any valid reason was put forward as to why Obama let the war criminals slide and why the Wall St. vampires got a pass. Could there possibly be an excuse other than we must “keep looking forward”?

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 5:07 pm
In response to andreww @ 355

That progressive movement you describe is precisely what happened during the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War era. In fact that was what Jerry Falwell was out to counter with the creation of the Religious Right.

econobuzz February 20th, 2011 at 5:09 pm
In response to Stephen @ 369

Couldn’t do that and maintain campaign contributions.

marymccurnin February 20th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 367

Remember when each Southern Baptist church was independent? Remember when being a Baptist meant that only the individual could interpret the Bible for themselves? All if that changed in the last thirty years. I was raised in a liberal Baptist Church. Politicians changed the church.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 364

I have several ways to get there (I just used “type the URL” as shorthand). I can go to my RSS feed and click on “Open FDL” which is what I do when the feed hasn’t updated.

Your explanation about nonprofit makes sense, although I don’t see any of the ads on any FDL pages because I use Firefox with AdBlock Plus. I didn’t know Book Salon was supposed to be a nonprofit “arm” of FDL. Interesting….I wonder why?

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:11 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 15

He most certainly did NOT try. He sold out on:

1. Health Care — strong public option

2. Wall St. Reform.

3. Importation of drugs from Canada (a campaign promise)

4. Union Bill — right to vote.

Tell me on any issue where he picked a fight with a strong, entrenched, rich corporate interest?

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:13 pm
In response to Margaret @ 362

As for The Daily Beast…you might as well read Politico.

I don’t read either of them, unless I accidentally click on a link without checking it out and it drops me there. In the case of Politico, I don’t want to give them the traffic. Daily Beast? Meh.

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:14 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 18

Not going to buy any book that offers a lame ass apology for this President who has sold us out on EVERY issue. And if you want to talk about the powerful corporate interests arrayed against him, why are all those MFers in his cabinet?

Why is Bill Daley his chief of staff? Hard to fight Wall St. When Goldman and Merrill cronies are just down the halls. Way to fight, O. What’s your response, Eric?

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:14 pm
In response to msmolly @ 359

LOL. That is a copy/paste from the bio page and I see “CUNY Graduation School of Journalism.” This from a distinguished professor’s bio, and nobody proofread it? It’s to LOL.

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:15 pm
In response to koolearl @ 329

Good point. He couldn’t fire her fast enough, could he?

TarheelDem February 20th, 2011 at 5:18 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 372

I believe that was in 1978 right up to the takeover. I remember when Wake Forest University, Furman University, and Mercer College (now Univesity) were Baptist colleges. The strictures that the SBC wanted to put on their curricula caused them to become independent and backfill the little Baptist money they were receiving.

There are Baptist churches that were and still are liberal and independent. Some white liberal Baptist churches maintain memberships in multiple conventions to have ties with historically black conventions. There are two Baptist churches in NC that regularly have gay commitment ceremonies.

In the early Constitutional period of the US, the Baptists were the ones insisting on separation of church and state (they also promoted voluntary manumission of slaves). It’s like a complete reversal. Now the Episcopalians are for separation of church and state.

canadianbeaver February 20th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Wow. Looks like I missed a lively conversation. I’m shocked at the responses that an invited guest gave to FDL regulars though. Not exactly a way to get people to listen to your points of view. Never thought someone who’s writing I admire, would come across as so rude. This world just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

marymccurnin February 20th, 2011 at 5:19 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 379

Good to know. Thanks.

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Eric Alterman February 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
48
In response to Mauimom @ 39 (hide text)

Could we perhaps have a list of his “tries”?

And my response, like that of Twain & Kelly, is that it seems condescending & snotty of you to reply “read the book.”

What is condescending and snotty? If someone tells me that they find it “impossible” to believe what I’ve just gone to the trouble of writing an entire book trying to explain, without bothering to read it, or the article upon which it was based, well, then, that’s not my problem. That’s their problem. I’m not about write a whole book here

WOW, YOU’RE TOO ARROGANT TO SEE HOW ARROGANT YOU ARE.

