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Dislike me on Huffington Post
06:34 AM on 12/27/2009
progressive politics is to politics what science fiction is to science- a seemingly visionary but in fact dissociated dreamworld. it was progressives who settled for half a loaf first- with the nomination- like the always do. they sold out the progressive dennis kucinich for the centrist barack obama. in doing so they admitted their own fear of carrying their own values like peace and social justice into the fight. progressives have no faith in progressive ideas on a natrional stage. they always abandon them for the center.
so progressives compromised first by nominating obama instead of dennis.
more bluntly, they elect a capitalist- then whine about capitalist policies. or are america's progressives only progressive between elections and centrist in the their electoral participation? all throughout the summer campaign obama went to the center and lost no progressive support. hence, no post election progressive leverage. progressives need to ask themselves how progressive deep down they really are.
08:46 AM on 12/27/2009

You're making a great point here. Keep up the commentary.
09:14 AM on 12/27/2009
It's true "progressive politics is to politics what science fiction is to sicience." However, you made the classic mistake of suggesting that porgressives have enough of a base to nominate let alone elect anyone.

Sorry, but progressives are a small faction of the Democratic party. They could not have nominated Kucinich because the rest of us in the big tent loved some of Dennis' ideas but not all of them or his political style. Progressives always rally around someone who is ultimately unelectable (MacCarthy, McGovern, Dukakis, Kucinich to name a few.) I was one of them until I came to my senses.

Progressives are enamoured with themselves. They believe they alone have all the answers, they don't believe in the primary gear that gets anything done in a political machine, compromise. To be blunt, progressives actually enjoy whining, complaining, feeling "put upon" and outcast. If they had nominated the long shot Kucinich, they'd be complaining that he ran a lousy campaign and forced Vice President Palin upon us all.
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11:28 AM on 12/27/2009
i think progressive unelectability is way oversold by the machine democrats. there has to be a departure point for most of us when we NOMINATE a liberal progressive with an impact agenda that is hostile to the domination of capital; we LISTEN to the ppl and the opposition; we CAMPAIGN TO WIN PPL OVER, skipping the self-destructive unelectability diatribes; we UNITE to build a movement win or lose. and we REPLACE corporate democratic voters with first time voting radicals.

or we grumble and pass around more leaflets for some groomed ivy leaguer dining on park avenue.

i respecct the skepticism facing liberals; however it can be overcome. the tragedy is that last year, 2008 post bush, dennis kucinich had a better than even chance to win too- and he knew it. he also knew that obama was a centrist stalking horse and kept his mouth shut. that's just plain self-sacrifice- that's not whining.
09:22 PM on 12/27/2009

I could not have said it better. We are all in the big, diverse democtatic party, but many of our progressive relatives do not seem to have the political muturity to run anything. They seem to think compromise is a failure because they don't see the big picture. they don't seem to realize that progressives are a small minority in the house and senate.
04:31 AM on 12/27/2009
Your credentials are to be admired but the political reality is what the President has to deal with. No amount of exhortation, arm twisting or public campaigning against the insurance companies would or could change the vote count on health care reform. This is not a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" this is instead the gritty, slow process of progress.
08:56 AM on 12/27/2009
Maybe, in reality, he couldn't change a thing, but he could, at least, honestly tell the American People that what they have gotten in the Healthcare Plan, the gifts to the banks, to Pharma, and to the Credit Card companies, is bullshit, instead of trumping how great a victory these things were to the American People. He could call out reptiles like Lieberman and Nelson, and he could have humiliated Joe Wilson for the pig that he is. Instead, he concedes, smiles, and gives pretty speeches.

You're right about one thing though. We thought we really did send Mr. Smith to Washington. We were completely deceived by this silver tongued orator. What we should learn from this is that next time, we do our homework more carefully. Someone said in one of these blogs that we hired someone who had accomplished absolutely nothing in his career. They even gave him a Nobel Prize for doing absolutely nothing. Next time, let's at least take into account what a person has accomplished before he ran for President, rather than believing the kinds of manipulations that Obama practiced.
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04:24 AM on 12/27/2009
I feel your frustration Drew but there are too many willing to call the game in the first quarter ... Where I come from, we call that quitting ... The right is perfectly happy with his failure, they know its now or never and are throwing everything they have at it ... on the left ... some simply don't have the very courage that you accuse the President of lacking.
09:00 AM on 12/27/2009
Maybe we should all vote for the most extreme right-wing fanatics that we can find. Then maybe when "Christian Militia Teams" are beating women in the streets for being inappropriately dressed, people will wake up to the need for truly populist politicians in government.
04:22 AM on 12/27/2009
I also wonder if perhaps he did not realize what he was getting himself into. I am usually not a big conspiracy buff but i sometimes believe that true power in this country lies somewhere unseen. Like the Military / Industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about so many years ago. Perhaps a type of shadow Government that also includes a select few on Wall Street, the Banking industry, corporations like Haliburton, which brings to mind who else but Dick Cheney & don't forget Rupert Murdoch & Fox News Corporation. It also brings to mind the theory that after George W. Bush was elected he also realized that he was only a figurehead, with Dick Cheney as the puppetmaster & real power behind the throne. Perhaps even Obama has only so much power to get anything done.
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07:33 AM on 12/27/2009
You don't run for POTUS without a well-developed sense of realpolitik.

