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  • “When did lefties becomes so unreasonable [about Obama]?”

    by Sunny
    22nd November, 2011 at 9:28 am    

    There’s a brilliant article in NY Mag this week on President Obama, titled ‘When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?‘. I read it and agreed with most of it, with caveats (about civil liberties and the ‘war on terror’).

    Jonathan Chait first makes a historical argument: that while liberals (lefties) in the US keep saying Obama sold out and didn’t do as much as promised, especially compared to earlier US Presidents, this is rubbish. In fact they complained just as much, if not more, in past decades.

    Bill Clinton’s election, following a dozen years of Republican presidencies, ushered in buoyant hopes of renewal. But liberals experienced his presidency as immediate and almost continuous deflation and cynicism. Clinton did enjoy one major triumph in his first year, when he passed a budget bill that raised the top tax rate, expanded the earned-income tax credit, created a new national-service program for graduates, and reformed other parts of the budget. This was the progressive apogee of the Clinton administration. Liberals at the time viewed it as a sad half-measure.

    Today, Carter is remembered as a president anchored in liberal values, a revision of history both conservatives and Carter himself are happy to leave uncorrected. But the truth is that Carter’s domestic agenda carried only small bits of liberalism, and those small bits (a consumer-protection agency, tax reform) met with total failure in the Democratic Congress. Carter’s policy accomplishments tilted right of center—he deregulated the airline and trucking industries and cut the capital-gains tax. Most infuriatingly to liberals, Carter refused to push for comprehensive health-care reform.

    Kennedy’s reputation benefited from a halo of martyrdom, deepened by liberals’ rage against Johnson, which retroactively cast Kennedy as far more liberal than he actually was. In reality, Kennedy’s domestic agenda slogged painfully through a Congress controlled by a coalition of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats. He campaigned promising federal aid for education and health insurance for the elderly but didn’t get around to passing either one.

    Franklin Roosevelt is hard to compare to anybody, because his achievements were so enormous, and his failures so large as well (court-packing, interning Japanese-Americans). But even his triumphs, gleaming monuments to liberalism when viewed from the historical distance, appear, at closer inspection, to be riddled with the same tribulations, reversals, compromises, dysfunctions, and failures as any other.

    So why does this keep happening, again and again?

    Why, for the most of the past 60 years, have been in “a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage”?

    And why does this not apply to Conservatives?

    There is obviously the willingness to quickly forget the past. But it’s also because conservatives think differently, he says.

    Conservatives, compared with liberals, have higher levels of respect for and obedience to authority and prefer order over chaos and continuity over change. They are more likely than liberals to agree with statements like “It is more important to be a team player than to express yourself.” (Interestingly, libertarians tend to resemble liberals on these measures, which may explain why libertarian politics also so frequently resemble a Life of Brian–esque farce.)

    That sounds about right.

    Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor, defines the contrasting moral styles of right and left like so: Conservatives excel at competition between groups—your team, your nation, your tribe—while liberals care more about fairness within a group.

    He also says this is partly why Tea Partiers were able to quickly suppress racist signs at their rallies, while Occupy protests have been unable to stop a small group of anti-semites from bringing them under attack.

    In contrast, Obama has managed more than every other Democratic president in the past (except Roosevelt):
    - “His single largest policy accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, combines two sweeping goals—providing coverage to the uninsured and taming runaway medical-cost inflation—that Democrats have tried and failed to achieve for decades.”

    - “The Recovery Act contained both short-term stimulative measures and increased public investment in infrastructure, green energy, and the like.”

    - “The Dodd-Frank financial reform, while failing to end the financial industry as we know it, is certainly far from toothless, as measured by the almost fanatical determination of Wall Street and Republicans in Congress to roll it back.”

    And don’t forget the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Marriage Act (which said it could only be be between a man and a woman). And there’s plenty more.

    If Obama gets re-elected then all the above legislation he passed, especially healthcare, gets entrenched (by tests forge severly). Otherwise Republicans will repeal it - including the legislation on banks. Next year, that alone is worth fighting for.

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    1. McDuff — on 22nd November, 2011 at 9:42 am  

      Has it perhaps occurred to you that “lefties” complain about Democratic presidents because those presidents are increasingly right wing? And that the various “victories” won by Democratic presidents take place against a backdrop of entrenchment of reactionary conservatism which would have been considered madness a decade ago but which now is accepted as “just the way things are”, the sort of thing that liberals are being “unreasonable” to complain about?

