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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 11:07 AM
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Daily Kos Diary: Obama is freaking right
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Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 11:11 AM by Pirate Smile
Obama is freaking right

Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 07:57:20 AM PST

Here we go. Barack Obama, in an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, said some things of Ronald Reagan that were not quite to the taste of some people who happen to support other primary candidates (as, indeed, I do as well). Long story short, the Illinois Senator credited Reagan with a fundamental re-alignment of American politics. Clearly, this witch must burn.

The background to the story is at TPM, here. Stoller has a transcript, here.

Now, predictably enough - it is the silly season after all - the lamentations of rival partisans rend the very heavens in their anguish. It is to weep.

MBNYC's diary :: ::
Let's make this as clear as is humanly possible. Obama did not extol Reagan's achievements, if that is the right term for what what the man left behind. His argument is political, and thus, very much worth listening to. Because, if we can face facts for a moment, Reagan crushed us. His defeat of Jimmy Carter ushered in twelve long years of republican rule, years in which the conservative movement grew and built that vaunted infrastructure that has more recently cost us so dearly.

This is what Obama is looking at. And guess what? He is absolutely, one hundred percent, right. America needs a movement President - the Progressive movement needs a movement President.

As Obama said:

I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.

Damn right. Neither Nixon's nor Clinton's presidencies ushered in partisan realignments for their own parties, instead, both effected a swing to their respective oppositions. Nixon and Clinton did not challenge or change the prevailing ideology of their times; they reinforced it. In Nixon's case, the orthodoxy was liberal; in Clinton's case, Reagan-conservative.

Richard Nixon brought us the Clean Air Act and the EPA, even was kind enough to hand us expanded Congressional majorities and disgrace his party.

Bill Clinton brought us, drumroll, school uniforms, Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Bill Clinton, through a combination of political ineptitude, unpopular policies and the sheer force of his personality, lost his party, our party, the House, the Senate, and a majority of governorships in 1994. The raw numbers are appalling: Democrats lost 54 House seats, giving the other party a majority for the first time since 1954. Prior to 1952, the republicks had not won a majority in the House since 1928. Bill Clinton changed all that, for twelve long years, freaking political genius that he is. Throw in eight Senate seats (including Al Gore's seat) and twelve shiny new republick governors (flanked by 472 new republick state legislators creating new majorities in 21 state chambers) and you have the building blocks of the Bush era.

Worse yet, from the standpoint of the Progressive movement, the Clinton era saw the withering both of the Democratic brand and of the Democratic party. Democrats in the Clinton era were those nice people who brought you NAFTA and 100,000 more cops on the street and ended big government as we knew it. Welfare reform and a new law that prohibited the Federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, signed with a flourish by a Democratic President and enthusiastically advertised during his re-election campaign. That's not how you build a movement.

You also don't build a movement, just to twist that knife, with reptilian Beltway bobble-heads like James Carville and Terry McAuliffe prattling away on the teevee and sucking up to millionaires for seven-figure checks. You especially don't build a movement by shutting out your own party's grassroots. If you really want to go for the gold in the how-not-to-build-a-movement sweepstakes, you construct a shiny new party headquarters in Washington, D.C., paid for by big donors, and completely screw up the unsexy stuff like, say, voter databases. The Clinton approach to party-building combines the charm of a top-down, center-periphery mindset with the stench of incremental (but ultimately massive) failure. What a winning team.

From a strictly partisan political perspective, candidate Obama has already done more for Democrats than, say, Bill Clinton's entire post-Presidency. The same can be said of John Edwards, my preferred choice, who has led the war of ideas. Edwards went to New Orleans to announce his candidacy - Bill preened in Davos and went on a tour with George Bush the Elder. Awesome way to create distinctions, Big Dog. It's not Bill or Hillary who fixed the damage to the Democratic Party their tenure inflicted; that credit goes, among others, to Howard Dean, the same guy they're going to get rid of as DNC chair and replace, presumably, with another odious DLC suckup like, say, Harold Ford.

If Barack Obama wants to be a different President than Bill Clinton, and do for our party what Reagan did for his, I'll re-consider voting for him. I want a movement President. This movement needs a movement President. Say what you will about Barack Obama, but he gets the grassroots - just look at the man's spectacular campaign. Just ask all those new voters he's bringing into the fold. The Obama independents (and republicans) are today's Reagan Democrats. That's your lasting Progressive majority, right there.

Eat your heart out, Taylor Marsh.

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