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sasha031 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:01 AM
Original message
President Obama ignoring his base like Jimmy Carter did,
Gas prices are heading toward $5, single-family home sales are at a lowand with President Obama ignoring his base like Jimmy Carter did, he could end up being another one-term president, Eric Alterman writes.

Stylistically speaking, Barack Obama could hardly be further from Jimmy Carter if he really had been born in Kenya. Carter was a born-again Baptist who was raised on his fathers peanut plantation and supported George Wallace on the road to the Georgia state house. Barack Obamawell, you know the story. But the two men have a great deal in common in their approach to the presidency, and not one of these similarities is good news for the Democrats or even for America. Both men rule without regard to the concerns of the base of their party. Both held themselves to be above politics when it came to making tough decisions. Both were possessed with superhuman self-confidence when it came to their own political judgment mixed with contempt for what they understood to be the petty concerns of pundits and party leaders. And worst of all, one fears, neither one appeared willing to change course no matter how many storm clouds loomed on the horizon.

Ask yourself if the following story does not sound like another president we could name The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip ONeil, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and ONeil attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to ONeils open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, No, Ill describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. Im sure theyll realize Im right. The red-nosed Irishman later said he could have slugged Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carters calling card.

Obama, like Carter, is reacting to warning signs by seeking to split the difference between dispirited Democrats and increasingly radicalized Republicans.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-...
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
1. I've decided there are a number of lessons that Americans are just too stupid to learn.
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:10 AM by Tesha
They have to do with things like:

o Economics
o Politics
o Religion
o Guns
o Human rights
o Nuclear power
o The environment in general

Obama is turning out to be a classical manifestation
of many of these inabilities.

Tesha
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
2. Not true!
Obama is very faithful to his base: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, GE...
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Le Taz Hot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:14 AM
Response to Original message
3. The two couldn't be more polar opposites.
Carter had principles. He didn't want to play the Washington I'll-scratch-your-back-if-your-scratch-mine game. He wasn't afraid to speak truth to power and he wasn't going to waste time kissing their corporate-loving asses to get things done. He was an environmentalist and put his money where his mouth was by placing solar panels on the White House (which Reagan removed). He was against giving China MFN status because of their human rights abuses. His base didn't leave him, it was the MOR's, the "Independents" (my ass!) who left him. The left LOVED him and still do.

Obama identifies with (and publicly praises) Reagan.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:30 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. The hubris part is similar, you're right, but morally they have different compasses.
In some ways they are very similar in their style of operating, except that Obama is much more of a backroom operator than Carter ever was -- if there's a deal to be made, Obama will make the deal and let the opposition believe they won, but then declare victory through surrogates (feeding the 11th Dimension Chess Player myth). We've seen that over and over again with Barack. Jimmy, on the other hand, thought that Washington wheeling and dealing was bad ethics and immoral (he was completely accurate in that regard), and usually refused to do it. We love Carter for it, and loath Obama for his approach, and it costs both dearly.

In both cases, the men were distanced from and sealed off from their base by some poor handlers, and paid for it in the next election. Reagan had masterful PR, and was constantly engaged with his base. That's what Obama is trying (but failing) to repeat about Reagan.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #3
11. Sometimes I think Obama is still trying to please
an authoritarian father who wants nothing to do with him.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:49 AM
Response to Reply #11
19. He chose the right line of work to play out that role.
No client is more demanding and less forgiving than major corporations, and no institution more totalitarian, as all corporate lawyers know.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #11
24. and...the new biography of his mother seems to show her
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 09:03 AM by KoKo
as what Obama would view a freespirited "hippy" in her attitudes and beliefs. Since Obama's surrogates went out of their way to trash the Left of the Dem Party...calling them "Fucking Retards" and "Professional Left" (the most well known of the trashing)it could seem to be a rejection of everything Ann Dunham was about.

The NYT's has an interesting snip of Ann Dunham from a forthcoming book. It's revealing in the way Obama describes her along with other parts that seem to portray her as a woman that Obama has gone out of his way to be the opposite of in his own life choices. He may dislike the Left because it reminds him of his own Mother whereas his Grandparents seemed the stable (Republican types) that he prefers to emulate. Just saying... Anyway the article on Dunham and her life in Indonesia is fascinating.

Link:

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/peo...

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amandabeech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #11
37. I'm done with presidents with daddy problems.
We're on our third in a row and look where we're at.
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JoePhilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:15 AM
Response to Original message
4. Obama Bad Obama Bad Obama Bad
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
5. obama does`t have anyone near the stature of tip o'neal.
and yes, in a lot of ways obama is like jimmy carter.
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
6. Oh for Christ sake
What the fuck is he supposed to do, take the gasoline away from the oil companies and give it to the people?

