Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

STEP 1. President Obama makes a deal with big PhRMA to keep drug prices artificially high, not pay Medicare prices, not allow reimportation of Canadian drugs, and not allow bargaining (beyond bare minimum). Senate Democrats, under pressure from not only PhRMA, but also the insurance lobby and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the GOP, waters down the public option to the point of uselessness in an attempt to placate Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Blanche Lincoln – and to woo Empress Olympia Snowe – then they abandon the public option altogether except for an easily-avoided “trigger” version which only takes effect if insurers don’t meet certain requirements which they can meet simply by reshuffling the (charge) cards, keeping profits high.

STEP 2. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake writes mean post about Obama and Senate Democrats, accusing them of having failed.

STEP 3. Right on schedule (as in: immediately), “concerned” trolls on the center-right like Andrew Sullivan begin publishing “concerned” reader emails about how, after years and years of blah, blah, blah, they are now, because of the above outrage, “leaving the left.” Why? Because Jane Hamsher said something mean about President Obama. Lefties are “abandoning Obama,” one writes in to Sullivan (one of the prime cheerleaders of the Iraq war push, and a self-described conservative). Another writes that Obama “is studiously trying to avoid the recent practice of using the majority in the legislature to completely steamroll and/or ignore the other voices in our political discourse.” Yes….yes, it’s important to take into account the wishes of the majority which spent six full years steamrolling everyone outside its own group to give us two unwinnable wars, a record deficit, no action on health care, increasing poverty and separation between the rich and everyone else, environmental backwardness. You bet. We need to make sure we take those guys’ feelings’ and wishes into account as we craft legislation. We ought to be making strides to proactively water-down our own legislative priorities before we even get to the bargaining table with Republicans and teabaggers, so they’ll know we’re acting in good faith, and they won’t try to further weaken the legislation (like how that’s worked on health care, gang?). That’s a fucking brilliant idea.

As usual, the gang at balloon juice is on it with some spot-on commentary:

I find myself really annoyed by all the people saying they’re “leaving the left” because Jane Hamsher said something mean about Obama.

I guess what bugs me most is the idea that they think anyone cares. The most ridiculous thing about pundits to me is how amazingly self-absorbed they are, how fascinating they find the twists and turns of their own minds. To me, it’s even worse when random people fall in love with their own beautiful minds.

Don’t get me wrong: when someone changes their mind about an issue and explains why, it can be very interesting. And I’m all for it. And when someone—I won’t name names—says “how the fuck could I have supported these idiots who drove the country into a ditch”, I think that’s great.

But why would anyone feel the need to announce to the world that they no longer feel like part of the left on account of the fact that some lefty bloggers aren’t sufficiently supportive of Obama?

Exactly. There’s an old saying: lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. I realize that it’s not only quite fashionable in the confines of Washington to go attacking the Dirty Fucking Hippies™ but also earns you whatever passes for “street cred” as being a Very Serious Person™, to show that you don’t – heavens – actually agree with said Dirty Fucking Hippies™….but do you not even recognize, after eight years of George W. Bush, that the modern GOP absolutely will not stop doing what is wrong for the country, and will do literally anything and everything within their power to prevent US from altering that course? There are simply too few credible conservative voices right now who are advocating for moderation and comity, who actually come to the table with good ideas, in good faith. That’s what we’re up against.

To meet it, recent history shows quite starkly that what is needed is absolutely NOT noblesse oblige, or benign neglect, or attempts at being inclusive to those who would see you destroyed. Instead, what IS necessary is recognizing that (at present) fully 40% of the country’s elected officials (more in some places, less in others) is hell-bent upon returning to (or staying in) the era of limitless deregulation, especially of financial institutions, endless war – with few if any limits on torture, preventative invasions and attacks, evisceration of consumer and environmental protections, and de-funding of the social safety net. These people are not going to “like” us, no matter what we propose (unless we wish to propose exactly what they want, in which case, why not just let them start running the show again? If the goal is to actually pass good legislation which is in the public interest, then none – and I mean literally none, with almost no exceptions – of these people can be counted upon to do anything but obstruct and attempt to destroy such efforts. If we want it, we must do it all on our own.

