The new op-ed by Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann in the Washington Post is getting a lot of attention, and it's obviously salutary. The GOP should be called out as batshit crazy, and the media should be called out for not reporting that as fact. To have this piece appear in the Post, the Broderist temple of bipartisan orthodoxy, is good.
But the thing is, as Bob Somerby has been saying for 15 years, and as Ornstein and Mann remind us here, this is not a new state of affairs. And it was political malpractice of historically disastrous proportions for the Democratic Party not to have understood and fought against this. I have just finished reading Ron Suskind's Confidence Men, and its judgment on Barack Obama is devastating. He was incapable of doing this job, and is not growing into it. Far from being a quick study, he is rigidly locked into his own severely limiting psychic needs. He is incapable of making a decision. There was never any real-world opportunity for bipartisan agreement with this GOP. The pursuit of it was entirely a function of Obama, not of reality.
And now, the best option we face is to re-elect this guy, because the alternative is madness. It's a deeply depressing state of affairs.
I don't know about the frame that he's "incapable of making a decision." He's neither stupid nor indecisive, judging by his past actions. (Not speeches.) He's accomplished a lot. It's just that Bush III isn't what we wanted him to accomplish. And, by doing it the way he did, he managed that with almost no real pushback from his "base." (His voting base, not his real base.) I'd say he's damn good at what he does.
The problem with saying we have to vote for him because on the other side lies madness is that there is never a solution along that path. If you vote for the lesser evil, you'll keep getting evil even if you win. Given just how much evil we're talking about (torture, detention without trial. assassination at will -- it doesn't get much further from the rule of law than that) that is not a trivial point.
And then, on the practical side, until we start withholding our votes, the politicians will keep trampling us. Our votes are the ONLY leverage we have.
We obviously share dismay at the current state of our politics, and of the Democratic Party. I am not personally persuaded by the argument that Obama has carried out a deliberate and effective plan. I didn't feel it before I read "Confidence Men," and I really don't believe it now. If you want evidence that he can't make a decision, I recommend Suskind's book.
As to voting, I'm just saying that I believe there would be a material difference in many people's lives if this GOP controls the White House. Yes, one does keep getting evil -- but surely lesser evil is a better state of affairs than greater evil. If it were simply about Romney vs. Obama, I might spend my vote on a third-party candidate more to my liking. But I prefer gridlock over empowering these Tea Party nutjobs.
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