Your Choice

If this is true, then there are two choices:

1.  Obama is a Democrat, and he is a political moron.

2.  Obama is a Republican, and he is a political genius.

Your mileage may vary.

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.

64 thoughts on “Your Choice”

  1. “The rap on Barack Obama isn’t his abysmal failures vis-a-vis the Republicans; its his abysmal effort in refusing to fight for the programs we thought we voted for.”

    Exactly. Barack Obama is not a moron. But he is a faithless liar with an unreasonable belief in his own powers of sweet reason. And I wish I lived in a state where not voting for him would hurt. I have been voting for Democrats since 1974, except for a GOP Primary vote in 1992 so I could vote against Poppy Bush twice in one year. This President showed me the error of my ways. Taking good advice from Michael Harrington, one of the few political actors I have ever found worth listening to, a vote for the Democrat was always a vote for the Left Wing of the Possible. But that was before this striver felt the need to call Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein “savvy businessmen.” Uh huh. From now on, when there is no reasonable third choice, the line will be left blank.

  2. Koreyel,

    For a long time, I took your position re: supreme court as the basis for my choices. The problem is that is that such thinking is that we always get the evil – just slightly less evil. Obama in most of his function has been a force for political evil – I accept your point re appointments, that’s an exception. But from his refusal to deal with torture, to actively engaging in it (Manning), from his refusal to deal with the malfeasance in the banking industry, to his purely phony setup getting to ACA (can’t negotiate for prices on drugs, can’t have a public option, it is really a farce). I could keep on with example after example after example. It isn’t going to get better until we have choices outside McCain/Palin vs. Obama, or whoever next year vs. Obama.

    Until the portion of the population that is voting for the lesser evil stops and finds someone not evil, we are going to sit here and make stupid comments that amount to hoping that Obama *really* is playing eleventy-dimensional chess. He isn’t. He never has. He does a decent job getting exactly what he thinks should be done, done. He comes out and says he believes in austerity,and folks on RBC say he doesn’t really believe that (see above). Do I believe that it would be better if McCain were president – well, I know that my Social Security check wouldn’t be in Jeopardy for August, and the program would be safe because there would be a virtual riot among Dems if he were messing with it (see Bush in 2005 – You think McCain could do better?). I know that Bush got a better stimulus package through. I can go on with that, there is a hell of a lot that would be no worse (wars, torture) and much more that might be better – civil liberties for instance. So, we accept a “lesser evil” to safeguard a minority position on the Supreme Court, until some liberal kicks off with a conservative president and then its all over? Dumb.

    Unless we (progressives, liberals DFHs) move proactively, it is all over – forever. We can cry about the Overton Window, I expect my president and representatives (those I vote for) to move it back, I voted for Clinton, he didn’t, I voted for Obama and he moves it to the right. Until those of us who were DFHs and are now the only ones left who can fire multiple neurons simultaneously, until we start to fight back, to call our hopey changey president what he is – A manchurian candidate from the conservative side? or just a traitor to liberalism, or just a fraud (and you know that I can demonstrate that any one or all of those are true), until we move positively to take back the government, all of it, this isn’t going to change.

    Ahh hell, its easier to sit here and argue about what Obama “Really” thinks, than go out and really shake things up. Never did learn to make or throw bombs

  3. Never saw the “Newer Comments” button here on Samefacts before; I suspect that this discussion will end at the 50th comment!


  4. Honestly, the pure-of-heart lefties here are rage-inducing. Brad, in what alternate universe are you ever going to find a candidate who meets your specifications? Judging from your last comment you are over 62, but you’re clearly young at heart: 17ish is my guess. The reason we don’t have presidents further to the left is because people like you vote “Nader” as a protest against the politics of the possible. This is pure egotism. “Ha ha! I’ll show you stupid only-moderately-liberal candidate! See how you like THIS!” Then we get 8 years of GWB. And anyone who thinks 8 years of GOP control at the top is no worse than 8 years of a Democrat is deeply confused.

    Obama is not advocating austerity. I know, he talks about “living within our means”. That’s sound-bite theater for the masses. He also talks about investing for the future. And his actions so far seem far more guided by the latter than the former. At least to a far greater extent than anyone else currently at the levers of power. Right now we have divided government, so there’s very little beyond political jiu-jitsu to be accomplished. And judging from the latest reports from the front line, Obama seems to be playing that game pretty well.

    You and many others on this site seem maddened by the fact that Obama isn’t exercising his dictatorial powers to make all the right things happen. Guess what: he doesn’t have them. Yeah, it’s a bummer. But it’s not his fault. You want to make things better next time? Vote for the Democrats. Don’t pretend there’s an alternative or that it doesn’t make any difference.

