Saturday, September 15, 2012

On tribal politics

Politics have become so tribal that anyone who works with the other side is viewed by many partisans as a traitor, akin to sleeping with the enemy--Norman Ornstein.
Imagine, dear reader, a Tip O'Neil/Ronald Reagan style handshake in Washington. What the business owners and investors in this country wouldn't do to see that. After all, stability is the single most important ingredient in economic recovery. Unfortunately, however, the GOP is holding stability hostage thanks to the compromise-is-a-dirty-word set.

News flash: when a party moves blindly away from its ideology in order to practice pure obstructionism, it's called tribal politics. Need an example? Let's start with healthcare reform.

2006:  The individual mandate is the Republican answer to health care reform, the construct of a conservative think tank (The Heritage Foundation) and widely approved by conservatives as one of their own (Romney) leads the charge to enact it in the great state of Massachusetts.

 2009: The individual mandate is SOCIALISM!

Where were all the SOCIALISM! screamers before Obama took office? Why weren't they righteously decrying Medicare and Social Security over the years?

Because tribal politics, dear reader, do not adhere to an ideology. The only goal is self-preservation. And although I have no idea what the November end game is going to look like, tribal politics do not seem to be doing Mr. Romney any favors.

In order to lead the tribe into the November battle, Romney was forced to change his positions on abortion, gun control and health care reform--and those are just the obvious ones. Then this week, while President Obama sprang to action condemning the deadly attack on our Libyan embassy and sending security troops to points across the Middle East to protect American interests, Romney promptly started calling the President names and doubling down, making his latest patriotic casualty the unspoken agreement that partisanship ends at the water's edge.

Tribe before country, folks. Always.

(psssst ... hey GOP, you got your ears on? I hate to break this to you fellas, but your relentless attacks on Obama and his policies are starting to backfire. Obama looks more and more like an underdog scrapper against your monolithic party-of-no legislative stance and a stalwart statesman when bullets start to fly. Your man Romney, on the other hand, is looking more and more like a spineless YesMan brown-nosing his monied brethren.)

Oh to be a fly on the office wall of Karl Rove. Oh to hear the insider discussions between the Koch brothers and their minions. Because the real question, dear reader, has to do with the beloved free market. After all, at some point the rate of return on those beauteous donations courtesy of Citizens United might start looking pretty bleak. Don't believe me? At post time, Intrade Odds--which tracks the bettin' man's money--favored Obama's reelection over Romney's chances of taking the White House by more than 30 percent.

Backed into a corner, however, these guys can get pretty desperate. The Kansas GOP tribe even tried scrubbing Obama's name from the Kansas November ballot over more spavined racist birther claims.

Well, well, well. Talk about your American way.

* * *


Michael Lawless said...

To steal from Vonnegut, so it goes.... It's at the point now that no one would believe a story about this many lies being told by a political party in this high tech world we inhabit. I refuse to pull my hair out....

Anonymous said...

It's a well-worn bit of trivia that no Republican has ever made it to the White House without carrying Ohio.
RCP 9/15/12
Ohio (18)8.5 44.3 Obama +4.2
Intrade 9/15/12
Barack Obama to be re-elected President in 2012



Bill said...

As long as the press continues to cover for O and not ask him the tough questions, you have nothing to fear. In a close election, like this one, when the field is tilted against you, it is impossible to break through. Half of the country actually thinks O knows what he's doing. I'm pretty much resigned to suffering another four years with this terrible president but will continue to hope that some more people see the light and come to their senses.

Anonymous said...

If you want to stop the tribalism in politics, shoot all the pundits.

Both sides.

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill, you have a vulnerable incumbent president with over eight percent unemployment and all the money in the world courtesy of the Rove/Koch/Citizens United monster, yet Romney is still tanking.

Yet in your comment you blame a biased press, a tilted field, a duped electoral--essentially everyone other than the GOP.

Who really needs to come to their senses in this picture, Bill?

Joe said...

Come on Erin, the my way or the hiway attitude extends to both political parties. Pelosi refused to have GOPers even in te room when the stimulus and Healthcare laws were written. She removed Blue Dogs from positions of committee power for not toeing the line. Both parties have moved away from the center.

Those pundits who claim the atmosphere is worse than ever need to look a little closer at history. No one has been canned yet.

Erin O'Brien said...

Joe, I'm not talking about strong arm "my way/highway" politics. I'm talking about stuff like the GOP's 180 degree about-face on the individual mandate.

It was a GOP construct for chrissake, but as soon as Obama adopted it?


It's bullshit and I think it's what's sinking Romney. If you have another theory, I'm all ears.

Joe said...

Again, political about faces are not new. Remember how the Democrats spent a century fighting Civil Rights, and now claim it as their main virtue?

For the record, most Conservatives pushed back on the Heritage Foundation report and the Think Tank changed its stance long before Obama took office.

Erin O'Brien said...

I won't even ask for links, Joe, but riddle me this: When did Romney change his mind about the individual mandate?

VideoDude said...

I will post a link! Answer this Tea-GOP:

Kirk said...

