PDA

View Full Version : Clinton and Obama and Identity


Bloggingheads
02-19-2008, 12:12 PM

Eastwest
02-19-2008, 01:47 PM
The string of a half-dozen or so fascinating DV's unfolding in the wake of "Blogging Chefs" continues with this "inside-Left" wonkery excursion by Klein & Hayes.

Particularly good look at the health-care solutions liabilities, the dance of candidate strategizing, and the cry-baby mentality of newbie-lefties threatening to throw bricks if their faux-eloquent darling doesn't get ratified by party insiders should a "tie-breaker" judgment be required.

The implicit idea that "the will of the party voters" is somehow reflected with any accuracy by the horse-race delegate-count & pop-vote stats so jacked around by caucus-bullying, media manipulation, etc. is a bit absurd and distasteful -- sort of like insisting on enshrining a steaming turd deposited on the race track.

Pretty good as cheap entertainment goes. BHTV scores again.

EW

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 02:18 PM
EastWest:

... faux-eloquent darling ...

What is false about Obama's eloquence?

piscivorous
02-19-2008, 02:38 PM
He's a politician what is not false about his public persona?

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 02:56 PM
pisc:

That's not an answer to my question.

Eastwest
02-19-2008, 02:58 PM
Re BJ's:
What is false about Obama's eloquence?
Well, aside from being a plagiarist (See the news), although Obama's got the rep of being a great orator, in fact, he's just a good reader of speeches which are sometimes his own, but more often than not, written by somebody else.

He's just been selling "hope" for a year now, rousing with "just-shy-of-bombastic" delivery style youngsters and dreamers, thus diverting attention away from the essential emptiness of his "mural-in-space" rhetoric covering up his complete absence of relevant experience for the job he's seeking.

He's actually kind of lousy, tongue-tied, and stuttering in debate. If he was truly "eloquent," he wouldn't have that problem. That's why he wets his pants and runs the other way when Hillary challenges him to substantive one-on-one encounters.

That's what I mean when I say "faux-eloquent."

EW

piscivorous
02-19-2008, 03:23 PM
Only in a roundabout way. What, who or what attributes the public persona projects are not necessarily the what, who or attributes of the Senator Obama the man so I can't comment to the voracity of the "eloquence" of the Senator only his public persona and the "You are likable enough" comment while not irrefutable evidence it is compelling testimony.

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 03:34 PM
EastWest:

I don't have the same reaction to Obama when I watch him speaking in a debate, but you lay out your case reasonably well. I also don't share any of the rest of your dislikes for him, but this is getting to the point where we're both saying little more than "my perception is more worthy than yours," so I guess I'll break off here.

I will ask you to keep in mind, while blasting these attacks, if you really think either of the alternatives is a better choice for president. It's not clear to me that either one has anything more to offer in the way of relevant experience, which seems to be one of your biggest complaints about Obama.

Tyrrell McAllister
02-19-2008, 03:47 PM
What is false about Obama's eloquence?

At first I had a hard time even making sense of the notion of "false eloquence". It almost seems like "false painfulness": if something seems eloquent, then it is eloquent. But I suppose that Obama could be accused of false eloquence if he passed off prepared remarks as extemporaneous speech. I don't know if that is what Eastwest meant.

And I see on preview that that is indeed what Eastwest had in mind.

deebee
02-19-2008, 03:56 PM
I agree that Obama's debate performances have been mediocre at best although his last one was the best of the bunch. In addition to Obama's lack of debating skill, have you ever noticed that when he speaks Hillary often looks directly at him but when she speaks his eyes wander all over?

This type of body language lends itself to the impression that she is the stronger one and he often appears intimidated by her presence.

Probably why she loves a debate and he tends to shy away from them. Don't forget folks, debates will play a major role in the general election and this is where Clinton has a definite edge.

thprop
02-19-2008, 03:57 PM
Good for Chris for mentioning Harold Washington. My thinking is no Harold, then no Obama. It is hard to describe what Chicago was like in 1983 when Harold was elected mayor. This episode of This American Life (http://thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=84) may give you a taste.