      Also, the thing about Tea Partiers “quickly suppressing” racism while Occupy is “under attack” because of some anti-semites, rather than, say, the municipality of New York or Oakland deciding that this whole “protest” thing had gone quite far enough - would you mind sharing whatever incredible mind-altering substance you and Chait are imbibing so that I, too, may watch the news and see things which aren’t really happening. Do you get magical pink elephants over there in the land of gumdrops and nonsense? It sounds marvellous.

      Once again, you’ve managed to patronise whole swathes of people on all sides of the spectrum, while missing every semblance of any kind of point in your mad dash scramble to the puckered, moist political centre. Well done! Keep this up and the gig as a Craven American Media Pundit you so obviously crave will be yours sooner rather than later.

    2. Sunny — on 22nd November, 2011 at 3:30 pm  

      complain about Democratic presidents because those presidents are increasingly right wing?

      I see you didn’t bother reading the article then.

    3. Sunny — on 22nd November, 2011 at 3:31 pm  

      Well done! Keep this up and the gig as a Craven American Media Pundit you so obviously crave will be yours sooner rather than later.

      Shocker! Guy with nothing interesting to retort with accuses ppl of careerism.

    4. Optimist — on 22nd November, 2011 at 6:05 pm  

      When Harold Wison said,’… Labour is lesser of the two evils’!!

      Well the working class can do well without any of the ‘evils’ !!

    5. anon — on 22nd November, 2011 at 7:05 pm  

      Sunny, are you really giving credence to a neo-con apologist who has the gall to claim that Obama is somehow being unfairly treated by what remains of the left in the US?

      Despite supporting/ approving pretty much every single Republican policy with inevitably disastrous consequences?

      May I direct you to the fact-based Paul Krugman?

      I’d also direct you to the recent Glen Greenwald post that eviscerates Mr Chait and his village idiot arguments.

    6. Sunny — on 23rd November, 2011 at 6:17 am  

      I’d also direct you to the recent Glen Greenwald post that eviscerates Mr Chait and his village idiot arguments.

      Refers to his policies on war on terror and civil liberties.

      I actually share those concerns, but that is not the entirety of what Obama has done.

      He has managed to push more progressive legislation that any Democrat has managed in the last 50 years.

      That is a fact, if you go by actual record rather than just preconceptions.

    7. damon — on 23rd November, 2011 at 10:51 am  

      Obama presides over a harsh prison industrial complex and death penalty system and is a warmonger who kills Pakistani civilians with impunity.
      His police forces are pretty brutal and militarised too as we have just been seeing.

    8. Optimist — on 23rd November, 2011 at 11:00 am  

      ‘Obama Caesar’ looks after the interests of the American empire.

      That’s his job and he is doing it well !!

    9. anon — on 24th November, 2011 at 5:14 pm  

      ‘He has managed to push more progressive legislation that any Democrat has managed in the last 50 years..’

      If McCain/ Palin were elected in ’08 you would have had more progressive legislation than Obama has achieved.

      Again, I would direct you to the sensible Paul Krugman or Brad DeLong who would tell you the truth about the clusterf### that is his Wall st. sponsored economic policy.

      They also do a great line in dismantling Con-Dem austerity polices as well in a 2 for 1 deal…

    10. Sunny — on 24th November, 2011 at 10:47 pm  

      If McCain/ Palin were elected in ’08 you would have had more progressive legislation than Obama has achieved.

      I really think the class of trolls on this website has gone down

      Name me one policy by McCain/Palin you liked.

    11. Smithereen — on 25th November, 2011 at 4:10 am  

      I’m tearing up. Sunny, you can’t expect too much when you lot just delete any who put forward a position you can’t debate. Just like people can’t complain about you lot, don’t expect anything of value from a steaming pile of leftiste wannabe journo’s. It’s just common sense.

    12. douglas clark — on 26th November, 2011 at 4:11 am  


      Have you been censored on here?

      It seems a bit odd that this is now the 26th of November and your comment is still here. Perhaps you could give us chapter and verse?

      It is sometimes the case that idiots are told where to go. As you are clearly not an idiot, pehaps you could spell out the problem you have had with this site. I am sure the authors would like us all to know.

      Given my rather confrontational approach, I am quite amazed that I have not been censored.

      Well once. I got so angry at people hiding behind names that I gave out my address. Fortunately someone on here had more sense than me. It was deleted ‘tout suite’.

      Your views?

    13. douglas clark — on 26th November, 2011 at 4:19 am  

      Anyway, over on:

      the EDL finally admit that their agenda is racially-motivated

    14. douglas clark — on 26th November, 2011 at 4:31 am  

      Nope, second attempt via edit and still that stupid comment sits there @ 13.

