Obama Just Isn’t Liberal, Enough

From The New Yorker:

…Of course, invoking the Fourteenth Amendment has always been a long shot, a last refuge. But Obama’s seeming refusal to hold it in reserve (“like the fire axe on the wall,” in Garrett Epps’s words) is emblematic of his all too civilized, all too accommodating negotiating strategy—indeed, of his whole approach to the nation’s larger economic dilemma, the most disappointing aspect of his Presidency. His stimulus package asked for too little and got less. He has allowed deficits and debt to supersede mass unemployment as the emergency of the moment. He has too readily accepted Republican terms of debate, such as likening the country to a household that must “live within its means.” (For even the most prudent householders, living within one’s means can include going into debt, as in taking out a car loan so that one can get to one’s job.) He has done too little to educate the public to the wisdom of post-Herbert Hoover economics: fiscal balance is achieved over time, not in a single year; in flush times a government should run a surplus, but when the economy falters deficits are part of the remedy; when the immediate problem is what it is now—a lack of demand, not a shortage of capital—higher spending is generally more efficacious than lower taxes, especially lower taxes on the rich…

And now the Carterization of Obama is complete…well, except that he hasn’t had his Killer Rabbit attack.  You see, I remember this – back in 1980 when I was gleefully reading over the liberal angst about Carter’s defeat, there were liberal opinions that Carter’s failure was that he wasn’t liberal enough.  Had he spent more, taxed more, cut defense more, negotiated with our enemies more…had he just gone full blown in to the most extreme liberalism possible, it all would have worked out.  There is a bizarre disconnect from reality in our “reality-based community”…the unwillingness to ever admit that liberalism can get it wrong, or even be unpopular.

One does have to wonder – that was written by Hendrik Hertzberg.  He’s a well-educated man:  at least, his credentials say so.  But does he really believe that there was in what FDR did a stark contrast to what Hoover did?  Does he further believe that what FDR did worked?  Hoover spent bags of money trying to fix the economy (little remembered is how in 1932 FDR ran on a balanced budget platform).  FDR just spent bags and bags and bags.  Hoover didn’t fix the depression, neither did FDR.  Yet here we are in 2011 and here is Mr. Hertzberg, certain that the lesson of the past is that you have to go flat out in spending…don’t do what Hoover did!  And Obama, in Hertzberg’s view, is being too Hooverish and not channeling his inner-FDR.  But Hoover did what FDR did and both FDR and Hoover failed utterly.  How do you get that ignorant about history and yet graduate from the Ivy League and become a commentator for The New Yorker?

Furthermore, a little blogger like me is supposed to stand in awe of all this…that I don’t have an Ivy League diploma and don’t have an editor to carefully review what I’ve written, and so I should accept as from on high such pronouncements.  But that is absurd – I can see what is plain as a pikestaff, Hertzberg, by the evidence in his article, would have difficulty finding the balls on a bull.  There is making a mistake – I’ve done that; I’ll do it again and again, too…but there is a huge difference between “mistake” and “obtuse”.

Never mind.  As long as liberals really think that it is a lack of liberalism which makes for liberal failure, it works out mostly to our advantage.  True, it came back to bite us in 2008 – never imagined someone as leftist as Obama could even get nominated, let alone elected…but everything, I guess, really is possible.  It is highly likely that we will correct 2008’s error in 2012…and Hertzberg and other liberals will then proclaim not a shift to the right to regain America’s trust, but a further shift to the left because those darn morons, the voters, just don’t know what’s good for them.  We should be able to keep the Democrats out of the White House for 20 years on that.

HAT TIPCommentary

21 thoughts on “Obama Just Isn’t Liberal, Enough

  1. dennis August 2, 2011 / 3:08 am

    I find great irony in this excerpt: “…Republican terms of debate, such as likening the country to a household that must ‘live within its means.’”

    Really? Is America that great household that must learn to live within its means? I wasn’t the one to invoke the “household” metaphor, but Mark thought it apt enough to quote above. He says nothing to indicate he disagrees with that aspect of Hertzberg’s analysis; in fact it is stated as a given and left unchallenged.

    Okay, then let’s understand how households work. There’s a division of labor right off the bat. Some folks are breadwinners and some are homemakers, to use archaic terms. Some are sons and daughters, some may be in-laws but few are on exactly the same economic rung. Everyone contributes and everyone benefits, but not in the same way. Not everyone has the same financial net worth, and not everyone who enjoys the common security of the household generates the same monetary income as the chief breadwinners. But that’s the way it is with households.