Do we really want to go that far? Outside of investigating the fraud that is taking place with oil companies showing record profits again, all he could do is nationalize the system. The current congress is not going to allow that to happen.

Another whiny ass talking head looking to bash the President into one term.

:nuke:

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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:25 AM
Response to Original message
7. The funny thing about Gaussian distributions
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:26 AM by Recursion
Obama, like Carter, is reacting to warning signs by seeking to split the difference between dispirited Democrats and increasingly radicalized Republicans.

Because that's where the votes are. The fantasy that there is a silent liberal majority in this country is as dangerous now as it was in 1980 when the Democrats failed to even try for the independents.

And the fact that Carter has been retconned as some sort of triangulator would be laughable if the stakes here weren't so high.
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #7
13. The only way to attract most independents is by appealing to one's base.
No Center, No Centrists
by George Lakoff

The very idea that there is a "center" marginalizes progressives, and sees them as extremists, when they simply share fundamental American values. The term "center" suggests there is a "mainstream" where most people are and that there is a single set of views held by that mainstream. That is false.

The fallacy matters in terms of Democratic electoral strategy. The Democratic base consists of people who are mostly or totally progressive, just as the Republican base consists of people who are mostly or totally conservative. How does the Democratic Party as a whole, and how do Democratic candidates in particular, speak to those who are biconceptual?

I am a cognitive scientist and believe that people's brains play a significant role in elections. From the perspective of brain science, the answer is a no-brainer. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) You speak to biconceptuals the same way you speak to your base: you discuss progressive values, and if you are talking to folks with both progressive and conservative values, you mainly talk about the issues where they share progressive values. What that does is evoke and strengthen the progressive values already there in the minds of biconceptuals.

And of course, you don't negate or argue against the other on their framing turf -- remember Don't Think of an Elephant!...


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/no-center-n...

NGU.

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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:40 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Yeah, yeah, Lakoff is as wrong now as he was then
There is a center, it's where most of the country is, it's more fiscally liberal than the GOP and more socially conservative than the Democrats (I'll agree that "center" is misleading since it implies a single left-right axis), and are in general more small-c "conservative" (ie, resistant to rapid systemic change) than either party.
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:44 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. Bwaha hahahaha haha hahaha ha hahaha!!!!...
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:53 AM by ClassWarrior
Thank you Professor. Where do you teach? Professor Lakoff teaches at Berkley.

At least you're right about one thing: "I''ll agree that 'center' is misleading since it implies a single left-right axis."

NGU.

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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #17
21. What misspelling? (nt)
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. I see you're focusing on the real content of my post.
:rofl:

My bad on the misspelling accusation. I've corrected my post. Now how about some answers? Where do you teach? Are you tenured? What's your discipline?

NGU.

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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #22
26. Bwah
Where do you teach? Are you tenured? What's your discipline?

Well, I mostly teach signals & systems to undergrads, since I'm still a grad student. Between being a cognitive scientist and an electrical engineer, poli sci should be a wash.
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crickets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #13
35. 'No Center, No Centrists' - Interesting article
Alternate link for folks who don't go to Huffpo: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/15/3174
These are simply American values. The progressive movement is a patriotic American movement. People who call themselves "centrists" share progressive views on important issue areas, but have conservative views on other major issue areas. The areas vary from person to person. There is no single moral perspective, no single set of agreed upon issues. -snip-

The reason the DLC has been attacking progressives, Smith argues, is that DLC members have major conservative values and are threatened by the progressive base.

In other words, perhaps they are philosophically separate from the base of the progressive political party to which they supposedly belong.

Right now most Americans--regardless of political party--are in agreement that we need to raise and enforce higher tax rates for corporations and the rich, that we need to get out of Iraq, and that the federal budget should involve cutting defense spending rather than monkeying around with Medicare and Medicaid. Any representative who is claiming otherwise is either embarrassingly clueless or just plain dishonest. There's no need to triangulate to some imaginary 'center' to find agreement on these issues. So why are politicians--often regardless of political party--trying so hard to pass legislation that does the opposite?
The reason the DLC has been attacking progressives, Smith argues, is that DLC members have major conservative values and are threatened by the progressive base. Some of those values are financial: Wall Street, the HMO's and drug companies, agribusiness, developers, the oil companies, and international corporations that benefit from trade agreements, outsourcing, cheap labor abroad, and practices that harm indigenous populations but bring profits. A powerful motivation for the party has been that, if they take such positions, they, like the Republicans, can get big money contributions from Wall Street.

Lakoff's discussion is intriguing and he makes a lot of good points, but I don't think he underlines this one enough: big money contributions from Wall Street, not political inclinations or the needs of the people, are what is driving a lot of the policy in Washington.