Interestingly, with the exception of a single-payer (which was never actually proposed, only whispered of occasionally) or the public option plan for health insurance, literally none of Obama’s agenda goals are anything beyond simply restoring what WAS. Obama, despite overheated teabagger rhetoric, is not trying to bullheadedly push forward heedlessly towards some weird über-socialist future. Putting the country back under Glass-Steagall (instead of Gramm-Leach-Bliley), re-erecting the wall between bank and state that was put up in the wake of the Great Depression as a “never again” measure, and which has kept this country free of significant financial catastrophe for nearly a half-century (late ’30s through 1980 — these are commonsense measures designed to fix some of the damage which has been done to our civil and financial fabric, and to restore what was, not to expand or bloat the government, nor to push boldly out into new and uncharted policy territory.

Not that that’s a bad legislative agenda; not at all: we MUST do those things, repair that damage, first – before anything else can be done. It’s an entirely appropriate first term set of goals. Yet what is happening, on the way to those goals? We see the same old cowering crowd of process-driven, triangulating, faux-centrists whose sense of self-importance is such that they truly believe that the rest of the world is desperately concerned about whether they (the triangulators) think we’re being “fair” to the Republicans, the teabaggers and the Blue Dogs. Read one of the above sentences I pulled from Sully’s reader-submission fest:

“…This is about decency and working together to solve problems. Neither end of the spectrum is able to deliver. Obama is almost solitary in his desire and ability to tackle problems of epic proportion while realizing that we live in a very heterogeneous society. More and more of the reasonable people have to speak up against the right and left.

This is not about following lockstep with an agenda or sitting on the fence. It is about a willingness to solve critical problems with an acknowledgment that all people at the table cannot possibly agree on everything.”

No, Mr. Unidentified Dumbass, this is demonstrably NOT about “decency and working together to solve problems.” Not with today’s GOP and the teabaggers who consider even THEM to be too squishy and liberal. They do not wish to “work with” us — not at all. They wish to pass their own legislative priorities, and they’ll do what they can to make that happen. Neither end of the spectrum is able to deliver? Seriously? The Republicans “delivered” pretty much everything they promised up until 2006 or so, thanks to professional compromisers and surrenderers like yourself. And we are reaping the “benefits” of it as we speak. And the only reason the other end of the “spectrum” isn’t able to deliver right now is because too many people think as you do – that we shouldn’t be so gauche as to actually USE our large majorities in both houses of congress and the White House to push for legislation which we are sure will benefit the greatest number of people. Why, that would be rude! Pass me a doily and a crumpet [gag]!

And for you to suggest that “Obama is nearly solitary in his desire and ability to tackle problems of epic proportion while realizing that we live in a very heterogenous society” belies both an ignorance about and a disrespect towards the very people you claim to have been ideologically closest to until recently (maybe you never were as close as you always assumed). Too many brilliant, hard-working, committed activists and citizens have strived (often for very little pay or on a volunteer basis) to “tackle problems of epic proportion” for decades. Obama was one of those – a community organizer. He knows what it’s like to sleep on other people’s couches and work for peanuts for a cause in which you believe. But he’s far from the only one, and it is both insulting and incorrect – myopically so – for you to suggest otherwise. Nor do these people you feel so free to slag off – the “left” – deny or fail to see the fact that we live in a heterogenous society. How does supporting a single-payer system, for example, indicate an inability to see we live in a heterogenous society? Answer: it doesn’t. But recognizing that we live in a society with a lot of conservatives doesn’t mean that liberals are required to respect their ideas on specific policy proposals. We’re required to respect their right to have ideas different from our own – and we do – but we’re not required to respect the ideas themselves. Senator James Inhofe (and many Republicans) believes that global warming doesn’t exist at all, despite mountains of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Many of these same people literally do not believe that the Earth is older than 6,000 years. Seriously.

I do not respect any approach to political organizing or legislating which insists I respect such an idea. I’m sorry, I just don’t. People can have that idea if they want; hell, they can think the earth flat if it pleases them….but don’t tell me that I must respect that idea, and try to compromise with it, because I won’t. Not now, not ever. Reasonable ideas which are simply different from those I hold – and which are put forward by people with a demonstrated willingness to act in good faith and good will? Yes, those I can and will respect. But not selfish, easily-disprovable nonsense from inflexible wingnuts, designed only to further their own narrow agendas or those of their friends and colleagues.