    I accept the household metaphor, and would further posit that in this household in which we all have a stake, even though not everyone has the same monetary worth, their net value to society is exceedingly hard to quantify or compare. Teachers don’t make as much as lawyers, line assemblers don’t make as much as stockbrokers and most artists certainly don’t make as much as most lobbyists do – yet to try and say the former in each pairing is worth less to society – our common household – than the latter is neither credible or worthy of serious debate.

    Here’s how the New Testament looks at that concept: “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15-20).

    This is why there should be common protections for all members of the American household. Of course some members will benefit who contribute less money, and some who earn more money will put in much more than others. But unless we assume money is the only valid measuring stick in the American value system (although it is for some), this is a woefully inadequate way of gauging human worth, or the basic protections any member deserves against want or privation.

    Speaking mainly to Mark here – this concept may be highly problematic for anyone who tries to reconcile Christian values or the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels with right-wing politics, but it’s just another reason I put a wide separation between the two. Anone who constantly thinks in terms of “our advantage” is missing the whole point of existence as a spiritual being.

    “As long as liberals really think that it is a lack of liberalism which makes for liberal failure, it works out mostly to our advantage” – Mark Noonan.

    “The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand” – Isaiah 32:8. KJV.

    • Mark Noonan August 2, 2011 / 4:02 am

      Dennis,

      The actual quote is, “But the noble man plans noble things, and by noble things he stands.” I do wonder if the word “liberal” appears anywhere in the Bible…

      Anyways, whatever else you might want to find in there, you won’t find permission to lay around doing nothing. You also won’t find a warrant to take from one and give to another. You definitely won’t find a command to erect a Department of Education. But that, of course, is not even the point of my article…it is that liberals are mighty dumb if they think that a further application of liberalism is what will fix liberal failure.

    • Retired Spook August 2, 2011 / 8:52 am

      An[y]one who constantly thinks in terms of “our advantage” is missing the whole point of existence as a spiritual being.

      How does lying to support one’s point of view square with your spiritual existence, Dennis? More to the point, why would you engage in such behavior unless it’s for “advantage”? A couple threads back you had a long post near the end of the thread. You told so many lies, half-truths and distortions that I lost count — at least a dozen in one post. If your POV is valid, why is it necessary to tell anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

      • Cluster August 2, 2011 / 9:51 am

        dennis is the epitome of moral relativism. Here in this thread he is essentially saying that pure communism could be the only acceptable economical platform for true Christians. Unless everyone receives the same monetary compensation for their labor, irregardless of what that labor produces, then our society will be unfair, and un-Christian like.

        He also refers to the term “homemaker” as archaic, which I find interesting. For one who touts the virtues of the family, you would think “homemaker” would be considered a vitally important role – I know I consider it to be.

        Dennis has a liberally distorted and disturbing mind.

      • Bodie August 2, 2011 / 11:04 am

        Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it a lie, Spook. It really would be nice if you conservatives would learn that.

      • Retired Spook August 2, 2011 / 12:29 pm

        Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it a lie, Spook.

        Bodie, I wasn’t referring to things I disagreed with; I was referring to things that either weren’t factual, were a distortion of fact or only told the part of the story that supported Dennis’s position. Big difference. If it were just one or two things, I’d simply refute them with facts, but it was so many, it would take me the rest of the day to research each one, and, quite frankly, Dennis simply isn’t worth that kind of effort.

      • Cluster August 2, 2011 / 1:14 pm

        Dennis simply isn’t worth that kind of effort.

        LOL – that’s why I love ya spook

      • Bodie August 2, 2011 / 1:22 pm

        So you can’t prove they were lies…but they were lies because you say so. That’s what I figured. What about the alleged “lies” in this thread?

        Again, it really would be nice if conservatives would learn–and stick to–the actual definition of the word “lie” instead of making up their own.

      • Cluster August 2, 2011 / 1:33 pm

        Bodie,

        Please realize that you are just another, in a long line, of semantic playing liberals, that we have become bored with, and therefore ignore, so don’t take it personally. It doesn’t take long to find the lies in that post of dennis’s, and i am surprised that you would ignore that fact, and set yourself up to be embarrassed. Here’s a couple:

        Obama’s policies are projected to create less than $2 trillion of new debt through 2017. – dennis

        Yet since January 2009, we have racked up $4 trillion in new debt. And this one may be my favorite:

        The electorate will remember it is Tea Party nut jobs who are sabotaging any kind of solution to the jobs crisis. – dennis

        Yet the tea party representatives were the only ones who submitted not one, but two proposals to resolve the crisis and initiate job creation activity.