You don't run for POTUS without an understanding that you will leading an military-financial empire, not a constitutional democratic republic.

You don't run for POTUS to rein in the global capitalist war machine.

There are only two reasons to run for POTUS: you either intend to glorify the machine, thereby empowering it, or to expose its horrors to the world, thereby destroying it.

Obama intends to restore the glory of the American Empire, to put a gentle and admirable face on a ruthless instrument of full-spectrum dominance over the world.

Obama is an empathy magnet. We love him, and even when he does us wrong, we respect him, for he's our best hope. How are we to expect any finer a human being to be our president?

I suspect you're not old enough to have been a "ProudMilVet" of a conflict in which America was legitimately defending itself against acts of military aggression. Changes are, you were fighting to impose the will of American corporate interests on the developing world. But you were just following orders. You were just proudly representing an evil institution.
03:44 AM on 12/27/2009
Yes!~ Every single point in this editorial is right on the money. However, why is the Obama presidency and his general incompetence and lack of leadership a surprise? My god, it was so obvious from the beginning that he was unqualified to be president, that he had a great ghost writer for his book (ok, he says not, but come on, it is obvious as well...) and of course the campaign speeches which were written by genius marketing gurus, and he never held a real job in any deep or committed capacity and oh don't forget how he voted "Present" more than any other senator because he didn't want to get down into the mud or the fight. He has no credentials to be doing this job and we elected him anyway. What a shame. We could have had Hillary. She would have kicked butt and we all know now that we really missed the boat on that one. Instead, it appears that we voted for a defacto president...his name is David Axelrod. What a shame.
04:09 AM on 12/27/2009
We voted for him? I voted for him and am happy with his performance so far. Is it really surprising that those who didn't vote for him aren't thrilled and many who had extremely high hopes are let down, while many of us know what he's up against and have no problem with this thoughtful and involved presidency so far?
Return to reality.
07:55 AM on 12/27/2009
Thank you and fanned.
07:32 AM on 12/27/2009
President Obama has followed through on his campaign promises, almost to a fault.

Since he took office the DOW is up to 10,400 range.
Jobs in my field are finally showing up everywhere - as an unemployed member of the media industry I look forward to seeing some responses from job applications on Monday in my inbox.

Gitmo is on it's way to closing. Russia & France are working with us for the first time in years to keep Iran in check. And in the last three weeks we've aided in attacks in Yemen on al Queda - killing over 40 in both sets of attacks, we stopped a Cocaine shipment used by Al Queda, Pakistani military took out some Taliban and Al Queda launched he weakest attack on us since Richard Reid - the shoe bomber - showing that Al Queda is very desperate.

Not to mention big credit reform, some energy reform on the way and business regulation. DADT is on it's way to being repealed and torture is no longer practiced by the United States - notice this newest idiot got charged very quickly.

And all that in under a year. Oh and I almost forgot Health Reform! (and look for a lot to change in that bill in the next few weeks - there are ways to go around the Senate filibuster and straight to a majority vote - - )
03:36 AM on 12/27/2009
Funny how Obama has no one left to sell out too.And people will turn the few scraps thrown to the unwashed masses into a feast in their minds.I thought only republicans were this blinded by the cult of personality.
03:49 AM on 12/27/2009
Cult of personality? This was how Obama was elected. Come on---we all know this.
03:27 AM on 12/27/2009
Drew, THANK YOU for laying out the TRUTH about what is going on. I was just getting tired again of reading the apologists for no-leadership Obama, and you came through with this. Thank God for you and Arianna for keeping some semblance of sanity to the discussions. Have a great New Year, and keep up the fight.
03:16 AM on 12/27/2009
Great article, though a tad too long.

Spot on with the assessment that Obama's greatest weakness is conflict avoidance.

Spot on about turning off his TV spots because there is no action behind his statements.

Mr. Westen did miss one important detail about Obama. Far too many of Obama policies are Bush's. Gitmo, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the bank bailouts, drone warfare in Pakistan, etc., all started with Bush. O is just furthering these policies.

