Speechless (Appropriately enough, it seems)

August 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm (By Ennui)

I just watched the “don’t do a lot of talking” snippet via Breitbart via Drudge.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard its like.  Where to begin?  There’s the snarky tone in which he declares “I’m President”; there’s the apparent command (I don’t know what else to call it – whatever it was, it wasn’t a “suggestion”) to his political opponents – “don’t do a lot of talking”;  there’s the muted, baffled crowd response immediately following (it required an “Am I wrong, Virginia?” from the One.  Well, at least he didn’t tap the microphone and say “is this thing on?”).

Here is the most generous spin I can put on this:  he wasn’t talking about citizen protesters but about Republican Rep.s in the House and Senate.  As I say, this is the most generous, least scary reading.  But it’s still pretty scary (question: has any other President actually voiced the opinion that his opposition shouldn’t speak?) 

It is also nonsensical.  As others have pointed out, the Republicans can’t do a damned thing to stop him from doing whatever he wants in either the House or the Senate.

Scary.  Weird.

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38 Comments

  1. huxley said,

    The “snippet” link above is not working, but I presume that Ennui means this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jifjRVLVjzA .

    It is indeed a remarkable glimpse into the man who was elected because he portrayed himself as a high-minded idealist speaking for all of America and not just one side or one race, and insisted we put aside our differences to work for the common good. Instead we have a president who has spent more time blaming his opponents and predecessors, and setting up straw man attacks against them than any I can remember.

    For those paying attention Obama emerged from the two worst political traditions of America: radical populism and machine politics. He has squandered an amazing amount of the good will and blind faith bestowed upon him and now he has worse poll numbers than George Bush after 200 days, even though Bush started out his presidency with the contested 2000 election and the dotcom crash.

    I always wondered what Obama would do when the winds turned against him, as they inevitably would, and now we know.

  2. ennui007 said,

    Huxley, thanks for the tip. I’ve corrected the link.

    Instead we have a president who has spent more time blaming his opponents and predecessors, and setting up straw man attacks against them than any I can remember.

    He has a weird blind spot. Clearly, he believes that he’s being unfairly blamed for the bad economy. But he’s not. He’s catching heat because he is scaring the hell out of people with a legislative agenda that seems to be a declaration of war against the midwest and south (Cap and Trade). the middle class (Health Care Reform) and a “stimulus” package pointedly timed to kick in just before mid-term elections.

    There’s a joke I saw somewhere that goes something like this: In a tight ball game, the left fielder drops an easy fly, misses a throw to second and bumps into the center fielder, all in the same inning. The next inning the manager takes him out of the game and takes over left field himself. He promptly drops a fly, misses a throw and bumps into the center fielder. When the inning’s over he storms into the dugout and yells at the player he’s taken out, “Look here, so and so, you’ve got left field so screwed up that no one can play it!”

  3. Donna B. said,

    We voters have let both Congress and the Presidency get out of control. I don’t know if we can get this cat back in the bag.

    I am worried.

  4. huxley said,

    He has a weird blind spot. Clearly, he believes that he’s being unfairly blamed for the bad economy.

    ennui: I’m not so sure. While I’ve never bought into the brainiac Obama meme that Obama is one of the most intelligent people to ever stride the corridors of Washington, Obama is not stupid. For all that he does not know about history — and that’s quite a lot — he is a supremely canny political operator.

    I refuse to believe that Obama does not know how underhanded his rhetoric is and how effective it can be to point fingers and cast blame.

    He is resorting to this attempt to silence his critics because it is obvious that he can’t argue the facts for Obamacare and he can’t seduce with his usual soaring words and baritone delivery.

    Obama has tried the comparative high roads and failed. Now it’s time for scapegoating. Obama is not above it.

  5. ennui007 said,

    I refuse to believe that Obama does not know how underhanded his rhetoric is and how effective it can be to point fingers and cast blame.

    Oh, I don’t doubt that. But I didn’t make my thinking clear at all.

    The question in my mind isn’t so much- why is he using underhanded rhetoric? The question is: why the obvious screw-ups like the one mentioned in this post (or the l’affair de Gates or whatever) when he has to speak extemporaneously? My answer? He’s got more than a little of the narcissist in him. When the adulation goes away, when he’s questioned on his motives, when the narcisistic supply begins to dry up, he reacts by blaming others (e.g., I can’t get my major initiatives passed because a. Bush screwed up left field, b. The bitter clingers and c. fox news.). These may be talking points but I think he also really believes these things.