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 5:22 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 381

Hey Senator how goes it? Very different Book Salon ya think?/

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Yup, as I pointed out upthread, quite a contrast to Wendell Potter, wasn’t it?

300SDL February 20th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Nice analogy John, and I agree with you 100%. People like Alterman destroy their credibility with arrogance and condescension toward the people they want on their side. Perhaps he is a disciple of the caustic and dismissive Rahm Emmanuel school of coalition building which points a finger instead of lending a hand. And you can imagine what finger we’re talking about.

What Alterman and the DLC Democrats forget is what leadership is truly about, as described perfectly by Dr. King;

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

marymccurnin February 20th, 2011 at 5:24 pm
In response to nahant @ 383

No kidding. Wish I had been here earlier.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 5:27 pm
In response to msmolly @ 365

I have probably seen what youre talking about as i do look at many of the posts here. And ya the navigation seems to be different or inconsistent. I think FDL is dealing with increasing traffic and trying to figure out ways to make things more workable. Hence the url. Which i noticed as well.

andreww February 20th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
In response to 300SDL @ 385

Right. Alterman’s argument, taken to its logical conclusion, is that presidents are completely powerless. Or at any rate, all presidents hoping to enact a progressive agenda (but even that’s not really clear).

Hell, Obama doesn’t even try dogwhistle politics.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
In response to Tominator @ 382

Its not arrogant to say read the book. He said that many times. What was arrogant was his tone. Its as if the book and the person were two different entities. So as a person his ideas were different then in the book. So the only way he could argue was by saying talk to the book. If he had been polite about it then it would be been understandable to have said that. But he wasnt polite at all. He wanted obama sympothisers and when he didnt get that he started becoming increasing rude and nasty and beligerent.

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 5:32 pm
In response to 300SDL @ 385

What Alterman and the DLC Democrats forget is what leadership is truly about, as described perfectly by Dr. King;

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Truer words have never been spoken. And Dr King was true of heart. Unlike the Pols we have these days… Like BO and he is smelling bad!

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Now that I am scrolling through them, I see that the partner sites all have their own subdomains, so that’s not the explanation either. The “nonprofit” one may be, because the other partner sites all have navigation back to each other, and this one does not.

Oh well, another techie puzzle for my (retired) techie brain to contemplate.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 5:36 pm
In response to andreww @ 388

Isnt that what happened to the dems in general over the past few years. When they couldnt pass so called progressive legislation some of which wasnt even actually progressive then claimed they were powerless. Which some dems bought hook line and sinker. Others were confused as they had a majority and isnt a majority supposed to me that you can get more things done? It became obvious though this was just a lie. That really what they were saying is they need to continue whoring themselves out the aristocrats maybe of whom are not progressives and if they dont do that they wont be invited to the best parties.

Which is really what the DLC is all about. A bunch of so called dem pussies that got hurt because they werent invited to all the best parties. So said theyd whore themselves out better then the repubs and then did get invited. And often times laughed at.

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
In response to msmolly @ 391

Ah come on it’s just a linky thing in the header unless as stated above it is because of nonprofit status.. Only Jane and crew could explain easily..

canadianbeaver February 20th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
In response to msmolly @ 384

I’d say so! I could see it if he was replying to trolls, but……wow. Just wow.

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:38 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

Wow, that is soo wrong: that there weren’t the votes for the public option.

In reconciliation, it could have and would have passed.