"Again, political about faces are not new. Remember how the Democrats spent a century fighting Civil Rights, and now claim it as their main virtue?"

The Democrats didn't change their stance on Civil Rights simply to give a Republican president a hard time. Northern blacks, whom had historically voted Republican, began migrating to the democratic Party in the 1930s, largely because they favored the New Deal. Furthermore, many white liberals whom in the 1920s and earlier may have been Republicans, began switching sides for the same reason. Eventually both groups became a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party. This process took some thirty years, not the three or so that it took Romney to change his mind. And it didn't come without the anti-civil rights democrats putting up quite a fight. After President Johnson signed civil rights legislation into law, the anti-civil rights crowd left the Democratic Party. Guess where they went?

Bill said...

Unprepared. Uninformed. Hateful. Spiteful. Petty. His foreign policy is playing with drones because it's easier. His ego allowed him to state that the oceans would stop rising and Muslims would love the USA just because of his election. He made unrealistic promises because he didn't understand the issues. i.e., closing Gitmo. His policies have given us more people on food stamps, more poverty, higher unemployment, lower average wages, fewer people working. He's a failure as President, by any measure. I could have done a better job.

Anonymous said...

" any measure. I could have done a better job."-Bill

Measure your antipsychotic medicine out a little more carefully Bill.

The Doctor is in.

Bill said...

If the polls continue to favor O, I'll be doubling the valium, Anon.

Yabu said...

Y'all quite bashing both sides. there are are only two choices, so vote for whom you want. We'll see what happens. Romney might win. He's not tanking as much as you think. Depends on the polls you're looking at, and anyway, polls are historically inaccurate.

I know many people who voted for Obama last time, and they won't be doing it this time. They've had enough. This election is not really about the person of the party, it's about values. I know of no one who has moved to Obama. This will be really close, of it might be a landslide one way or the other.

This is about way more than Health Care. Way More!

Anonymous said...

@ Yabu:

"This will be really close. of[you mean 'or',right?]it might be a landslide one way or the other".

Pretty much covering all your bases aren't you? Didn't have a coin to flip?


Yabu said...

@ Anonymous

I'm never certain how to respond to you, so I won't. Not worth my time. If you want to have a debate, then post on the issues, not a coin toss. I've asked you to come over to my site and let's have it out. You obviously have a small mind, dislike everything not Left, and want to slam people who believe as I do. I don't think you have a clue about issues. You are closed-minded. People like you are part of the problem. We need thinkers, not whiners.
It appears that Obama is losing more votes than he's gaining...I base that on people I know, not media polls.

I don't think Miss Erin's blog is the place to mix it up, but you're welcome to come over to my place, and we'll get down with it.

You're all talk and no show.

Joe said...


Your ignorance of Civil Rights history is astounding.

MLK -- Democrat or Republican?

Anonymous said...


Your ignorance of Civil Rights history is astounding.

MLK -- Democrat or Republican? -Joe


Your ignorance of Southern Politics is dumbfounding.


Kirk said...

You said in your comment that the Democrats did an "about face on civil rights after fighting it for a century." I was addressing that, not MLK's voting record.

The phrase "about face" suggests immediacy. The 1948 Democratic Convention adopted a civil rights platform proposed by Hubert Humphrey and other Northern Democrats. 35 Southern Democrats walked out of the convention, formed their own party, nicknamed the Dixiecrats, and ran Strom Thurmond for president. It was unsuccessful, and after the election, these Democrats returned to the fold. But not forever. As we know, Thurmond died a Republican.

There was a war going on within the Democratic Party during the 1940s and 1950s over civil rights, one no doubt influenced by the MLK and his movement, but one that also began well before that movement. The Democratic Party was never unanimiously against civil rights, and the "about face" was long and protracted. You can't compare it to Mitt Romney flip-flopping on health care.

Joe said...

"I won't even ask for links, Joe, but riddle me this: When did Romney change his mind about the individual mandate? "

I guess it was about the same time Obama did a 180 on the morality of raising the debt ceiling or on same sex marriage. Perhaps we can assume Romney's viewpoint "evolved"?

Joe said...

1957 -- Eisenhower signed the 1957 CRA. Republicans voted for 92% democrats filibustered and only 54% voted in favor.

1960 CRA signed by Eisenhower (R). 93% of republicans voted in favor, democrats filibustered and mustered only 68% in favor.

1964 CRA D filibuster -- R 80%/ Dems 63% in favor.

By the 1970's the Democrat Party was claiming to be the Civil Rights party. It was one of McGovern's main planks in 1972.

I guess when it comes to Republicans, changing attitudes from the mid 1990's (the Heritage piece the Blog Owner mentioned)to now is an abrupt turnaround. But Democrat changes in policy over a similar decade and a half is not.


Anonymous said...

1948 Democratic National Convention- Strom Thurmand and Dixiecrats set the stage for "Southern Strategy" and ultimate change from solid Democratic South to Solid Republican South.

1964 Election: Goldwater carries 5 southern states- proclaims "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." By 1980 Lee Atwater and Ronald Reagan have finished the job.

