Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Four by Four

Today’s four wonderful things:

  1. America has elected an African-American as president.
  2. America’s standing in the world is about to rise dramatically.
  3. The Republican Party is d-doornail-dead as a national party. It’ll be a generation before they can regroup and take over again.
  4. Our new president is a lodestone for people’s hopes – so, a big chunk of the human race will have his back, will be trying to help him succeed.

Today’s four lousy things:

  1. The misogyny of the primaries has been rewarded, and in a very personalized way for one remarkable person. Hillary Clinton will never be President of the United States.
  2. The Democratic Party is being led by deeply unserious and/or unprincipled people.
  3. We have a large question-mark at the center of our government, in a chair that has traditionally required vision and decisiveness, and at a time that would seem to require an extra measure of both.
  4. Homophobia still ranges the land – even on the Left Coast.

And tomorrow? Well, it’s another day... and the forecast is at least a mix of sunshine and clouds, after a long, dark season.


David Berger said...

Re: #3 - just remember, it's all about luck and timing. Think of it this way: if, four years ago, Ohio gave John Kerry 60,000 more votes the following probably would've happened: 1) we would've muddled our way out of Iraq (no way the surge would've happened.) Chances are it would be a bigger "issue" than it is today. 2) the financial collapse would've still happened - it was primarily caused by the inflation of the housing bubble, and the people around Kerry were big proponents of that policy. 3) the Republicans, led (probably) by John McCain would've swept out the failed Kerry Administration, and probably would still be in charge of Congress (because the '06 sweep wouldn't have happened.) 4) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would start thinking about 2012.

So when you claim the Republican party will take a "generation" to regroup, I'd refer to your post on the "Luck Child Theory of History." We don't know what the next four or eight years will bring, but if a man can go from Illinois State Senator to President in four years, I'd hazard on making sweeping predictions about anything! :)

Falstaff said...

Well, I'm talking about the broad pendulum swings -- and it's not a novel theory that they happen. The Democrats were the dominant party from FDR through LBJ -- and arguably through Nixon (whose domestic policies were well within the ruling Keynesian consensus). Then the GOP was in charge from Reagan until now. To be sure, we get opposition-party interregna in which the other guys are brought in to manage the ruling ethos better (Eisenhower and Clinton).

So I don't actually think the scenarios you describe would play out in those ways. I think the "Reagan Revolution" is dead, and that we're going to move into an era now where that (naive, in my view) embrace of Milton Friedman-esque views of the market is replaced by more of a complex-adaptive-systems perspective on how the planet works.

Business, government, civil society at large will change a lot, will take on new self-conceptions (I hope). So it's not, imo, simply a return to the state of play in industrial capitalism circa 1932. But I do think, in this new mix, that more conscious, active involvement by public institutions is in the cards.

And therefore, I think that what the Republican Party has been, and has devolved into, is now on the wrong side of history. I'm not saying that classic-liberal (i.e., laissez-faire) approaches can't reconstitute themselves and re-emerge as something innovative. But for awhile, they -- and the decimated institution that dragged them into the swamp over the past eight years -- are gonna be in Siberia (or, rather, the South).

David Berger said...

Well, it took only eight years for the Democrats to go from the party of Walter Mondale to the party of Bill Clinton. Interregna or no, Clinton transformed the party significantly, and made it the governing party for four of his eight years at the helm. It was that 90s-style Clintonism that this Democratic party, as you are so sadly aware, rejected.

So I agree that a wholesale transformation of the Republican party is necessary before its time to govern comes again- I just think that in this day and age it can happen much, much faster than you think.

And if Obama makes just one foreign policy blunder that validates the silent doubts that the great middle of this country harbor about his judgment and experience, that day could conceivably even come in 2012. But as an American, I sincerely hope that such a catastrophe never occurs

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything except for #3. If it wasn't for the financial collapse, the race would've been much closer. I don't believe the country has shifted to the Left, they are only showing their dissatisfaction with Bush, the economy, and the war in Iraq. The Republican Party needs a facelift but it can be done in 4-8 years. Obama has inherited Bush's sh*tpile and I don't know if he can or even will try to deal with these problems like a real Democrat. The Republicans will also turn that sh*tpile against the Democrats and blame them for whatever additional consequences this country will face after 8 years of Bush. I agree with david that anything can happen between now and 2012 and a lot of it depends on luck. I can also see the Republican becoming more Libertarian in the next decade - it's probably what they should do to win back people who decided to support Obama.