Plus, show me one arm he twisted to GET the votes to pass it? He lied about supporting it cuz he and Rahm had already negotiated it away. And that kind of duplicity really pisses liberals off.

andreww February 20th, 2011 at 5:40 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 370

Anti-war movements aren’t always strictly ideological, so I’m not sure that comparison holds. The civil rights movement emerged out of 20 years of pretty sustained progressive political tailwinds. The best comparison is to consider the forces that led to the FDR agenda following the decades of growing inequality in the early 20th century. Are those forces able to survive in this climate and for long enough to scare the hell out of national politicians? I hope so. The alternative is unthinkable.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:41 pm
In response to nahant @ 393

Yup I know….I’m just curious, is all.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 5:43 pm
In response to msmolly @ 391

I wouldnt rack your brain about it too much. There may not be a rhyme or reason to it. I didnt even realize there was a “non profit” one. I guess thats the main site. I do know that he diaries have templates which can actually be a bit irritating actually. While its nice to differentiate things it somewhat takes you out of the site mentally a bit.

Its better then the other site ive been frequenting more lately which is a fast growing techie oriented links site. That has a dreadful interface. They have links and other things actually such a s questions which sometimes get 400 comments. But its so badly designed that the comments are impossible to read. I usually avoid them.

Tominator February 20th, 2011 at 5:45 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 109

Since almost nobody here is willing to grant the premise that OBama is a pretty good guy trying to do his best in a corrupt system, then perhaps we should discuss Will’s book on Reagan.

SHEESH, WHAT A CRYBABY. You’d think an author would LOVE the challenge of arguing his book, attempting to convince people.

dandelion February 20th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I wish I’d seen this earlier. I’d have asked Alterman about the recent tax deal. All Obama had to do to let the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire was … nothing. He didn’t need any votes. The cuts were set to expire. If Congress voted to reinstate the cuts, he could have vetoed, and the votes weren’t there to override.

So at a time when all of DC is in hysteria over the budget, the simplest and easiest path for Obama was to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

But… That was apparently a bridge too far for him.

Instead we get tax cuts on the wealthy, tax hikes for the working poor, and draconian cuts for everyone else.

And it was completely in Obama’s hand, the one holding the pen, for this not to happen.

msmolly February 20th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I rarely read the comment threads at other sites. So may of them are just commenters flinging poo at other commenters. And the nested comments at Kos, with everyone having a “tagline” are impossible, never mind their viewpoints. I read mostly for the main post (Steve Benen, Glenn Greenwald, Krugman) and skip the comments.

FDL is different. I don’t read all of the blogs but do read the front page posts and usually the comments. I learn a lot here.

Screwed Again February 20th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Political correctness, hypocrisy, propaganda crap by Eric Alterman and this disgusting con job. Obama, Bush, and both Clintons make me want to puke.

We’re in a bottomless pit that won’t end until we’re all busted looking for crumbs.

They insult your intelligence and you love it.

300SDL February 20th, 2011 at 5:47 pm
In response to andreww @ 388

Exactly. You are as powerful or powerless as you perceive yourself to be. Or to put it a different way, your attitude creates your reality.

oldgold February 20th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Today many commenters conducted themselves in a manner that was much less than above reproach.

As a guest, he should have been shown much more courtesy.

It seems many here are only interested in civilly discussing books and ideas they agree with.

papau February 20th, 2011 at 5:49 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 72

Sorry – but unless you have better info than I – a real possibility of course – that sounds like nonsense.

Pelosi said she had the votes on the budget recon in the house – and our count in the Senate was 51. But Obama refused to even test the water with a vote and ordered Reid to pull the public option amendment out of the mix for the budget recon bill. I hear that the 51 would have melted away – but that is bull based on the decision tro not test the 51 count by VOTING. Obama got nothing out of not testing the water – except he kept his promise to the Ins industry made 9 months earlier.

Eric – I have loved your work for years – but you are in DKos logic on this one.

Screwed Again February 20th, 2011 at 5:51 pm
In response to dandelion @ 400

Thank you. Do they get to keep insulting our intelligence and we must be polite?

Jim February 20th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

No, Obama is not a progressive. It would be difficult to argue at this point that he is even a Democrat. Obama is a Trojan Horse sellout unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He makes nice speeches and stabs his base in the back every single time. He took the largest Dem majority in history (?) and flushed it down the toilet. Barack is Benedict Arnold squared.

