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Nov 05 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

David Sirota: Thank You, Dick Cheney, For Giving Me the Proper Words

The facts are painfully apparent. Though hundreds — if not thousands — of people in D.C. are professionally paid to pretend these facts require debate and analysis and parsing and speculation and press releases and pithy Tweets and Sunday Show roundtables and C-SPAN symposia and to-camera cable-TV rants and lengthy thousand-page books, they don’t require any of that. The facts are simple. The facts are obvious. The facts are undeniable to anyone not paid fistfulls of sweaty money  to lie or sensationalize:

1. The Democratic Party shit on its base with its policies, as noted above.

2. This demoralized the Democratic base, which responded by not turning out to vote. As CBS News notes, “Hispanics, African Americans, union members and young people were among the many core Democratic groups that turned out in large numbers in the 2008 elections (but) turnout among these groups dropped off substantially, even below their previous midterm levels.”

3. In cause-and-effect style, the result of all this was, as the Washington Post reports, a freshman congressional class that is primarily made up of angry, white, lunatic-conservative assholes.

So yes, all of you who are wasting all of our time pretending this isn’t the basic point-A-to-point-B story of the election — and there are a lot of you out there — please, if not for me, then for everyone else: Go fuck yourself.

Paul Krugman: The Focus Hocus-Pocus

Democrats, declared Evan Bayh in an Op-Ed article on Wednesday in The Times, “overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession.” Many others have been saying the same thing: the notion that the Obama administration erred by not focusing on the economy is hardening into conventional wisdom. . . . .

Of course, there’s a subtext to the whole line that health reform was a mistake: namely, that Democrats should stop acting like Democrats and go back to being Republicans-lite. Parse what people like Mr. Bayh are saying, and it amounts to demanding that Mr. Obama spend the next two years cringing and admitting that conservatives were right.

There is an alternative: Mr. Obama can take a stand.

For one thing, he still has the ability to engineer significant relief to homeowners, one area where his administration completely dropped the ball during its first two years. Beyond that, Plan B is still available. He can propose real measures to create jobs and aid the unemployed and put Republicans on the spot for standing in the way of the help Americans need.

Would taking such a stand be politically risky? Yes, of course. But Mr. Obama’s economic policy ended up being a political disaster precisely because he tried to play it safe. It’s time for him to try something different.

(emphasis mine)

Joe Conason: Obama should push back — like Bill Clinton

It’s true that Clinton compromised after 1994 — but first he fought the Gingrich GOP to a standstill

Long before the dismal results of Tuesday’s election were complete, one especially dog-eared bit of guidance for President Obama was getting wide circulation in the mainstream: He must now emulate Bill Clinton, who “shifted to the center” after the electoral debacle of November 1994, “triangulated” his way to compromise with the Republicans, and won a second term.

Among the reasons why such advice is outdated and useless, the most obvious may be that Obama’s position today is stronger than Clinton’s after 1994. Today, unlike then, the Democrats can look forward to retaining control of the Senate. But there are two other overriding reasons why Obama shouldn’t seek to imitate Clinton by immediately seeking compromises with the Republicans.

The first is that he has tried vainly from the beginning of his presidency to engage the Republicans in negotiation over vital reforms, only to learn again and again that they aren’t really interested in anything but sabotage. The second is that compromising with the Republicans isn’t exactly what Clinton did — or not at first, anyway. Before he could do anything else, he had to push back.

Robert Reich: The Republican Recipe for an Anemic Economy Through Election Day 2012

The real message from voters was “Fix this stinking economy.” But Republicans have no intention of doing so.

With Republicans in control of the House, forget spending increases or tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Republicans don’t believe in stimulating economies. They think markets eventually clear — once the pain is sufficient. Or in the immortal words of Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. People will work harder, lead a more moral life.”

Of course, Mellon was dead wrong. Nothing was purged. Instead, the economy sunk into deeper and deeper depression.

Ari Berman: Why Dean Won’t Challenge Obama in 2012

It was inevitable, following the election, that some major publication would write an article about how Obama will face a primary challenge from the left in 2012. Politico, not surprisingly, got there first, with a column by Roger Simon today wondering whether Howard Dean could defeat Obama.

Buried in the piece is the rather large caveat that Dean doesn’t actually think such a challenge is a good idea. “Nobody is going to beat him [for the nomination] in 2012,” Dean said. “All that would do is weaken the president.”

Dean’s not going to run against Obama in 2012, nor should he. But that doesn’t mean Obama couldn’t learn a thing or two from Dean’s presidential campaign and chairmanship of the party. Those lessons just might help Obama turn his ailing presidency around.

Richard Reeves: Richard Reeves

It may not get much done, but the first session of the 112th Congress, convening in January, will be fun to watch. The most interesting commentary on the 2010 midterm elections was from Republican partisans and their tea party cousins as they rhetorically, warily circled each other on the morning after.

The man who managed Sen.-elect Rand Paul’s primary campaign in Kentucky, David Adams, had this to say:

“I’m hoping for a lot of fireworks in Washington over who takes control of who. If Republican leaders think for a minute they’re going to suck us in and continue business as usual, they’re wrong. … We’ve changed the shape of the debate.”

His candidate, meanwhile, was saying he’s going to Washington “to take our government back!” To when? The early 20th century, I’d guess. The other interesting question is, are they going to continue to try to take it back from both Democrats and Republicans?

Ruth Marcus: Judicial Accountability off the Rails

In one of Tuesday’s most disturbing election results, the losing candidates didn’t even have opponents.

Three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court lost what is ordinarily a pro forma election to retain their seats. Not coincidentally, these justices were part of last year’s unanimous ruling to strike down a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Outside groups opposed to same-sex marriage, including the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into television ads and other efforts to deny them a new term.

“Activist judges on Iowa’s Supreme Court have become political, ignoring the will of voters and imposing same-sex marriage on Iowa,” said one commercial. “Liberal, out-of-control judges ignoring our traditional values and legislating from the bench. … Send them a message. Vote no on retention of Supreme Court justices.”

Well, message sent-and that is the problem. The Iowa vote is part of a larger phenomenon of the increasing politicization of judicial elections: more money, more attack ads, more intervention by outside groups, from trial lawyers to business interests.

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