There are those are ideologically opposed – who are inciting much of the most extreme rhetoric about this issue. The leadership promoting this – as Rachel Maddow aptly demonstrates – oppose and want to dismantle the programs most Americans support. They consider Medicare and Social Security to be “tyranny” and “creeping socialism” and all those other buzzwords that they are now using against health care reform. In this clip where Maddow confronts former congressmen, majority leader, and one of the major organizers of the tea parties and the anti-health reform activists , Dick Armey:
As Maddow said – it is a very important point. Many of the Republicans participating in this national “conversation” are hiding their true beliefs.
Most Americans do not consider Medicare and Social Security to be “tyranny.” Those who are inciting fears about health care reform do.
A few observations on watching Meet the Press yesterday. In a lot of ways, I think that show demonstrates the low quality of our political debate today. And yesterday’s show was one of the better, more factually on point, more honest, least full of crap episodes in recent memory. It wasn’t about “gotcha” moments as much as policy and politics. No one there was seriously promoting any of the blatant falsehoods that have determined much of the debate in the rest of the media – the “death panels” and Nazi imagery for example. In many ways, this became a very meta debate about the debate – which is actually a conversation I think we need to have as a country.
David Gregory though seemed determined to take each moment that threatened to lead to acutal honest conflict or insight and “move on” as quickly as possible. With the participants wanting to argue it out, they would talk over him trying to make their point before he ended the game prematurely. Maddow created a few insightful moments with her apparently well-researched appearance. She wasn’t as willing to let the bullshit slide as the others at the table – and she had papers full of research in front of her. Gregory asked some good questions, but let the bull slide. For example, here he asked a serious question of Senator Tom Coburn:
MR. GREGORY: [L]et’s talk about the tone of the debate. There have been death threats against members of Congress, there are Nazi references to members of Congress and to the president. Here are some of the images. The president being called a Nazi, his reform effort being called Nazi-like, referring to Nazi Germany, members of Congress being called the same. And then there was this image this week outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a town hall event that the president had, this man with a gun strapped to his leg held that sign, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.” It was a reference to that famous Thomas Jefferson quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
That has become a motto for violence against the government. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, had that very quote on his shirt the day of the bombing of the Murrah building when 168 people were killed.
Senator Coburn, you are from Oklahoma. When this element comes out in larger numbers because of this debate, what, what troubles you about that?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OK): Well, I’m, I’m troubled anytime when we, we stop having confidence in, in our government. But we’ve earned it. You know, this debate isn’t about health care. Health care’s the symptom. The debate is an uncontrolled federal government that’s going to run–50 percent of everything we’re spending this year we’re borrowing from the next generation. You…
MR. GREGORY: That’s—but wait, hold on, I want to stop you there. I’m talking about the tone. I am talking about violence against the government. That’s what this is synonymous with.
SEN. COBURN: The, the—but the tone is based on fear of loss of control of their own government. What, what is the genesis behind people going to such extreme statements? What is it? We, we have lost the confidence, to a certain degree, and it’s much worse than when Tom was the, the, the leader of the Senate. We have, we have raised the question of whether or not we’re legitimately thinking about the American people and their long-term best interests. And that’s the question.
For me that exchange was a head-turning moment. Asked to confront a man who has adopted the same quote that a terrorist did when attacking a building in his own state, a man who is using extreme rhetoric that suggests he would be in favor of assassination, he refuses to condemn him outright. He hedges; he wants us to understand that man – to see him as responding to a world that’s unfair to him.
Gregory at this point seems to let the matter go – but Maddow takes Coburn on. You can tell she’s taken aback too:
I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that a right wing Republican Senator would plead for “understanding” in quasi-defense of extreme right wing rhetoric and threats of violence. After all – what else can he expect?
I suppose my point is: if any people out there take Sarah Palin’s statement that children will be put to death by “death panels” if Obama’s health care plan succeeds seriously; if any people out there seriously believe a Holocaust is about to take place if this health care reform is passed; if they believe that their children are going to be indoctrinated into an atheistic faith in Obama if health care passes; if they believe that their grandparents of their children are in danger – if someone believes any or all of these things, then violence is justified.
We make heroes out of the men who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler. If we now say that Obama is another Hitler, aren’t we advocating assasination? If we say our child will be killed by Obama, aren’t we implicitly endorsing violence to protect our children?
How can we – as a society – have an adult conversation about the pros and cons of the specific health reforms being considered with this unhinged debate? We can’t. Instead, we just have to let the unsustainable status quo stay in place.
Everyone seems to have very strongly held positions as to whether Joe Lieberman should be allowed to keep his committee positions in the next Senate. I don’t have a strong position.