        Care to play anymore?

      • Cluster August 2, 2011 / 1:39 pm

        Here’s another gem:

        If you want a balanced budget, just do it like Clinton did. –
        dennis

        Question Bodie – who wrote the Contract with America?

      • Retired Spook August 2, 2011 / 2:24 pm

        Bodie,

        Another complete distortion, no, better make that a lie, from Dennis’ comment in the previous thread:

        Of course there’s no dearth of cash out there – it’s just sitting unused in corporate bank accounts and hedge funds (where Bush’s tax cuts directed it) instead of circulating through the general economy where it could pump vitality back into the body.

        If Dennis had bothered to check his facts, he would know that the $2 trillion in cash currently held by U.S. corporations is largely borrowed, and, in fact, U.S. corporate debt is at an historic high. I know — it sounds so much better blaming it on Bush. Give me a break!

      • Retired Spook August 2, 2011 / 3:08 pm

        Here’s another gem: If you want a balanced budget, just do it like Clinton did. –
        dennis

        Cluster, you’re a big Rush fan. Do you remember the montage that Rush put together back then with sound clips of Clinton saying “we can balance the budget in 4 years — we can balance the budget in 7 years — we can balance the budget in 10 years — we can balance the budget in 5 years. Every time he was asked about it in public he came up with a different number. And before Slick even knew what happened, the GOP Congress had balanced the budget.

      • Cluster August 2, 2011 / 4:37 pm

        I do remember that Spook. Last night Gingrich was asked about comparing this budget debate vs that of ’94, to which Newt replied – “Clinton was vastly more pragmatic than Obama is”

      • tiredoflibbs August 4, 2011 / 2:36 pm

        If you want a balanced budget, just do it like Clinton did. –
        dennis

        I don’t think obAMATEUR, nor the rest of his party’s looters, will return to those spending levels.

  2. dennis August 2, 2011 / 5:03 am

    Of course, Mark, you should know the original biblical manuscripts were written not in English but Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. “Liberal” or a form thereof is just one English translation of several words variously encompassing the concepts of “willing”, “simplicity” or “unaffected”.

    In Isaiah of the King James Version the word “churl” is juxtaposed in opposition to “liberal”, and is probably the closest scriptural approximation of “conservative.” It is not given a positive connotation.

    Bottom line, there is leeway for context and nuance in scriptural translations, but there also is a clear weight of meaning. Liberality is always used in a positive context, and churlishness is always negative – with no exceptions.

    I don’t pretend the biblical meaning of “liberal” to be identical with its popular political definition today – however I do enjoy reveling in the general principle of liberality upheld by the scriptures. You also should know by now I don’t hew to political definitions in the same manner you do – heaven forfend!

    • Mark Noonan August 2, 2011 / 7:28 pm

      Dennis,

      The best description I’ve seen of the KJV is “lordly, but inaccurate”.

      We also have to take things as a whole – we should not call God to witness unless we are willing to have a witness for all we do. A bit of a word of warning of what happens to a nation when it turns away from God, as we have under liberal auspices:

      We are brought low, not raised up, because we sinned against the LORD, our God, not heeding his voice. Justice is with the LORD, our God; and we, like our fathers, are flushed with shame even today. All the evils of which the LORD had warned us have come upon us: and we did not plead before the LORD, or turn, each from the figments of his evil heart. And the LORD kept watch over the evils, and brought them home to us; for the LORD is just in all the works he commanded us to do, but we did not heed his voice, or follow the precepts of the LORD which he set before us.

      And now, LORD, God of Israel, you who led your people out of the land of Egypt with your mighty hand, with signs and wonders and great might, and with your upraised arm, so that you have made for yourself a name till the present day: we have sinned, been impious, and violated, O LORD, our God, all your statutes. – Baruch 2:5-12

  3. dennis August 2, 2011 / 3:10 pm

    Spook, if you view an object from one direction you will see a certain shape. Others viewing the same object from another direction will see a different shape, maybe even a different color. Looking at life through the lens of a political orthodoxy can substantially alter one’s perception of reality. The challenge in all of life is to understand reality from as many directions as possible.

