Ten million people could march on Washington dressed as Che Guevara, and the Democrats would interpret it to mean that Americans want the party to move right

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 · 28 Comments »

A little over a year ago, Americans elected Barack Obama by a landslide. They elected him because they wanted an end to Republican government. They elected him because they wanted to see a genuinely progressive agenda enacted. True, they had absolutely no reason to expect that Obama would do those things, but still: that’s what they thought they were getting. Remember? There would be an end to war and torture, an end to government spying and stupidity, and everybody would have gay marriage and single-payer health care and feminism.

Have Americans suddenly gone rightwing in the past year? No, of course not. What’s happened is that Obama has turned out to be all hope and no change. None of what people thought they were voting for came true. We still have torture and war—more war, even—and corporate bailouts and homophobia and crapping on women—even more of that, too!—and a healthcare bill that looks like it was designed by Aetna and Focus on the Family. Obama is a fucking disaster. When Saturday Night Live is joking about what a wipeout Obama has been, when 20-year-olds interviewed in newspapers are saying stuff like I totally fell for it, I totally believed in Obama, but man, I’ll never fall for another politician again, when feminist groups are mobilizing against the Administration because its healthcare bill is so fucking heinous—then the problem is not that America has suddenly turned right. The problem is that America elected what they thought was a leftist, and instead got Bush III.

So the Obama voters sit home and stew. And fume. And crack their teeth. And plot third-party rebellions. And some of them go to the polls and vote for people like Scott Brown just to show how furious and disgusted they are.

Meanwhile, Republicans—now joyously untethered from any sense of reality at all—erupt into freaktastic waves of delirium, shrieking about abortion and evil foreigners and socialism and a bunch of other crap fed to them by their propaganda masters. And then they, too, go to the polls and vote for people like Scott Brown.

If Obama were the kind of Democrat people thought they were electing, this wouldn’t be happening. If he had followed through on any of the stuff people were hoping for, this wouldn’t be happening. But he isn’t and he didn’t.

And if Democrats were a real political party instead of a group of goddamn hand puppets, they would understand that. But they’re not and they don’t. Listen to Evan Bayh, hand puppet extraordinaire:

“There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.”

What is the lesson of Massachusetts – where Democrats face the prospects of losing a Senate seat they’ve held since 1952? For Senator Bayh the lesson is that the party pushed an agenda that is too far to the left, alienating moderate and independent voters.

Evan Bayh is a conservative, but he’s also, as Ezra Klein once noted, a human weathervane. The winds of beltway opinion blow through Evan’s hair. I guarantee it: the dominant narrative of this clusterfuck is going to be that Obama tried to do too much too soon, and Americans just aren’t ready for all that Marxist healthcare and stuff. (Secondary narrative: that Coakley is an incompetent old woman who never should have been allowed to run for Senate unsupervised.)

I know some progressives will say this is all to the good, that cracks in the edifice are just what we need to grow a third-party movement, etc.; and there is some truth in that. But I’m saying that it won’t be easy. The overwhelming shit train of nonsense that will emerge from this will not be in our favor.


UPDATE: Someday I really ought to see Downfall instead of just these re-dubbed bunker clips. It looks like a good movie. But anyway, this is one re-dub that is fricking hilarious (via The Confluence):

28 Responses to “Ten million people could march on Washington dressed as Che Guevara, and the Democrats would interpret it to mean that Americans want the party to move right”

  1. Unree says:

    Here’s hoping that Arthur Silber, or if not Silber then lambert, will turn up in this space. People like me who are bummed need to hear about how this result–which you wanted and said we should want–is good news for progressives.

  2. Toonces says:

    Why do the tea-partiers get so much media coverage?

    Why did Obama get so much media coverage?

    Who would want the (supposed) party of the little guy to implode?

    I think the narrative that a year of Comrade Obama was just too much and America went back to the “center” will be around for, oh, another 10-20 years after the Republican wins start to roll-in this year. I think the Democrats knew exactly how pissed-off people are, and I think they knew exactly why, and I think they didn’t care and/or couldn’t do anything about it (there are few good eggs). I don’t think this loss changes that one bit. Why would it?

    This is just a swordfight gone meta (FU OBAMA/DADDY!), consequences be-damned.

    The Democrats might lose some money now. So what? It’s going to go to the Republicans — what a shock to the system!

  3. soopermouse says:

    I’m sorry Violet, but your first phrase is inaccurate. Americans didn’t elect Obama by a landslide. He was given the dmeocrat nomination by the party elite in spite of the popular vote. He was trailing McCain until the dubiously well times recession, and he won by a whoping 2%. That’s not a landslide. Obama was a weak candidate who never won anything by fair means ever.

  4. myiq2xu says:

    Unfortunately, it appears things will have to get worse before they can get better.