From the OP: "Obama, like Carter, is reacting to warning signs by seeking to split the difference between dispirited Democrats and increasingly radicalized Republicans."

I disagree with many of the article's points about Carter, but addressing that would take a whole 'nother post.

'Dispirited democrats' - it would be more accurate to include dispirited Republicans and Independents too, but that ruins the binary setup.

'increasingly radicalized Republicans' - oh, that's just sad. The Tea Party has dwindled to a small rabble easily shouted down in Wisconsin earlier this month.

The rhetorical setup in the article is a classic example of divide and conquer over political parties, when in truth most citizens across the spectrum are in agreement on many major issues, at least for the moment. The binary party system and the way it pits two "sides" against one another like football teams, complete with a sometimes blind team loyalty, and the nattering on about moving to the center are distractions for citizens to argue over while the fat cats walk away with as much swag as they can carry. A great deal of policy being formulated in Washington is not about us or our party affiliations or the common welfare of the country at all: it's about power, it's about greed, and it's about corporations and the lackeys who are bribed to please them.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. If it was just about appealing to moderates, the Dems would have won every election after '64.
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:41 AM by leveymg
No. The GOP learned during the Nixon Administration's Southern Strategy how to appeal to the latent racism of Southern and working class Whites, and how to keep them mobilized and attached to their party.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are normally afraid of their base -- progressives -- and do everything they can to coopt them during elections (sometimes it works, '06 and '08), but when governing, mainstream Dems keep the Left safely bottled-up in single-issue groups or Party Caucuses where they can be safely ignored. The strategy of triangulation usually doesn't work.
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NYC Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:30 AM
Response to Original message
8. If "the base" is liberal Democrats, then no, he isn't
by any stretch of the imagination. Repeating this meme over and over doesn't make it true.
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. self-delete
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:38 AM by ClassWarrior
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:32 AM
Response to Original message
10. K&R...
NGU.

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SidDithers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:41 AM
Response to Original message
16. Unrec...nt
Sid
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kickysnana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
18. If I remember correctly Carter was dealing with the Hostage crisis..
while the Republicans were secretly and illegally negotiating to keep the hostages until after the election. Also Carter was trying to do something about the outrageous fuel costs.

But yes the American people are too stupid to survive.

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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #18
23. Carter was being systematically undermined by political dirty tricks ops run by G.H.W. Bush
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 08:58 AM by leveymg
who was working with a rump group of former CIA officers, major media, and the oil companies. It was a repeat of the "Track II" "strategy of tension", propaganda, and economic sabotage used so effectively against Allende.
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Keith Bee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
20. Carter didn't HAVE a base
A better man than I once said there was no such animal as a Carter Democrat. I agree.
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Le Taz Hot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #20
25. You're both wrong, then.
I am/was one.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #20
27. He got my first vote.
And, I don't regret that vote on grounds of principle - unlike the last one.
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Raine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #20
30. Carter is the first Democrat I ever voted for
after switching over from being a repuke. I'd be proud to call myself a Carter Democrat.
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. Carter was the first Democrat I DIDN'T vote for.
He was also one of the choices I had for my very first election, as I turned eighteen that year. I was so disgusted with Carter -- but I still would never have voted Republican -- that I made a deliberate point of going to Disney World on election day instead of voting. Mickey Mouse election was my point, I think. I even broke up with a wonderful girl because of Carter...I despised him, she thought him a savior. She turned out to me more on the mark than I. Funny, though...she's now a Fundi Xtian, and I'm still, well...I'm still hoping America can find its way again.
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Keith Bee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #30
34. Okay, then:
What is a Carter Democrat?
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comradebillyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:07 AM
Response to Original message
28. what happended to mandatory uncritical support of obama?
The last time I visited DU about 2 1/2 years ago anyone criticizing our dear leader would be flamed mercilessly and banned from DU. Has reality set in? Face it he is Jimmy Carter without principles or backbone. It looks just like a Bush third term without GWB's minimal leadership skills.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. What brings you back, comrade?
Hope you're having a nice visit.
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comradebillyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #29
31. Curosity as much as anything
I just wanted to see what was happening at a place where I used to spend so much time.
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #28
36. Just like all of progressive history.
We - eventually - started standing up against the bullies. And if Wisconsin is any indication, once we start standing up, we can't be stopped.

NGU.

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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
33. Carter was, and Obama is, directionless.
Being "moderate" sounds all very nice. You compromise with your opponents and settle for a reasonable gain.

The trouble is that Obama, like Carter, have no goal except compromise. The Republicans do have a goal to move the country to the right. Obama's goal is to keep the country in the "middle". So, the "compromises" are between the middle and right, not the right and left.

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