Chicago is no paradise of racial relations. I still shudder when I think of the march that Martin Luther King led through my lily white northwest side neighborhood in 1966. Both Ralph Abernathy and King said they were more fearful in Chicago than in the South.

It turns out that the mayoralty of Harold Washington was a cathartic event - it shook things up, broke down walls and swept away a lot of baggage. I think you also have to credit Michael Jordan. For his entire career, it gave people in Chicago something to talk about. After playoff games, blacks and whites would talk to each other about Jordan and the Bulls in elevators, sandwich shops, on the el, etc.

DuPage county (west of Chicago) is the second biggest county in Illinois. It is the Republican heartland. The whites who fled Chicago in the 1960s moved out to DuPage. In the Illinois primary on Feb 5, 132,434 voted in the Democratic Primary, 109,132 voted in the Republican Primary. In Illinois, on primary day you ask for whichever ballot you want. Obama took 62% of the vote in DuPage (versus 64% statewide). This in a county that is 84% white, 9% Hispanic and 3% black.

Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago in very trying times. He is now running with the entire state of Illinois unified behind him - Matt Yglesias had a good post on this. (http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/ny_versus_illinois.php) Both Daleys, Mayor Richie and brother Bill, are behind him. Even our idiot governor, Rod Blagojevich, is supporting Obama. Jesse Jackson Jr. dragged his father into support for Obama. Bobby Rush, who defeated Obama in 2000 in the Democratic primary for the House of Representatives, is a big Obama backer.

The only Illinois Democrat who is not supporting Obama is Rahm Emanuel. His stated position is, "I'm hiding under the desk. I'm very far under the desk, and I'm bringing my paper and my phone."

I think most Illinois Republicans who are not in jail are supporting Obama. On the issue of his present votes in the Illinois Senate, he was defended by Republican Bill Black. (http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=274863)

None of this happens without Harold Washington.

Tyrrell McAllister
02-19-2008, 04:01 PM
I would have liked to see Ezra spell out in greater detail his claim that health care reform can't work at the level of the states. As a liberal with federalist sympathies, my preference would be to see various plans tried out in different states if at all possible.

Ezra claims that this state-level experimental approach isn't possible, and as evidence he points to the economic weakness of the states. But don't some states have larger economies than some of the countries whose health systems are taken as models for universal health care? For example, as of January 2007, California's economy was bigger than Canada's (http://www.ccsce.com/pdf/Numbers_CA_Rank.pdf) (pdf), and in some recent years it has surpassed France.

Eastwest
02-19-2008, 04:11 PM
RE BJ's:
I also don't share any of ... your dislikes for him

Don't get me wrong. I actually "like" Obama and admire his naive idealism, but am able to see past liking him to his absence of relevant experience and the impossibility of success (given the nature of the Republicans) in "reaching across the aisle."

Regarding: I will ask you ... if you really think either of the alternatives is a better choice for president.
I'm not suicidal and hence would never vote for somebody like JC.

Hillary, however, is not your typical tuned-out subservient First Lady.

On the international stage, having actually interacted for eight years on a peer-level with most of the important actors on the international political stage while also working day-to-day both out of the White House and in a decently-long tenure in the Senate with the whole range of idiots in Congress, she knows and knows how to handle those folks and still get things done.

What's more, she knows how to listen carefully to, and then actually use good advice from carefully chosen advisers. With Obama, the experience is not there. Being bright and idealistic just isn't enough.

EW

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 04:51 PM
EastWest:

What's more, she knows how to listen carefully to, and then actually use good advice from carefully chosen advisers.

Like Mark Penn, for example?

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 04:55 PM
I would have liked to see Ezra spell out in greater detail his claim that health care reform can't work at the level of the states. As a liberal with federalist sympathies, my preference would be to see various plans tried out in different states if at all possible.