    Moreover, it seems to me that a fair amount of the Bush bashing coming directly from Obama’s lips springs not from a settled policy of rhetoric (never waste a crisis) but from an emotional imperative from insided telling him that Bush screwed up “his moment.” (see his alleged comments to blue dogs about them destroying “his Presidency.”)

    Again, I don’t doubt that there’s some Alinksy and Axelrod mixed in there but I can’t imagine that wording of the snippet above, for instance, was vetted and polled.

  6. amba12 said,

    Right. He’s getting spontaneous, which means we’re getting to see the real man. And so is he. I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into, because he was so exclusively focused on getting himself into it.

    Was it Gibbs I heard today again blaming the bad economy on 8 years of Bush and then half-heartedly conceding, “Well, of course it’s our responsibility now?” They keep talking about the mess they inherited. There was some truth to that, but it’s fading fast.

    I’m actually pleased, and I don’t usually like partisanship. And it has certainly become rude and unruly all around. But I see it slowing the juggernaut down and gumming up the works in a rather agreeable way. And I like the way the impulse for control is being both exposed and frustrated. Yes, the Dems have majorities on paper that would allow them to ram through much of what they want (although the Blue Dogs are giving them acid reflux). But they would pay a steep price for that kind of strong-arming and Obama seems to know it.

    The system is still working. Free speech is working. Pretty it ain’t. But it’s working. It’s getting citizens to do more than just vote in national elections and then go to sleep. They’re making sure they get what they really voted for, and don’t get what they didn’t vote for, or they’ll vote differently next chance they get.

  7. huxley said,

    Well, my theory about the video above is that Obama went straight into Malcom X/Rev. Wright Black Demagogue Mode. It worked wonderfullly on the South Side of Chicago, why not from the White House?

    But I don’t really know and I am deeply, deeply annoyed that going on seven months into Obama’s administration we still don’t know who this guy really is.

    Is Obama a narcissist? Is he a Marxist? Is he an overwhelmed liberal? Is he a Manchurian Candidate? Is he a mulatto Lonesome Rhodes from the old Kazan film, A Face in the Crowd?

    It’s pretty clear he is not the post-racial, bipartisan, pragmatic centrist healer whom far too many Americans thought they voted for.

  8. wj said,

    huxley, I’m trying to recall how many months it was before we found out that George W. Bush wasn’t the “compassionate conservative” that a lot of people thought they voted for….

  9. huxley said,

    wj: Seriously?

    Rather than meet criticism of Obama directly, the standard pushbacks of Obama’s defenders are to point out Obama’s high poll numbers (a strategy that grows less viable over time) or to complain about Bush (rather like Obama does in the video above).

    Your comparison is not much of a comparison, as evidenced by your inability to “recall how many months….” Bush’s compassionate convservatism was never that much of a selling point, especially among conservatives. If there were large numbers of independent or Democratic voters who were swayed by that claim I’m unaware of them.

    Furthermore, whatever a compassionate conservative might be, Bush actually did deliver by proposing and signing No Child Left Behind co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, and by Bush’s work on his Immigration Reform bill — which alienated large numbesr of rank-and-file Republicans and conservatives.

    In any event Bush’s 2000 campaign was a far more modest and bland affair than Obama’s grandiose messianism in 2008, and Bush’s first 200 days surprised few people and his poll numbers at that mark were better than Obama’s today.

    Quite a large number of people, including some Republicans and center-right folks, actually believed that Obama was a post-racial, bipartisan, pragmatic centrist healer. It was great promo, but since then Obama himself has handily disposed of that delusion.

  10. wj said,

    I guess I’m delusional then. Because I’m a conservative (and a Republican for several decades now, if it matters). And I what I’m seeing looks pretty much like most of the politicians that I have observed over the years. Specifically, like a center-left politician who is finding that he has to give some to his extremists, but that giving some to the other party is getting him nothing. Which, you will agree, is not much of an incentive to give more there. Still, I’m sure I can ever remember encountering a far-left ideology which enthused about appointing to the courts (let alone the Supreme Court) someone who spent most of 2 decades as a Prosecutor — but perhaps you have more familiarity with the far left than I.

