Free Markets, Free People

Howard Dean


Howard Dean: The crazy uncle in the attic

I say that in the title fully understanding that in reality Howard Dean reflects how some (many?) on the liberal side of the house actually feel, or perhaps a better way of saying that is how they delude themselves into feeling.  Take this for instance … Howard Dean on the Wisconsin recall election:

DEAN: First of all, we look at Wisconsin as a win. We, which is not reported in the mainstream media, we picked up a senate seat, which denies Scott Walker a majority in the senate. So we put the breaks on him at least until the next election season. Secondly, you know, I always thought the base would come around because, as they like to say in Obama-land, we’re not running against the Almighty, we’re running against the alternative. Mitt Romney is well-known among the American people, let alone progressives, as someone who mostly caters to very wealthy Americans, and doesn’t have a lot of understanding or sympathy for those who aren’t. I’m pretty sure we’re in good shape and I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a big progressive turnout.

Wow.  First, the Senate win was an empty win.  The legislature is not in session and with redistricting (which was done by the Republican legislature), the “new” Senator will have to again run for the seat before the legislature again meets.  Forecasts say the Republicans will pick up at least one more seat at that time.  So the win is a win in name only.  It means nothing whatsoever until the next election.

Second … does anyone, given the turn out in Wisconsin, believe that line of crap about “progressive turnout”?  And even if progressives do turn out, they’re what, 25% of the electorate tops?  It isn’t the progressives who are going to re-elect Barack Obama.  It is the big middle who is deserting him right now.

But, that said, I just don’t see a big progressive turnout in the cards either.

Dean, however, is going to stay on message no matter how ridiculous it sounds:

REPORTER: Are you seeing a difference in the mood here compared to previous years? Last year, there were some combative moments and this time around it seems, so far anyway—

DEAN: Again, it’s the fourth quarter. I’ve had my differences with the administration, particularly over health-care policy, but this is the fourth quarter. I always used to say when I was DNC chair we’re going to elect a Democratic president and hold their feet to the fire to make sure they behave like Democrats. In the fourth quarter, everybody’s on the same team again—we’ve got to win this game. I hesitate to think of what’s going to happen to the budget deficit, because of course the Republicans are the biggest creators of budget deficits, should Mitt Romney win and have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. We’ll get a big turnout.

Yup, that’s sort of the same message about teams that you hear on the GOP side. Everyone get onboard.

However, in the real world, it seems that the team forming on the right is much more enthusiastic (at least at this point) than the one on the left, and on the right they don’t even have an official nominee yet.

As for the budget nonsense – boilerplate crap that adheres to the discredited spin that Obama has spent less than any president in 60 years.  Only progressives believe that, apparently.

REPORTER: Do you think there’s a change in the relationship between the Democratic base and labor in particular? I’ve talked to a couple activists here who say they’re a little dispirited, that they don’t know whether engaging in electoral politics is the best role for labor unions after Wisconsin.

DEAN: Well, I think the parameters have changed dramatically. The old politics is not going to work anymore. We’re not going to be able to outspend the Republicans under the circumstances of Citizens United, so I think we’re going to have to look for a different kind of politics. I think that the campaign, actually, in Wisconsin—the principal problem there was not being outspent; the principal problem there was people were tired of elections. Had they waited another three months, they might have gotten an indictment in the administration, and that would have been significant grounds to throw out a sitting governor—and I think a lot of people would think so. The most interesting thing about the Wisconsin race was that about 10 percent of the electorate that voted to keep Walker, also said they would vote for Obama in the fall, which gave Obama the state. We’ll see. I’m not one of those who thought last week was a bad week for the Democrats. I actually thought last week was a good week for Democrats.

Tired of elections?  That’s why record numbers turned out and resoundingly thumped the recall effort?  We’ve already seen the “outspent” nonsense debunked.   If your fall back to an electoral debacle is “people are tired of elections” given the turnout and result, you’re out of credible ideas and just pumping out hot air. 

Dean, along with perhaps Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and David Axlerod are about the only people in America that thought last week was a “good week for Democrats”.   That said, I wish them many more like it.

REPORTER: How about in the fall? Do you think that when it comes to Obama communicating with the base and doing things that will energize the base, is there anything that you’d like to see him do between now and then?