Ezra claims that this state-level experimental approach isn't possible, and as evidence he points to the economic weakness of the states. But don't some states have larger economies than some of the countries whose health systems are taken as models for universal health care? For example, as of January 2007, California's economy was bigger than Canada's (http://www.ccsce.com/pdf/Numbers_CA_Rank.pdf) (pdf), and in some recent years it has surpassed France.

I thought his argument about states having to have balanced budgets, combined with recessions provoking the increased demand for health care subsidies, made a lot of sense. I don't know if I buy his conclusion, though, that health plans at the state level are doomed to failure. But I'm quite sure he knows a lot more about this than I do.

bjkeefe
02-19-2008, 04:56 PM
thprop:

I second your recommendation for that TAL episode on Harold Washington. One of their best.

Tyrrell McAllister
02-19-2008, 05:16 PM
I thought his argument about states having to have balanced budgets, combined with recessions provoking the increased demand for health care subsidies, made a lot of sense.

I remember those points. But I'm wondering how it is that smaller nations manage to provide UHC if these problems are so insurmountable.

I don't know if I buy his conclusion, though, that health plans at the state level are doomed to failure. But I'm quite sure he knows a lot more about this than I do.

He certainly knows more than I, too. That's why I was hoping that he could provide a more detailed argument for this point. He probably has done so somewhere else, but I haven't absorbed the entirety of the vast Ezra Klein oeuvre :).

uncle ebeneezer
02-19-2008, 05:20 PM
More importantly, who "advised" her before the Iraq vote? And do we have any reason to think that under similiar political pressure (from either party, or from an overreactive public) that she wouldn't make the same mistake again?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, until I see some hard evidence of what her actual role was in the White House, and what her role was in international diplomacy, and which achievements (and failures) she can claim a part of from the "Clinton Years", I am hesitant to give her a blind pass on the "executive experience" argument that is such a large part of her sales pitch. I don't discount the fact that being in the White House for 8 years doesn't give her SOME advantage of understanding for the workings of the Executive branch, compared to a complete newcomer. But I haven't been given enough information to assign a proper weight to that knowledge.

Looking at her Senatorial achievements, I'll agree that she has more achievements than Obama, but not any more than you would guess based on the amount of time she's been in the senate. Also, her achievements don't brilliantly outshine his in the respects of their A.) fundamental importance, B.) willingness to go against the stream, C.) difficulty to achieve passage or D.) demonstration of her ability to work across the aisle. I'm not saying that Obama is empirically better on any or all of these factors, but that they're relatively close. And when I consider Iraq and flag-burning, it puts her "experience" in a whole different light for me, personally.

That said, I will still vote for her over McCain.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
02-19-2008, 05:34 PM
He probably has done so somewhere else, but I haven't absorbed the entirety of the vast Ezra Klein oeuvre :).

July 7, 2007 Washington Monthly
Over Stated
Why the "Laboratories of Democracy" can't achieve universal health care
by Ezra Klein

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0707.Klein.html

Wonderment
02-19-2008, 06:02 PM
Integrity: Obama A, Clinton C-, McCain C

Experience: Clinton A-, Obama C+, McCain B+


Positions on issues: Clinton B-, Obama B+, McCain F

Potential for promoting peace and justice here and abroad: Obama: A-, Clinton C+ , McCain F

Potential for inspiring Americans to be better citizens: Obama A, Clinton C+, McCain D-


Political skills (ability to stand up to opposition, build coalitions, etc.) Clinton: B+, Obama B-, McCain C-

OVERALL AVERAGE: Obama 88 (B+), Clinton 81 (B-), McCain 57 (F)

Emma Lazarus
02-19-2008, 06:41 PM
This isn't really for posting, I just wanted to request that you all ask your bloggers not to type on the computer while they're doing the diavlogs -- the sound of Ezra typing on the computer was loud, weird, and annoying, and watching his eyes dart back and forth reading emails or something similar while Chris Hayes was talking felt a bit disrespectful. Too bad because I think Ezra's brilliant and I love what he has to say!

