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Disappointed in Obama:

My niece had her bat mitzvah Monday in New York, and it gave me a chance to catch up with various relatives. My immediate family is all conservative or libertarian, but, as one my expect from a Jewish New York-based family, many of my other relatives are very liberal.

I don't like to talk politics at bat mitzvahs, but, I think because I'm the "Washington cousin," several relatives started talking to me about it. Rather than debating, I tried to "take their temperature."

My liberal relatives still love Obama. Two I spoke to worked for Obama's campaign. They still hold out a lot of hope for Obama. But they are disappointed in him. Obviously, they are disappointed that his poll numbers are falling, and he may not be able to achieve some liberal goals they support. But they also expressed disappointment that Obama hasn't delivered the change he promised. In fact, the folks I spoke to seemed a bit bewildered that business goes an just as it did before in D.C. They would have liked Obama to insist that the budget bill he signed in March was not bloated with earmarks. They don't like how he's been making deal with all the health care special interests. And so on.

I'm disappointed in Obama, too. I expected him to be a liberal. I expected to disagree with him on most issues. But I hoped that either good government ("goo-goo") liberalism or raw political calculus (like the Republicans in 1995) would lead him to keep some of his non-ideological promises, like on earmarks, transparency, and so on. I even hoped, consistent with his promise of a net spending cut, that he'd show more fiscal responsibility than Bush did, which isn't hard to do; surely there are government programs out there that don't serve liberal ideological ends and could be cut. He lost whatever good will or benefit-of-the-doubt I was inclined to give him by neglecting, backtracking, or going back on his word on all these issues.

The Obama administration has treated Obama's promise of changing the way business is done in DC as a distraction from his legislative agenda. I suspect they'll come to regret that perspective.

ruuffles (mail) (www):

transparency

Strange, the Obama administration reversed course on the visitor logs and said it would release them. Nary a peep on veesee though.
9.10.2009 9:18am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

he'd show more fiscal responsibility than Bush did

But I bet you still voted for him in 2004, amirite?
9.10.2009 9:20am
CDU (mail) (www):
DB:

They would have liked Obama to veto the earmarks last Fall.


I'm pretty sure Obama wasn't president last fall.
9.10.2009 9:23am
ChrisIowa (mail):

They would have liked Obama to veto the earmarks last Fall.

Please clarify. Obama didn't have the veto last Fall.
9.10.2009 9:24am
Melancton Smith:
They aren't showing the full log.
9.10.2009 9:28am
deliotb (mail):
9.10.2009 9:33am
deliotb (mail):
And here were my more general thoughts on the 2004 election.
9.10.2009 9:34am
sbron:
The problem is very simple. Obama believes that wealth is something to be redistributed, not created. He and his appointees furthermore believe that wealth, jobs, health care and educational opportunities should be redistributed on the basis of race. It is no mystery why he is losing the support of white Democrats.

We should be very concerned about the rise in Europe of parties like the English Defense League (BNP without the overtly racist baggage) in response to Obama-type multiculturalism and racial redistribution policies. It _can_ happen here as Carole Swain of Vanderbilt Univ. warned several years ago.
9.10.2009 9:36am
rick.felt:
It's too early for any liberal with any patience to be disappointed, I think. To the extent that Obama has been doing non-liberal things (like doubling-down in Afghanistan) these can't be considered "disappointments" because he promised them during the campaign. Other stuff, like cutting deals with pharmaceutical companies and how he's been conducting himself during the health care debate generally, is going to be forgotten and forgiven if he signs even a somewhat-liberal health care bill.

Gay rights issues? He'll get to those when he needs to rally his liberal base. Right now they're behind him almost 100%. If they start to wander off the reservation, he'll do something about DoMA and they'll all come running back. Taxes? Again, too soon; talk to me in a few months. Stimulus package? What's not to like if you're a liberal? It's a whole bunch of Keynesian bullshit and payoffs to liberal interest groups. Foreign policy other than Afghanistan? Iraq withdrawal appears to be reasonably on schedule, and Obama's been apologizing to everyone.

Give Obama another six, seven months, when you see your family for Passover, and re-evaluate then. I think you'll discover that he won't be considered a disappointment. Whether he'll be popular with anyone outside his base is another matter entirely, but I think he'll still have your relatives.
9.10.2009 9:37am
deliotb (mail):
He won't lose my relatives. But if he needlessly antagonizes his opponents, and needlessly disappoints his supporters (what would have been the downside, in the long-run, of vetoing the budget bill? Peeving Rahm's friends for a few weeks?), the Dems. will pay at the polls in '10.
9.10.2009 9:43am
Prof. S. (mail):
There was an opinion piece in today's WSJ about the strong support for Obama among Jews. I didn't find anything particularly insightful, but the piece is right on point with this post.
9.10.2009 10:07am
Houston Lawyer:
I don't see how anyone can reasonably have expected Obama to deliver on the things people are "disappointed" in him not delivering. He has governed exactly as he campaigned. If people want to be disappointed, they should be disappointed in themselves for projecting their hopes on a candidate based solely on his charisma.
9.10.2009 10:18am
dangerous lack of something something:
I am not really seeing how he is 'needlessly' antagonizing his opponents. Certainly he gives moderates a pause for reflection of their electoral support for him, but the loudmouths haven't stopped bleating since Jan 20, no matter what he has accomplished, done correctly, or repaired from the last administration. He could abolish the income tax, turn Medicare into a prayer session, and introduce the death penalty for all felonies, and his opponents would still be asking for his SAT scores...
9.10.2009 10:30am
Borealis (mail):
Obama might personally be liberal, but he ran for election as a moderate because that was the only way he could get elected. There was little difference on most policies between Obama and McCain.

