10.07.2010: What Obama could learn from Tony Blair ...
emails from friends... for your consideration and shame....
Letter from Ken....
I was reading the WSJ (after I had my coffee… :^)), and ran across this opinion piece by Bret Stephens. Comments?
Every political party has its Kamikaze squadrons. This year, Republicans have Colorado's Tom Tancredo and Delaware's Christine O'Donnell, the inexhaustible fountain of liberal mirth. Too bad for Democrats that their Kamikazes are the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the Obamakaze himself. [Ken's comment: this goes along with my oft-stated position that the Democrats and Republicans have an equal share of the loony fringe, with the difference that the Republicans disavow theirs while the Democrats appoint them to high office in and outside the party]
I have been thinking about this theme for several months, as Democrats launched successive waves of politically suicidal legislation and the struggled, amusingly, to explain their political collapse to themselves. But it took reading Tony Blair's recent memoir, and later interviewing him in person, to bring some thoughts into focus. It's a book Mr. Obama might want to read himself, come the first Wednesday in November.
In the 1980's, Britain's Labour Party wasn't merely led by Kamikaze pilots: the party was a Kamikaze unto itself. Its informal motto was "No Compromise With The Electorate". The party had as its base a dwindling number of trade-union activists mainly interested in their own perquisites, and an intellectual wing that fetishized a working class whose everyday lives and views they knew next to nothing about. Between 1979 and 1997 it lost four successive elections, even through sharp recessions and even, in the last round, against the hapless John Major. And it had no idea why.
In Mr. Blair's analysis, the party's problems were of four kinds. Politically, it had convinced itself that Britain kept voting for Margaret Thatcher not because Labour was out of touch, but because it was insufficiently left-wing. Ideologically, it failed to see that the public sector was far from synonymous with, and often profoundly hostile to, the public interest. Culturally, it didn't grasp the concept of aspiration: the idea that what the working class wants above all is to get *OUT* of the working class, just as the middle class wants above all is to become rich.
Then too, there was peculiar psychology of the left: "Progressive parties are always in love with their own emotional impulses. They have the feeling, however, that the electorate may not be of the same mind, so they are prepared to loosen them. Deep down, they wish it weren't so, and hope against hope that maybe one day, in one possibly unique circumstance, the public will share them. It's a delusion. They won't. But, though progressives know that, the longing is acute and the temptation to rebind themselves to such impulses strong".
Today, the Democratic excuse-machine sounds eerily like Labour's under Neil Kinnock (Joe Biden is a long time admirer). Americans aren't happy with Obamacare? It's because it lacks the public option. Americans don't like super-size-me government? It's because they fail to appreciate the horrors from which only the Federal behemoth could rescue them. Americans aren't responding well to the administration's populist overtures, the tightness with organized labor, the rhetorical volleys against the modern malefactors of wealth? You can fill in the rest.
Still, the fundamental point is the psychological one. Oddly for a President thought to be so cerebral - and criticized by his base as excessively so - Mr. Obama has consistently appealed to Democrats' Ids, the part of their psyche that consists of desire. Desire, not least in matters of racial transcendence, is what secured Mr. Obama's nomination and election. Desire, particularly in subjects like health care, taxes and union power, is what is now proving his political undoing.
(Strange contrast: Bill Clinton, whose own Id is one for the history books, nonetheless pitched himself to the Democrats' super-ego, its will to win, and reaped the electoral rewards)
Now the President is wending his way through backyards and whining his way through magazine interviews, urging the base forward. But Americans didn't volunteer to affix bayonets and go out screaming "Banzai" when they voted for hope and change. Nor, I suspect, does the Democratic Party cherish being Mr. Obama's vehicle of choice as he heads for the carriers.
Here's what the President might do instead. Stop campaigning. Spend a long weekend at Camp David. Give Mr. Blair a call. Attend to his advice: "The only way we [progressives] win is by being the party of empowerment, and that requires a state that is more minimalist and strategic, that is about enabling people, about developing their potential but not constraining their ambition, their innovation, their creativity".
Reply from Win...
The final quote troubles me because it sounds conservative, not progressive. Progressives do not believe in the minimalist state and they certainly do not believe in enabling people to develop and realize their potential without constraints. Do they? If so, please show me one who isn't Tony Blair (who isn't a progressive).
Back from Ken...
They certainly used to. Think of JFK's quote "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". This would be considered radically right-wing today, since it values America and doesn't focus on the ever increasing benefits the Federal government should give you for no effort on your part. Just like MLK's quote "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Again, today this is a racist thing to *NOT* give preference to someone because of their darker skin tone.
Something happened in the '60s, with all of the radicals growing up and taking control of the educational system. Bill Ayers, anyone?
Like Reagan, I started as a Democrat. But just like Reagan, "I didn't leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me".
Not even to mention this video...
First rev: 10.07.2010