uncle ebeneezer
02-19-2008, 06:58 PM
Wonder, that's great. And I agree with the grades you gave them.

ed fielding
02-19-2008, 07:22 PM
EW— Wasn’t the issue of expertise addressed in the divilog? That both are relying on the same advisors? As for experience thprop’s offering suggests a pivotal difference. One understands that Ms Clinton’s past did early on include direct interaction with people in need. It would be a rare person who would say she thus knows as much about real life in the streets as does Obama; and thp’s reminder of the snakepit Obama charmed suggests his political skills are not only well-motivated but well-honed. Nor is it out pf place to bring up the nominally bureaucratic skill required to optimally organize a potentially unwieldy organization. Here it appears Obama rates high, Clinton does not.

The other crucial distinction is manner of leadership, style if you must (but then you must scrupulously avoid its pejorative connotations). As befits their qualitatively different résumés, Obama’s is one of expanding inclusiveness and participation as guided and constrained by the constitution. Clinton’s manner is framed as leadership by, in the vulgar tongue, suits. Which, inquiring mischievously, if your fears were perhaps rightly focused on the danger of an authoritarian state, would you fear more?
This points towards the apparent division between at least the vocal supporters in the two camps. Obama opponents sniff at his (implicitly callow) youthfulness and sneer at his (implicit predominance of and implicitly callow) youthful following, hoping to highlight a politically shallow culture. Opponents of Hillary’s wax fervent over her feverish need for power. Obama-lovers enjoy street life and community; Clinton-lovers feel safe behind desks. That of course at least verges on hyperbole, but...
The feelings expressed about his rhetorical skills is a handy bellwether; some remain unmoved, even disdainful. (None dare call it cynicism.) (OK, they do.) On the other side are those who (not at all necessarily youthful) like myself, are thrilled to tears by the mere possibility that the nation might reverse its not-so-stately spiral down the drain, and willing to hold out hope for a humane future. Truly, Obama is the only candidate I would trust with that enterprise. Michelle Obama says we haven’t had such a candidate in her lifetime. I would say the same and I’m 65.

Hoofin
02-19-2008, 08:01 PM
I would have liked to see Ezra spell out in greater detail his claim that health care reform can't work at the level of the states. As a liberal with federalist sympathies, my preference would be to see various plans tried out in different states if at all possible.

Ezra claims that this state-level experimental approach isn't possible, and as evidence he points to the economic weakness of the states. But don't some states have larger economies than some of the countries whose health systems are taken as models for universal health care? For example, as of January 2007, California's economy was bigger than Canada's (http://www.ccsce.com/pdf/Numbers_CA_Rank.pdf) (pdf), and in some recent years it has surpassed France.

I agree with you. But I can see Ezra Klein's point.

Here in Japan, everyone is covered. It's been this way at least since the war, and maybe even started sometime earlier---the 1920's.

When I got my resident's card, I enrolled in the government program around the same time. Or to say it, I was required to enroll around the same time.

I have lived under this "socialized medicine" for well over two years. My premiums are based on my prior year's income, assessed as a flat percentage up to a cap, with a fairly generous (say $15,000) starting exemption. I think the rate is 4.95%.

There is government coverage and employer-based coverage. So even though it's universal, there are technically many many different pools. They must all provide a minimum level regardless. And it looks like the tax, or "premium" rate for this is always standardized. So I suppose some people can get even better coverage if they are in a group with fewer sick people (just a guess). But in any event, all the policies will just cover 70% of costs, up to a catastrophic cap of about $600/month, I think. You pay 30%.

(For my dental check up and cleaning, by the way, the 30% was $18. So it looks like the percentage helps to keep medical inflation down as well.)

I think the elderly only have to pay 10% or 20% subject to the same cap. This may also be the case for child health care under a certain age.

Japan spends less on GDP than America (maybe 9% vs. 15%--I am not sure of the exact number). And it covers everybody.