Shainzona said...

The problem is that the four wonderful things that happened should not be the basis for a POTUS or a new administration. It's all fluff and no substance.

And the four lousy things are serious and will impact this country in the long-term.

First, HRC wasn't just a woman, she was (is!!) one of most intelligent, courageous wonks to have ever run for the office of POTUS (even better in those characteristics than her husband who was no schlump!) THIS was the person the country needed to lead it after 8 years of the Worst President Ever.

Second, the deeply flawed and unprincipled people who will pull Puppet Obama's strings are the same type who pulled Bush's strings. We're in for some deep shit.

Third, that large question mark in the center of our government will soon be an exclamation point (IMHO) as we flail from one disaster to another in the next four years.

And finally, the country has not moved left. It moved even further to the right in terms of social issues (Obama is no friend of Choice and women's rights and is a homophobe himself).

This election was simply a body blow to Bush.

Too bad the one left standing was Obama.

Falstaff said...

David -- It's possible you're right, and that future shock has sped up the pendulum. I don't think so -- but we'll obviously see.

Classychic and David -- I don't exactly mean a pendulum swing between "right" and "left." I think that conceptual frame is archaic now... that it's an artifact of industrial capitalism, and we're in post-industrial capitalism, where a lot of the basic forces and principles have changed (e.g., access to the means of production has been radically democratized, and therefore centralized, hierarchical and/or vertically integrated organizational approaches are less and less successful). "Left" and "right" describe economic and social relations inside a world that's fading. They're the "earth, air, fire and water" of our time.

Having said that, I DO think that over the last century, the Dems and the GOP have come to represent different conceptions of where legitimacy resides (and how it is created), of the role of the state, of the relationships among the "estates" (govt, business, academia, etc.), and so on. I think the Dems' underlying worldview is coming back into power, after a generation in which the Republicans' basic worldview was dominant. I also think that the Dems' worldview will not wind up manifesting itself in the same ways as it did under FDR. I think we need *leadership* and *vision* like FDR's, but for a profoundly different economic, technological and social reality.

Finally, Shainzona, as you know I share your deep admiration -- I'd say love -- for Hillary. I was doing a very brief post here, and certainly wouldn't argue that she was nothing more than a symbol for women's liberation. I entirely agree that she has the intellect and character we need. I also agree that we haven't yet seen that from Obama. If it doesn't emerge -- if he doesn't rise to the challenge of his time -- then that failure will happen in full view.

However, as I've said at greater length elsewhere -- and briefly in my "wonderful thing" #4 here -- a lot of the world will be pulling for him, and a lot of the world can do a lot of things. I have been inspired by Hillary's leadership, and not by his. But I'm choosing to hope -- that word again -- that we can make progress in new, less leaderly ways.

Mr. Pierre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
july4cat said...

I honestly don't know what my feelings are right now. My mind just can't decide whether to hope or despair, to celebrate or mourn, to face the truth or dream my own. I've got everything I could ever wished for four years ago, but this election hangover feels even worse than the last time. At least I got to learn one lesson from this madness: reality is always messier than the human spirit could bear.

Mr. Pierre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Pierre said...


You and I agree on the four wonderful things. I would add that #2 outweighs a lot of the petty concerns from the unhinged crowd that has added comments to this post (more on that later). We are also in agreement on #4 of your lousy things--we are brothers and sisters in arms on stamping out Homophobia.

But this is where we part company.

On lousy thing #1 you are dead wrong. Did misogyny play a role? Of course it did. Should Ketih Olbermann be fired (or forced to work at Fox News?)? Absolutely. But you are too wrapped up in this uber thesis to see HRC lost because she was outsmarted, outfoxed and out maneuvered. She ran a bad campaign and lost. My pie chart on her campaign: 40% misogyny, 25% no ground game, 20% WJC losing it, 15% terrible advisers.

On lousy thing #2: If you want unserious and/or unprincipled, register as a Republican. It now turns out these people demonized everyone and anyone who dared raise a question about the sanity of Sarah Palin (see Andrew Sullivan) yet all the while they knew she was nuts. Country First, my arse. We have some people to purge--Pelosi, Reid and a few others. We need to prove we can govern--the jury is still out.