That strongly suggests that the country is moderate, maybe even slightly conservative. The Congress might be majority Democrat, but it still will mirror the country. A liberal agenda just doesn't have much support, and that is why a big health care bill is having so much trouble.
9.10.2009 10:43am
Derrick (mail):
Anyone who has ever spent any time reading this blog knows that DB's "disappointment" with Obama is about as red-a-herring as you can get. David hasn't shown an inkling of "good will" or "benefit of the doubt" as he might claim, while blaming him for Farrahkan supporting him, his months long manufactured hand-wringing over Ayers and anyone one of the dozens of nit-picking posts about Obama where he wouldn't allow comments. I may not agree with Eugene, Orin or Ilya's opinions on Obama but it’s hard to argue that they haven't at least tried to provide an objective assessment of Obama or give him a fair shake. This is about as convincing of one of Karl Rove's disingenuous "I was willing to support the President, but..." columns for the WSJ.
9.10.2009 10:45am
MCM (mail):
Gay rights issues? He'll get to those when he needs to rally his liberal base. Right now they're behind him almost 100%.


I don't know what gay people you've been talking to, but gay people I've talked to are not happy with him. Obviously not to the point of supporting republicans, but gay people I've talked to (in Chicago) are extremely upset that nothing has happened yet, either regarding DoMA or DADT, and that Obama hasn't even said he supports SSM.
9.10.2009 10:48am
Bill Harshaw (mail) (www):
I think he and his staff quickly found the limits of some of the good government stuff when the OSTP forum was overrun with birther nonsense.

It's easy enough to reverse direction on some of the Bush directives, but really implementing the new transparency is more difficult. (See recovery.gov and the effort at accountability--B for effort, C at best for results.)
9.10.2009 10:49am
OrinKerr:
He lost whatever good will or benefit-of-the-doubt I was inclined to give him by neglecting, backtracking, or going back on his word on all these issues.

In the spirit of LBJ after Walter Cronkite turned against the Vietnam war, "If I've lost Bernstein, I've lost Middle America."
9.10.2009 10:52am
rick.felt:
I don't know what gay people you've been talking to,

Andrew Sullivan.

but gay people I've talked to are not happy with him. Obviously not to the point of supporting republicans,

That's my point. Gays are still on the reservation.

but gay people I've talked to (in Chicago) are extremely upset that nothing has happened yet, either regarding DoMA or DADT,

Well then those people need to learn their history and get a grip. Bill Clinton made a strategic blunder by addressing gays in the military too soon in his presidency. Let Obama build up some momentum with popular legislative victories, and come back to me if he still gives the gays the Heisman.

and that Obama hasn't even said he supports SSM.

Can there be any real doubt that (a) if a repeal of DoMA his his desk, he'll sign it; or (b) the judges Obama will appoint will find a 14th Amendment right to SSM?

Patience. Gays will do fine under Obama.
9.10.2009 11:01am
Redman:
Who would ever have thought that a liberal activist from Chicago ward politics would act like a liberal activist from Chicago ward politics?
9.10.2009 11:08am
MCM (mail):
Andrew Sullivan.


Oh, so he was elected press secretary for every gay person? I didn't realize they did things like that.

That's my point. Gays are still on the reservation.


Most gays would never vote Republican under any circumstances. It's not a question of them "leaving the reservation. It's more a matter of how much money they'll cough up for Democrats and how many of them will decide not to vote if they feel Obama hasn't done enough for them.

Well then those people need to learn their history and get a grip.


Since their position is that they are being denied basic civil rights, I don't think that argument is going to be particularly persuasive with them.

Can there be any real doubt that (a) if a repeal of DoMA his his desk, he'll sign it; or (b) the judges Obama will appoint will find a 14th Amendment right to SSM?


Yes, but they wanted it on his desk already. And (b), are you joking? Of course there's doubt. At the very least, Obama could always appoint some kind of reverse Souter. And who knows how many judges he'll actually get to appoint?
9.10.2009 11:11am
troll_dc2 (mail):

The Obama administration has treated Obama's promise of changing the way business is done in DC as a distraction from his legislative agenda. I suspect they'll come to regret that perspective.



DB and I disagree on a lot of things, but I believe that this quote is so true that it's scary.
9.10.2009 11:11am
davidbernstein (mail):
Derrick, let's just say I've extended more goodwill toward Obama than your comment extends to me.

Orin, put another way, I had low expectations of Obama, but he's disappointed even those. I'm a lot less partisan than, say, you, but I'm feeling very pro-Republican these days. And turnout in off-year and midterms elections is everything, so disillusioning the base and pissing off people like me who generally don't vote at all in off-year elections is a good way for your party to get slaughtered. I'm voting in the governors' race in Va. this year for the first time, just for catharsis.
9.10.2009 11:12am
Andy L.:
According to DB, DB is less partisan than Orin? In all seriousity, I would not have so concluded from reading this blog.
9.10.2009 11:21am
bebopkid (www):
We should be very concerned about the rise in Europe of parties like the English Defense League

Yeah, but thankfully in Germany, UK and France we're seeing a conservative shift*. Hopefully that will resist such things; however, it seems unlikely because people seem to becoming fiscally conserv and socially lib.

*i.e., Chancellor Merkel in Germany likely to drop assoc with Social Dems for Free Dems + possible reelection; The Union For A Popular Movement is trouncing the Socialist Party in France; Possible conservative landslide in the UK over Labour Party.
9.10.2009 11:25am
Derrick (mail):
Derrick, let's just say I've extended more goodwill toward Obama than your comment extends to me.