    Is he bipartisan? Don’t know. I’ve seen some (not unexpected) gestures in that direction. But actual actions? Not yet.

    As for post-racial, what would you take as a criteria? Or, put another way, if President Obama nominated someone like General Powell to office, would you simply see that as racial pandering, just because Obama isn’t white? If he had nominated someone like Justice Thomas, would that be race-based, in your mind? If not, what criteria do you use? The only one I’m seeing is “if he (or anyone else) appoints any minorities to any positions, it’s race-based . . . unless they happen to agree ideologically with me, rather than with the President.” Well, no other President has ever made appointments based on your (or my) ideology, so why would anyone expect this one to?

  11. michael reynolds said,

    Amba:

    You’re inches away from full-blown birtherism.

    Paranoia, delusion, increasingly bizarre attempts to justify your inexplicable decision to back the hot-headed old man and his idiot consort.

    So far when it comes to Obama you’ve been right exactly zero times. But at least you’ve changed your tune from he’s bambi! to he’s a facsist! From weak-kneed, hopeless waif to Stalin in just six months. Interesting character development.

  12. Donna B. said,

    michael, don’t make me search the ambivablog archives, but I distinctly remember more than one post Amba wrote about Obama’s hard streak. That’s not exactly what she called it, but that’s the way I remember it.

    Before the campaign was over, I was mentally referring to it as his mean streak.

  13. Randy said,

    Michael, it appears to have escaped your notice, but the post at the top was not written by Amba. It was written by “Ennui.”

    Amba only wrote one comment, #6. Would you care to explain how Amba’s comment (#6) qualifies as being “inches away from full-blown birtherism”? Ignorant rants like that alleged pearl of wisdom you chose to share may make you feel better about your self-perceived inadequacies or alternatively confirm your belief in your superiority over others, but they do nothing to advance anything remotely resembling a normal conversation.

    As Amba has pointed out before, you’ve become quite good at talking AT people (shouting at them would be more accurate) rather than talking WITH them. You’ve written similar things often enough without a legitimate reason that it appears that your intent is nothing more than heaping the internet equivalent of verbal abuse upon Amba.

    Here’s hoping that, when this apparent episodic urge to heap abuse upon a woman next overcomes you, it is directed at your own wife and not someone else’s.

  14. michael reynolds said,

    Randy:

    You are absolutely right. I saw “ennui” as a tag, not an author. And it mystified me.

  15. Randy said,

    Michael, the person due a public response here is not me.

    By the way, there is a list of author names in the sidebar.

  16. Melinda said,

    I saw “ennui” as a tag, too. I thought, “Amba’s feeling ennui? Must be because it’s the dog days of Summer.”

  17. michael reynolds said,

    Randy:

    I’ll give you a public response anyway, Randy.

    I know you’re a good guy. I know you’re courtly and considerate. But just last week Annie was in despair because she felt her words were going out into an empty echo chamber. Or at least that was my reading of it.

    And that’s what this blog has become. The air here is thick with deference and consideration and courtliness. Like a funeral parlor. People are exchanging pleasant murmurs and speaking nothing but words of admiration and support for Annie. If she needs to know what her own funeral will be like she need only come to her own blog.

    I don’t think Annie needs more people telling her how wonderful she is. Or pretending that her every word is a pearl of wisdom. Some of what she writes is brilliant. Some of what she writes is stupid. And since this is not the Special Olympics I don’t think we need to give every effort a prize.

    It is not good for people to be agreed with. Since you brought my wife into it, let me tell you something: the day she starts putting up with my bullshit and failing to call me on things where I’m wrong is the day I’ll start to lose interest in her. Because the last thing I would ever want or tolerate is a supportive, sycophantic “political” wife. I want a clear-eyed critic in my life.

    My wife has called me an asshole more times than I could count, and I’ve called her a bitch an equal number of times, and we’ve been together — very happily — for 30 years. Because neither of us is treating the other like we’re performing last rites. We’re operating on the assumption that we still have an obligation to understand and to learn and to be part of the future.

    Ideas matter. Beliefs matter. Right and wrong, true and false, they matter. Which is why people debate and argue and call each other out.

