WP: Liberals resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems

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    Nov 27, 2010 9:33 AM GMT
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/25/AR2010112502553.html

    Following two years of poor economic performance and electoral repudiation, liberalism is casting around for narratives to explain its failure - narratives that don't involve the admission of inadequacies in liberalism itself.

    For some, the solution is to lay the blame on President Obama. He hasn't been liberal enough. He can't communicate. "I cannot recall a president," Robert Kuttner says in the Huffington Post, "who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as a chief executive." Obama is "fast becoming more albatross than ally."

    This is an ideological movement at its most cynical, attempting to throw overboard its once-revered leader to avoid the taint of his problems.

    But there is an alternative narrative, developed by those who can't shake their reverence for Obama. If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.

    So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for "deliberate economic sabotage" from the GOP - as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends that "Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there's a Democrat in the White House." Steve Benen explains, "We're talking about a major political party . . . possibly undermining the strength of the country - on purpose, in public, without apology or shame - for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012." Benen's posting was titled "None Dare Call it Sabotage."

    So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating "massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system."

    One is tempted to respond that it is $1 trillion in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health-reform law that have created "massive economic uncertainty." For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.

    Yet this is precisely what the sabotage theorists must deny. They must assert that the case for liberal policies is so self-evident that all opposition is malevolent. But given the recent record of liberal economics, policies that seem self-evident to them now seem questionable to many. Objective conditions call for alternatives. And Republicans are advocating the conservative alternatives - monetary restraint, lower spending, lower taxes - they have embraced for 30 years.

    It is difficult to overstate how offensive elected Republicans find the sabotage accusation, which Obama himself has come very close to making. During the run-up to the midterm election, the president said at a town hall meeting in Racine, Wis.: "Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that if Obama fails, then we win." Some Republican leaders naturally took this as an attack on their motives. Was the president really contending that Republican representatives want their constituents to be unemployed in order to gain a political benefit for themselves? No charge from the campaign more effectively undermined the possibility of future cooperation.

    The sabotage accusation, once implicit, is now direct among panicked progressives. Part of the intention seems to be strategic - to discourage Obama from considering Clintonian ideological triangulation. No centrist concessions, the argument goes, will appease Republicans who hate the president more than they love the country. So Obama should double down on liberalism, once again.

    It is very bad political advice. It also indicates a movement losing contact with political reality. When an ideology stumbles, its adherents can always turn to alcohol - or to conspiracy theories. It is easier to recover from alcohol. Conspiracy thinking is not only addictive, it is tiresome. It precludes the possibility of interesting policy debate or genuine disagreement - how can you argue with a plot?

    In 1964, John Stormer, a sabotage theorist of the right, came out with the book "None Dare Call It Treason," which asked: "Is there a conspiratorial plan to destroy the United States into which foreign aid, planned inflation, distortion of treaty-making powers and disarmament all fit?" Stormer's progressive descendants are just as discrediting to the ideas they claim to serve.

    michaelgerson@washpost.com
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    Nov 27, 2010 10:05 AM GMT
    Very good post. We are seeing the same excuse-making and fear-mongering from the whining extreme left on RJ. They are becoming as irrelevant as they are few in number.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Nov 27, 2010 10:50 AM GMT
    Haha .......... What is this ?

    Neo-Conservative Premature Ejaculation?
    because the republican initiated economic failure can't be undone in 2 years all of a sudden "liberalism" is looking for conspiracy theories?

    careful ..... the Op ed guy and you are taking this election as a mandate
    which it's not

    The republican led economic plan over the last two decades doesn't need a theory ..... it's about as theoretical as a MAC truck
    and that truck is laying on its side at the bottom of a ravine