DEAN: I’d like to see him keep hammering away at Romney’s—the one thing, you’ve got to hammer at people’s beliefs. You can’t sort of convince people that, for example as the Republicans have been trying to do, that the problem with the president is that he was born in Kenya—that’s just not going to work. You don’t have to convince people that Romney only cares about rich people, because that’s what they believe already. So you just have to keep hammering that message home, that this is not a guy who understands you. And I think we’re going to win.

And I can only hope Obama takes Dean’s advice, because it will guarantee a one term presidency if he does.

I put all this up because whether Democrats like it or not, this is one of the faces of the Democratic party.  And if you think he’s out to lunch, tune in to Debbie Wasserman-Shultz for a while.  She makes Dean seem sane.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Howard Dean endorses Daley and smacks outgoing Obama staff

The Sarah Palin of the Democratic party – Howard Dean – has endorsed a product of the Chicago Machine’s favorite family as Obama’s chief of staff.   He feels William Daley would be a “huge plus” for the Obama  because he is someone “who knows Washington, but he also is not of Washington."

Yeah, that’s kinda the point – he’s from Chicago.  Just like the guy in the Oval office who supposedly “knows Washington” but isn’t of there.

That’s worked out real well so far hasn’t it?  In fact, it appears we’re going to see them shuffle one set of Chicagoans out while another comes in.

Dean also took a shot at the departing members of Obama’s staff for being contemptuous of the “professional left” – i.e. the liberal left:

Noting that many officials are "either out of the White House or going," Dean blasted Obama’s current officials who he says have treated the left wing of the Democratic Party with "contempt."

"As they say, don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out," Dean said.

That is mostly pointed at Axelrod and Gibbs.  That said, and Daley endorsed, Dean then even complained a bit about Daley (John Podesta was Dean’s first choice) not being left enough for him:

Dean acknowledged that he has big differences with Daley, who according to Dean has "been moving to the right over the last five to 10 years," but he said that Daley is "a grown-up who doesn’t treat people like they don’t know anything and you know everything."

Dean claims, however, that Daley will bring an “adult” mindset to the White House, a shot at the administration, saying that such a mindset hasn’t existed thus far, at least in the minds of the “professional left”(of which Howard Dean is a charter member).

It is fairly common for administrations to shuffle their staff after an electoral loss.  In the days of Bush, Rumsfeld was the big news, but other changes also happened.  That’s really not the point.   Watch the appointments carefully to try to discern how the administration is trying to set itself up for the next two years.  Hardliners or compromisers?  “Liberal” or, as Dean claims of William Daley, more to the “right” (I think that’s a very relative term in this case)? Etc.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who Obama names to take probably the most visible spot being vacated, that of Bagdad Bob Gibbs.  Like it or not the Press Secretary sets the tone for the administration and is its daily face.   I think more can be discerned from that pick than just about any other (other than at department secretary level).

Meanwhile it is useful to note Dean’s remarks only because they quickly tune you in to the feelings of the “professional left” on most subjects.  My guess he’s spot on in his condemnation of the staff leaving (as far as its dealing with the more liberal wing).  I’d further guess that the criticism won’t stop with the incoming staff either – none of them will ever be left enough for the Howard Dean/Firedoglakes of this world.

~McQ


Dems–boot blue dogs, fold big tent

Ari Berman of "The Nation” does an op-ed for the New York Times in which he pushes for the removal (or at least the non-support) of the blue dog Democrats such as Heath Schuler of NC. 

Now that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me – just as the Tea Party wants the less than conservative members of the Republican party replaced with more reliably fiscal conservative members.

That said, however, I loved the “reasoning” quoted for this desire:

Margaret Johnson, a former party chairwoman in Polk County, N.C., helped elect Representative Shuler but now believes the party would be better off without him. “I’d rather have a real Republican than a fake Democrat,” she said. “A real Republican motivates us to work. A fake Democrat de-motivates us.”

Well there you go – remember the left has been lambasting the right for who knows how long for not offering a “big tent” but essentially being a narrow based “all white male” party.  Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel concocted the 50 state strategy which recruited blue dogs like Schuler because they were “electable” in those districts and that strategy gave Democrats a “super majority”.  But what real good did it do? 

The argument is “wouldn’t you rather have someone that would vote with you 70% of the time rather than someone who will vote for your programs 0% of the time?  The answer is “no”.  Not if you actually want to get those things done which require critical votes and the 30% of the time they don’t vote with you is when those votes occur.  Tea Partiers figured this out a while ago.  And again, they’ve been lambasted for being so non-inclusive.  Karl Rove, an inveterate seat counter, focuses solely on the number of “Republicans” in each chamber.  Tea Partiers and conservatives focus on the ideology of those running and only support those who are, in Ms. Johnson’s words, “real Republicans” as the TP and conservatives define them.

