Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Justifications for the Democratic Passivity

Supporters of the Democrats keep working on endless - and endlessly convoluted - explanations of why the Dems keep rolling over and conceding every single point and then some to the Republicans. Here is the newest in the series of such apologetic arguments (The link to the article itself will not work unless you have the NYTimes subscription):
Progressives have been urging the president to “man up” in the face of the Republicans. Some want him to be like John Wayne. On horseback. Slapping people left and right. One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.
I might have considered this argument if only we hadn't seen the same pathetic bending to the will of the opponents on the part of Bill Clinton. Whose fault was it in his case?

The most annoying thing is that the Republican leaders don't seem to worry quite so much about their image. They just go and carry out whatever it is that they promised to their voters. We, the progressives, are not similarly blessed. Our representatives seem to be terrified of their own shadow and keep conceding one thing after another to the opposing party. As a result, the voters who support them get nothing but lectures on why during this particular presidency we shouldn't expect anything of what the party promised us during the election campaign.

If President Obama truly is so worried that "he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people", I wonder why George W. Bush never worried for a second that he'd be dismissed as an ignorant religious fanatic with a deep hatred of anybody who doesn't subscribe to his Medieval religious views? For all his faults, Bush Jr. delivered everything he promised and more to his voters. I wonder if we will ever get a progressive leader who will finally go out and fight for what he is supposed to represent instead of sitting there, worrying about his image like an adolescent before his first prom.


Denny said...

How serendipitous. I was having the exact same conversation this morning with a coworker. Perhaps it has something to do with how liberals and conservatives perceive the world?http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209074403.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+sciencedaily+(ScienceDaily:+Latest+Science+News)&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Tom Carter said...

President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress tried to govern from the left for the past two years, and they got soundly slapped down in the last election. The truth is, barely 20 percent of the country self-identifies as liberal, and despite anyone's fondest wishes, that small minority can't rule. If Obama is shifting toward the center, as some think, it's because he may have finally come to understand that that is where he has to be if he expects to get anything done in a center-right country.

I think you've got it wrong when you say that Republicans "just go and carry out whatever it is that they promised to their voters." That's demonstrably not true. Examples: Republicans have been unhappy with Bush for his out-of-control spending; congressional Republicans immediately forgot their promises about earmarks; and even as they won the argument on extending the Bush tax cuts, Republicans gave on a massive, unprecedented extension of unemployment benefits and restoration of part of the tax on inheritances.

Democracy can be tough sometimes for politicians who insist on ignoring the will of the majority. Obama may be smart enough to bend to the people's will, even though he's doing it without much grace. Time will tell if the Republicans really understand the message the voters sent to them.