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Be Careful Where You Step

Kevin Drum covers some of the backstory in Bitter Confrontation of Paul Krugman’s unease with Barack Obama over comity in Washington. Krugman doesn’t think Obama understands the true situation, the real environment in Washington, and Obama’s strategy to bring all parties together to achieve a consensus will not work because of the very polarized environment.

Kevin notes that Jon Alter has written in Obama’s defense and cited earlier examples of compromises, but Kevin remembers what conditions were like, and doesn’t accept Alter’s underlying premise.

On another front Greg Sargent tells us that Krugman Dogged By Rumor That His Son Works For Hillary, and this is the reason that he is “attacking” Obama.

Paul Krugman responds:

This is pretty funny. There’s a rumor spreading that my son works for the Hillary campaign.

Only one problem: I don’t have a son — or a daughter, either.

And both of my cats assure me that they are not working for any campaign.

This race is crappy enough without the extra manure being shoveled in from the sidelines. People who didn’t live through it have no idea how different the Republican party was before the “Reagan Revolution” and the pact with the Christianists. Nixon was called out by Republicans and Democrats. There were bi-partisan agreements. Both parties did work towards common, American goals. This is no longer the case, so what worked in the past will no longer work.

Please note that I’m agreeing with Kevin’s assessment. Normally I link to Kevin when he annoys me, so some may think I don’t ever agree with him.


1 Steve Bates { 12.21.07 at 12:28 am }

The neocons have a lot to answer for. Dick Cheney has much to answer for. Karl Rove has a ton of stuff to answer for. Even dumb-as-dirt Dubya has plenty to answer for. Obama may be presidential material someday, but at the moment, I dread the outside possibility that he will become the Democratic nominee, in part because he may be incapable of bringing all those people to account.

The estimable Robert Kuttner put it well (sorry I don’t have a link; I’m typing from a piece of paper usually on my fridge):

Bipartisanship is sometimes a necessary tactic. It is never a philosophy of governanace. Otherwise, why have two parties?”

Exactly so. This is the very time we must not succumb to bipartisan blandishments. Most Democratic candidates understand that. Someone needs to educate Obama.

2 Badtux { 12.21.07 at 2:42 am }

I have a relevant cartoon on my blog on what happens when zebras try to be friendly with crocodiles…

— Badtux the Bad Photoshoppin’ Penguin

3 andante { 12.21.07 at 7:51 am }

From your title, I thought you’d made a clandestine visit to my house.

Damn the NYTimes. Just when Frank Rich’s Obama column was making me sway a tad toward Obama, along comes Krugman and forces me to readjust to total waffling and indecision.

I agree with YDD (above) – Obama has the raw ingredients, but the ‘compromises’ required with the neocons, the military-industrial complex, Big Pharma, and the insurance industry as a whole require more than civil give and take. Money, power, more money, and more power are at stake versus the good of the country.

Precious few carrots – many large sticks.

I’ll put my money on McCain for the Republican nomination. I believe the majority of Republicans will find him less offensive, in the end, to the other bunch of wackos, crooks, and dingbats. Democrats? I still have no clue.

4 Bryan { 12.21.07 at 10:47 am }

The WGA strike is a good example of what Obama will face. One side has no intention of negotiating and have been very successful at moving the goal posts. The problem with the Clinton health plan is that the “negotiations” all involved moving things toward the corporate position in hope of getting support. But even after getting everything, the Repubs didn’t vote for it.

There is no intention to negotiate by the other side, so there is no point. They don’t want a working government. They are bent on destroying the government now that they have looted the Treasury. It is time to call them on what they are doing.

5 andante { 12.21.07 at 11:22 am }

I have to admit Edwards didn’t do much for North Carolina as a senator, but in his defense he was representing (at the time) a very, very Red State.

But having seen the way he can fight for injured plaintiffs, I am just about in his camp. It got to the point all he had to do was walk in the room, up to the table, and Big Bidness was ready to talk. He really did fight for his clients with tooth & nail.

So what if he made a bundle doing it? That’s his job, and he did it extraordinarily well.

Would he bring even half that grit to the presidency? I don’t know. Someone needs to; it’s certainly not Clinton and I don’t think it’s Obama. While Dodd has shown some leadership lately, he has sided with Evil on occasions in the past; enough to give me pause. On the other hand, I really like his health plan proposals and he knows how to navigate the senate.

If I’m still given a choice in the primaries, it will be Kucinich on principle. If the choice is one of the frontrunners….probably Edwards, but I may end up flipping a coin unless Obama shows me something besides that “Can’t we all get along?” stuff.