It appears Democrats, lately of the “big tent”, are now looking toward a smaller tent.  That would include the architect of the 50 state strategy, Howard Dean:

Ms. Johnson is right: Democrats would be in better shape, and would accomplish more, with a smaller and more ideologically cohesive caucus. It’s a sentiment that even Mr. Dean now echoes. “Having a big, open-tent Democratic Party is great, but not at the cost of getting nothing done,” he said.

Yeah … exactly what a number of us have been saying for years.  Look, people throw the word “ideology” around like it is some sort of bad word.  It’s not.  It is your political philosophy, your principles, your belief in what politics should reflect.

Does anyone believe those that founded this country weren’t ideologically driven?   That they didn’t have a definite set of principles  that were foundation of what they created?

“Big tent” is a wonderfully nebulous and useless concept that implies that inclusiveness is more important than principles.  It’s nonsense as both sides are discovering.  You’re either for something, in terms of principles, or you’re not.  “Including” others who don’t necessarily share your principles is simply an exercise in, well, seat counting, which as both the GOP and Democrats have finally discovered, is a waste of time.

~McQ


Interesting Health Care Poll Numbers

It appears as the public becomes more aware of what Congress is planning with this health care monstrosity they’re calling reform, the more reason they find to like the present system.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35% in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor.

It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage. The latest polling shows that only 38% favor the health care legislation currently working its way through Congress.

It also shows a marked decrease in those favoring the legislation – not that such polling will stop the Democrats from continuing to ram something through. Even Howard Dean finds the current legislation troubling and declares it does nothing to control costs – one of the supposed central tenets of reform.

I’ve been saying for months that the Democrats are going to pass something called “health care reform”. They have too. Otherwise Obama’s domestic legislative agenda will be declared a failure and, ultimately, his presidency. Now I’m not so sure, given the fact that the legislation is under fire from all sides, that passage of “something” is necessarily assured.  Meanwhile the latest atrocity in a government run health care system to ponder.

Time to turn up the heat and pressure to drop this awful mess. It is nothing more than a government power grab based in generational theft that does nothing to make health care better. To quote Nancy Reagan, it’s time to “just say no”.

~McQ


The Political Hazards Of “Health Care Reform”

The NY Times tells us this morning that we’re likely to get health care reform whether we want it or not.

Frankly I’m not sure why that should be a surprise to anyone. Democrats know that they have to pass something or they’ll effectively, to use Howard Dean’s phrase, “kill the presidency” of Barack Obama.

So it should come as no surprise, really, that Democrats are finally talking about whatever is necessary, to include completely ignoring Republicans, to get a bill through both houses of Congress for the president’s signature.

But the exclusion of Republicans doesn’t mean smooth sailing for Democrats. Numbers-wise they certainly have the majorities they need in both houses to pass legislation. This particular legislation, however, has become fraught with political danger. Many Democrats are very wary of it because of the demonstrated unhappiness of their constituencies and the probable 2010 impact that may have. This is especially true of more conservative Democrats, even those is primarily Democratic districts. And “Blue Dogs” who managed to win in historically red districts are terrified.

Certainly by cutting out the Republicans, they can write the legislation as they want it. But certain parts, such as the so-called “death panels” and “public option”, have little public support. And, in general, polls continue to make the point that a majority of Americans want this present attempt scratched and want Congress to “start over”.

On top of that, it appears the majority of Americans do not agree that “something” has to be passed quickly. Instead, it appears, the public wants an extended debate and believe that such a debate is just beginning.

That sets up the conflict of political interests the Democrats face. They believe, now that they’ve brought it up and the president has made it one of his signature issues, that unless they pass it (or something they can call “health care reform”) they’ll have set him up for failure. However, they are also coming to realize that passing something now despite a majority of Americans saying slow down and start over could be hazardous to their political health – and majorities.

As they finally did with George Bush and the Republicans, I believe Americans are again realizing not just the benefit but the necessity for divided government to keep both sides “honest”. Government needs a bit of competition too. And if Democrats ram health care reform legislation through, whether with our without Republican support, they’re most likely to see such “competition” become reality in 2010.

~McQ

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