Most of my ex-pat friends from other countries with these universal programs actually ask whether the myths perpetrated about them in America (i.e. "wait years for surgery", "quality not as good as a market system") are genuinely believed by the populace. To which my answer has to be a qualified "yes".


In contrast, the national pension system here, which is for practical purposes NOT universal, is an unmitigated disaster.

Hoofin
02-19-2008, 08:08 PM
EastWest:



What is false about Obama's eloquence?


He is actually a very good speaker compared to Mrs. Clinton. That is part of the reason she has trouble getting traction.

Hoofin
02-19-2008, 08:13 PM
. . .

DuPage county (west of Chicago) is the second biggest county in Illinois. It is the Republican heartland. The whites who fled Chicago in the 1960s moved out to DuPage. In the Illinois primary on Feb 5, 132,434 voted in the Democratic Primary, 109,132 voted in the Republican Primary. In Illinois, on primary day you ask for whichever ballot you want. Obama took 62% of the vote in DuPage (versus 64% statewide). This in a county that is 84% white, 9% Hispanic and 3% black.

Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago in very trying times. He is now running with the entire state of Illinois unified behind him - Matt Yglesias had a good post on this. (http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/ny_versus_illinois.php) Both Daleys, Mayor Richie and brother Bill, are behind him. Even our idiot governor, Rod Blagojevich, is supporting Obama. Jesse Jackson Jr. dragged his father into support for Obama. Bobby Rush, who defeated Obama in 2000 in the Democratic primary for the House of Representatives, is a big Obama backer.

The only Illinois Democrat who is not supporting Obama is Rahm Emanuel. His stated position is, "I'm hiding under the desk. I'm very far under the desk, and I'm bringing my paper and my phone."

I think most Illinois Republicans who are not in jail are supporting Obama. On the issue of his present votes in the Illinois Senate, he was defended by Republican Bill Black. (http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=274863)

None of this happens without Harold Washington.

. . .




Is it a surprise that in a state where the strength of a political party primarily is based in one County, with the state's major city, that most of the elected officials of that party are going to go with the favorite son?

Do you believe that most of the Republican office holders in Illinois are going to support Obama over McCain in the fall? (If the choice turns out to be such?)

Hoofin
02-19-2008, 08:33 PM
. . .


The other crucial distinction is manner of leadership, style if you must (but then you must scrupulously avoid its pejorative connotations). As befits their qualitatively different résumés, Obama’s is one of expanding inclusiveness and participation as guided and constrained by the constitution. Clinton’s manner is framed as leadership by, in the vulgar tongue, suits. Which, inquiring mischievously, if your fears were perhaps rightly focused on the danger of an authoritarian state, would you fear more?
This points towards the apparent division between at least the vocal supporters in the two camps. Obama opponents sniff at his (implicitly callow) youthfulness and sneer at his (implicit predominance of and implicitly callow) youthful following, hoping to highlight a politically shallow culture. Opponents of Hillary’s wax fervent over her feverish need for power. Obama-lovers enjoy street life and community; Clinton-lovers feel safe behind desks. That of course at least verges on hyperbole, but...

. . .




I think it's the font. The Obama font (the kind on the sign "Change we can believe in.") It is like the one in Citizen Kane, I think. Or some Art Deco style of the New York Subway System.

Forty seven is hardly "youthful". Obama is a middle aged man, the age many people used to have grandkids by then, back in the day. He is old enough to be a grandfather.

Obama gets glowing press in Japan. This morning, he is the subject of a 15-or 20-minute feature on one of the infotainment programs. He is an interesting character; so that is why he is getting a lot of attention.

Mrs. Clinton, in contrast, is yesterday's news. She is old reruns compared to Obama. Plus the Nixon treatment by the press and "enemies". (A lot of the younger fans of Obama would have to have Nixon explained to them.) And then Bill Clinton, who after his refreshing reappearance, wears a little thin after a while. Because he is also like a rerun.

It will be interesting to see whether this Democratically created "Surge" can continue into the summer. For reasons I have pointed out elsewhere, I think this latest version of New Politics is going to get very old and very standardized very quickly.