300SDL February 20th, 2011 at 5:57 pm
In response to oldgold @ 404

If Eric wanted more courtesy than he should have shown some himself. Respect is earned, not an entitlement.

oldgold February 20th, 2011 at 6:00 pm
In response to 300SDL @ 408

Courtesy and respect are not the same thing.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 6:01 pm
In response to oldgold @ 404

Ya and Eric conducting himself oh so well. Even before things became “uncivil” he made it clear his position was one of ideology. He had an agenda and if you didnt agree with it then he insulted people and basically blamed us for all of the problems that obama and the dems have had. Personally i was proud to be a part of the discussion to watch such smart and wonderful people put such an arrogant self absorbed asshole in his place.

*** ModNote: While we encourage rigorous conversation, personal insults are discouraged*** So none of this is surprising. But its a shame that you have to be such an apologizer for Eric himself rather then supporting your fellow FDLers here. Theres a difference between having a disagreement about issues and forcing your issues on someone else and calling them names when they dont agree.

Which is what he did increasingly as the discussion went on.

nahant February 20th, 2011 at 6:02 pm
In response to oldgold @ 404

I disagree oldgold Mr Alterman ways way to quick to say “Read the book” WTF he didn’t want to discuss what was being asked of him by those who haven’t gotten around to reading his book. Just what kind of an answer is that, where is the discussion of the question?? He was Rude by any standard and got the comments he deserved albeit some were over the the top.. But hell when you come across mean you beget mean back!

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 6:03 pm
In response to 300SDL @ 408

Exactly. Its amazing how many people idolized certain person and just give them “respect” when its not even earned. This is why beltway pundits are so disgusting. They sit there worshipping awful people without even questioning them.

thirdpartyplease February 20th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

The only thing this discussion proved is how smart the people at FDL are frankly.

Screwed Again February 20th, 2011 at 6:04 pm
In response to Stephen @ 369

“Keep looking forward” is the perfect criminal defense if 1 is dumb enough to buy it.

the other is, its too complicated. Only the wizards can understand.

Screwed Again February 20th, 2011 at 6:07 pm
In response to Jim @ 407

Thank you brother Jim. Are we all alone on this?

papau February 20th, 2011 at 6:11 pm
In response to Eric Alterman @ 221

“Do the people on this list hate Barney Frank and Al Franken as well?”

No – those two do not present and act as if they love the role of con-man. Indeed Barney has a history of truth telling and doing good for the non-rich.

Some here blast him to be sure – I do not.

But Obama has shown NOTHING but con-job artist to me. I am amazed that you do not see that – I buy that you see a bigger picture – that is one of the things that I have loved about you – that you do see a bigger picture. But Eric, you are not seeing a rotted out tree than will be a mistake to get under. The lesser evil must stop – no place else to go must stop. We tried in Mass where 800,000 stayed home in a race with 100,000 vote spread. The Democratic Party refused to see it as staying home (I was on the phones – I know what folks were saying) – they only saw a weak candidate.

Do you have a way to stop the “no place else to go”? – we man the phones, provide the legs, put up the signs, and get mocked. You said you dislike the mocking. Do you dislike Obama’s lies about the public option – and other “unfinished” business? Do you have a solution that works in an Obama second term?

wigwam February 20th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Poor, poor pitiful Obama. There’s simply nothing he can do. But, as we all know, his heart’s in the right place.

Well, I disagree. In fact, we’d all be better off if he simply did nothing. For example, he could have not signed the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Then we’d have $400B more per year in tax revenue and no excuse to be cutting social service. The fact is that Obama all but invited the Republicans to hold the unemployment funds hostage. And, he caved immediately rather than forcing them to choose between the wrath of this sponsors and the wrath of the unemployed public.

papau February 20th, 2011 at 6:28 pm
In response to Eli @ 333

Those potential solutions would have made a fine session – this defense of Obama as victim – not so much.

shootthatarrow February 20th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

A very revealing exchange takes place above–was very interesting to scan and read the range of comments. FDL commentary at it’s best seen here again. Thanks due to FDL for doing this hard political stuff. Thank you.