      This site is now playing to a different set of rules…

    15. Smithereen — on 26th November, 2011 at 5:51 am  

      douglas clarke

      You lick sunny’s balls as slavishly as the oiliest sycophant, and you are…surprised…that…your…posts don’t get deleted more often. Maybe you missed the bit about they censor postings that these posers can’t contend with or refute sucessfully. Part of the reason I’ve become thoroughly disgusted by so much of what passes for the left these days whether it’s unthinking ideologues or fuckwits stuck in ’68.

      I’ve read some of your postings. Douglas, you don’t come off as confrentational, just as a bit of a pisshead with the politcal acumen of a common sheep shagger.

    16. A Bold Proposal — on 26th November, 2011 at 6:54 pm  

      Have you been censored on here?

      Let Sunny publish in a special thread all those posts which have been removed and the IP addresses/handles which have been banned. Let’s have some transparency.

    17. douglas clark — on 28th November, 2011 at 12:43 pm  


      No e.

      You lick sunny’s balls as slavishly as the oiliest sycophant…

      Alternatively, I see the point that he has been trying to make with this web site since day one. He has been, over the piece, as critical of brown racists as he has been of white racists. It has been refreshing to see that.

      Sure, there are specific issues for people from the Indian sub continent, ‘honour killings’ comes to mind. But you’d be hard pressed to find another major site like this one that shines the light of day on that topic. Almost single-handedly this site - and Rumbold specifically - has moved that agenda on.

      Sunny has a grown up idea about what it means to be a minority in the UK, and what the general public make of minorities here.

      I have pointed out before that I see young people holding hands and, presumeably in love, who don’t meet the agenda of race hate. It is sites such as this that encourage people to see each other as individuals rather than stereotypes. Indeed, it is only laggards in the gene pool that see that as a bad thing.

      To be clear, nobody who isn’t a racist gives a fuck. And that has been Sunny’s point since day one.


      I have a notion for you that you might like to consider.

      Sunny is an intelligent commentator on London, the US and Asia. He has however a massive blind spot, shared by almost everyone in London, about the rest of the UK.

      The fog of war starts at the M25 and only really lifts once you are out of the UK, unless it’s a riot or summat. The rest of the UK doesn’t exist for him. Nor for almost every other political commentator in England.

      And that is bias. Hometown bias. I’d like him to add the occasional Geordie, Welsh or Scottish voice to his roster.

      It might take out the idea that London is the ‘Centre of the Universe’.

      As a football fan, Manchester and Barcelona are probably more important.

      Thanks for reading some of my posts. I have only read one of yours, and now I have written all of this!

      Grease on, drink taken, idiotic post cast to the winds……..

    18. Kojak — on 28th November, 2011 at 10:08 pm  


      I was thinking of asking how does it feel to have become an apologist for Obama apologist instead of an advocate - but that would be mean.

      Rather than write this long article you only needed to acknowledge that he was built up to be the Hope’nChange Messiah and the last 3 years have revealed him to be to be, how should I put it politely - a middle of the road politician.

    19. Smithereen — on 29th November, 2011 at 10:04 pm  


      Do you take sunny’s testicles out of your mouth to write or does he continue with the tea-bagging while you compose? If so you lot have careers ahead in some sort of cyber-circus freak show. Freak shows that oddity from a bygone age skilfully resurrected to play on the worldwideweb. So like so much of the anti-racist twaddle this site generates, they way every instance of white racism is trunddled out for braindead leftist morons with a guilt complex to wollow in like it’s a 1980′s anti- national front riot.

      Yes… douglas… everybody who disagrees with you on mass immigration is a dullard lagging racist, because you and those who see the world as you do occupy a place of moral supremacy from were you can vantage the grande picture unavailable to un uncultured gentically problematic plebs.

      Those racist Souix who rebelled against the huge influx of non-Souix into their lands were lagging dullards caught up in the outdated stereotypes of their own nationhood. Fuck you would have thought being colonized once would have been enough for most Scots.

      People like your buddy sunny make a living or get derive their status by stoking the fires of resistance to largely fictional white racism. My ex is of sikh Punjabi background from Coventry, a Bhandal. The racism she experienced wasn’t from white people it was from mostly old Indian women of her community I learned alot from being with her, most of it great. One of the things I learned was there is a class of people who, by virute of their status as “minority,” that manipulate well meaning guilt-ridden whites to achieve their needs for career, status, even sex, laughable but true. and sometimes the manipulations occur just because they hate Britions. Called paki too mant times at school, maybe, but That bit’s just speculation, the rest is a fact.

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