    How you deal with Annie or anyone else is your business. I choose to treat her like a person whose opinion matters enough to be argued. I still choose to see her as a person with a future, a future where she will want to be part of life and part of the excitement. I choose not to treat her as a fragile old lady but as the tough broad I think she is. I think she can handle me. She doesn’t strike me as a woman who needs to be treated with kid gloves.

    There’s a point when kind and courtly concern becomes sexist condescension. I treat, and have always treated, women as my equals. I have no interest in women who aren’t willing to be my equals. So I talk to Annie the same way I do to Joyner or Moran or Tully. And I think if she has a problem with that she can tell me.

  18. amba12 said,

    Michael: Huh? Stalin, fascist? where? Are you delusional?

    LOL! Ennui is a relatively new author here.

  19. Randy said,

    Michael: Having read your comments elsewhere, it is my opinion that you most definitely do not talk to Amba the way you do to other bloggers, particularly the male ones. As your comments here are public, I’ll reserve the right to express my opinion about them whenever I see fit to do so. Amba can fight her own battles. I’m not interested in fighting them for her. It seems to me, however that your comments have had little to do with whatever debate has or has not been going on here and much to do with re-hashing the run-up to the ’08 election and the personal decision of Amba to vote for someone you opposed, all the while being remarkably rude and offensive. You are repetitive and abusive. Whenever anyone seriously attempts to engage you on just about any real issue, you slink away until you eye the next opportunity to drop in for an irrelevant pot shot or two.

  20. amba12 said,

    For the record, I’m not disturbed by Michael’s periodic attacks on me. Maybe because they are not attacks on me, but on a straw-stuffed scarecrow somewhere to the right of me. I am a bit disturbed by his earless bullhorn style of political “argument,” which doesn’t ever seem to change, evolve, or respond.

    It’s also puzzling to me how Michael, a very independent character, and an independent entrepreneur — you could even say a maverick — would be an advocate or a defender of big, dumb, unwieldy, opaque government. A lot of voters hoped Obama would curb that tendency on the part of Congressional Dems, many of whom really do have a sort of outdated, massive, FDR-LBJ view of things.

  21. michael reynolds said,

    Randy:

    I do not slink. Since the pantywaist brigade gets itself in high dudgeon whenever I argue back, I’ve been avoiding it. Annie’s been sending signals that she wants me to start commenting here. But I know how upset the mourners get when I say anything rude. Or, you know, interesting.

    Having read your comments elsewhere, it is my opinion that you most definitely do not talk to Amba the way you do to other bloggers, particularly the male ones.

    For point of comparison, comment on another blog, Rightwing Nuthouse:

    What a load of bullshit. You’re trying to draw equivalency where none exists.

    We aren’t shouting GOP Congressmen down. We aren’t waving swastikas. We aren’t trying to so deligitimize your party that we end up rationalizing violence. That’s on your side, Rick.

    Your party, your people, Rick, your side, are seething with hatred and rage and racist panic. That’s what this is about. It has nothing to do with health care, nothing to do with the deficit, nothing to do with unions.

    These are middle-aged and older white people who cannot accept that the world has changed. We have a black man in the White House. That’s what this is about. It’s raw, naked racism spoon-fed by Limbaugh and Beck and much of your party. And you know it. You don’t like it, you can’t admit it, but you know it.

    Your party, your “movement” are going to get someone killed. And it won’t be at all hard to figure out where to point the finger.

    You really need to do some soul-searching and ask yourself if this is your party anymore.

    Now feel free to abuse me, but you know it’s true.

    You hear it differently, Randy, because you’re a very nice sexist. I treat women and men exactly the same. And Rick Moran gives it back just as well as Annie does.

  22. michael reynolds said,

    Randy:

    See? Annie defended herself like a big girl and caught me with a left hook. Excuse me, a right hook.

  23. Randy said,

    Michael, judging by your replies, it appears that you might benefit from a course in remedial reading comprehension. Perhaps your local community college offers one.

  24. michael reynolds said,

    Randy:

    Yeah, that’s a really effective insult. I’m bad with words. God only knows why people pay me to use them.

  25. Randy said,

    You are apparently a good writer, Michael. On occasion, your reading comprehension and argumentation skills seem not as well-polished.