David,

I wish that was true. I might accuse you of acting in bad faith, but you've accussed Obama of a whole lot more through your repeated attempts to link his ideology, thougts and practices to racists, terrorists and other unsavory characters. I think if you took an objective look back at your posts over the last year, you'd see that I was being generous. I'm still a big fan of this site, but I've posted and read enough on this blog to know that I'm far from being the only person to express similar sentiments.
9.10.2009 11:26am
Calderon:
The Obama administration has treated Obama's promise of changing the way business is done in DC as a distraction from his legislative agenda. I suspect they'll come to regret that perspective.

I don't know. Doesn't almost every politician claim that they plan on changing how Washington works, and isn't it a lie almost every single time (the Republicans in 1994 may have been a brief exception)? Does anyone really believe a politician when they say they're going to change how business is done DC? I'd assume most people no longer believe those statements, and thus do not rely on them in voting for a candidate, and so won't be disappointed when that statement turns out to be a lie (because they were expecting it to be a lie in the first place). Though I guess it's possible people were so fooled by Obama's charisma and rhetoric that maybe they actually believed him ...
9.10.2009 11:28am
rick.felt:
Oh, so [Andrew Sullivan] was elected press secretary for every gay person? I didn't realize they did things like that.

Andrew Sullivan is a prominent gay Obama supporter who should have the most reasons to bolt if Obama turns out to be both consistently liberal and disrespectful of gay rights. If he's sticking around, that's significant. While I don't think that there's an official gay spokesman, hey, I came up with a name. All you have to support your point is an anecdotal report of anonymous homosexuals whom you have polled.

It's not a question of them "leaving the reservation. It's more a matter of how much money they'll cough up for Democrats and how many of them will decide not to vote if they feel Obama hasn't done enough for them.

That's true, but there's still plenty of time. If Obama comes through at the eleventh hour, gays will vote for him. He'll have to come through a little earlier than that if he wants their money, but he's still got probably ten months before that's even remotely an issue.

Since their position is that they are being denied basic civil rights, I don't think that argument is going to be particularly persuasive with them.

Join the club. Everybody's got some fundamental civil right that they think is being denied. Politics is the art of the possible, and Obama has plenty of time to come through for gays. Does it matter that much if gays have to wait another ten months before they can come out to the other sailors on the submarine, or before their home state is required to recognize their Vermont wedding? If it does, then the diva stereotype is true.

Obama could always appoint some kind of reverse Souter

Name one "reverse Souter" on the Federal bench on social issues. Just one!
9.10.2009 11:30am
ArthurKirkland:

I'm voting in the governors' race in Va. this year for the first time, just for catharsis.

Which part of McDonnell's world-view-at-34 manifesto was enough to get you to the polling place? If disappointment in Obama drove you into Bob McDonnell's arms, that's some strange business.
9.10.2009 11:38am
MCM (mail):
Andrew Sullivan is a prominent gay Obama supporter who should have the most reasons to bolt if Obama turns out to be both consistently liberal and disrespectful of gay rights. If he's sticking around, that's significant. While I don't think that there's an official gay spokesman, hey, I came up with a name. All you have to support your point is an anecdotal report of anonymous homosexuals whom you have polled.


Fine, let's go with Cleve Jones then. Let's go with all the people that got pissed off in June about same sex benefits. Let's try all the people who are going to show up in Washington, DC next month to protest the lack of progress on gay rights. To say that gays are "behind him almost 100%" is simply ignorant. There is significant unhappiness with Obama and the Democrats right now.

Name one "reverse Souter" on the Federal bench on social issues. Just one!


So let me get this straight. Your argument is "because a Democratic president has not yet appointed a federal judge who was expected to be a liberal but turned out to be a conservative, no Democratic president could appoint a justice to the SCOTUS who was expected to be a liberal yet turned out to be a conservative."

Really.
9.10.2009 11:45am
rick.felt:
So let me get this straight. Your argument is "because a Democratic president has not yet appointed a federal judge who was expected to be a liberal but turned out to be a conservative, no Democratic president could appoint a justice to the SCOTUS who was expected to be a liberal yet turned out to be a conservative."

Yes. Because Democrats have appointed literally thousands of Article III judges, and you cannot name a single one who has been more socially conservative than anticipated. Not. A. Single. One.
9.10.2009 11:51am
troll_dc2 (mail):

Name one "reverse Souter" on the Federal bench on social issues. Just one!


Byron White?
9.10.2009 11:53am
MCM (mail):
Yes. Because Democrats have appointed literally thousands of Article III judges, and you cannot name a single one who has been more socially conservative than anticipated. Not. A. Single. One.


And thus, in the future, no such animal could ever exist. Impeccable logic. I'm behind you almost 100%.
9.10.2009 11:56am
Constantin:
I don't blame Barack for failing to deliver the epochal change he swore himself to. If you believed even one percent of that absurdity, you're a mark who hasn't been paying attention the past 2500 years or so. His job was to win the election and he figured out a way to do it.
9.10.2009 11:59am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I might accuse you of acting in bad faith, but you've accussed Obama of a whole lot more through your repeated attempts to link his ideology, thougts and practices to racists, terrorists and other unsavory characters
Obama has, in fact, been linked to racists (Rev. Wright, Al Sharpton, that radical Chicago priest], terrorists [Ayers] and other unsavory characters [law professors]. The fact that I pointed out things that were true during the campaign has nothing to do with extending a president a modicum of goodwill once he's elected, which I did, more in personal discussions with overwrought Obamaphobes than on this blog, but I congratulated Obama, as I recall, three different times.
9.10.2009 11:59am
MCM (mail):
Byron White?


Let me try this for Mr. Felt: White supported affirmative action and desegregation, which made him liberal (despite dissenting from Roe). Further, he sometimes voted to restrict states from applying the death penalty, which also makes him liberal (despite dissenting from Thompson v. Oklahoma).