Barack Obama fast tracked himself into national politics and had little record in being from his U.S.Senate term. One now can see he could have just as easily sold himself to the GOP and sold GOP politics but instead jumped in with the D Party DLCers and took on the Clinton political machine.

Hillary Clinton surely was headed to the WH until Barry showed up and thwarted her during the 2007 primary elections and then the 2008 WH election.

John McCain was a already weak GOP candidate in 2008 WH election and the choice of Sarah Palin as his VP was pure Bill Kristol political disaster theatre–Bill Kristol has a talent for disaster politics.

Jeb Bush quite likely is going to be the next GOP POTUS–the American Militarists and Corporatists will be happy to see that come about as early as 2012 or 2016 if a longer wait is in order. Americans are going to get another Bush WH quite likely and Jeb is being groomed for the starring role of a third Bush WH and regime. Shock and Awe comes full circle?

Barack Obama will have left Jeb Bush a solid platform of friendly pro G.W.Bush and Dick Cheney policy choices and carry throughs. Obama Apologists can suggest otherwise but the truths and facts of Obama’s WH record that are already knowable suggest Bush and Cheney won much with Barack Obama’s election to WH in 2008.

I was not for another Clinton WH. And Barry sold himself as the alternative to another Clinton WH. However we now know the Clintons and the Clinton WH regime did back room deal(s) with Obama and his D Party backers. SoS Hillary Clinton is a repeat/replay of Madeline Albright.

G.W.Bush and his Oval Office Regent–Dick Cheney– were very tarnished by 2008 and only survived worst because Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid refused or failed to do the required political takedown(s) of Bush and Cheney.

It is factual to state Barack Obama did not ever suggest he was pro G.W.Bush or Dick Cheney. If he had he would not have won the WH in 2008.

Yet we now know all too well Barack Obama made and did deals with Bush and Cheney and the Clintonites. We have two years of public record and plenty of background story to put that conclusion together.

Barack Obama will have to run against Barack Obama to regain the WH in 2012 and that should prove an interesting display of Political Twister and Deceptive ShapeShifting.

The D Party needs to be overhauled to weed out the Anti-FDR or Non-FDR types or simply pushed aside in favor of a new party that could be called the FDR Party.

Barack Obama has revealed himself to be void of genuine FDR political instincts or leadership. He deserves to go down in steep defeat in 2012.

Obama Apologists cannot shroud or insert a new screen saver set of images on what Barack Obama has done since Jan.20,2009. He is very knowable now.

milesscott February 20th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Eric,
I sorry I Have not read you book yet. But I know where the schizophrenia democrats in congress stand. But, I researched a lot of articles, I have no clue what this man principles are. I do not know if he believes “Grit is grocer”. You can not trust A man or a President or a politician if you do know where they stand. You have to say what you and mean what you say. He is no Bill Clinton and I did not like Bill. You are only as good as your word. Right now he got a lot groveling to do. If I had to choose between disappointment and Him, disappointment would be my friend or president. Just like those Latoya Jackson records, right now, I want my money back.

300SDL February 20th, 2011 at 7:04 pm
In response to oldgold @ 409

There is no requirement to be deferential to anyone who is rude and condescending. I appreciate what Eric has done in the past but he got what he deserved here today. He squandered a perfectly good chance to sell his idea and book here by being dismissive and rude. There is no justification to employ such tactics here.

pluege February 20th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

the same powerful foes who have held back Obama…

the more you look at obama, his pre-capitulation caving style, his unwillingness to fight for anything or lead, his packing of the government with plutocractic lackies, his resurrection to relevancy of a destroyed and marginalized republican party, the more it is easy to come to the conclusion that obama is a plant to accelerate the destruction of all progressivity in the US.