On lousy thing #3: Yes, we have a question mark. In my mind, it is smaller than the one you think is there. Time will tell. Remember Friedman of this week--FDR did not run on the New Deal. He grew into it. Jurty still out.

As for David Berger: This is a search for fool's gold. How are we to take someone seriously who wants to go back to John Kerry and Ohio? Hilarious. Okay, I'll play the game. Go back to Gore, don't steal the election and we likely don't invade the wrong country under false pretenses. Game over. I would also like to see the next Republican campaign based on "hey, the global collapse would have happened regardless." Face it--conservatism is the new Marxism. Tip of the hat to Falstaff--Reagan Revolution is definitely dead. Mr. Berger does make one very valid point--a wholesale transformation of the Republican party is necessary. Fair. But can it be done when you are reduced to appealing to a small group of nut jobs in the South? Shays fell in CT and the Rockefeller Republican is dead. The battle for your party will be between the creationist wing led by Huckabee and the proud to be ignorant wing led by Palin. Good luck with that. See you in 2012.

Classychic--not so classy nor chic, I am afraid. I give Falstaff his misogyny argument on the merits (at least partially). Give me this. Underneath the argument that BHO would not have won unless the economy collapsed is just a cover for racism. No black man could have done it unless we were in such dire straits we had no choice. The trifecta of hate--misogyny, racism and homophobia. Except it is wrong. McCain's slide actually came before Lehman's collapse (see Andrew Sullivan and many others on this point). Yes, the country is showing dissatisfaction with Bush. Duh. It is also showing it embraces an attempt to try to do things differently. By the way, what is a real Democrat? You mean like WJC? FDR? Carter? So now BHO is not a real Democrat? Please.

Shainzona really takes the cake for delusion on this one. Cry me a river for HRC please. Oh she is so smart. She was so smart that she lost? Oh, it couldn't have been her fault. Courageous? You mean like when she was in office with her husband and she couldn't get health care? Insert excuses here. Let me be clear. I worked on her Senatate campaign in Upstate New York. And, I worked for the campaign of WJC twice, so I am no HRC hater. But she was not the right candidate for this time and much of the country wanted to move on. Do I blame HRC for that? No. But WJC does bear some responsibility. The media gets the rest. By the way, since when is being smart a guarantee that you are the person the country needs. FDR was a dumb ass and the best president we ever had. Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter were brilliant and ineffectual. By the way, lest we not forget, Bush was the first MBA in office. How'd that work out? Finally, if you believe that that the same people who pull Bush's strings are the same type who pull Obama's strings, you may want to think about joining up for Palin in 2012. Obama is no friend of Choice is a blatant lie. Obama is a homophobe himself is just nuts. If the Republicans have one chance to rebound it is because Democrats get weak in the knees when they get power. Good riddance.

Before I get to the final comment from Falstaff, July4cat--no kidding. Leading is real work. We can always give back the office in four years and go back to sitting on the sidelines complaining.

Now Falstaff. Please. You are so smart and nearly all of your writing here has been so valuable. You mean to tell me that the only person that inspires you is HRC? You need to read a few more Harvard Business Reviews on leadership. Leadership can mean many things and come in many different forms. Just because you keep repeating BHO is not a leader doesn't make it so. He is inspirational. He does have the power to lead large numbers of people. And, being a black man in America at this time with the middle name of Hussein (as Chris Rock pointed out), he beat the biggest brand in Democratic politics and then trounced the Republican party. You don't do those two things if you are not a leader of some kind.

Shainzona said...

Mr. Pierre.

Thank you for all of your kind words. I don't know what we would do without you to set ALL of us straight. What a bunch of idiots we all are!

The world is no doubt a better place with you in it.

I. Don't. Think. So. But you obviously do.

Now that you've regurgitated every Obama talking point for the past any original thoughts?

Mr. Pierre said...


You say that there are deeply flawed and unprincipled people pulling Puppet Obama's strings and we are supposed to say "Amen"? No evidence. No proof. No reason. You then say Obama is "no friend of Choice" and then you call him "a homophobe" and expect no push back?

I also notice no response on the merits.

I will agree with you on one point, however. My response was a bit amped up. For that I do apologize. Part of that is related to the fact that this is my first post here and I admit my tone is off. In addition, I had a lot of stuff that I wanted to wade through and it does appear in chopping through things I clearly left the wrong impression.

