Friday, December 10, 2010

Yogi Berra was right

At first, it was a huge relief to bid farewell to Bush the warmonger.  And all us Democrats were excited to have found a leader who could win an election, finally.  Young people came out in record numbers to vote, and knowing that that's what swept our guy into office gave us a huge boost.  The worm had finally turned.  Change is really possible, we all thought.

That didn't last long, though.  The opposition to the President's agenda was united and unprecedented, whereas the Democratic members of Congress squabbled, refused to work as a team, and generally acted as though the control of Congress would be theirs forever.

The White House learned quickly that to govern, they must learn to compromise.  And so they did, which only made the Republicans' demands more outrageous, and the Democrats' complaints about the President's competence more strident. 

The Left bitched about Republicrats, and intimated that the President needed to grow a pair.   The Right accused the President of being a socialist and a degenerate.  Their list of the President's supposed crimes became absurd; their spokespeople began to seem seriously unhinged.

Not that it mattered.  Whatever trumped-up nonsense the Right put into their talking points instantly became the prevailing news story of the day, no matter how self-serving or farcical.

And then the voters swung back, and the Democrats lost the Congress.  If the Left thought that the President's agenda was compromised now, they hadn't seen anything yet.

All of this came back to me today, as I watched President Clinton in the White House briefing room, defending Obama's tax cut compromise.  So, for those of you too young to remember the Clinton presidency, YOU DON'T HAVE TO.  Take the Obama presidency, minus being African-American, add a huge dose of hound dog, and you have the Clinton presidency, right down to the Right's desperate maneuvering to define the administration by their support of gays in the military.

Watching President Clinton tack right back then was a hard lesson for me, but I only had to learn it once.  And the unhappy truth is that you cannot govern this country from the left, folks.  You cannot do it with a Democratic majority in Congress, and you sure as hell cannot do it without one.  And anyone who thinks otherwise is Nader-voting fool.

You can't do it because the President doesn't have enough power to overcome the resistance of the Americans who do not want to be governed from the left.  Our government is not structured that way.  It's checks and balances, folks.  That is our strength - that the President does not have total power over what legislation is passed. 

And something else to all you Democrats, liberals, progressives, whatevers out there.

It is stunning to me, stunning, that you so smugly snipe about the ignorance of many people on the Right, and yet you behave in many of the same ways for which you ridicule them.  I mean, look, personally, I am further left than anyone I know, but when I listen to Olbermann, or Maddow, or Maher, I am fully aware that they are trying to sell me their point of view, and they're not going to please their bosses by leading every show with a 3 minute rant about how the President is making compromises that are reasonable, given the political climate. 

Of course the professional Left is riled up and ranting about Obama's lack of backbone.  That's their job.  And we can agree with their world view in our hearts, but when they start trying to tell me that Obama could have gotten a health care bill with a public option passed in that Congress if he'd only tried hard enough, that's when I get off the train.  Because he couldn't.  He could not do that.  No one could have done that.  And if you think otherwise, then you are as gullible as the people who watch Glenn Beck and staple tea bags to the brims of their hats. 

Because politics is not what you read in Howard Zinn.  It's not what Noam Chomsky said in that documentary you saw in college.  Politics is the art of the possible, you fucking babies.   And frankly, I wish you would grow a pair.



Grant Miller said...


entertained1 said...

*sigh* So true.

Anonymous said...

Righteous. And I'm a bit shocked but pleasantly so at your position on this. Lots of Obama bashing going on from status reports on my homepage. Take it from someone who has a bit of age behind them - change doesn't occur without compromise. K

SkylersDad said...

Excellent as always Vikki. To quote another person I respect a lot, D-Cap:
There are 100 senators - ALL of whom earn over or somewhat close to that $250,000 magical tax cutoff (the base salary is $174,000 - between the perks and other income most come close). Income only tells half the story - what about Net Worth (the value of one's assets less liabilities and debt)

* 84 are worth over $500,000
* 69 are worth over $1,000,000
* 28 are worth over $5,000,000
* 17 are worth over $10,000,000
* 3 are worth over $200,000,000 (Kohl, Kerry, Warner)

These are the people "representing America" who get to vote decide on the fate of tax cuts for "average American". These "everyday Americans" sit in a body that requires a 60% super-majority to get anything done - including the economic security of a majority of Americans.

I weep for our country.

Mnmom said...

Thank you. I've been torn up over this issue as well. Politics is so much compromise, but it seems like the LEFT is always doing the compromising. I'm still just torn.

Marshall Park Slope said...

Now that I have some solid history with bells on, i would direct both new and long time readers to your August 21, 2009 post that will then redirect them to your 2007 post...
"There are no fairy tale contenders. No Prince Charmings, no wizards, no vaguely Christ-like talking lions – nothing."

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

Olbermann, Maddow and Maher are just a consequence of reasonable people fed up with crazy-as-batsh*t nut-jobs controlling the talking points. Clinton was damaged by having no media counterpoint to Fox, hence non-issue distractions were able to gain traction (Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky). Criticizing MSNBC is like convicting someone for shooting in self-defense. I'm grateful for ranting liberals reminding us we're not getting the "change" we voted for.

Anonymous said...

It's hard not to be disillusioned when what is possible seems to be shrinking before our very eyes.

dguzman said...

I agree totally that I should've learned that this country couldn't be governed from left; I should've learned that with Clinton but I am just stupid and gullible.

But why can this country be governed from the right so fucking efficiently, when every pollster says the country is tacking more left on many issues every day? I suppose there are issues and then there are issues. The repugs scream "they'll raise your taxes!" and the whole country immediately runs so far to the right they can't even see left.

Larry Jones said...