From a right wing, plutocratic perspective, obama’s presidency could not have been a more resounding success and it would have been unlikely to be as successful from their perspective if McCain had won.

obama is a disaster for progressives.

February 20th, 2011 at 7:17 pm
In response to liberalarts @ 310

I think Obama is playing his role just as Reagan played his. Ronnie read his lines, hit his mark, and exuded common sense (to some people). Obama is making it appear that even with supermajorities government cannot function. His stand-offish behavior during the health care battle exasperated many people who had voted for him, especially since they’d been told to just get the Democrats majorities and the Bush nightmare would be ended. Instead we get Bush III.

When people lose faith in their governing institutions and in the parties that comprise those institutions, they start to look for charismatic leaders who can guide them and take the place of the ineffectual institutions, like failed legislatures.

That is Obama’s role. To make government appear ineffectual even when people get what they think they want. It opens to door to a fascist leader.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 7:42 pm
In response to pluege @ 422

Obama is not a capitulator. He’s a carefully measured and calculated liar. I’ll give him this: I do believe he lies to himself, as well. But I once read a remark by a pysch therapist who strongly believes that even the most staunchly defended know in their hearts what the truth is. And I agree with that. Obama knows.

Anyone who did their due diligence on his history before the campaign, at Harvard, in Chicago politics, in the Illinois Senate, knows. But I’ll tell you, I never dreamed he’d be this bad. The health insurance bill was stunning. The brazen treachery and back room dealings. He couldn’t do anything that would surprise me now. My expectation now is that whatever he says, figure out what’s the opposite and there he’ll be. Knew someone like that years ago. My heart paused when she said, “I’d never leave my children” because I knew that meant she was going to. And she did. Twice. Maybe some people can’t help themselves, but we really have to stop voting for them. We have to stop falling in love with politicians.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 7:54 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 367

I wasn’t there, but the accounts I’ve read have it the way I laid it out. I’m not going to argue either way. On this issue, I only know what I’ve read.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 7:56 pm
In response to Margaret @ 354

He he.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 8:13 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 367

You know what, you’re right about the right wingers pulling in the evangelicals. I’ll amend my comment

The far right took over the Republican party by starting at the local level and determinedly working their way up. It didn’t happen overnight and they knew going in it wouldn’t. They had a workable plan with supporting tactics and they worked their plan. Ta Da. Here we are. Yes, it certainly can be done. Rayne, where are you?

The point is that infiltration started at the local level, with a plan, and persisted. The right has never accepted setbacks. They’ve regrouped and worked around. They never aren’t scheming and working. The left is desultory and often inattentive. Disorganized and scattered. It’s probably a personality constellation that pre-determines which end of the political spectrum you favor. Rightists tend to hierarchical and authoritarian, leftists to egalitarian and individualism. Kind of ironic that the right rhetoric is so laced with exhortations and homages to self-made-ism.

liberalarts February 20th, 2011 at 8:22 pm
In response to RevBev @ 255

Do it to support yourselves, RevBev, do it to support yourselves.

transparait February 20th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Margaret for the win.

: )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMZi25Pq3T8

azel February 20th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Eric Alterman wouldn’t recognize a leader if one were staring him in the face!

Mauimom February 20th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

you forgot to include the trashing of Glass-Steagall.

Jim February 20th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

On a side and possibly related note, watched Ron Paul’s speech to CPAC today. It drives home some very important points. 1) Ron Paul is a Republican. Do not forget that. 2) He praised the ‘revolution’ taking place, referring to the current crop of R’s destroying the country. It seems there is a parallel here with Obama. Ron Paul’s populist message of ending the Fed and ending the wars resonates with progressives. But therein lies the same trap we fell into with Obama. If you pan the camera back to see the full picture, you realize Paul is yet another populist with knives behind his back. He will try to end the Fed and the wars, but will be on board with trying to end SS, Medicare, the EPA, the Board of ED, planned parenthood, and unions, exactly as his compatriots are trying to do now. Unless we manage to elect a Pres with a track record like a Feingold and do the same with Congress, we’ve had it.