Alternatively, he simply doesn't exist because he's inconvenient for rick.felt's argument. Sort of like Cleve Jones and every other gay commentator who routinely criticizes Obama's lack of action. But that's ok, some gay blogger who's been around for a few years is happy with Obama, so gays must be happy with Obama.
9.10.2009 12:01pm
rick.felt:
And thus, in the future, no such animal could ever exist. Impeccable logic. I'm behind you almost 100%.

Cute, but if you circle back to what I originally wrote, you'll see that I said there was no "real doubt" that Obama would appoint reliable social liberals. Anything's possible, I guess, but the probability of an Obama appointee being the first "reverse Souter" is vanishingly small.

Byron White?

White was unpredictable, I'll admit that. But to define him as a "reverse Souter," you'd have to have predictions at the time of his appointment that he was going to be liberal social issues. Would it have been reasonable to expect a senior Kennedy Administration official to be a big social liberal? If anything, White's views on social issues like abortion and homosexuality were consistent with his comfort with government power, which were known before his appointment.
9.10.2009 12:07pm
davidbernstein (mail):
"DB is less partisan than Orin?"

Orin signs up for things like "law profesors for [Thompson, McCain]". I dislike partisan politics in general, and Republicans like McCain specifically, to lend my name, much less my effort, to such things. Not to mention that Orin recently served as a special counsel for a Republican Senator. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's a lot more likely that I'd have a "pox on both their houses" attitude than than Orin would.
9.10.2009 12:11pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Prof. Bernstein -

Derrick hit the nail on the head: there is nothing Obama could have done that would have satisfied you and the other partisans, as your continued reference to Obama's "link[]s" to terrorists makes perfectly clear.

Your entire premise is internally inconsistent. If you believe that Obama associates with terrorists and "unsavory characters," how could you extent any "goodwill" towards him?

This is just nonsense.
9.10.2009 12:13pm
second history:
I'm disappointed in Obama, too.

I'm sure the President will get over your disappointment.
9.10.2009 12:13pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

Obviously not to the point of supporting republicans, but gay people I've talked to (in Chicago) are extremely upset that nothing has happened yet, either regarding DoMA or DADT, and that Obama hasn't even said he supports SSM.


Oh, something has happened with respect to DOMA. Obama's administration has been a staunch defender of DOMA.

This was reported here on VC. I blogged about it here. Dale Carpenter covered it for VC right here. And I covered the escapades of Obama's Rampant Illiberalism again just a few days later. Gay people are rightfully angry with Obama. He has not just refused to support their movement--members of his administration have defended DOMA in court when necessary.
9.10.2009 12:26pm
MCM (mail):
Cute, but if you circle back to what I originally wrote, you'll see that I said there was no "real doubt" that Obama would appoint reliable social liberals. Anything's possible, I guess, but the probability of an Obama appointee being the first "reverse Souter" is vanishingly small.


And again, maybe he'll appoint "reliable social liberals" who don't happen to support gay marriage? That wouldn't exactly be earthshaking, especially since older people (ie, SCOTUS justices and nominees) don't support gay marriage, as much as younger people, regardless of party affiliation. Actually, Sotomayor has no record at all on gay issues, so it's possible he already has.
9.10.2009 12:27pm
CJColucci:
I'm disappointed in Obama. I expected to be disappointed in Obama. After many years of having no basis at all for any positive expectations I could be disappointed about, I looked forward to being disappointed.
9.10.2009 12:34pm
rick.felt:
Tim Nuccio, you've been living in a cave for the past month or so, right?
9.10.2009 12:43pm
ArthurKirkland:

White supported affirmative action and desegregation, which made him liberal

Damn those liberals! Curse their oily hides!
9.10.2009 12:46pm
Willy:
Derrick:

What you are missing is the whole point of DB's post. He was analyzing the opinion of Obama from Obama supports (his relatives). Sure he mentions his feelings of disappointment, but the main purpose and point of the post is the disappointment liberals feel toward Obama. In essence, stating his own disappointment for Obama was irrelevant dicta to the conclusions of the post.

As a result, even if your comments are true, which I don't think they are, they don't even address the essence of DB's post and are, therefore, irrelevant.
9.10.2009 12:47pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
If you believe that Obama associates with terrorists and "unsavory characters," how could you extent any "goodwill" towards him?
Because I expect politicians to be opportunists, and I suspected that his association with such people was a matter of opportunism and not ideology. I doubt that a single one of the 2004 or 2008 Dem. presidential candidates actually thinks highly of Al Sharpton, but that didn't stop them from making nice with him as a matter of political opportunism. Besides (a) I live in this country and want things to go well; and (b) some of the best economic reforms, both here (Kennedy tax cuts, Carter deregulation) and abroad (New Zealand, Israel with Shimon Peres as finance minister, to name two) have happened under left-wing government.
9.10.2009 1:01pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Willy:

Somehow, I've managed to get through about forty years of being more or less "liberal" (mostly more) without once feeling that I needed DB to analyze my view of candidates I voted for. Reading his stuff for the last four or five years hasn't increased my feeling of that need all that much.

Alternate (observer effect) hypothesis: DB's "liberal" relatives have also read his stuff, and tailor whatever they say to him across the bar mitzvah lunch table accordingly. Because it was a bar mitzvah, they of course politely refrained from using phrases like "right-wing demagoguery", "Swift-boating", "wing-nuts", "astro-turf-roots" and "Tea-Bagging parties" in his presence.