6 Bryan { 12.21.07 at 12:33 pm }

Kucinich and Edwards understand the people they are dealing with and know that you have to make them “blink” before the negotiations can begin. When you go in with a reputation for giving in, the other side has no incentive to make a deal.

North Korea seems to be the only entity that knows how to negotiate with Repubs – test a nuclear weapon.

7 Steve Bates { 12.21.07 at 10:43 pm }

(Oops. In the Kuttner quote, please make that “governance.” If I could type…)

I am pretty much down to deciding between Kucinich and Edwards, that is, if they are still on the Texas ballot by the time of the primary. Dodd has my respect now, but not my vote, not without more solidity on issues such as jobs and trade, among others.

There are circumstances under which a presidential candidate cannot be Mr/Ms Nice Guy. As noted, Edwards and Kucinich, especially Edwards, both know how to turn opponents inside out when necessary. In this election… it is necessary.

8 Michael { 12.24.07 at 1:32 am }

I’m a little late to the thread, but I’ll chime in as well and say that I’m for Kucinich at the moment and only object to Edwards on the ground that he says cannabis should remain illegal except for medical use, lest we send the wrong message to the children. I’m glad he came around on medical, it means I’m protected if he wins, but I can’t vote to put my friends in jail.

9 Bryan { 12.24.07 at 8:32 am }

Actually, Michael, wait until he has to pay for the Shrubbery’s “credit card abuse” and starts looking at the cost benefit ratio of the “war on drugs”. That is the weakest link in the current policy – it is hyper-expensive with hypo-effectiveness.

It doesn’t work, will never work, breeds corruption, and spends money we don’t have. Legalize and tax all drugs, because capitalism is the American way – let the market decide.

10 Michael { 12.24.07 at 10:58 am }

We should end the war on drugs mentality but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate drugs. Prohibition does not work, that is well proven by history and our present circumstance. Still, the same regulations are not appropriate for cannabis and heroin. One of these is beneficial to health and has no risk of causing an overdose fatality. The other…

11 Bryan { 12.24.07 at 11:43 am }

Treat them like alcohol, the solution for the last Prohibition.

12 Michael { 12.24.07 at 6:51 pm }

Alcohol is treated differently in different states. In Pennsylvania, you can only buy liquor at a state store, wine at a state or wine store, beer by the case at a distributor or by the sixpack at a bar, and further restrictions on days and times that these establishments can be open.

The restrictions for alcohol are not the same restrictions appropriate for heroin, in my opinion.

Nor for cannabis, which should be simply legal to grow and possess for anyone 21 and over.

13 Bryan { 12.24.07 at 9:17 pm }

That’s a pretty weird way of dealing with things. I was thinking more along the way of New York or Florida, but in any case you can legally make small quantities of alcoholic beverages for you own use in every jurisdiction I’m aware of.

One of the major problems with heroin is the lack of consistency. Almost every OD and every fatal OD I encountered was the result of an unexpectedly high concentration of the drug. Legal manufacturing and quality control should nearly eliminate that problem.

You can’t legislate morality or intelligence. Stupid people do stupid things. Self-destructive people will self-destruct. The most society can do is to ensure that the people have consistent information and there are programs for those who want to quit.

14 Michael { 12.24.07 at 9:23 pm }

You can regulate without legislating morality. That’s my point. We insist on regulation for legally prescribed pharmaceuticals and heroin should be no different. Cannabis does not fit in the same category, is my point. It is an herb, not a drug, and anyone can simply grow it if they want and should not be prosecuted. Regulations should still prohibit sale to minors and should have normal agricultural controls, taxes on non-medical purchases, etc.

15 Bryan { 12.24.07 at 10:36 pm }

Alcohol kills more people than all of the illegal drugs combined, and causes a much large cost to society. The exemption for personal use is in effect for alcohol.

Most of the problems associated with drugs are secondary to the drugs themselves.

Mass production would require normal regulation, but personal production for personal use should not be regulated as it is a waste of resources.

The sale of alcohol requires licensing and taxes, and that should be applied to any intoxicant sold commercially.

16 Michael { 12.24.07 at 10:51 pm }

Personal production of non-distilled alcohol is permitted, but distillation requires some kind of license I’m pretty sure. Making heroin (assuming you have raw opium) requires quite a bit more than fermentation, and possibly involves dangerous chemicals and procedures.

Cannabis, on the other hand, requires nothing more than water and sunlight.