  5. Patti says:

    I agree with soopermouse’s comment. Not a landslide.

    The HCR bill as it stands right now is dead. For the moment, I am relieved.

  6. Violet Socks says:

    I think 52% to 46% counts as a landslide in the parochial world of American politics.

  7. Patti says:

    So really that’s 52% Obama, 48% all other candidates. So winning 2% more than half the votes is considered a landslide? Good grief.

    I just watched Downfall last weekend. It’s very good.

  8. Adrienne in CA says:

    Don’t worry, real change is on the way.
    (Via Carolyn Kay at MakeThemAccountable.com)

    White House, Democratic lawmakers cut deal on deficit commission

    Faced with growing alarm over the nation’s soaring debt, the White House and congressional Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for fiscal solvency to a vote in Congress by the end of this year.

    Under the agreement, President Obama would issue an executive order to create an 18-member panel that would be granted broad authority to propose changes in the tax code and in the massive federal entitlement programs — including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — that threaten to drive the nation’s debt to levels not seen since World War II.

    The commission would deliver its recommendations after this fall’s congressional elections, postponing potentially painful decisions about the nation’s fiscal future until after Democrats face the voters. But if the commission approves a deficit-reduction plan, Congress would have to act on it quickly under the agreement, forged late Tuesday …

    What, no townhall meetings?


  9. Nessum says:

    My deepest sympathy to Democrats in MA and women in the US! :(

    The more I read, the more I realized that having one more female, a liberal! to boot, in the senate was much more important than sending any other message.

    What I see now in European media (but please don’t just take my word for it) is that the outcome of the election was due to the Tea Party getting traction. IOW: Blame the Republicans.

  10. scott says:

    The video clip is getting a workout. I saw it a couple of months ago after Arsenal lost to Chelsea in the English Premier League (soccer). Highly amusing to see Hitler rail against the Arsenal coach and declare he’s going to root for Tottenham from now on. Something about the surreal contrast between the subject-matter and the subtitles; I think the movie companies should randomly mess with the subtitles of foreign movies just to see whether we’re paying attention or to stimulate creative thought.

  11. Branjor says:

    As I remember it, Obama did not win by a landslide. Can’t remember the exact percentages of his vote and McCain’s right now, but it wasn’t a landslide.

  12. monchichipox says:

    I’m not a political genius, and I’m sure someone said it before me, but I always believed Obama and his supporters thinking he won by a landslide would be his undoing.

    I know Violet is not one of his supporters but he didn’t win by a landslide.

    As a conservative this bothers me not. That being said I will always give a woman candidate more than a wide berth berth before I decide to vote against her. So even though I couldn’t have voted for her(if I lived in MASS) it would have saddened me. Though I wouldn’t have voted for her I can still see the sexist bullshit being thrown at her.

  13. votermom says:

    Violet, your post title almost cost me my keyboard. Hah!

    My current pipe dream is the ultimate unity ticket in 2012:
    “Hillary/Sarah. The men have messed up enough. Time for the mommies to clean up.”

  14. RKMK says:

    If I remember correctly, the landslide was with electoral college numbers, not percentage of vote, since the national election is run like Republican primaries (i.e. “winner take all”).

    I’m really fucking depressed this morning.

    And votermom, I think you mean “boys.”

  15. votermom says:

    And votermom, I think you mean “boys.”
    Ooh, yeah, much better!

  16. Foxx says:

    A third party will be just as easily bought as the other two. Until we dismantle corporate dominance of politics, none of it matters.

  17. teresainpa says:

    foxx, I agree. I was saying back in 2000 that for a third party to gain traction they would have to compromise and play dirty just like the first two.

    No left or right third party is ever going to get anywhere. The reform party was centrist and since it was only a reaction to the dems and reps it had no real life of it’s own. Neither of the main parties is going to get rid of corporate control and give up corporate money and the cushy jobs they get after being unelected.
    The solution is going to have to be “throw the bums out”.

  18. jackyt says:

    If the WH had put half the effort into single payer that they have into the present POS, the voters of Massachusetts would have strewn palm fronds in Obama’s path last Sunday and sung resounding Hosannas to the highest. If he had directed to “stimulus” money to infrastructure development and repair, creating jobs and improving living conditions for everyone, instead of funneling it up a pipe into a small number of the already heaviest laden pockets, he would be seen as a fulfillment of the American Dream. If he had closed Guantanamo and begun to shut up shop in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans could begin to feel pride in their country again, instead of remaining the international buffoons and pariahs we’ve become.

    The vote for Brown was a protest vote. He’s a two year place holder, so no long term commitment has been made by the electorate.

    What the voters were saying is “Obama, don’t try peddling your old “Okeydoke” anymore. In the GWB version of the old adage, fool me once… uh, um, …can’t fool me again.