  26. amba12 said,

    Michael, you’ve given me a lot of moral support and good laughs, as have a lot of the other people who come here. Don’t confuse a lot of people being roughly on the same set of political pages (a plague o’ both your houses, perhaps?) with people handling me with kid gloves. Even civil disagreement isn’t funereal deference. Not everyone has the warrior temperament. (I’m thinking of this silly but provocative new-age system I was once exposed to, in which there were seven different types of souls — let’s see, I can only ever think of six — king, warrior, sage, priest, artisan, scholar, and slave. Ha! Seven! “Slave” later more palatably euphemized to “server.” I was told I was “a young king with a goal of submission,” which made me go, “Oh, then no wonder I’m such a bad slave!”) Don’t stop coming here, though. I like hearing the pro-administration point of view, especially when it is rationally and lucidly expressed, as you occasionally do. It’s far more effective than just blind ranting attacks and defenses.

  27. Rod said,

    Huxley’s comment #7 hit a point that has struck me as interesting. Nine months after the election, I am still not sure who Obama really is. Most people who get to be President have defined themselves more fully in the public arena.

    Of course, some of the ideas about who the real Obama is reflect our own projections. The more invested we are in support or opposition to him or his party, the more likely we are to project a benign or malign image.

    I see Obama as a pragmatic politician first. As a former community organizer, I think his primary policy goal is employing government programs to improve living conditions at the margins of society. The programs are expensive and they will be funded by taxing the rich and the middle class. He may well disappoint liberals in several other areas, including foreign policy, the environment, and some social issues, as gays and antiwar activists have recently discovered.

  28. amba12 said,

    As for your comment on Right Wing Nuthouse (which does prove you’re an equal opportunity insulter, as I knew): my unsolicited advice is, don’t use the “racist” canard, because it plays right into the other side’s playbook, which is that any and all criticism is conflated with racism, making it impossible for anyone to legitimately criticize the Obama administration. Attempting to silence people that way is DANGEROUS. Obama too is a grownup. He can take criticism, counter it, and learn from it without using his race as an all-purpose shield.

    Is there racist unease about him out there? OF COURSE. Are there legitimate objections that can be made to the Democratic big-government agenda? OF COURSE. Using the former as a lubricant to shove in the latter may be a clever tactic — may even be why some shrewd Democratic strategists saw Obama as the perfect candidate — but it stokes and justifies the yelling on the other side that something is being put over on the country by any means necessary.

    WHY the big-government agenda? That’s my question to you. Why is that good? Tell me why. I’ll repeat my metaphor that government is supposed to fine-tune the engine, not to BE the engine, because as the latter it’s a gas guzzler with tailfins. (How appropriate that those are the only cars left in Cuba.) I’ve expressed my support for government playing a role in changing the energy economy, because I think otherwise it’s not going to change. I’m not a drill-baby-drill-er. But single-payer health care is not going to happen in this country. It’s not our culture. We were FOUNDED on a mistrust of government and of bigness. There are other solutions for curbing costs, widening coverage, and rewarding performance. They are out there.

  29. michael reynolds said,

    Amba:

    The right has tried to set the table so that racists cannot be called racists. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few racists. And the GOP has knowingly and deliberately profited by playing a dangerous game of footsie with them for 40 years. The fact that they no longer wear white hoods does not mean that racists have ceased to exist.

    Show me a birther or a deather or a howling nut at a congressional town hall who is not an over-50 white person. It is not a coincidence that birtherism is concentrated strongly in the old south. The GOP has not become less racist but more as it sheds moderates and becomes the regional party of southern white folks of a certain age.

    The health care reform panic evidenced by these mobs is not about the issue at hand. First, there is no bill. There are several bills, and more to come. None of know what is in a final bill so none of us know whether we should be freaking out. Baucus and Grassley have yet to be heard from.

    People in these crowds are so ignorant of the issues that I am willing to bet not 10% know that the government already provides health care for roughly a third of the population. Nor do they know that those “big government” health programs are among the most parsimonious and efficient.

    They of course know scare headlines about Medicare have trillions in unfunded obligations, but rather miss the point that private insurance likewise presupposes future payments and that private insurance is, like Medicare, funded on an ongoing basis. Might taxes go up? Yes. Might premiums go up? Yes. Does it make any difference to your life which one picks your pocket?