DB ever comes to a social event that I'm throwing for my kid, and tries to take my temperature, whether by poking me in my ear or by [ahem] other means, it may be the last liberal's temperature he tries to take for a while...
9.10.2009 1:07pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Somehow, I've managed to get through about forty years of being more or less "liberal" (mostly more) without once feeling that I needed DB to analyze my view of candidates I voted for.
Why in God's name would I care about your views? I wouldn't have even asked my relatives their views, but it was better than being drawn into a pointless debate about politics.
9.10.2009 1:14pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Robert Stacy McCain recommends that you send your cousins to the countryside for re-education, a recommendation which appears much more threatening and anti-Semitic than that a Marc Garlasco collecting Nazi memorabilia, or Thomas Friedman thinking that the Chinese Government has done some things correctly which appears so nefarious to you and your crowd

So David, you planning on setting up a re-education camp for your nearest and dearest so they can learn how to fish and hunt? Stacy kinda reminds one of Pol Pot and Mao taking those urban sophisticates out to the country side and teaching them how to work and we know how that came out. Badly.
9.10.2009 1:39pm
Long Run (mail):
Expectations were very high for Obama. People saw in him what they wanted to see, and heard what they wanted to hear. He was particularly skillful, even for a professional politician, in encouraging this. A major part of his campaign was to position him as exceptionally trans-formative - hope and change was after all, the theme. Moderate, post-racial, beyond red and blue, etc. People hoped, and expected change.

Its not surprising that many of those expectations are unfulfilled.

It also makes the contrast rather jarring between the campaign image that many bought, and the publicly partisan, reflexively statist, not particularly credible guy who showed up for work in the Oval Office.

But there are still about 7 1/2 innings to play.
9.10.2009 1:49pm
Milhouse (www):
Eli Rabett, you are a liar and a slanderer. There is nothing even remotely threatening or antisemitic about recommending that Jews be encouraged to move to small towns or rural areas. Shame on you.
9.10.2009 1:56pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
In my opinion, Obama got elected mainly due to anger over Bush's war-mongering. He slipped to the anti-war side of Clinton to get the nomination, then triangulated back a little against McCain, a sad-sack excuse for a candidate if there ever was one. McCain had the neocons, of course, but not so much love from the more traditional limited-government non-interventionist conservatives and conservative-leaning libertarians.

So Obama is president and his party controls Congress, but he and his base are far to the left of center. If he governs on principle, they get trounced. If he succeeds politically it will be on the basis of standard gamesmanship, tossing scraps to supporters on the left who have nowhere else to turn, while buying votes by spending money he doesn't have and lining up his scapegoats for the havoc that ensues when the bills come due. In particular, the stimulus money will be blowing most of its happy bubble in time for the midterm elections. Maybe he hopes to ride it all the way through to '12. Or maybe he hopes the Repubs can't come up with anybody better than McCain--a real possibility, I'm afraid.

Meanwhile it's always a joy to see high-flying pols get brought down to earth.
9.10.2009 2:22pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Prof. Bernstein -

1) I hesitate to be drawn into this, but citing the Kennedy tax cuts as a model for how we should behave now and in the future is pretty misleading. Let me put it this way: the next time that the top marginal rate is 91%, no one on the left with disagree with you that it should be cut.

2) If all politicians are opportunists, what's the point of fixating on one example of opportunism? Isn't this exactly what partisans do - fixate on the other side's flaws when their own similar flaws are equally obvious?
9.10.2009 2:30pm
NowMDJD (mail):

Robert Stacy McCain recommends that you send your cousins to the countryside for re-education, a recommendation which appears much more threatening and anti-Semitic than that a Marc Garlasco collecting Nazi memorabilia, or Thomas Friedman thinking that the Chinese Government has done some things correctly which appears so nefarious to you and your crowd

What Stacey McCain ACTUALLY said was that if more Jews lived in rural areas, more Jews would be conservative, and he suggested (tongue in cheek) that Jewish conservatives encourage Jews to move to small towns and rural areas. Rabett's construction of the McCain blog was a fantasy.
9.10.2009 2:46pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
If all politicians are opportunists, what's the point of fixating on one example of opportunism
because Obamaphiles were in denial that he was a typical opportunistic politician?
9.10.2009 2:48pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Prof. Bernstein -

And no conservatives are in the dark about the opportunism of their favored leaders?

Again: partisans focus on the other side's flaws without looking at their own. I have yet to see you attempt anything like criticsm of Boehner or McConnell, not to mention conservative media figures like Beck.
9.10.2009 2:59pm
rick.felt:
the next time that the top marginal rate is 91%, no one on the left with disagree with you that it should be cut.

Well, it was 91% of incomes over $400,000. That's about $2.8 million in today's dollars.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems that our tax debates focus on incomes in a relatively narrow range. We're concerned about where the tax brackets for people making $250,000 are, which is fine, but there's a conspicuous absence of suggestions that we introduce new brackets at $500,000, $750,000, or $1,000,000. I would imagine that Democrats could probably get the support of people who lean Republican if they decided to leave the current top rate where it is and introduce a few new brackets at levels that people don't ever see themselves making.
9.10.2009 3:04pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):


Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems that our tax debates focus on incomes in a relatively narrow range. We're concerned about where the tax brackets for people making $250,000 are, which is fine, but there's a conspicuous absence of suggestions that we introduce new brackets at $500,000, $750,000, or $1,000,000. I would imagine that Democrats could probably get the support of people who lean Republican if they decided to leave the current top rate where it is and introduce a few new brackets at levels that people don't ever see themselves making.
I think that what has a lot of people worried there is that there just isn't all that much money available for taxation at those very high income levels. In order to raise any sort of real money through taxation, it would be necessary to drop the increased rates into the territory that many of us could see ourselves making.
9.10.2009 3:19pm
Yao (mail):
DB: "but it's a lot more likely that I'd have a "pox on both their houses" attitude than than Orin would."

