Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Taylor Marsh Headshot

American First, Democrat Second

Posted: Updated:

by Taylor Marsh

2008-01-25-Homer_Simpson_prez.jpg

I have to ask people attacking Bill Clinton, which has become the cool thing to do everywhere, if his politics is "old" why has Barack Obama and his campaign been engaged in the same type of politics since the beginning (from June 2007, D-Punjab, or Obama's false charge that Bill Clinton made money on 9/11). This from a campaign whose propaganda touts being the "politics of change." Why is Hillary Clinton's campaign held to one standard, with Obama held to another? And as far as labeling a Democrat running as a Republican, Paul Waldman points to the wrong Democrat. This type of argument is permeating the political landscape right now on both sides of the aisle. It is not winning any points with me. In fact, both sides have me looking for an exit.

Rush Limbaugh once again showed his disdain for veterans and military heroes, when on his show yesterday he let fly this swiftboating slur against John McCain:

I want to hear from Senator McCain on his opposition to tax cuts. I want to hear the domestic side, and I would hope that he would speak loudly and openly and honestly about his domestic record, not spin it, certainly not deny it, but give Republican voters in Florida some straight talk on the record. He can surround himself with the Schwarzkopf and the generals and so forth and the POW stuff, which we all admire and respect. ... ..

McCain can surround himself with the Schwarzkopf and the generals and so forth and the POW stuff. Seriously? "POW stuff." John McCain almost died through torture by our enemies during a war in which he excelled in bravery. Obviously, Rush Limbaugh has decided that not only will he swiftboat John McCain on tax cuts, something that McCain is for and has proposed though with spending cuts too, but Limbaugh will take down a brave veteran who almost died for this country to do it. All for Romney, Slick Mitt Romney, who was pro choice, pro gay rights, pro government funded health care, and who is buying the Republican nomination? This is how low the Republican party will stoop to take down a veteran who has a mind of his own. There's a reason Romney's own can't stand him, but Rush and the other wingnuts on radio will prop him up, using a gallant veteran to do it. Rush Limbaugh's attacks on McCain's suffering for his country are unconscionable. No veteran deserves the Rush military treatment, which happens every time a veteran or soldier dares to have an opinion for him- or herself. For that cowardly, boil on his butt, draft dodging blowhard to utter that McCain can "surround himself with the Schwarzkopf and the generals and so forth and the POW stuff," and have his listeners and the conservative base applaud, sickens me. It is nothing short of anti-Americanism. I say this as someone who disagrees with McCain on just about every issue, minus torture and veterans aid.

It's part of the reason so many Democrats don't understand what I do around here and on radio, especially when covering the Democratic primary race, so let me lay it out for everyone.

I'm an American first. I will not support my party no matter what, or someone in my party who is doing what I believe is horrendously destructive things to the ideals I hold dear. I have no intention of stuffing my beliefs back in a bag in the name of party unity. On this I stand with the Founders who weren't all that crazy about political affiliation. I have absolutely no intention of backing someone who believes Republicans were the party of ideas for the last 10-15 years. As a Reagan Democrat, I know that dog whistle, baby, and I'm running in the other direction. Someone who takes Democrats for granted in order to reach out to independents and Republicans to get the Democratic nomination holds no sway over me. It's also not my job to unify the Democratic party. And anyone who can say that Reagan transformed the political landscape over Bill Clinton scares the ideological crap out of me, and I say this knowing all of Bill Clinton's shortcomings. But they don't come close to Reagan's. As a recovered Reagan Democrat, I know this all too well.

What is missing in the alarming nature of Barack Obama's comments about Reagan is that Obama's defense today is packaged in propaganda. That doesn't seem to matter, because most everyone is lapping it up. But anyone wanting to be honest about his pandering Reagan shtick in front of the Reno editorial board will have no choice but to admit that he was saying that Republicans had the ideas of the last 10-15 years, while Bill Clinton's presidency did not, in order to get their endorsement in hopes of winning Nevada. Nobody mentions this part of it. Obama's sycophancy over Reagan got him into this mess. He was hoisted on his pandering petard and rightly so. If you think standing up for President Clinton's presidency is wrong in the face of what Obama said then you don't understand the harm the Reagan administration did to this country, or what Clinton meant to many. The wingnuts didn't target Bill and Hillary Clinton for eight long years for nothing.

As for Bill's "old" politics, as Howard Wolfson rightly said in a long, spirited media conference call yesterday, which happened right after my radio show, Obama's campaign has been running a "sub-rosa campaign against Bill Clinton" for a long time. Now it's out in the open. Are the Clintons not supposed to respond? Are Democrats who believe in our ideology not supposed to take offense at Obama's Reagan usage in order to win? Hillary said Democrats will be united in November. Obama said he knew he could get Hillary supporters, but he wasn't sure she could get his supporters. That's because Mr. Obama is taking Democratic primary voters as a gimme, while hoping independents and Republicans will hand him our nomination. After all, Democratic primary voters will always vote for the person with the "D." Sorry, no sale here. I believe our ideology should be represented by a nominee who doesn't run from it to be all things to all people, so if our nominee can't sell our great ideas then maybe we deserve to lose. Obama seems to be saying that our ideas aren't strong enough to win on their own, so through the magnetism of his personality we will prevail.