But it is interesting while it lasts.

thprop
02-19-2008, 08:45 PM
Is it a surprise that in a state where the strength of a political party primarily is based in one County, with the state's major city, that most of the elected officials of that party are going to go with the favorite son?

Do you believe that most of the Republican office holders in Illinois are going to support Obama over McCain in the fall? (If the choice turns out to be such?)

The surprise is that more people in DuPage County asked for Democratic Ballots than Republican. Turnout in DuPage county was 44% - pretty good for a primary. 55% took part in the Democratic primary, only 45% voted in the Republican. That is remarkable. Keep in mind that there was also a special election and a primary to pick Dennis Hastert's replacement in Congress.

There are no statewide Republican officeholders in Illinois. The Republican Party here is a mess. The last Republican Governor, George Ryan, is in jail. The hardcore right wingers don't want any moderates - they called them RINOs (Republican in name only). When Obama won his Senate seat in 2004, the election was a joke. His original opponent was supposed to be the new Republican wonder boy, Jack Ryan. After Ryan won the primary, it was revealed that one of the reasons Jeri Ryan (Seven of nine on Star Trek) divorced him was that he wanted her to go to sex clubs with him and have public sex with him and others. So the right wingers imported Alan Keyes to run against Obama.

The Democrats control everything - but we still have gridlock since they cannot get along with each other. They cannot even pass a budget. Somehow we elected the town idiot governor. He has a lower approval rating than W.

Hoofin
02-19-2008, 09:08 PM
The surprise is that more people in DuPage County asked for Democratic Ballots than Republican. Turnout in DuPage county was 44% - pretty good for a primary. 55% took part in the Democratic primary, only 45% voted in the Republican. That is remarkable. Keep in mind that there was also a special election and a primary to pick Dennis Hastert's replacement in Congress.

Is this really as remarkable as it at first seems? An Illinois senator is running for president and has a good shot at it. Otherwise, your choice is to vote for five or six boring characters on the other side (none of whom hail from the area or have much of a connection with metropolitan Chicago at all).

So in an election that would bring out people to vote the special congressional race in the dominant GOP, people also asked for ballots to vote in the Democratic primary, for the favorite son versus the non-so-favorite daughter (since I think Mrs. Clinton's connections to Chicago are longer ago and weaker.)


There are no statewide Republican officeholders in Illinois.

As an aside, there are no statewide Republican office holders in New Jersey, either. And only about five in the last thrity years. Three of whom were appointed or not elected to the position. But McCain is sure to get support from Republican officials there despite the fact.

The Republican Party here is a mess. The last Republican Governor, George Ryan, is in jail. The hardcore right wingers don't want any moderates - they called them RINOs (Republican in name only).

This is why there are hardly any Republican federal officials in New England anymore. True Republican used to mean that you supported and did things like how Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt did their whole public lives. Now, it means you stand for things that would make them spin in their graves.

When Obama won his Senate seat in 2004, the election was a joke.

OK, but it sounds like Obama originally won by default.

His original opponent was supposed to be the new Republican wonder boy, Jack Ryan. After Ryan won the primary, it was revealed that one of the reasons Jeri Ryan (Seven of nine on Star Trek) divorced him was that he wanted her to go to sex clubs with him and have public sex with him and others. So the right wingers imported Alan Keyes to run against Obama.

This scares me, because the election Obama will be involved in will not be a joke. And John McCain has had a different experience with whips and chains than whatever was alleged about Jack Ryan.

The Democrats control everything - but we still have gridlock since they cannot get along with each other. They cannot even pass a budget. Somehow we elected the town idiot governor. He has a lower approval rating than W.

Fortunately for Obama, it sounds like most all of them support him, though. So at least he has been a unifier where otherwise there has not been.

Hoofin
02-20-2008, 10:17 AM
This is so not critical, but:

Ezra trips me up with the ones like "slaaaaavish", but isn't it short-a Nevada?

Michelle Obama made that mistake too, I think, campaigning there.