Quoting those legislative voting stats is as disingenuous as the common "gotcha" proclamation that "GOP is the party of Lincoln" implying that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in one fell swoop. Southern Democrats were white supremist segregationists, the same people that now make hay over anti-Islamization and illegal immigration- Southern Republicans.

You think MLK voted for Goldwater? You think he'd support the Ryan budget. Do you remeber the Poor Peoples Campaign or Resurrection City? Blow your smoke elsewhere Joe.


Erin O'Brien said...

Obama never did a "180" on same sex marriage. He was always pro-gay rights and his support for marriage equality earlier this year should not have come as a surprise to anyone. But don't take my word for it, judge for yourself.

As for the debt ceiling vote, I agree that he pulled a u-turn. But at least he came clean about it and manned up.

Bill said...

between a man and a woman?

VideoDude said...

And in 1980 Ronald Reagan embraced the Dixiecrats renamed them the "Reagan Democrats". If you really care to look at my link above, most of the Teapublican about faces were after Pres. Obama was elected. Cap and Trade supported and proposed by seven Tea-GOP senators including John McCain. Once Pres. Obama said he liked it and would sign it into law, all Teapublican senators voted against it. Including it's seven Tea-GOP supporters(John McCain. That's not an about face, that is obstructionism!

Joe said...

Yes, he was for it before he was against it and thene for it again. Kind of like Kerry's position on Iraq, I guess.

You have proven my original point, politicians of every stripe say what they have to to get elected.

I suppose it is not possible tha tRomney has "evolved" as well? (We won't even get into what are Constitutionally granted Federal powers vs. States powers which Romney makes clear in his position and I argued in these very spaces during the ObamaCare discussions).

The hypocrisy of the Democrats is equal to any perfidy the GOP has fostered upon us.

Joe said...

If you think John McCain is and ever has been considered a conservative or Tea Party Republican you are ignorant beyond description.

Joe said...

And Beauregard, do not forget to mention it was two NORTHERN Democrats (Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey) who conspired with LBJ to keep the Mississippi Delegation from sitting at the 1964 Democratic Convention.

Erin O'Brien said...

Joe, good luck equating Obama's support for marriage equality to Romney's defection from his single most important legislative achievement.

But to hell with all of that. What do you think is driving down Romney's poll numbers?

Anonymous said...

Was King a Mississippi delegate?

You really want to have a pissing contest about which national political party after 1964 was more overtly racist Joe? Or perhaps we should just ring up Willie Horton or, in the alternative, check and see how many slave states are considered "swing states" or how many Democrats refer to themselves as "Sovereign Citizens" or bellow "States Rights" in opposition to "Obamacare."


Joe said...

Nope, I don't. Politicians of both parties flip-flop all the time, parties flip flop all the time.

It is not an exclusive GOP problem.

The rest of it gets us off topic and turns into a pissing contest.

Anonymous said...

@ Erin-
It's not so much that Mr Obama pulled a 180 on raising the debt ceiling as it is the House GOP addressed it in a way that had never been done before.

Prior to last summer, since its inception in 1917 as a temporary housekeeping convenience, the debt ceiling vote had never been used as a tool for extorting policy concessions.

It had been routine, even customary, for the party out of the White House to vote against debt-ceiling increases as a matter of politics, but never on policy. And if the party out of the White House had a majority in the legislature, after procedural votes had been taken to allow members to voice disagreement, it always was passed.

Last year, the House GOP turned this entire history on its ear, As soon as the 2010 lame-duck session ended, with the President making concessions on a 2-year extension of the Bush tax cuts in exchange for the payroll tax holiday, among other issues., Speaker Boehner announced that the President shouldn't expect a clean vote on the debt ceiling. The Tea Party (so-called) block in his caucus, chief among them Michelle Bachmann and Rep King f Iowa and Mr Gohmert of Texas were adamant that there would be no debt-ceiling increase without massive spending cuts for items ALREADY APPROPRIATED.

Here is the subtlety which escaped much of the country: The debt ceiling vote is NOT new spending. The debt ceiling vote gives the treasury the authority to issue debt to raise operating funds for programs already obligated by existing law. Yet Mr Boehner told everyone he could find with a microphone and a camera that "We're not going to give the President a blank check for $2.4 trillion."

It was just politics, and it was just a lie.


Anonymous said...

@ Yabu-

Yes I do lean to the left in my politics. Unlike yourself, I make no pretense about the fact or try to present myself as a centrist as you have here, quite frequently.

I generally do post on issues. Just above this comment is another one, to Erin, with some substantive remarks about the politicization of the debt-ceiling vote last summer.

In addition, if somebody makes a wishy-washy nonsensical comment like the one of yours that I responded to, I'll point that out.

Your comment that you predict Obama is losing based on what you and your friends think is 'solipsism'. Look it up.

Thank you for your kind invitation to join you in your fever swamp, but I have a note from my psychiatrist saying that I'm too sane for that kind of thing. And if I want to hear from a horse's ass I can always go to the racetrack.


Jon Moore said...

On a much lighter and unbiased note, well done Erin on your recent contest win.

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks, Jon, and thanks Yabu. I won the coolest xmas stocking ever!