A lot of people seem concerned that we won't all be able to come together in November. That some points shouldn't be made because it's targeting a fellow Democrat. That being a good Democrat is what's important. Or that I'm going after Obama just because and only because I'm a Clinton partisan. If that's the case you don't understand who I am and what I do, which is likely my fault for not being clearer about it. That's the purpose of this post in part. My job is not unification of the Democratic party. So when I see a fellow Democrat who wants to be our nominee putting Reagan up as an example in order to win a certain state, while dissing the only two term Democratic president since F.D.R. in the process, excuse me if I'm not impressed. I'm also not so stupid as to believe the talking points of the press and other so called commentators and political writers who are excusing it by helping to parse Mr. Obama's words, putting forth Obama's supposed real and actual meaning of what he meant when citing Reagan. He got caught pandering, using Reagan as the high mark in order to get another win under his belt, and he used Bill Clinton to make the point, because he thought the people he was talking to preferred Reagan over Clinton. Everything else is just noise.

In addition, all this blather from Obama surrogates that Bill Clinton is "lying" about Obama on Iraq is being offered without one specific example of what Mr. Clinton lied about. As I've written many times, Obama did take his 2002 speech of his website. Obama and Clinton have the exact same votes on Iraq. He's done nothing in the leadership department to get us out of Iraq. The talking point that he's some big anti war leader on Iraq is simply fantasy. It doesn't matter what Ed Schultz, Claire McCaskill, Tom Daschle or Patrick Leahy, all of whom are Obama supporters, say. Nothing Bill Clinton said about Obama on Iraq is factually inaccurate. Having Ed Schultz yell louder than someone else on "Hardball" doesn't make it so.

The Republicans are taking out after McCain, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh using language that not only swiftboats a fine veteran on the most critical issue to Republicans, taxes, but he does so with an insulting, anti military, egregiously disdainful attack on a man who almost died while he was a POW. I reject this type of politics and I will come to McCain's defense in light of it. This isn't about politics alone when people stoop to this level. It's about decency and morality, of which Rush Limbaugh has neither.

Democrats have a main contender for the nomination of the party who touts Ronald Reagan in order to get an endorsement and to court conservatives, while trashing the only two term Democratic president since F.D.R., while simultaneously saying the first viable female candidate to have a chance at being commander in chief may not be trustworthy enough to handle secret intelligence. Contrary to what some believe, this isn't just some petty intra-party squabble among leading Democrats and progressives for me. It's a philosophical point of no return; a line in the sand that has been crossed, which makes me reject Barack Obama for putting it into the political bloodstream all so he could win Nevada. Just as he ran to the Christian Broadcasting Network to question whether his supporters would back Clinton, Obama's divisiveness belies his "politics of hope." That he would also use Reagan, plus wingnut talking points on national security to target the first viable woman commander in chief, puts in question for me the importance of nominating a Democrat like this just to put our party in power in November. It was Obama that got us into this situation not Hillary Clinton. It's making the case that someone of questionable ideological intent, because he has a "D" attached to his political affiliation, should get a pass, and that doing otherwise renders me a bad Democrat. Well, then call me a patriotic American instead, because I will not be party to such wholesale sell off of what I hold dear.

I have been a Democrat for a very long time, a proud liberal, or progressive if you prefer, ever since I learned the realities of Ronald Reagan after becoming a Reagan Democrat in 1980. But I have been an American for a lot longer and to that I owe my original allegiance. When I hear a fellow Democrat again trumpeting Reagan's name all I hear is a high pitched whistle. I am not here for the glory of some faint notion of progressive unity. I'm sacrificing, as is my husband, financial security, our future economic security, and every hour of my waking day to put this country on a new path. Regardless of someone claiming to be a Democrat, I will not fall in line for the sake of unity for someone who puts Ronald Reagan above Bill Clinton, and uses his campaign to attack, malign and misrepresent a president that with all his faults, gave his very best for his country, left it in thriving economic health, with our reputation around the world at its highest, with middle class people everywhere in better shape than when he arrived. I also will not support anyone who casts aspersions on a woman running for president by implying she cannot win his supporters, or that she can't be trusted with secret intelligence, a right-wing talking point about Democrats that goes back to my Reagan Democrat days when the GOP let loose with the line that Democrats were "soft on national security," something they've been selling ever since.

I'm a proud Democrat, but I'm an American first. If you want unity you've come to the wrong place.