  5. From all the available evidence I’ve seen—both words and deeds—Obama sincerely believes that Deficits Are Bad and that Taxes Aren’t So Good, Either. I wish this weren’t the case, but since this has become the entrenched conventional wisdom of the DC/media chattering classes, it’s not surprising. By the time a politician has risen to national prominence and passed through the meat-grinder of the Presidential primaries, it’s too late to expect that politician to deviate too far from the conventional wisdom. People lionize FDR for his populism, but FDR made his own compromises in order to get support from white Democrats in the South, and FDR was elected in an environment where economic populism was a serious force on both the far left (Communism) and the far right (the folks blaming the Depression on the Jews).

    If a fire-breathing progressive Democrat could win the hearts of 51% of the voters, we would be in the second term of the Dean Administration.

    The real action at this point is not the Presidency, but the places farther down the ticket that can exert pressure on the Presidency. Nancy Pelosi has figured this out. If you want to move the national conversation leftward, look for opportunities in Congressional primaries and races, or for initiatives at the state level.

  6. Brad: I disagree that having a Democratic president doesn’t matter on wars or torture. While it’s true that the Obama administration has basically given our war criminals amnesty — which is quite bad — had he been president instead of the previous guy, he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq and he might have been smart enough not to fight the Taliban, as opposed to Al Qaeda.

    This is enough that I’m sure I will vote for him in 2012. Just to avoid more murdering of foreigners who haven’t done anything to us. It’s more than enough.

    But what people are arguing about here — who is the president, really? — is pretty much over. He’s a very nice person who’s a Republican. Even his health care plan was Republican. Guess what, folks? Not all Republicans are bad! Let’s not forget that. They are not all crazy.

    Now, why don’t we focus on how to Move That Effin Window???

  7. There’s no point in just being angry and disappointed. We should put our energy into something that will actually make the world better.

  8. And don’t get me started on third parties. Nader killed the Greens and that was the end of that.

  9. Foster Boondoggle,

    Well, you’ve missed my point, and that’s my respoonsibility. I’ve always voted for the lesser evil. I’m done with that since what I get for it is pretty bad and not improving. It is clear to me that the leadership of the Democratic party has pretty much sold out, much as the Republicans have, so I don’t expect much to change in the Democratic party. So, if the person running for president doesn’t represent my “pure-heart” in any way shape or form, then the only excuse I have for voting for that person is the Supreme Court. But, if all the great compromisers out there stopped voting for the lessor evil, the possibility of change returns. It isn’t there as long as we all keep on as we are.

    The strawmen you’ve thrown up are beneath you. I have no expectation or desire tghat Obama act as a dictator, I just want him to try to fulfill the promise he represented. And frankly, I would rather be like a 17 year old than a broken down boondongle sneering at the desire for things to be donbe much much better (I am 65 btw). Idealism isn’t stupid, and always settling so something worse doesn’t happen is a form of servitude. A dreary form of servitude. What about not settling and making things better. I know, you get older you are supposed to stop taking chances, but only by taking the risk can you hope to move ahead.

  10. Sorry, but we aren’t living in New Zealand. You don’t get to vote without considering the international effects of your choices. We may not like much of what this president does, but it is unquestionably *much* worse for the rest of the world if we let another Republican president get elected. (At least until they stop being nuts.)

    Vote for Obama: it’s the least you can do (literally).

    Now, let’s focus on moving the window. Who has ideas?

  11. @Aidan: “This allows Obama to appear reasonable, compromising, and moderate, without actually having to push to enact a policy that I doubt he actually supports. It doesn’t appear to actually carry very much risk – I think it’s a good deal more savvy than you give him credit for.”

    I guess if you think the “idea of raising the Medicare eligibility age” is, or ought to be, considered “reasonable”, then it is all fine and good.

    One of my fears — widely shared from the tenor of the comments in this thread — is that Obama legitimizes many dangerous Republican memes, moving the Overton Window to the Right, etc.

    My other important fear in this context is the Obama actually does want to reduce Social Security benefits and raise the Medicare eligibility age.

  12. We need a primary challenger. I like the president but I think we need to give him cover to move left, and if he doesn’t want to move left, we should try to persuade him. Otherwise I don’t see anything positive happening for the next few years.

  13. Ha ha! NOW I get it. Brad just wants his Social Security check … NOW! Who cares if the nation is in a fiscal position to get the SS checks to the Gen X’rs in twenty years. I WANT MINE!

    Always Boomers, eating up all the picnic first and congratulating themselves on their wisdom in doing so.

  14. NCG: “Vote for Obama: it’s the least you can do (literally)”

    Hey, I smell a bumper sticker!

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