Jim February 20th, 2011 at 11:54 pm
In response to Screwed Again @ 415

Definitely not, but it will require massive effort to reverse the damage

Twain February 21st, 2011 at 12:02 am

Alterman didn’t do himself any favors today and I hope he does us a favor and doesn’t return. I really hate throwing tomatoes at my screen.

liberalarts February 21st, 2011 at 1:00 am
In response to TarheelDem @ 367

We’re both right:

Twenty-five years ago, dominionists targeted the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could advance their agenda. At the same time, a small group of Republican strategists targeted fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches to expand the base of the Republican Party.

from theocracywatch.org

We could argue forever over who colonized whom but it’s not important. The right wing Republicans and the dominionist Christians were made for each other. But the Republicans did end up being subsumed. What comes of a match between cynical politics and committed belief. Committed belief will win every time.

liberalarts February 21st, 2011 at 1:18 am
In response to TarheelDem @ 367

This is fascinating, and uncomfortable: http://www.theocracywatch.org/taking_over.htm

But I know I’ve read parts of it elsewhere over the years. It really is a game plan for a takeover of whatever the planners want to takeover. It would work anywhere. So telling that it’s based on deception.

Bluetoe2 February 21st, 2011 at 3:23 am

Is Alterman “fishing” for a position in the Obama administration?

revolutionary1 February 21st, 2011 at 3:53 am

Mr. Alterman,

What do you think of these ideas as a way out of our current mess?

1. Enact Fair Elections Now Act. $100.00 maximum donation

2. FCC mandate that all TV political advertisin­g is a public service and therefore free

3. Adopt California­’s Propositio­n 11 nationally­. End gerrymandering.

4. Permanentl­y ban anyone who has served in federal office from becoming a lobbyist

5. Enact The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplifica­tion Act of 2010 – Eliminate $1 trillion in tax giveaways and change the top individual income tax bracket to 70% to balance the budget

6. Break up the big banks and strengthen the Volker Rule

7. End ALL wars and reduce the bloated defense budget

8. Reduce health care costs by adding the public option. Allow Medicare to purchase drugs. Allow drug re-importa­tion. Medicare Independen­t Payment Advisory Board be given a broader mandate for cost control.

9. National Infrastruc­ture Bank – Run by engineers, not politician­s. Federal government invest $2 trillion over 10 years to create jobs now and increase productivi­ty later. Put millions back to work. Fund with millionair­e’s tax

10. Federal government invest 6% of GDP yearly on R & D to create quality jobs long term in areas like biotechnol­ogy, alternativ­e energy, alternativ­e-fuel automobile­s, clean technology­, etc. Fund with 7% national sales (innovatio­n) tax

11. Raise educationa­l standards through a national core curriculum­. Fire the bottom 10% of teachers nationwide and replace them with good teachers. Make higher education free to families that can’t afford it to encourage upward mobility. Fund with financial transactio­ns tax

12. Raise the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax to $180,000 to restore solvency to the program

13. Tie the size of Medicare benefits to a person’s lifetime income, which is relatively easily measured and hard to game, rather than to one’s income or assets in any current year. Higher earners will receive lower benefits to restore solvency to the program

Gitcheegumee February 21st, 2011 at 8:56 am
In response to Twain @ 434

Hecertainly didn’t do his publisher any favors,either,and that’s for certain.

Note somewhere upthread where he states that he doesn’t care if he sells any books-he already had received his money in advance.

(Wonder how his publisher feels about that remark?)

Ergo, WHY was he here?

shekissesfrogs February 21st, 2011 at 11:16 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 439

This is late but I guess we should ask if someone commissioned his book, and if that is why he got paid in advance for it. He’s associated with Center for American Progress, John Podesta, the Hamilton Project, ect… part of those that put Obama in his seat.

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