    These folks literally don’t know why they are screaming. They don’t know what’s in the bill(s). They don’t know what it means. They don’t know whether it’s good or bad. And yet they’re screaming like crazy people. Why? Why would middle-aged white folks — folks who by and large look to be within a few years of medicare themselves — be showing up at townhalls to shout down all opposition?

    It’s not health care. It’s Obama. And it’s not reality — any more than it is with birthers and deathers — it’s panic. They feel their world slipping away. They’re right: it is.

    You ask, Why the “Big Government” agenda?

    Six months ago we were seriously discussing the possibility of a major depression.

    Now we are discussing the speed and size of a likely recovery.

    Six months ago we thought the government might be forced to take on all the debt — all of it — or risk a financial and banking meltdown that would decimate our economy.

    Now we’re seeing some banks healthy, some paying back their loans with interest, and even the weak banks no longer seem as if they’ll drag the economy down.

    A “big government” agenda just saved our asses.

    Obama has an economic team right out of Goldman Sachs. They have been willing to take beating after beating to preserve as much as could be preserved of the independence of banks. How this translates as some socialist big government takeover is a mystery.

    And what is the rest of this supposed “big government” agenda? The stimulus? 700 billion dollars. Far less than we spend in Iraq. So why wasn’t Iraq a big government takeover? 700 billion in tax cuts and job creation paid out over 2 years, however ineffectively laid out, is not a takeover of anything in a 15 trillion dollar economy.

    The essence of the “big government” attack line is on health insurance. And there the objection is about a public option. Why? Because for some inexplicable reason, large numbers of people have come to believe that they can trust the insurance companies more than they can trust the government.

    Let’s buy that assumption — as bizarre as it may be. Okay? Let’s say it’s true. If it’s true it must be because the private plans are better, more efficient. Right? And since they’ll still be around, nothing will be changed by a public option. A public option only becomes a threat if conservative’s assumptions are wrong and it turns out the public option really is more efficient.

    Remember that both private and public options will be up to you. If you like Blue Cross you pay Blue Cross. If you like the public plan you pay the public plan. At least that looks like the way it’s playing out, we may not even get a public option which brings us back to:

    So, why are people screaming? Because they really love Aetna a whole lot? No. They’re screaming because they are scared of being old and ignorant and irrelevant in a world that is changing around them. They bet on the old hothead and his bimbo consort. They bet on the past. They bet the future wasn’t coming, that they could stop it from coming. Now that they realize power has slipped from their hands, they’re afraid. For a lot of them that fear crystallizes in racism, as fear often does.

  30. wj said,

    Michael, however did you miss noting this? Many of those standing up and blasting “single payer, government run, health care which will force us to die when we are no longer useful” are actually already on a program (except for the “force to die” part) which is just that: Medicare. Which suggests that fear and hysteria has run far past anything which could be characterized as reality-based. I’m probably even more conservative than Amba is, but these folks make me look like the radical leftist that I never was.

  31. michael reynolds said,

    WJ:

    I know. They’re so nuts that nuts are disavowing them. I’ve been working on Moran to write a book and form a new party with other sane people. The GOP is a toxic waste dump.

    But the country needs a genuinely conservative party. Right now we have a liberal party and a lunatic party. We need a genuine conservatism geared toward the future not the past. They need to look at Northern Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, eastern Oregon, places like that where people are conservative but not necessarily fucking insane.

    They need to reach out to Hispanics many of whom are waiting to be tapped as potential conservatives. And if they could build a conservatism without dog whistle racism, they could look at 20 or 30% of the African American vote. They need to get off social issues, back on core small business, non-Wall-Street fiscal and economic issues, and work toward a consensus foreign policy that can be depoliticized.

    The moment is now. The liberals are running the place, the GOP is dead, a conservative party is needed.

  32. Ennui said,

    Sorry I missed the brouhaha, I was out of pocket for the weekend.

    Michael Reynolds

    So, why are people screaming? Because they really love Aetna a whole lot? No. They’re screaming because they are scared of being old and ignorant and irrelevant in a world that is changing around them. They bet on the old hothead and his bimbo consort. They bet on the past. They bet the future wasn’t coming, that they could stop it from coming. Now that they realize power has slipped from their hands, they’re afraid. For a lot of them that fear crystallizes in racism, as fear often does.

    Wow. That paragraph had to be seen to be believed. Because it would be ludicrous to suggest that strong public opposition might arise in response to a public health plan put forward by a white President. Just ludicrous.