  19. monchichipox says:

    “If he had directed to “stimulus” money to infrastructure development and repair, ”

    Whatever happened to those shovel ready jobs? The press dropped that one a long time ago didn’t they?

  20. willyjsimmons says:

    I’ll step in where Arthur would (since I’ve had to already post this once today):

    But I shall quote Arthur Silber:

    “Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama’s speech is exceptional, rare and unique — but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama’s uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement — a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.”


    “So I will not vote for Obama or McCain. But for these reasons, I view Obama as one of the most profoundly dishonest and irresponsible candidates ever to run for president. He is playing with fire. It appears to me that he is well aware of what he is doing, and of what many of his supporters are doing.

    These tactics may win him the White House. And these same tactics, in combination with the disintegrating, splintering American culture and economy, may turn his triumph into a notably ugly victory, a victory many Americans may come to mourn very, very deeply.


    An Obama victory will kill much of the possibility for meaningful political opposition for good — that is, opposition that might significantly alter the existing system without destroying it (if that is at all possible, which I am almost entirely convinced it is not). But the resentments, the anger and possibly even the hatred will remain, and they may grow. What happens then?

    It hardly bears thinking about.”

    To dovetail all THAT with Somerby’s ongoing theme of “Progressive Political Frameworks”:

    Evan Bayh is allowed to say such things, LIE in such a manner, because progressives haven’t got a leg to stand on or a pot to piss in.

    If the conservative movement is fraudulent, the case may be that progressives themselves have managed to become even more disingenuous.

    Something to ponder:

    Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow represent the “progressive” pundit class. The facade, as it were. How is it working out? Ed Schultz claimed open ignorance over how Canadian health care worked.

    CAN a “Progressive Political Framework” be constructed in this environment?

    Can we message ourselves out of a wet paper bag?

  21. On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what we need…(Justice Party reboot/open thread) | Reclusive Leftist says:

    [...] night, considering the Brown victory in Massachusetts, I predicted: “The overwhelming shit train of nonsense that will emerge from this will not be in our [...]

  22. Grace says:

    I have mixed feelngs about the election of Brown. On one hand, had this guy been a woman, his history with the Cosmopolitan magazine back in 1982 would have derailed his candidacy. But he has good abs (at least 27 years ago), went to law school, and has a not umpleasant-to-look-at face, so the dude has “game,” to use Obama’s “dialect.” The election also sucks of course because of the conservative republican agenda that this guy will push in the Senate.

    On the other hand, I have a somewhat guilty but delicious feeling about the election results being a big FU for Obama and all his Chicago gang. It felt good that now they are beginning to get a taste of their own medicine. And the real Obama’s ugly face is finally showing up with all his incompetency, narcissism, arrogance, and over-estimation of his so called “gifts.” For what? for having perfected the technique of reading a teleprompter better than others? Or perhaps for oratorial skills that many of us (honestly) could have acquired with the help of the best speech coach money could buy? Just venting, I guess. Sorry if it went for too long.

  23. RKMK says:

    Oops, I posted this in the other thread by mistake:

    Surprise, surprise!

    With Democrats reeling from the Republican victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election, President Obama on Wednesday signaled that he might be willing to set aside his goal of achieving near-universal health coverage for all Americans in favor of a stripped-down measure with bipartisan support.

    Which is what he wanted anyway! I’m so glad everyone issued an internet/media fatwa on Martha Coakley to show him a lesson. Take THAT, Obama!

  24. madamab says:

    Look, people, Obama isn’t going to get the message the first time.

    A movement takes WORK.

    Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. This was the right thing to happen.

  25. Topper Harley says:

    @18 The “stimulus” provided more money for infrastructure than the last infrastructure-only bill that W signed. Said bill was already one of the hugest infrastructure “buys” in real dollars ever.

    Frankly, I can’t understand why you thought Obama would leave A-stan. The whole campaign he made it perfectly clear that while he thought Iraq was a clusterfuck, A-stan was “the good war”, that it had to be won, and that one of W’s legion mistakes was to take his eye off the ball there, something he was going to rectify day one.

    @19 It didn’t work because, for the most part, serious infrastructure projects aren’t sitting around waiting for money. If they’re worth doing, they get done. If they’re not worth doing, then they die before any tedious paperwork even starts.

  26. DancingOpossum says:

    Is that why our roads and bridges are falling apart, and our schools in poor areas are crumbling? They must not be worth doing, I guess.

  27. Aspen says:

    OT here.
    Cindy McCain poses for the noh8 campaign for marriage equality: http://www.noh8campaign.com/
    Props to Ms. McCain.

  28. Snowed in! | Reclusive Leftist says:

    [...] used his State of the Union speech to reach out to Republicans. Remember what I said about Che Guevara? [...]