You're wrong, Vikki. The President's impotence has nothing to do with "the people who don't want to be governed from the left." Most Americans are down with progressive policies, but our government is now wholly owned by transnational corporations, and they are not the least bit interested in what we the people want or need, or in compromising with an employee like the President.

I'm sure Obama really thought he was going to change the way Washington does business -- or some such nonsense -- but he certainly knows by now that he serves at the pleasure of Bechtel, Haliburton, Deutsche Bank, Exxon, et al. The Citizens United decision places once and for all the election of our politicians in the hands of these amoral companies.

And the current crop of puppets -- the first Citizens United incoming class -- will look like wild-eyed rebels compared to the residents of DC ten years from now.

Distributorcap said...

vikki -

love you to death - and you are usually dead on - and i agree this country cannot be governed from the left - but it IS being governed from the right, not the center right. and Obama's lack of fight is allowing it to drift further right.

what used to be the center is now the left.

face it - ALL of govt, due to the nature of our completely broken and screwed up political system - serves at the pleasure of the corporate benefactors. it is that simple. do as they please or the spigot is turned off. if you think it is bad now - just wait. as the middle class plunges into the the lower middle class the fun is only beginning.

i really think obama has the heart and does care - but he just doesnt have the fight and he surely doesnt have the media - the MEDIA is the problem, as it is more and more controlled by the right and is bent on turning the right's fantasy world into reality.

there is nothing wrong with compromise - that is politics. but it appears every time obama compromises it is just a little more for the opposition and not even close to a 50/50 split. as much as i hate the fact the rich continue their breaks - the trade off to get the important stuff was very one sided.

and no matter what anyone says - the Republicans do not play fair, do not compromise, and inherently are really out to screw everyone who is not them

all in all - brilliant as you always are

vikkitikkitavi said...

Yes, our government is beholden to corporate interests.
Yes, polls show that many Americans do theoretically support many progressive ideals.
Yes, Op-Eds from the left do help counter those from the right.

And none of this has anything to do with my point, which is that the president has got to play the game that’s on the field, not the one he drew on the chalkboard in the locker room. You can bemoan the compromises – I bemoan the compromises! But the difference is, I don’t place the blame for the situation that caused the compromises on the doorstep of the White House, because that’s not where it belongs. The president is getting us the best legislation he can, using his tools and his abilities, and no he can’t get us even half of what he want, but no president can. I will say that last part again. No president can. You think Dennis Kucinich, if he could somehow cast a magic spell on 51% of the electorate and take office, could get a better deal from the Republicans? If so, then I think you need to go back to civics class, because you do not understand how our "no one gets too much power" system of government works.

Or go on and stay home in 2012. Or vote for the damn Green Party or whatever, and we’ll get exactly what we got in 2000, when thousands of liberal neophytes thought that Al Gore was too “centrist,” or a “Republicrat,” or “indistinguishable from Bush,” and they cost us the fucking election and you see what we got. Still think Al Gore would have been the same as Bush, Nader voters? Huh? Speak up, I can’t hear you over the crying of all the families who lost service members in Iraq.

But the best part of this whole deal is that the situation that forced Obama’s compromise on the tax cuts that Democrats are so upset about was CAUSED by lame-ass pussy Democrats that stayed home last election day, because they were upset that Obama hasn’t brought about enough “change.” Well, guess what, progressives? A lot is going to change this January, and it’s all going to be your fault. Wanna know why the Right can hold the government and push through their agenda and the Left sucks at it? Because their voters go to fucking polls and fucking vote for Republicans, even if they have to hold their noses while they do it. And if that offends your idealistic nature, then maybe you should stop yapping about your ideals for a minute and consider the real-world consequences of the alternative.

vikkitikkitavi said...

And also thanks to Marshall PS for reminding me that I have been on about this for a few years.

Here's the link:

SJ said...

Washington may be (no, is, Washington IS) run by big business and their lobby whipping boys, but as far as I can walk in any direction here in the Six Flags Over Jesus land of the Southeast, 99.9% of 'public opinion' is run by Jesus himself. They've been convinced that everything ever aired on Fox News is straight from the hand, mouth and teat of the Holy Ghost, and they will not stray from spitting out the word 'liberal' like it was original sin.
Here, and I am going to guess a lot of "the real America" as touted by that woman from Alaska, Jesus has taken partisanship to the highest level. It honestly doesn't matter to these folks if they vote against their own interests. As long as the God fearing, Christian Republican party is in charge, they can sleep at night, heads proudly buried in the sand. Hands on the Bible.

SJ said...

Further, once the Jesus crowd got their hands on the Republican party (W brought this about, I'm fully convinced), there was no more real compromise to be found from either side. No one wants to be called a 'witch.' Goody Proctor wept. Too, the Dixie Chicks.

Mauigirl said...

Great post. I agree, whether we like it or not, the country doesn't want what the left is selling. I do think the Dems could handle things better (the GOP is so much better at keeping on message and getting their points across) - but when it comes down to how many votes they have, we have to be realistic.

Anonymous said...

Larry J

Vikki is never wrong.

Judy Salinger said...

I'm dissapointed too, Vicki Sparklepony! When did you realize that Noam Chumpsky was full of it?

Also, it is dissapointing how this Recession DRAGS on and on and on . . ., etc. Our Fearless Leader is also behind the 8-Ball as his popularity drops to 39% because of this Recession, and of course Deaparate Measures must be taken. Of course there are 63 new Congressmen and 6 new Senators that have been elected by the Tea Partiers that Obama will have to get along with next year. Did you see him kissing up to the Republicans? Next thing you'll know, he'll DOUBLE the Bush Tax Cuts!!!

Life Is TERRIBLE isn't it! I hope Hillary still wants to be President in 2012!!!