    Did Obama do enough to winch that truck out of the ravine?
    In my opinion ... No
    and in my opinion that was because he compromised with the drivers of that truck which is you .... the Op Ed columnist and anyone who subscribes to the right wing disgraced economic plan
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    Nov 27, 2010 1:44 PM GMT
    There's a far left and a far right that are extremes that would take us all in directions we don't want our country going, but this writer (by the way who is the post writer?) tries to put all liberal progressives in the same extreme boat. Demint of South Carolina and Limbaugh as well as a few others did verbally appear to wish for Obama's Failure, while we cannot put all republicans in the same boat with their ilk, its a bit suspiscious that they all voted as one on every issue. The Party of No became their standard. Its not been quite 2 years yet of the Obama Administrations efforts to turn this economy around, but it is well on its way. I would have had the Dems be more aggressive with the banks and far far more aggressive toward spending on infrastructure to increase employment for main street and rural America, but even there the Dems were blocked by the party of no. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I rather doubt its a conspiracy to cause the economy to fail exactly, but we do have the Minority Leader McConnell saying repeatedly that its his number one goal to make Obama a one term President, and so far the Republicans have been in lock step with him on this. So what exactly can be drawn from their obsession with bringing down Obama ?? The republicans have nearly 100% sold out to big business interests who finance them. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>If the last ten years of Republican REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH upwards without regulation, hasn't yet brought the total ruination of the middle class and is directly responsible for our economic failure, then bring back the republican majorities and lets watch them finish the job and watch the masses who vote against their own interests suffer even more at their hands. The republicans are intent on winning, but their economic ideas favoring the rich few hasn't worked, its brought down our economy to historic lows, while not a conspiracy, it is at the least a self defeating win for the masses who follow them like lemmings over a cliff.
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    Nov 27, 2010 2:58 PM GMT
    socalfitness saidVery good post. We are seeing the same excuse-making and fear-mongering from the whining extreme left on RJ. They are becoming as irrelevant as they are few in number.


    There's a lot of whining here, but it's not from the left, socal.

    Have you read ANY of SB's posts?
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    Nov 27, 2010 6:54 PM GMT
    You guys forgot to say to riddler what's often said to me.

    "why don't you focus on your own country?"

    and blah blah blah et al.

    Oh wait, the conservatives agree with him, so it's different. icon_lol.gif

    -Doug
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    Nov 27, 2010 8:30 PM GMT
    jprichva said
    socalfitness saidVery good post. We are seeing the same excuse-making and fear-mongering from the whining extreme left on RJ. They are becoming as irrelevant as they are few in number.

    Michael Gerson is Bush's former speechwriter.
    You can like or hate what he has to say, but, um, anyone honest will admit there's quite an agenda here. I think this article is partisan blather,. The public didn't 'reject liberalism', even though you folks wish it were true. People are in economic hell, and they reacted to not having jobs and losing their homes.

    Talk about 'casting around for a narrative'.

    Both sides are looking at the results from their own perspectives. Certainly the economy is a major issue, and I remember well prior to the election, you remarked with much more candor than other liberals here that if the economy were bad, the Democrats would take a hit. I really believe it is more than just an anti-incumbent, bad economy vote. While the Democrats had more to lose because of their majority status, they lost proportionately more seats. Polls (including Gallup - if my memory serves me correctly) have noted this country has remained center-right: app 20% self-described as liberal, app 40% as conservative). I believe that if the Democrats continue to view things as Pelosi sees (or at least states), an even bigger price will be paid next time.
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    Nov 27, 2010 10:47 PM GMT
    meninlove said You guys forgot to say to riddler what's often said to me.

    "why don't you focus on your own country?"

    and blah blah blah et al.

    Oh wait, the conservatives agree with him, so it's different. icon_lol.gif

    -Doug

    Yeah, it's like when Republicans rail against "activist judges" until a court rules on their side and overturns legislative intent and judicial precedent, as with the outrageous US Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate campaign donations, and then it's suddenly OK. Or when they target State Supreme Court judges in Iowa so that the new Court there will overturn pro-gay marriage rulings.

    "Judges are just interpreting the Constitution (State or Federal) when they vote along Republican Party lines, but they're being liberal, socialist activists when their decisions mirror Democratic Party lines." Republican hypocrisy is fueled by an under-informed, under-educated electorate, something they have worked for years to achieve.
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    Nov 27, 2010 10:52 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidYeah, it's like when Republicans rail against "activist judges" until a court rules on their side and overturns legislative intent and judicial precedent, as with the outrageous US Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate campaign donations, and then it's suddenly OK. Or when they target State Supreme Court judges in Iowa so that the new Court there will overturn pro-gay marriage rulings.