That said, you will notice that I agree with Falstaff on 95% of his excellent reasoning. Our only two points of difference are on why HRC lost (he says misogyny; I say misogyny plus other more major factors) and the fact that BHO is not a leader (he says he is not, I say he is, but time will tell).

As for original thoughts do you mean calling BHO a homophobe?

In the future, I'll watch the tone. My focus will also be on what I hope is a healthy debate on the new administration. I am supportive and hopeful but not blind.

Falstaff said...

Mr. Pierre – I’m very glad you thought better of your first post. Let's keep the party polite. Nobody here deserves to be insulted.

Mr. Pierre said...


An amen to that. :) Lesson learned. I myself was uncomfortable with the tone of my post. I freely admit it did not translate from "in person style" to screen. you know I tend to be a fairly easy going fellow. Won't happen again.

Back to the substance. I find two questions important. First, why did HRC really lose? Second, why did BHO win?

We will have plenty of time to debate the leadership and the presidency of BHO.

For the record, I am optimistic but nervous about BHO (today's press conference was not exactly overwhelming and the Nancy Reagan comment is a bad omen as was the presidential seal). On the other hand, I want no part of the "empty suit," "The One," "The Precious" crowd.

Shainzona said...

Mr. Pierre,

First Barack Obama is, in no small way, responsible for Prop 8 winning in California. He made public statements about his personal belief that marriage is between a man and a woman (OK, he's entitled to his personal beliefs), but then never contrasted his personal beliefs from his political beliefs. (you can be against something personally but vow to support it politically...that'sw what liberals do all the time!) In fact, the proponents of Prop 8 used Obama and his statementin all of their campaign material and he never once refuted that use or countered their position - from a political standpoint.

Obama was a member of Rev. Wright's church for 20 years - you surely know how that organization feels about homosexuals. How about his primary gig with Donny McGurckle - a major homophope and BO supporter?

And, Obama refused to be photgraphed with Gavin Newsome, THE Dem who went out on the limb for gay marriage. That was covered extensively in the press during the primary.

I'm sorry, but he has all of the trappings of homophobe - and certainly did/does not act like a liberal or progressive POTUS with regard to this issue.

This guy said it perfectly for me: This quote is from the NY times op ed piece....

"I hope that the African-Americans who voted against marriage equality will eventually take to heart the lesson it took white Americans so long to learn: when
we deny the rights we treasure to others, we only diminish ourselves." Jack Drescher

Choice - you appear not to be a women, but if you think that BO is for Choice, you have another think coming. It will be one of his primary -bi-partisian goals to "find a middle group with his friends on the right" on this women's issue. Not to mention his attorney friend who will probably be his first Supremes selection who actively writes against Roe v. Wade. Not to mention voting present in Illinois when these issues came up (and no, I don't give a rat's behind if PP or any other women's group endorsed him. When you're a women and know what it feels like to be discriminated against, you know when you see it coming!!)

With regard to the puppetmasters...
perhaps you didn't read any of the articles about the people running the Obama campaign - for example, his Chicago buddies and their "method" of politics. OR, the list of his choices for administration positions...all retreads, old time political hacks...with different names, but the same kinds of resumes that polluted the Bush administration for the past 8 years. SSDD.

(And, no, I don't intend on getting into a pissing contest with you over individual names. If you don't see the overall picture, I certainly won't be able to convince you otherwise. And, quite frankly, don't care to.)

Mr. Pierre said...


This is a different discussion and thankfully so (This probably should be my last exchange with you since this is Falstaff's blog and I for one would like to participate in this blog as I grapple with a lot of the points that Falstaff raises).

Prop 8 passed for a lot of reasons--none of which had to do with BHO. Your comment that BHO never once refuted or countered Prop 8 or the ad using his image is simply untrue. He called it "divisive and discriminatory." BHO made it clear he did not support Prop 8.

My position is mixed on this one. On the one hand, I am disappointed he did not do more. On the other hand, he had to keep his focus on the broader issues necessary to win the election. For the record, his position on this issue is no different than HRC's or WJC's.

Black churches are unique and unless you have spent some time in them you can't understand. I have not been to Wright's church but I do understand from a close friend who has that this church was out in front on AIDS outreach with the gay community long before anyone knew about the issue. As for McGurkle--one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.

Politically and strategically it would have made no sense for BHO to have his picture taken with Newsome.