This regular reader of the VC has had many occasions to reach exactly the opposite conclusion. And I do not think I'm alone. DB doesn't seem to be terribly self-aware.
9.10.2009 3:21pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't know the first thing about "Boehner"; offhand, the minority leader in the House?
9.10.2009 3:22pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
This regular reader of the VC has had many occasions to reach exactly the opposite conclusion. And I do not think I'm alone. DB doesn't seem to be terribly self-aware.
Nope, that means either you don't understand what "partisanship" means in this context, or you don't pay real attention. I would wager any amount of your choosing that Orin has voted for far more Republican candidates over the last decade than I have (a pretty easy bet to win, since McCain is the only one I've voted for).
9.10.2009 3:24pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Oops, I also voted for whoever was running against Moran in 2008 and 04, though in 04 I think I might have voted for the Libertarian.
9.10.2009 3:27pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You are not a journalist. You are not a columnist.
[Cue dramatic music] "I am ... a ... blogger." That means I get to write about whatever I want, and you get to read or not read at your pleasure.
9.10.2009 3:28pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
[In response to the claim that I never criticize Republicans the way I do Democrats]: You mean like the below? Guess who wrote it (hint: not Orin).
W. deserves credit for a certain steadfastness in the War on Terror, but his administration is suffused with the sort of hubris, sense of entitlement to power, and belief in the ameliorative powers of government action (in both the foreign and domestic realms) that one normally associates with the worst types of statists. And let's not forget the Administration's blatant lies about the cost of the Medicare law, and Karl Rove's apparent plan to drive all well-educated, secular folks out of the party in exchange for the votes of the most ignorant elements of the fundamentalist community, a traditional Democratic stronghold....

The Republican Congress, meanwhile, has proven worse than a disappointment; it's a disaster of monumental proportions. Congressional Republicans, as a group, have but one goal, and that's to wield power. The current Congress makes the corrupt Democrats of the O'Neil-Wright era look like great statesmen.
9.10.2009 3:41pm
geokstr (mail):

Eli Rabett:
Robert Stacy McCain recommends that you send your cousins to the countryside for re-education, a recommendation which appears much more threatening and anti-Semitic than that a Marc Garlasco collecting Nazi memorabilia...

What an absolutely disgusting and dishonest twisting of everything R.S. McCain had to say in the blog post you linked to.

Here is McCain's response to this ridiculous claim:
Is liberal idiot redundant?

Of course it will make no difference to the left that McCain said no such thing. We will be treated to this charge forever now by liberals wanting to score a cheap point against conservatives.

I'll bet a dollar to a dime that for years we'll still be hearing about how Palin believes that the world is only 6,000 years old, even though the source of that was a liberal blogger who admitted he made it up for fun as a hoax only a few sentences later. I've even seen it used here recently in the comments as gospel "proof" that Palin is a Young Earther.
9.10.2009 3:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Or this:
As for me, I can't say I have a strong preference, and I find that, as usual for someone like me who is very libertarian and highly skeptical of politicians, the choice is a choice among lesser evils, to wit: Thompson's "Lawyers for Thompson" site attacks Giuliani for being pro-choice and pro-gay rights, which are among Giuliani's greatest virtues as a candidate. I thought Giuliani was about as good a mayor as New York is going to get, but I can't forget that he abused his prosecutorial office for political gain as U.S. attorney in the 1980s, and he is probably the least likely of all the major candidates in both parties to rethink the drug war. At least Giuliani has stayed true to his liberal positions on social issues; Romney's sudden conversion to pro-life conservatism suggests that either his current or his former views were purely opportunistic. And then there's McCain-Feingold.

Ron Paul is a tempting protest vote, and I did support him in 1988 when he ran as a Libertarian, but he strikes me as running less of a "libertarian" campaign than a pacifist, populist campaign that does have some appeal to young and idealistic libertarians, but has too much appeal to the old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives. There seems to be a right-wing version of the Popular Front mentality among many Paul supporters: just like it was okay for Social Democrats to ally with Stalinists for "Progressive" ends in the old days, it's okay to ally with 9/11 and various other conspiracy theorists, southern secessionists, Nazis and fascists, anti-Semites and racists, against the common enemy of the modern "welfare-warfare" state. Count me out!

So I have no strong preference among the Republican candidates at this point. Even if I did, I can't imagine why anyone would care enough to bother putting my name on a list, but then partisan politics isn't my thing.
9.10.2009 3:45pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Or this:
This story casts federal district judge and 5th Circuit nominee Charles Pickering, Sr. in a rather bad light. Badgering the Justice Dept. to reduce the charges against a man who burned a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple is questionable behavior for a judge (separation of powers concerns, ex parte communciations, etc.), but more so when part of the rationale is that local whites will resent too tough a sentence. The sentence would have been 7.5 years; harsh, yes, but federal sentencing in general is harsh, and the sentence does not seem especially disproportionate for threatening the lives of an interracial couple (which is what a cross-burning does).

Equally troubling, though in a different way, is this: "The Judiciary Committee has received letters from Mississippi lawyers endorsing Pickering that the judge has said he solicited directly, a practice that attracted criticism at his hearing. Pickering requested that the letters, including some from present or former litigants in his court, be faxed directly to his chambers." To solicit letters from past, present, and potentially future litigants before your court seems coercive on the one hand, and also will give rise to an appearance of impropriety on the other. Would you want to be represented by the attorney who declined to send a letter on Judge Pickering's behalf, when your opponent was represented by someone who did send such a letter?
9.10.2009 3:47pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
DB has indeed thrown a few compliments Obama's way, and his congratulatory post after the election was gracious and seemed heartfelt. That's more than can be said for most people who oppose Obama's policies as strongly as David does.

Orin's comment is still the thread winner.
9.10.2009 3:51pm
Guesto12:
Wow - thanks for censoring my posts, DB. You accept criticism worse than a 14-year-old boy.
9.10.2009 3:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Calling someone an "idiot" is not "criticism," it's just a gratuitous insult. But, as I've said before, I would never delete even a juvenile insulting comment if the commenter would have the courage and character to use his real name, and not hide behind a pseudonym while flinging insults.
9.10.2009 3:56pm
Angus:
David,
While you may not have voted for Republicans every time, have you voted for Democrats for major statewide or national races in the last decade.

