Objection Overruled

The Republicans may be evil, but that won’t win elections for the Democrats.

Mark, surely you know the nature of a rhetorical question.  And I agree with you that the other side is flat out evil.  But few people are as partisan as we are, at least on an outpatient basis.

I posed the question because it goes to the question of depressing — and betraying — the promises that Obama has made to the country and to the base.  You and I will continue to vote and support Democrats against the Republicans because (to borrow from Nye Bevan) the Republicans are “lower than vermin.”  But for the millions of people who voted for the man, stating that Republicans are evil is not enough.  They won’t show up to the polls.

He has to deliver.  He hasn’t, yet.  I won’t go through the litany again.  But “trust me” or good speeches are simply not good enough anymore.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “Objection Overruled”

  1. See my response to Mike. Criticizing specific tactics and policies can be helpful; slurs on the President's character and fitness to lead – even if they were justified, which I'm convinced they're not – wind up helping the other side.

    As to whether it's possible to mobilize voters to vote "against," I refer you to the results of the 1972 elections. "Tricky Dick" was loved neither among the Republican base nor among independents, but George McGovern brought them out in droves to give Nixon a huge landslide. If Obama can position the Republicans as the defenders of the banks – and keep enough Democrats in line for tough regulation and a big-bank tax to make it a clear partisan issue – that should bring us out all right this year.

    But in any case I fail to see how spreading despair is helpful to the cause. If the complaint about Obama is that he's doing things that will make winning in November '10 and November '12 harder by depressing turnout among our base, then the complaint itself shouldn't have that same effect.

  2. Why are criticisms of his fitness to lead "slurs"? Isn't fitness to lead an essential part of being, well, a leader?

  3. When I find Obama lacking in some way and start to despair I recall McCain and his brilliant VP choice. Things could be a whole bunch o' worse for sure.

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