What's with a the faux-intellectual pronunciations? Intelligent people use short "a" all the time---even in Britain.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-20-2008, 11:14 AM
Can I just point out that identity politics is not always irrational (not by any means). Would a male Reagan appointee have gone as far toward defending the right to an abortion as Sandra Day O'Connor?
Surely being a woman gave her a different outlook on many of the women's issues that came before the court.
I'm not saying that a Clarence Thomas can't bend over backwards to fight my thesis about identity politics, but it isn't crazy for voters to want their representatives to represent them sociologically.
Of course, it's true enough, as our diavloggers point out, that identity never just a matter of being black or female etc. However, certain features of us are liable to affect our material and social prospects more than others.

Wonderment
02-20-2008, 04:14 PM
Can I just point out that identity politics is not always irrational (not by any means). Would a male Reagan appointee have gone as far toward defending the right to an abortion as Sandra Day O'Connor?

The other extreme is when it's REALLY irrational. For example, I was making the argument the other day with an antiwar Hillary supporter who wanted to see a woman in the White House. I said, "Well, you wouldn't vote for just any woman, right? Like Condi Rice?"

Answer: "Yes, I would."

I also had this cognitively dissonant experience with a "liberal" Latino organization when they supported Alberto Gonzalez for AG.

I'm not making the case against identity politics. Just pointing out how it often DOES get carried to ridiculous extremes. If Clinton ran against Clarence Thomas, I am sure she would get 98% of the black vote.

You also have to factor in the importance of being the FIRST woman, black, Latino to attain a given position. That may explain why the Obama (black) first trumps the female first. After Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir and many others, no one really doubts that a woman can become head of state in a male supremacist society. But a black in the USA? That's a REAL first.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-20-2008, 06:38 PM
The other extreme is when it's REALLY irrational. For example, I was making the argument the other day with an antiwar Hillary supporter who wanted to see a woman in the White House. I said, "Well, you wouldn't vote for just any woman, right? Like Condi Rice?"

Answer: "Yes, I would."

I also had this cognitively dissonant experience with a "liberal" Latino organization when they supported Alberto Gonzalez for AG.

I'm not making the case against identity politics. Just pointing out how it often DOES get carried to ridiculous extremes. If Clinton ran against Clarence Thomas, I am sure she would get 98% of the black vote.

You also have to factor in the importance of being the FIRST woman, black, Latino to attain a given position. That may explain why the Obama (black) first trumps the female first. After Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir and many others, no one really doubts that a woman can become head of state in a male supremacist society. But a black in the USA? That's a REAL first.

Yeah, I agree it can be pretty irrational. Ezra Klein had a post a while back where he pointed out that a lot of Edwards supporters seemed to be backing him on the grounds that he was a white male, even though their positions were closer to Hillary's. And of course, the most obvious case is Republican identity politics, where Democrats are (weirdly) portrayed as rich, upper-class latte drinkers to people who would probably benefit more from Democratic policies. (Though this can be overplayed -- it is up to the voters to decide what parts of their identities are most significant to them. Many "Reagan Democrats" may really care (or have cared) more about cultural conservatism than about economic self-interest. And in the past, crime and affirmative action may have struck many such voters as more detrimental to their interests than what the Republicans would do.)

I think I differ with you a bit on the woman vs. African American issue. In this country sexist assumptions about the ability of women to be commander in chief seem harder to overcome. In a way, I'd have liked to support Hillary this time just to break that barrier. But individually, Obama seems sufficiently better as a candidate that I had to support him now that he's in the race.

Wonderment
02-20-2008, 06:53 PM
In this country sexist assumptions about the ability of women to be commander in chief seem harder to overcome.

I think the African American barrier is VERY real, but in terms of gender, you'd have to ask, are Israel, Britain, India, Germany, Norway and Pakistan less sexist than the USA?

So from my point of view, women have already won that argument against patriarchy and male supremacy. The symbolic value of each nation ratifying the victory with its own female head of state is far outweighed by what it would mean to make the ultimate statement against our history of slavery and segregation.

