It sucks to be right

Originally published at The Benfell Blog. Please leave any comments there.

So, I was right. So were a lot of people. We all warned what would happen if Obama continued to fail to stand up for anything, if he continued to pursue compromise with Republicans who weren’t interested in compromising. We warned what would happen if he left the unemployed in the lurch after having so boldly bailed out the wealthy.

We said it again, and again, and again. And Obama’s White House sneered.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it’s crazy.”

“Right back at’cha. Right back at’cha,” David Axelrod replied, after Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars pointed out that “We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day.”

Speaking of Madrak, here’s one of her posts:

Joe Biden Motivates The Base: ‘Quit Whining’

Susie Madrak – September 28, 2010 10:00 AM

Joe Biden tells the base to “quit whining” and get out there and “look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”

And last night on Lawrence O’Donnell’s new show, he said: “Those who didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up.”

Just buck up.

I’m not sure how we turned out to be the targets, but it looks like we’re officially on notice. No more complaining about frivolities!

The people still without jobs? Quit yer whining.

The ones on food stamps? You, too.

Your house is being foreclosed on? What a buncha whiners. Shut yer piehole!

Those of you living in your cars? Be grateful you still have cars!

Sleeping on your friend’s couch? Beats a cardboard box, don’t it?

You can’t afford to see a doctor? You’ll be able to do that in 2014. You can’t wait just four more years?

And they actually wonder why the base isn’t motivated.

Let me put it this way. You know how Joe Biden’s grandparents came here from Ireland to find a better life?

I know Americans who are trying to figure out how to move their families back to Ireland.

Oh, and now Obama’s getting in on the act. Hey, be sure to let me know how well that worked, okay, Mr. President?

WASHINGTON – Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday.

The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

Or maybe it means they no longer have a ball. Or a home.

Glenn Greenwald called Obama’s assertion that “If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election” as possibly “one of the most audaciously hilarious political statements I’ve read in quite some time.”

Obama didn’t even get it when, in a Town Hall meeting that captured national media attention, Velma Hall got up and said, “I voted for a man who was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class and I’m waiting sir, I’m waiting. I still don’t feel it yet.”

In a note I attached to an article on August 11, I wrote,

I don’t want to take anything away from attempts to itemize and catalog the lengthy list of broken Obama campaign promises. Really I don’t. I’ve tried (and failed miserably) myself. It’s too long a list, ridiculously long, in fact.

I quoted myself from the day before:

It is as if Democrats expect the invisibility of the unemployed on Wall Street and inside the Beltway to extend inside voters’ living rooms. If that’s hard to imagine, consider that our national policymaking apparatus seems captive to Israeli chauvinists (which is why we threaten Iran with yet another unwinnable war and support Israel even at the expense of endless war, to Cuban emigrés (which is why we sustain a crippling economic embargo against Cuba even after over fifty years of failure), to the military-industrial complex (which insists on spending inconceivable amounts of money on wars we can’t win), to anti-abortion zealots (who have won a prohibition of abortion coverage in the temporary health-insurance pools that are an intermediate step in the implementation of the health care plan and who also want to ban birth control), and to Wall Street. No significant legislation moves through this apparatus unless it is compatible with their interests. And legislation or regulation that advances their interests can take effect even against popular disapproval.

Reacting to the results, John Judis of the New Republic said that Obama deserved to lose. Robert Scheer wrote,

Barack Obama deserved the rebuke he received at the polls for a failed economic policy that consisted of throwing trillions at Wall Street but getting nothing in return. His amen chorus in the media is quick to blame everyone but the president for his sharp reversal of fortunes. But it is not the fault of tea party Republicans that they responded to the rage out there over lost jobs and homes while the president remained indifferent to the many who are suffering.

The bottom line is that even if we vote for Democrats, we get Republicans. Maybe not quite as far to the wacky side as Tea Partiers, but then again, the deficit reduction commission, the so-called “catfood” commission that has been stacked with ideological opponents of Social Security was Obama’s idea that he insisted upon even after Congress rejected it. I’ve been saying that for a while, now.

“Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise,” said New York Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner. “We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares.”

That’s how I opened a blog posting nearly a year ago. I pointed out that the Democrats have pushed further and further to the right and that this had left Progressives without a voice.

And it was pretty pathetic to hear about Democrats trying to rescue this election with a pro-choice appeal after eviscerating access to abortions in the health care package.

But Democrats have done worse than that. Pushing so far to the right, they have acquiesced to a conservative framing that makes “liberal” a dirty word and equates progressivism—I mean the real kind, not Obama’s pretend kind—with “socialism,” as if “socialism” were such a bad word. Republicans trying to distinguish themselves from Democrats have, in turn, pushed even further to the right. So the entire range of acceptable political discourse has shifted.

Which means this country can no longer be sane about any of a number of issues. Because sanity itself is outside the range of acceptable political discourse.

But these are the same politicians who now expected our support.