    I understand we are looking at reality from different directions. When I say “the Tea Party is sabotaging any kind of solution to the jobs crisis,” I refer to the fact that cutting spending during a recession is a known job-killer. States that have cut the most spending since 2007 have lost the most jobs – see http://tinyurl.com/3e7shvt .

    There are many sets of facts and statistics one may reference to support a point of view. Certain facts and articles of faith favored on this blog stand in opposition to other facts. They hew to a certain political orthodoxy but don’t define reality, certainly not in total, and often not even a little bit. Because the facts I reference differ from those you favor, you feel free to call me a liar. Unfortunately this blog continues to distinguish itself as a venue where people sling mud as a first resort, name-call and commonly accuse others of being liars and worse. Not many seem willing to walk around the larger reality and see its shape from other directions.

    Obama often has been called a socialist on this blog. Cluster above says, “[dennis] is essentially saying that pure communism could be the only acceptable economical platform for true Christians.” I don’t recall even tangentially mentioning communism here. He and others here regularly characterize people and events in ways so completely – sometimes laughably – at odds with reality it would be easy to call them liars, but it’s more complicated than that. Even if they stubbornly resist taking off their partisan glasses, or seeing people or matters from any perspective but one narrow, staked-out point of view, I accept that at least some of the time they are describing what they see. No matter if the whole rest of the world sees something plainly, demonstratively, objectively different.

    I’m very careful about calling someone a liar, even when I disagree utterly with their opinions. I will state what I’m seeing, however – realizing my own vantage point does not give me exhaustive or perfect knowledge. We all need to walk around and look at reality from different directions now and then; by doing so we continue to grow in understanding – not to mention empathy and respect for others.

  4. Cluster August 2, 2011 / 4:46 pm

    Cluster above says, “[dennis] is essentially saying that pure communism could be the only acceptable economical platform for true Christians.” I don’t recall even tangentially mentioning communism here. – dennis

    You didn’t mention the word communism dennis, but you strongly implied the concept. I can’t tell if dennis is extremely religious, or if he just likes to use religion as a club.

    this concept (peoples monetary worth) may be highly problematic for anyone who tries to reconcile Christian values or the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels with right-wing politics, but it’s just another reason I put a wide separation between the two. Anyone who constantly thinks in terms of “our advantage” is missing the whole point of existence as a spiritual being. – dennis

    • neocon1 August 2, 2011 / 5:05 pm

      cluster

      I can’t tell if dennis is extremely religious, or if he just likes to use religion as a club.

      dennis is a wolf in sheeps clothing,

      Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:47-50).

  5. dennis August 2, 2011 / 10:42 pm

    Cluster, more often than not when I bring biblical principles into the conversation they’re directed at Mark, because he’s the main person here who makes posts on religious themes and speaks openly of his religious beliefs. (Except Jeremiah of course, but he’s not quite the thinker Mark is.) I know of no other way to have a conversation with Mark than to sometimes nudge or challenge him regarding things he posts.

    I’m genuinely curious how he balances his hard right political stance with the teachings of Christ in the Gospels. Usually he sidesteps my main point to address some peripheral detail (if he responds at all) but I keep trying. But I genuinely admire him for his stalwart defense of the religious principles he believes in, some of which I agree with (which occasionally puts us both in the minority together – an odd but interesting place to be). Of course there are many more things I disagree with him about – yet I feel he would be an decent and interesting person to have actual conversation with, if it were possible.

    I don’t believe I wear my religion on my sleeve nearly to the degree that Mark does, and I never use it as a club. I’ve always found that abhorrent. But because I sometimes defend my point of view with biblical principles, and because my views are contrary to many of yours, these references provoke all kinds of absurd responses and accusations. I take them all with a chunk of salt. I do sometimes have to laugh when Ama fills many column inches analyzing my thinking and values (which she doesn’t have a clue about) and attributing things to me I never said. Very few people fight fair here, or take care to represent their opponents accurately.

    Which is why my posting here is very episodic – sometimes many days go by without me even thinking about this blog. But I do like to know what the far right is thinking, especially when news happens, and sometimes (amazingly) I actually learn a thing or two here.

  6. dennis August 3, 2011 / 2:24 am

    Spook: “And before Slick even knew what happened, the GOP Congress had balanced the budget.”

    And it never would have happened without the revenue from Clinton’s 93 tax increase. Which, left to its own devices, the GOP Congress never would have done. And it only affected the wealthiest, but not to the point that it hurt anybody. There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Comments are closed.