It’s clear that Lieberman went further than any Democrat should have in attacking the nominee of his party on a personal level – saying he would be afraid for America if Obama won as late as the day before the election. (TPIP has an excellent video from Rachel Maddow’s show over at his site explaining some of the various reasons Joe the Lieberman shouldn’t be allowed to keep his position.)
Yglesias points out that Lieberman – in trying to make the case to keep himself as head of his various committees – seemed to be threatening to vote against the positions he has held for years if he is removed:
As it stands, Lieberman seems to be saying that he deserves to stay in charge of the committee in virtue of his moderately progressive domestic views, but that continuing to hold those views is contingent on him getting favors from the Democratic leadership.
As Rachel Maddow pointed out, Lieberman’s position has more than a mere symbolic relevance – as he held off various investigations of the Bush administration since 2006 with his committee chair position. As long as Lieberman is considered a Democrat, his criticisms of the Democrats will carry extra weight.
But at the same time – by removing him the Democrats would risk alienating moderate Republicans, who they will likely need to get past filibusters. Without Lieberman the Democrats would have no chance at the 60 votes needed to override filibusters. Plus, Lieberman’s demotion and the accompanying commotion would not send the message of bipartisan cooperation Obama is trying to cultivate as he readies to take on the many challenges ahead.
Either option has it’s negatives. The best approach would be for Obama to step in; for Lieberman to apologize to Obama; for Obama to indicate that he would be willing to consider doing what he could to prevent Lieberman from having his committee chairmanships removed; and for whoever the enforcer is in the party – Rahm Emanuel – or whoever else – to extract from Lieberman a promise to vote with the Democrats on any potential filibuster issue. He can vote his conscience or politics or whatever on the issue when it comes to the floor – but he would make a public statement that he would not support any filibuster to block the agenda of the president of the United States of America.
That’s the only thing the Democrats need Joe Lieberman’s vote for – to prevent the filibuster. At almost every other point, with decent party unity, and most likely some Republican cross-overs, they win with ease.
Joe Lieberman’s public statement that President Obama’s agenda deserves an up or down vote could make a significant difference in what can be accomplished in the first 100 days.
Although I was never crazy about the idea, there was a time – several weeks ago now – when I considered the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket to be a potentially good idea. Andrew Sullivan’s excellent column floating the idea moved me somewhat – even as I tended to think that Senator Jim Webb would be a better choice. I had thought of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s description of Lincoln’s genius in organizing his “team of rivals” even before Sullivan mentioned it. And I thought that Obama could pull it off if any politician today could. But Maureen Dowd’s description of Obama’s and Clinton’s interpersonal dynamic struck me as accurate enough, and Clinton continued to campaign – standing up for her supporters – “hard-working white people”; comparing her efforts to de-legitimatize the process of delegate selection she at first endorsed to abolition; and in general acting as if Obama’s nomination were not only a personal affront to her but the end of the Democratic party.
So, I’ve soured on the idea. Here’s seven reasons why Hillary Clinton should not be chosen as Obama’s vice presidential running mate:
From Rachel Maddow on MSNBC’s Inside the War Room just a few minutes ago:
[It would be] very awkward for a vice presidential candidate to be on a presidential candidate’s ticket after she has made repeatedreferences to his potential death. Yes, that would be weird.
It will undermine the rationale behind Obama’s candidacy and make Obama look weak. As Reihan Salam of The Atlantic wrote:
A backroom deal with Clinton would make a mockery of Obama’s language of hope and change. It would make Obama appear weak, and it would reward Clinton for running a campaign more vicious than anything Lee Atwater could have cooked up. More importantly, Obama would be choosing a fundamentally weak and unpopular running mate who has masked her marked executive inexperience through endless misrepresentation of her role in the Clinton White House – a role that begins and ends with a healthcare debacle that would have gotten anyone other than a First Lady fired.
Or, to put it as John Edwards did:
She doesn’t put a single state or demographic group on the board for Obama.
She is a highly polarizing figure. The demographic splits in the primaries so far have been best explained by the Peabody award-winning Josh Marshall over at the Talking Points Memo: The only areas where Hillary has decisively beaten Obama are in the Appalachian region of the country. But Hillary is far from the best candidate to appeal to this group. Former Senator John Edwards, Governor Ed Rendell, Governor Ted Strickland, and especially Senator Jim Webb all would seem to have greater appeal to the Scotch-Irish Reagan Democrats of the Appalachia. Clinton’s base is entirely in the Democratic party where she is relatively popular, while Obama has substantial support among independents and even some Republicans. That is why Clinton has done better in closed primaries than ones open to independents or all parties (at least until Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos gained traction).