    "Judges are just interpreting the Constitution (State or Federal) when they vote along Republican Party lines, but they're being liberal, socialist activists when their decisions mirror Democratic Party lines." Republican hypocrisy is fueled by an under-informed, under-educated electorate, something they have worked for years to achieve.


    I can respect that it is in your inherent interest to paint the electorate as being under educated and stupid. Where they also undereducated and stupid when they elected Obama as President and gave majorities to the Democrats in both houses? However, your consistent ignorance of the issues including campaign finance laws and inability to understand how this can and should be viewed more broadly as a free speech issue (especially given its lopsided bias towards allowing advocacy by unions) does your positions and those who agree with you a tremendous disservice.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Nov 27, 2010 11:19 PM GMT
    For anybody who has been paying attention for the past two years, the Republicans in Congress have already shown their hand.
    The Republicans asked for compromise on everything.
    Obama compromised.
    The Republicans still voted, "No."

    NOTE that their agenda is NOT lowering unemployment, ending tax cuts, reducing the size of government, lowering the deficit, improving health care, extending unemployment benefits for people who can't find a job, or ending earmarks.

    Republican Mitch McConnell already said that the Republicans only agenda is to prevent Obama from getting reelected.

    So, the TRUTH is that the Republicans have no intention of doing anything that would help the United States or the average American.
    _______________________________________

    September 14, 1960

    What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?"

    If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal."

    But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

    ---John F. Kennedy





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    Nov 27, 2010 11:23 PM GMT
    Webster666 saidFor anybody who has been paying attention for the past two years, the Republicans in Congress have already shown their hand.
    The Republicans asked for compromise on everything.
    Obama compromised.
    The Republicans still voted, "No."

    NOTE that their agenda is NOT lowering unemployment, ending tax cuts, reducing the size of government, lowering the deficit, improving health care, extending unemployment benefits for people who can't find a job, or ending earmarks.

    Republican Mitch McConnell already said that the Republicans only agenda is to prevent Obama from getting reelected.

    So, the TRUTH is that the Republicans have no intention of doing anything that would help the United States or the average American.
    _______________________________________

    September 14, 1960

    What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?"

    If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal."

    But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

    ---John F. Kennedy


    JFK cut taxes more than Reagan did and he did so especially for the rich. There are many historians who note that JFK would be to the right of center in the context of today's political spectrum.
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    Nov 27, 2010 11:40 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Webster666 saidFor anybody who has been paying attention for the past two years, the Republicans in Congress have already shown their hand.
    The Republicans asked for compromise on everything.
    Obama compromised.
    The Republicans still voted, "No."

    NOTE that their agenda is NOT lowering unemployment, ending tax cuts, reducing the size of government, lowering the deficit, improving health care, extending unemployment benefits for people who can't find a job, or ending earmarks.

    Republican Mitch McConnell already said that the Republicans only agenda is to prevent Obama from getting reelected.

    So, the TRUTH is that the Republicans have no intention of doing anything that would help the United States or the average American.
    _______________________________________

    September 14, 1960

    What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?"

    If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal."

    But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

    ---John F. Kennedy


    JFK cut taxes more than Reagan did and he did so especially for the rich. There are many historians who note that JFK would be to the right of center in the context of today's political spectrum.


    For someone so obsessed with minutia, you often hurl out claims that while factually correct are so devoid of context as to be meaningless. What were the tax rates when JFK became president versus when Reagan did?

    That's right. When JFK took over the highest marginal rate was 90% for everything. When Reagan assumed office it was 71% for unearned income and 50% on earned income. When Reagan left office it was 28% for both!

    So JFK cut taxes 19% and Reagan cut them 43% on unearned income and 22% on earned income. And it's the 43% that began our long slog to banana republic style wealth concentration.