The 50 state Democratic campaign lead by Howard Dean really worked. This is why Obama was elected. Unfortunately Obama has severely undermined Howard's efforts. If 2010 results in a party shift in the house or senate, it is Obama's indecisiveness to blame.
Death...the last new experience you will ever have
03:42 AM on 12/27/2009
Too long? Short attention span? It could have been twice as long and I would have read every word! I imagine you would have asked Socrates or Plato to keep it under 2 sentences!
02:47 AM on 12/27/2009
Easy conclusion: Obama is not a leader. Next?
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02:44 AM on 12/27/2009
Hear! Hear! Right on with every point! Obama never was the progressive he was made out to be. To his credit, he did not hide it. He voted against the unconstitutional, repressive and reprehensible FISA act as Senator just months before the election. What clearer sign could there be that he was all talk and no walk? Even before that action, I doubted his ability to be POTUS because of lack of Washington experience. I did not vote for him but gave my vote to Nader. This POTUS's new clothes are made by the same tailor as his predecessor , the corporatocracy. But, alas, in the last election, as he will probably be in the next, Obama was the lesser of two evils. Even so, he is the Angel of Death for progressive politics for at least a generation as Drew Westen observes. Until there is a real political choice in elections in this nation, the US will continue under the delusion that it is a democracy.
Death...the last new experience you will ever have
03:45 AM on 12/27/2009
What Obama was was obvious to anyone paying attention. Nader said he was more interested in pleasing than he was leading. The problem is that he doesn't understand who to please and that you can't please everyone. People voted for a Martin Luther King and instead got a Don King! And I believe you misspoke, he voted for the FISA bill after saying that he would vote to filibuster. Right after that vote he got big donations from the telecoms!
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04:29 AM on 12/27/2009
Thank you for catching the error. I meant to say he voted for the FISA act. I believe that could be inferred from the context of my post, but I am glad to have the record set straight. Regardless, his vote was despicable and was a complete reversal from his filibuster statement.
02:14 AM on 12/27/2009
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Teddy Roosevelt
I don't know how Obama will be judged, but he's gotten us a lot closer to real health care reform than any other president. The bailouts have lessened the impact of the recession. The economy will improve, his ratings will go back up to above 50%--or he will at least tried his best. Nor has he violated his core values. Meanwhile, I don't see any political experience on Westen's resume nor on mine.
A Disciple of Nietzsche
03:25 AM on 12/27/2009
Nicely said. I, for one, am tired of all the "leadership" experts in the world. The real villains are the American people. After all, a great many of us believed GWB was a "leader." And now there are millions who consider Sarah Palin a serious "leader." Yikes.
10:43 AM on 12/27/2009
Justanother.... hear,hear! these impatient 'analysts'! Too many people, talking, talking, intellectualising.!
AND, ....wouldn't be able to do any better, if they were in the same place!
01:55 AM on 12/27/2009
I am gonna go out on a limb here and say everyone is over-analyzing the poll numbers. There is a huge "recession" factor that people are not taking account of: when the economy was as bad as it was, when people were as scared as they were, no one - not even Barack Obama - was going to be able to emerge unscathed. It all comes down to the fundamentals - give a citizen food, clothing and a job (in other words, material prosperity) and the or she won't think that ill of you... but if this prosperity becomes insecure or disappears, you are in trouble.
01:55 AM on 12/27/2009
I also voted for him, but i must admit i'm starting to get a little bit worried. He's only been in office for a year so i'm hoping it's just part of getting acclimated or maybe getting his sea legs. Part of the problem i believe is his attitude of being cool & aloof & above the frey. That can only play for so long though until he starts looking like he needs a Testicular transplant ! Also, i think either he or someone else did a somewhat poor job in picking his advisors. Perhaps he needs to do a complete cabinet shakeup, starting with replacing Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff. Where is that tough Chicago boy we we're led to believe that Emmanuel was ? How about keeping Joe Biden as V. P. but also make him Chief of Staff, his Chief Domestic policy advisor & his Congressional Liason. Biden still has the energy & he also has the experience. I believe that if he does'nt start making some changes soon, he will start making Nixon look more bold & decisive, despite Nixon's sometimes paranoia.
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01:47 AM on 12/27/2009
That's exactly why I voted for Mike Gravel in the Democratic primaries. I knew Obama wouldn't be the progressive this country really needs. Too bad we didn't get Gravel. What this country really needs is an elder statesman, who's been there, done that, and really knows the score.
from the Far side of Frostbite Falls
01:36 AM on 12/27/2009
And the early clues were there in the record. Still voting "present" is not enough.