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Author: Subject: Liberals resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems

Universal Peach





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  posted on 11/27/2010 at 09:19 PM
By Michael Gerson
Friday, November 26, 2010

Following two years of poor economic performance and electoral repudiation, liberalism is casting around for narratives to explain its failure - narratives that don't involve the admission of inadequacies in liberalism itself.

For some, the solution is to lay the blame on President Obama. He hasn't been liberal enough. He can't communicate. "I cannot recall a president," Robert Kuttner says in the Huffington Post, "who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as a chief executive." Obama is "fast becoming more albatross than ally."

This is an ideological movement at its most cynical, attempting to throw overboard its once-revered leader to avoid the taint of his problems.

But there is an alternative narrative, developed by those who can't shake their reverence for Obama. If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.

So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for "deliberate economic sabotage" from the GOP - as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends that "Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there's a Democrat in the White House." Steve Benen explains, "We're talking about a major political party . . . possibly undermining the strength of the country - on purpose, in public, without apology or shame - for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012." Benen's posting was titled "None Dare Call it Sabotage."

So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating "massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system."

One is tempted to respond that it is $1 trillion in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health-reform law that have created "massive economic uncertainty." For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.

Yet this is precisely what the sabotage theorists must deny. They must assert that the case for liberal policies is so self-evident that all opposition is malevolent. But given the recent record of liberal economics, policies that seem self-evident to them now seem questionable to many. Objective conditions call for alternatives. And Republicans are advocating the conservative alternatives - monetary restraint, lower spending, lower taxes - they have embraced for 30 years.

It is difficult to overstate how offensive elected Republicans find the sabotage accusation, which Obama himself has come very close to making. During the run-up to the midterm election, the president said at a town hall meeting in Racine, Wis.: "Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that if Obama fails, then we win." Some Republican leaders naturally took this as an attack on their motives. Was the president really contending that Republican representatives want their constituents to be unemployed in order to gain a political benefit for themselves? No charge from the campaign more effectively undermined the possibility of future cooperation.

The sabotage accusation, once implicit, is now direct among panicked progressives. Part of the intention seems to be strategic - to discourage Obama from considering Clintonian ideological triangulation. No centrist concessions, the argument goes, will appease Republicans who hate the president more than they love the country. So Obama should double down on liberalism, once again.

It is very bad political advice. It also indicates a movement losing contact with political reality. When an ideology stumbles, its adherents can always turn to alcohol - or to conspiracy theories. It is easier to recover from alcohol. Conspiracy thinking is not only addictive, it is tiresome. It precludes the possibility of interesting policy debate or genuine disagreement - how can you argue with a plot?

In 1964, John Stormer, a sabotage theorist of the right, came out with the book "None Dare Call It Treason," which asked: "Is there a conspiratorial plan to destroy the United States into which foreign aid, planned inflation, distortion of treaty-making powers and disarmament all fit?" Stormer's progressive descendants are just as discrediting to the ideas they claim to serve.

michaelgerson@washpost.com



 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/27/2010 at 11:46 PM
Personally I think it's a little of both....the republicans are doing everything they can to destroy a second term for Obama and Obama is in a race with them to see if he can do it first.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 12:04 AM
last time I looked Nader and the real liberals were on the outside of this administration.
same bagmen that Clinton had are running this show.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 02:32 PM
I don't know about any conspiracies but I do know expectations are about as unfair and unrealistic as I have ever seen. The guy inherited a total bucket of dog crap and it is pretty ridiculous that people would expect he could get everything fixed in 2 years. He acts more like a Republican then a liberal in just about everything he does. The health care bill he got passed was whole heartedly endorsed by numerous Republicans just a mere 18 months earlier. But once he jumped on board now all of a sudden it sucks.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 02:47 PM
I got as far as "By Michael Gerson" and then stopped reading.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 05:29 PM
I read it, and you two are right.

Summary: Bladda bladda bladda.....(blah blah blah X yadda yadda yadda)

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 05:35 PM
Say what you will about Obama, but we are coming out of the biggest recession since the great depression, and with lots of critisizm and NO help from republicans.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 05:47 PM
quote:
Say what you will about Obama, but we are coming out of the biggest recession since the great depression, and with lots of critisizm and NO help from republicans.


You're absolutely correct....the thing I wish Obama would do is take a little more credit for what he's doing.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 06:21 PM
Obama hasn't learned that part about politics. You have to constantly talk as if you have accomplished great things, even when it makes the people who know you personally want to throw up.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 07:54 PM
Poor Barack just can't win. No matter what he does, somebody is going to complain or say something mean.

I can't imagine that happening to a President.

 

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  posted on 11/28/2010 at 09:27 PM
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 12:27 AM
You mean they quit blaming President Bush?

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 01:46 AM
quote:
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.
unemployment is still high, but that would be the case if a republican was in office right now. maybe worse.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 02:07 AM
quote:
quote:
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.
unemployment is still high, but that would be the case if a republican was in office right now. maybe worse.