    But your point does seem to have a sort of no true scotsman irrefutability about it. No non-racist could possibly have concerns about this plan. If someone does have strong concerns, they must be a racist underneath.

    Here’s another take on the opposition. People have interests. When they believe that a given policy proposal will negatively affect those interests, they like to register their opposition. If you are any measure of the attitudes of the Health Care Plan supporters towards those poor benighted bastards who oppose it, I think the poor benighted bastards are right to be concerned.

    But I don’t want to let you go away hungry. Meet Janeane. You two should have dinner.

  33. michael reynolds said,

    Here’s another take on the opposition. People have interests. When they believe that a given policy proposal will negatively affect those interests, they like to register their opposition. If you are any measure of the attitudes of the Health Care Plan supporters towards those poor benighted bastards who oppose it, I think the poor benighted bastards are right to be concerned.

    Sorry, no. They’re panicky racist idiots. They don’t know what they’re opposing. No one does. Because there is no bill. There are only bills plural, and those bills say different things.

    Medicare recipients screaming about socialized medicine. Old people on social security screaming about taxes they’ll never have to pay. Paranoid fantasies about death boards. Cranks shrieking and shouting down the dialog.

    Sorry, no, there is nothing issue-driven about this. It’s all white people, all old white people, all in a frenzy over absolutely nothing. These health care howlers are of a piece with birthers. Nuts. Loons. Ignoramuses.

    Yes, absolutely, call me an elitist. Don’t care.

  34. Ennui said,

    It’s all white people, all old white people, all in a frenzy over absolutely nothing.

    They’re all white and old (not true, of course), therefore they’re racists?

    Seriously? You think this?

    call me an elitist

    The irony in this is that you don’t come across as an elitist at all. You come across as a nutcase.

    For the record, to state the absolutely obvious, nationalizing healthcare has always been a hot button issue in American politics. And, one way or another, that’s what these people think we’re talking about. They might be wrong; or, more likely, they might have moved the debate. At all events, there is plenty to debate on existing proposals, including whether anything at all should be done. And with that, I invoke a little known corollary of Godwin’s Law that holds that a thread is finished when someone has declared that everyone who disagrees with their position is, ipso facto, a racist. You lose.

    J/K about that, of course, it’s Amba’s blog. But geez ….

  35. Randy said,

    I have no use for the screamers inside “town hall” meetings. They do damage to their cause IMO. All the same, if people want to practice civil disobedience inside one, that’s OK with me – it’s something of an American tradition. But the protesters aren’t entitled to special rights and I’m not interested in any complaints about being forcibly removed or arrested for their behavior. Of course, protesting outside is an American tradition as well, and the attempts to stifle demonstrations outside government offices or places where government officials are holding a meeting strike me as being more serious.

    That said, I don’t buy the argument that opposing aspects of the various pieces of legislation proposed before those aspects are included in a final bill is irrational but supporting the legislation without having a clue what it’s final form will take is rational.

  36. michael reynolds said,

    For the record, to state the absolutely obvious, nationalizing healthcare has always been a hot button issue in American politics.

    Except that no one is nationalizing health care.

    And, one way or another, that’s what these people think we’re talking about.

    Evidence please?

    At all events, there is plenty to debate on existing proposals, including whether anything at all should be done.

    Yes, there is. So why are these people shouting down all efforts to debate those issues? They don’t show up to debate. They show up to scream and freak out and shut down debate.

    And with that, I invoke a little known corollary of Godwin’s Law that holds that a thread is finished when someone has declared that everyone who disagrees with their position is, ipso facto, a racist. You lose.

    And I invoke a well-known fact: racists still exist.

    Republicans have played footsie with racists for 40 years and for 40 years they’ve insisted we not call them on it. Sorry. Formulate all the cutesy little corollaries you like, racists do still exist, they are an element in the GOP, they and the birthers and deathers are one, and they form a large part of the health care howlers.

  37. Ennui said,

    For anyone that’s interested in a more, um, nuanced view of the protestors from the point of view of the left, there’s an account of one such town hall (along with video) at firedoglake, of all places.

  38. Randy said,

    FWIW, here’s a reasonable dissent to the talking point of last week that Michael regurgitated in his inimitable style.

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