I do agree that BHO is not a liberal or a progressive. Neither was WJC for that matter.

On the black community, I agree. I live in Brooklyn, New York, in a very mixed neighborhood and can tell you there is a lot of anxiety in the black community over gay right. Alot of work needs to be done. I, however, do not lay this at the feet of BHO.

On Choice, you are correct, I am not a woman. BHO's support for RvW has been made clear. So we are to reject PP based on a feeling that you have? I need more to go on than that. I just don't see it happening.

I applaud the Chicago people. Those guys know how to win elections. But I am confused. One the one hand, you say you loved WJC and HRC. On the other hand, you hate having their people in BHO's administration?

I see the big picture very clearly thank you. We (meaning Democrats) have won. Some of us may not like who we won with or how we won but we won. We have to prove we can govern. If we can we can crush conservatism for a very long time (see Falstaff above). That to me is the big picture. Everything else follows from that.

july4cat said...

So misogyny did play a role in Hillary’s loss, but it’s nothing to fret about because she’s not that perfect after all? I have to say it’s such a new misogynistic angle to look at misogyny. Here is the message. If you want to cry misogyny, you have to make sure you’re good enough to overcome the prevalent misogyny and strike a win anyway. In other words, we won’t declare you a victim of misogyny unless you are too strong to be victimized by it.

Mr. Pierre, you’re a man so you can look at the big picture and envision the great things that are possible. I’m a woman so I have to worry about those petty things like how more than half of the human population are under-classified because they were born a girl. It’s just like what they said. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Gender differences explain it all.

Mr. Pierre said...


I am sorry but I think you completely misunderstand my position. You make a few leaps that I don't think are fair to what I wrote or what I believe. So, here goes.

In my view, no one can deny misogyny played A role in HRC's primary loss. I would also point out, just as overt racism played a role in BHO's primary and presidental run.

I did not ever say it was nothing to fret about. Not ever. Also for the record, I have met HRC several times and have worked on her campaign in Upstate, New York, where Democrats are not exactly welcome to say the least (meaning I have seen misogyny first hand and know precisely what it looks--and sounds--like).

What I dared to suggest is that there were other reasons why HRC lost. That is all. And the fact that I dared suggest the campaign was not well run on a number of levels does not make me a misogynist.

I would also point out that your own statement is incorrect. I never once said HRC was not a victim of misogyny. She has been a victim dating back to her days as First Lady. Again, I just don't buy that is the full explanation of why she lost when she should have won hands down. I have also argued for a long and deeper look at all of the reasons why HRC lost. I think it is important.

Also, for the record, I never suggested that women were worrying about petty things--that is an unfair characterization of my point of view. While not a woman, I am acutely aware of all of the suffering the male patriarchy and all of its trappings inflict upon the female species. It is unpleasant and it is ugly.

I simply do not believe that BHO is a misogynist (nor a homophobe) and that he doesn't support women's rights, RvW, etc. If it turns out that I am wrong I will not be the first in line to to take up the cause but I guarantee you I will enlist in the fight.

My position is really simple. What happened to HRC was awful. Much of it was not her fault. Much of it was. It does not change the broader fight for full gender equality other than to show how much farther we need to go. All that said, my only reason for posting is that I don't think it is fair to blame any or all of it on BHO.

It was not BHO who put health of the woman in quotes in that third debate.

july4cat said...


I dare to say there's no misunderstanding here. If you just want to make the point that Hillary ran an imperfect campaign, then I really don't see the need for discussion here. After all, she got so close and lost. In hindsight there must be something she could have done that would change the outcome. Of course it's unfair to blame Obama for all the ugly misogyny in the primaries because the problem is much bigger than Barack Obama, and for that matter even Keith Olberman. But Obama did practically benefit from the misogynistic culture and he didn't do anything substantial to prove that it's absolutely not his intention to do so. I have to hold him responsible for that because he is the winner of this election cycle and that comes with some responsibilities. Do I think all Obama supporters are misogynists? Definitely no. But do I think a lot of his supporters(and Obama himself) decide that, consciously or not, a little bit of gender-based nastiness is excusable/forgivable if it helps serve the greater good (e.g. elect the first black president, elect the anti-war president, or change Washington once and for all)? The answer is yes. This is where the problem is. Everyone agrees that gender equality is a good thing, but there are always even better reasons to give it up.