On a less cheerful note, I would say we're still a few light years away from electing a gay or atheist president. What does THAT say about us?

Tyrrell McAllister
02-21-2008, 05:30 PM
July 7, 2007 Washington Monthly
Over Stated
Why the "Laboratories of Democracy" can't achieve universal health care
by Ezra Klein

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0707.Klein.html

Thanks for the link, Abu. That was an interesting read. He does give more details there. But I guess that I still don't buy the argument. He seems to place the failures of state-level UHC progams into three categories:

(1) They are repealed when Republicans come into power (e.g., Washington State and potentially California if McCain is elected).

(2) They are ruined by bad implementation (e.g., Oregon).

(3) They are drastically cut back during recessions (e.g., Hawaii and Tennessee).


But (1) and (2) could both just as easily happen at the federal level, and with worse consequences because more people would be affected.

Ezra claims that states are especially vulnerable to (3) because they cannot use deficit spending when necessary --- apparently most state constitutions prohibit it. But state constitutions can be amended relatively easily. If deficit spending is truly a prerequisite for UHC, then the growing demand for UHC should make amending those constitutions do-able.

Finally, Ezra expresses concern that the failed state plans will serve as ammunition for opponents of UHC. He doesn't appear to recognize that the risk is far greater with a UHC plan at the national level. That's exactly why it seems ill-advised to rush to a federal-level program. At that level, one failure could ruin UHC for the entire nation, turning the whole country off the idea for decades. But at the state level, when one state fails, another state might still be willing to give it a try. Yes, trying things in various ways in different states means more opportunities for failures, but it also means more opportunities for success. If things work out in some state, then UHC starts to seem more advisable to everyone.

piscivorous
02-21-2008, 06:02 PM
Accept at the federal level it is almost impossible to undo an "entitlement" or end a bureaucracy once it is established and has a constituency.

Tyrrell McAllister
02-21-2008, 07:29 PM
Accept at the federal level it is almost impossible to undo an "entitlement" or end a bureaucracy once it is established and has a constituency.

That's true, and I suppose that Ezra would consider that a point in his favor. I grant that if your only concern is to make UHC irrevocable, then it's better to do it at the federal level.

But unsurprisingly, as someone coming at it from a federalist perspective, I consider it to be a strong reason to test things for a while in the laboratory of the states before committing ourselves to a national plan.

piscivorous
02-21-2008, 08:15 PM
I agree that a federalist approach at the state level for experimentation and evaluation makes greater sense to me. It appears that a federal level program is inevitable and it will probably be initiated by a liberal President with a liberal Congress. Then 20 years down the road it will take conservative action to get it put on the right track while the liberals scream and shout about making any changes hanging the poor out to dry. It worked for welfare it is just a shame that for two generations were lost to "you owe me" mindset it engendered in the recipients.

canajuneh
02-27-2008, 08:14 AM
This conversation is unusually complex and I salute two young white men who have looked below the surface. However, they could go further in their analysis. Have you noticed that it is often the case that when "we" talk about African American people, we are often talking of African American MEN. As in, to paraphrase, there is still a high rate of poverty among black men, more black men go to jail than white men and so forth. Well, there is still a high rate of poverty among black WOMEN as well. Large numbers of black Women are in American jails. I believe that the category "women" may well be the fastest growing population among imprisoned Americans (not sure though). Obviously, that means that black women have not enjoyed the "material success" that white women have, supposedly. Likely, it isn't possible to generalize in that way either. Women of certain other racial and ethnic categories are probably economically opressed as well. There is nothing simple about the intersection of the dynamics of sex, race and class. There is no homogeneous group "women" and no homogeneous group "African American" and this makes analysis of identity group dynamics very complex indeed. In addition, I challenge the view that the sexism that Ms Clinton has been subjected to is (merely) "cultural". There is little doubt in my mind that there is a (complex) relationship between material security and cultural representations. And, vice versa.