Maybe not, pure un supported 'blame the other side' opinion.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 02:17 AM
I shudder to think how McCain and Palin might have dealt with the financial crisis and the recession.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 03:10 AM
quote:
I shudder to think how McCain and Palin might have dealt with the financial crisis and the recession.


We'll never know, all we have to go by are the good times we have now.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 04:28 AM
quote:
quote:
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.
unemployment is still high, but that would be the case if a republican was in office right now. maybe worse.


I disagree. Obama's program of the last two years has exacerbated things and forestalled a recovery. The best way to effect a recovery is to free up capital and create a climate in which business feels comfortable expending that capital on economic growth. There is strong reason to believe based on history that an administration with more pro business policies (not necessarily Republican) would have seen a lowering of unemployment. In any event there is no evidence that anything Obama has done has had any positive effect on the economy.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 05:59 AM
quote:
In any event there is no evidence that anything Obama has done has had any positive effect on the economy.
Bullsh!t, ask a retailer!. im in the freight buisiness and its booming. I saw a walmart parking lot jammed full of cars in el-paso texas black-friday morning at 5:30 a.m..

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 07:29 AM
quote:
quote:
quote:
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.
unemployment is still high, but that would be the case if a republican was in office right now. maybe worse.
I disagree. Obama's program of the last two years has exacerbated things and forestalled a recovery. The best way to effect a recovery is to free up capital and create a climate in which business feels comfortable expending that capital on economic growth. There is strong reason to believe based on history that an administration with more pro business policies (not necessarily Republican) would have seen a lowering of unemployment. In any event there is no evidence that anything Obama has done has had any positive effect on the economy.
The error of what we continue to do is that we have changed none of the failed tactics of the past. For decades, we have applied quick-fix band aids on our problems without addressing root issues. Those problems are simple to define: we have not figured out how to reverse our balance of trade and we have resorted to unsound monetary policy which has created periods of boom and bust. Until we fix these core problems, we can not create a positive stream of incoming wealth that has the potential to benefit all economic classes in our country.

Obama has followed the same tired and increasingly useless policies of stimulative spending, debt, and consumption-driven monetary policy. These tactics may have once temporarily lifted us out of slumps, but their effectiveness has diminished as our debt rises, our balance of trade widens, and our currency is weakened. But Obama has doubled the burden by adding an unpredictable tax and regulatory environment in which business is frozen in their ability to plan because so many govt-related costs and actions are in a state of uncertainty.

Our tax system must be changed to reward investment and productivity instead of consumption. It must be vastly simplified. Our legal climate needs revision to not so easily permit frivolous suits that forces innovation and business investment from our shores. Our regulatory agencies need to become partners with business in helping them comply with requirements instead of being hostile to their efforts.

All of these principles are antithetical to Obama because they are rooted in the belief that free people - not their govt - are the basis of a successful and thriving society. It is outside of his belief system to trust the actions of the people more than that of ruling class, of which he currently heads.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 10:47 AM
Well there you have it. The know-it-alls have spoken.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 12:17 PM
quote:
Well there you have it. The know-it-alls have spoken.


Com'on Scott, there are two or more points of view on most of these subjects. Clearly the points expressed here fly in the face of what you believe....it happens.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 01:09 PM
quote:
quote:
Well there you have it. The know-it-alls have spoken.


Com'on Scott, there are two or more points of view on most of these subjects. Clearly the points expressed here fly in the face of what you believe....it happens.


Of course, but the way some (most?) people here speak in such black and white absolutes is what I am referring to.

[Edited on 11/29/2010 by gondicar]

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 02:15 PM
quote:
I saw a walmart parking lot jammed full of cars in el-paso texas black-friday morning at 5:30 a.m..


Thatís because there is so much inventory on things like LCD flat screen TVs that places like WalMart are practically giving it away.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 03:55 PM
Say what you will, but the economy has showed steady growth since june 2009.

 

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  posted on 11/29/2010 at 04:10 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
Some would argue that we are not coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, that we are still up to our necks in it. I think most businesses have laid off all they possibly can and still function and very few if any are hiring.
The stock market is unstable at best because of international monetary worries and QE isn't easing anyone's doubts abut what 'solutions; this administration has to get the gears going forward again.

We all only have our only small spheres of reference for folks out of work....mine says very few have been rehired at all and most can't even find part time help.

Sadly I think this isn't really big news anymore, its the norm.
unemployment is still high, but that would be the case if a republican was in office right now. maybe worse.


I disagree. Obama's program of the last two years has exacerbated things and forestalled a recovery. The best way to effect a recovery is to free up capital and create a climate in which business feels comfortable expending that capital on economic growth. There is strong reason to believe based on history that an administration with more pro business policies (not necessarily Republican) would have seen a lowering of unemployment. In any event there is no evidence that anything Obama has done has had any positive effect on the economy.


Many economist disagree with you. I'm sure they are all wrong.

 

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