Not that anyone cares, but I've voted for a mix of Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians in every election in the last decade except 2002, when I did not vote at all since the significant races where I lived were all non-contested.
9.10.2009 4:17pm
Eli Rabett (www):
To quote an occasional observer elsewhere:

"This idea already has a place in our dystopian literature. From pp. 84-85 of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America set in the US during World War II:


Under the auspices of Just Folks – described by Lindbergh's newly created Office of American Absorption as "a volunteer work program introducing city youth to the traditional ways of heartland life" – my brother left on the last day of June 1941 for a summer "apprenticeship" with a Kentucky tobacco farmer.

The announced purpose of the OAA was to implement programs "encouraging America's religious and national minorities to become further incorporated into the larger society," though by the spring of 1941 the only minority the OAA appreared to take a serious interest in encouraging was ours. It was the intention of Just Folks to remove hundreds of Jewish boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen from the cities where they lived and attended school and put them to work for eight weeks as field hands and day laborers with farm families hundreds of miles from their homes.



But don't worry, folks. Just fiction. Can't happen here."

We've seen this before, and it is obvious.

Why don't you ask David what he thinks of the idea?
9.10.2009 4:38pm
Eli Rabett (www):
With regard to McCain, code words are an interesting thing. For example, take this example from powerline:

Today's award to Al Gore and the IPCC "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change" fits in with a subset of cosmopolitan frauds, fakers, murderers, thieves, and no-accounts going back about twenty years.


Now most people would wonder about the use of cosmopolitan. While most bunnies are not old enough to remember, Eli was himself a young, though very aware, coney during Stalin's last years. Lest you are wondering who these cosmopolitans are, Eli, who remembers some of the code words, is quite unhappy to fill you in:
Rootless cosmopolitan (Russian language: безродный космополит, "bezrodniy kosmopolit") was a Soviet euphemism during Joseph Stalin's anti-Semitic campaign of 1949–1953, which culminated in the "exposure" of the alleged Doctors' plot. The term "rootless cosmopolitan" referred to Jews; however, since a state policy of anti-Semitism conflicted with official Marxist principles such as the fraternity of peoples and proletarian internationalism, the term "rootless cosmopolitanism" was used as a code


Of course, to Godwin this thread from the other side, Hitler also had very little use for the cosmopolitans.
9.10.2009 5:00pm
second history:
I expected him to be a liberal. I expected to disagree with him on most issues. But I hoped that either good government ("goo-goo") liberalism or raw political calculus (like the Republicans in 1995) would lead him to keep some of his non-ideological promises, like on earmarks, transparency, and so on. I even hoped, consistent with his promise of a net spending cut, that he'd show more fiscal responsibility than Bush did, which isn't hard to do; surely there are government programs out there that don't serve liberal ideological ends and could be cut. He lost whatever good will or benefit-of-the-doubt I was inclined to give him by neglecting, backtracking, or going back on his word on all these issues.

Given that a presidential term is four years, I will cut the President a little more slack to accomplish his goals. Of course, the President believes he was elected to actually do somthing about the problems he identified during the campaign; apparently Prof. Bernstein would feel better if the Obama Administration did nothing.

Short of vetoing an entire bill, the President can do very little about earmarks--does Prof. Bernstein favor amending the Constitution to create a line-item veto? I don't recall any such advocacy when the other party controlled the Presidency and Congress (correct me if I am wrong). The obsession with earmarks really distracts from the other issues facing the country. Citizens Against Government Waste identifies $19.6 billion as "pork" out of a multi-trillion dollar budget. Yawn.

I believe the Administration has taken steps in favor of transparency--releasing White House visitor logs (with commonsense exceptions--do we really need to know what friends Sasha has over for ice cream?) and prompt posting of OLC opinions. Would I like to see a restoration of a White House taping system? Sure, but I don't expect it to happen. Posting of legislation before it is signed--sure, why not, even though it is a pointless exercise since it has already been passed by Congress. And if you are really interested in it you would go to THOMAS.

Would like I like Obama to be more liberal--sure, but I understand the realities of politics. But, then again, maybe Prof. Bernstein wishes he was more authoritrian to meet his expectations.

Bring out the violins.
9.10.2009 5:22pm
SeaDrive:
Prof. Bernstein, your post is an example of why academia is called the ivory tower.

Obama has taken on too much. Obama has not gotten around to everything. Obama has failed to persuade the Democrats to behave like centrists. Obama has failed to get the Republicans to cooperate. Obama has failed to change the dysfunctional habits of the Congress. Et cetera.

Let's be realistic.
9.10.2009 5:22pm
Patent Lawyer (mail):
Eli Rabett:

Here's the exact quote:

People tend to vote how they live and, despite the particular cultural differences that influence the politics of American Jews, I suspect that lifestyle has a lot to do with the persistence of liberalism in Jewish politics.

If Messrs. Podhorhetz, et al., wish to promote conservatism among American Jews, let them find some way to encourage Jewish families to move to small towns in the Heartland, where their kids can grow up hunting, fishing and hot-rodding the backroads. A guy with a gun rack in the back window of his four-wheel drive truck may occasionally vote Democrat, but he's extremely unlikely to be an out-and-out liberal.


Having had personal experience with Jewish communities in NYC (very urban), Cleveland (suburban), and Augusta, GA (small town), I'll vouch for his correctness. It's been my experience as a Jew who grew up outside of NYC that NYC-area Jews are extremely provincial; they barely conceive of Jewish communities outside the city and its suburbs. For many of them, I'm the first non-Orthodox Jewish Republican they've ever met.

You're missing the point of Roth's book, of course; the purpose of the fictional program was to separate children from their families, in an analogous way to what both Nazis and Communists have always done. McCain's suggestion was to encourage families to move out of big cities, primarily New York. Huge difference.
9.10.2009 5:35pm
yankee (mail):
"They would have liked Obama to insist that the budget bill he signed in March was not bloated with earmarks."

The article you link to indicates about $7.7 billion in earmarks in a $410 billion dollar bill. That "bloat" is less than 2% of the bill. I won't dispute that your relatives object to that, but it's an absurd objection even from a liberal point of view.

Can there be any real doubt that (a) if a repeal of DoMA his his desk, he'll sign it

That's a big if!
9.10.2009 5:47pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
But, as I've said before, I would never delete even a juvenile insulting comment if the commenter would have the courage and character to use his real name, and not hide behind a pseudonym while flinging insults.

OK, this is off-topic, but I'm curious as to why you would make this distinction. A juvenile insult is a juvienile insult; it doesn't move the conversation forward, violates the comment policy, makes the blog a less pleasant place, etc. Why delete only if the poster isn't using his/her real name? Why not delete if the poster is using his/her real name?

Although let me stress, as someone who uses his real name, this policy does not tempt me to use juvenile insults.
9.10.2009 5:52pm
c.gray (mail):

The article you link to indicates about $7.7 billion in earmarks in a $410 billion dollar bill. That "bloat" is less than 2% of the bill. I won't dispute that your relatives object to that, but it's an absurd objection even from a liberal point of view.


So if a mobbed-up union official only gives his capo's "financial services company" 2% of the local's pension fund as a "consulting fee", that's ok, right? It's just 2%. Nothing to worry about.
9.10.2009 5:54pm
rick.felt:
I don't recall any such advocacy [of a line item veto] when the other party controlled the Presidency and Congress (correct me if I am wrong).

Hypocrisy is the internet's favoritest charge, isn't it? "I don't remember you calling for what you're calling for now when the shoe was on the other food." has to be one of the most common phrases to appear on the internet. Everybody presumes their opponents are hypocrites.

I don't know where Bernstein stood in the mid-90s, but the GOP Congress passed a line-item veto when Bill Clinton was in the White House, so I'm think that entitles those of us on the right to a presumption of non-hypocrisy on this issue.

Also, "when the other party controlled the presidency AND Congress" is not the situation you're looking for if you want to expose hypocrisy. What you're looking for is when your opponent's party controls the legislature but not the executive. That's when a line-item veto hurts. It should have little effect when there's common rule of the political branches.
9.10.2009 6:40pm
rick.felt:
Shoe was on the other food? Ugh.
9.10.2009 6:41pm
ArthurKirkland:

and Karl Rove's apparent plan to drive all well-educated, secular folks out of the party in exchange for the votes of the most ignorant elements of the fundamentalist community


That's a dandy sentiment, Professor, and one nearly impossible to square with a prospective vote for the Virginia gubernatorial candidate from Far Outer Jesusland.
9.10.2009 7:00pm
ChrisTS (mail):
rick.felt:
Ugh.

Yes, but it was funny. Maybe you could get a book deal for 'Feltisms.' (But, of course, they do have to be accidental.)
9.10.2009 7:05pm
second history:
I don't know where Bernstein stood in the mid-90s, but the GOP Congress passed a line-item veto when Bill Clinton was in the White House, so I'm think that entitles those of us on the right to a presumption of non-hypocrisy on this issue.

Unconstitutionally, of course.
9.10.2009 7:11pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Patent lawyer wins the Sarcatro
You're missing the point of Roth's book, of course; the purpose of the fictional program was to separate children from their families, in an analogous way to what both Nazis and Communists have always done. McCain's suggestion was to encourage families to move out of big cities, primarily New York. Huge difference.
9.10.2009 7:50pm
Derrick (mail):
Nope, that means either you don't understand what "partisanship" means in this context, or you don't pay real attention. I would wager any amount of your choosing that Orin has voted for far more Republican candidates over the last decade than I have (a pretty easy bet to win, since McCain is the only one I've voted for).


It seems that your really trying to twist the word "partisanship" in your favor. I'll take a Republican who votes down the line for Republican candidates but wants to have a good faith debate over health reform, over an Independent who would rather talk about "death panels" and birth certificates any day. I just think that by your consistent comments on this issue you lack a self-awareness about your political writing. For some reason, you think that people are just picking on you for no reason, instead of actually wondering why your writings consistently receive more criticism than others. I'll say for the last time, despite any minor goodwill that you've shown Obama, you outweigh that by the number of petty and unfair posts that you've graced us with over the years. I read a number of right-of-center blogs, and I've seen more benefit of the doubt from sites like Hot Air than I've seen from posts by you.
9.10.2009 7:52pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I wish DB had opened comments on his series of posts on Garlasco's interest in and book on WWII Nazi memorabilia. They are a treasure trove of fallacious reasoning in the pursuit of character assassination.
9.10.2009 8:04pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
c.gray:

The article you link to indicates about $7.7 billion in earmarks in a $410 billion dollar bill. That "bloat" is less than 2% of the bill.

So if a mobbed-up union official only gives his capo's "financial services company" 2% of the local's pension fund as a "consulting fee", that's ok, right?

No, it's not OK. Nor is it OK to spend money poisoning water supplies or beating up nuns, but what does that have to do with earmarks? Earmarks are often inefficient, sometimes wasteful, and at their worst, corrupting. That's bad enough, but it doesn't equate them with criminal thuggery.
9.10.2009 8:13pm
second history:
Most of DB's posts are unrelated to the law or politics, but focus on his obsession with Israel and dislike of Human Rights Watch. No reason you can't take advantage of his open comments here.
9.10.2009 8:16pm