Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rewards

For political parties and the people who depend on them for a sense of belonging, there will never be a time to challenge, criticize or threaten their leader. From an article at the Huffington Post.
President Barack Obama made a direct, personal appeal to 30,000 of his top campaign activists on Tuesday night, asking them to stay involved in politics and to continue pressuring Republicans during upcoming tax and budget negotiations.
"I'm so proud of what you guys accomplished and I will always be in awe and inspired by what you've done," the president said on the call, which the Huffington Post listened to. "So that's the good news. The bad news is our work can't stop now. Because as we learned in the first term, in some ways an election is just the beginning. It is not the end point. It is a means to a goal and that is to actually help families all across the country."
Note that he does not speak of rewarding them for their hard work; his career successes are their rewards. Leaders believe that followers owe them, they do not owe their followers.

Obama is extremely shrewd and he knows how to manipulate people. His statement that he must cut "entitlements" or the Republicans will do it instead is one example of this and the above statement is another. He wants to keep activists' focus on what Republicans are doing instead of what he is doing.
The president, speaking from a White House phone, cautioned listeners to expect disappointments during his second term. As he has in the past, Obama warned that he was prepared to swallow some bitter pills during the negotiations, including some that would agitate the base.
"As we move forward there are going to be new wrinkles and new frustrations, we can't predict them yet," he said. "We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about, making sure that our tax system is fair. So we are going to need you guys to stay active. We need you to stick with us and stay on this."
What he means, of course, is that he needs the people who helped him get reelected to keep the rest of the Democratic party in line when they are told to accept cuts in the safety net.
But with the sour, he promised some sweets. Obama said that his White House would be more effective at community engagement. He pledged to have his team give more "clear directions and talking points in terms of how we keep mobilizing across the country." He also said that he planned to spend more time outside of the nation's capital during the next four years.
"One of my pledges for a second term is to get out of Washington more often because it is just good for my soul," said Obama.
The "sweets" are not Democratic principles and programs, they are hints that activists will actually be able to see Obama in person. Perhaps even take their picture with him! Who knows? What greater reward for selling out our elderly can one ask?
The president's comments -- the most explicit push yet for campaign volunteers to continue their election-type engagement -- came during a conference call organized by what remains of the Obama campaign. Mitch Stewart, one of Obama's top campaign aides, told listeners they would be outfitted with activist tools for the critical weeks of negotiations ahead. Stewart also revealed that some campaign staffers remained in Obama's Chicago reelection headquarters, crunching data to figure which community activist tools had worked during the election.
"As the president said, our work is not done," said Stewart. "We are never going to stop trying to be better. And there are important lessons to be learned from" the election. "There is an immediate need around the fiscal cliff that people can start to engage on," Stewart said.
Obama's priority is attacking the deficit, a non-existent problem. It is an excuse to cut Democratic programs, which will be immediately used against them by Republicans. After Obama is out of office.
The president's call to the cavalry will be welcome news to Democrats who complained Obama reverted to an inside game during his first term. Equipped with an email list of 13 million activists and more devoted followers, Obama spent much of his first four years trying to move legislation through backroom negotiations.
Of course he did. The activists were no longer necessary so they were shut out of any legislation. Now that they are needed again they are activated again.
Tuesday night's conference call suggests more of a reliance on an outside game approach -- something that the campaign has hinted it would do. In an early November conference call with Democratic-leaning reporters, Jeremy Bird, the president's top grassroots organizer, explained that the campaign was specifically constructed to be "long-lasting."
Here is the game approach they are using:


It will last as long as it is needed and then the backroom negotiations will recommence.

24 comments:

fish said...

I used to have one of those pictures with Obama's face on it, but people thought I was too cynical. I am not cynical enough.

Susan of Texas said...

We need more cynicism. We need a cynicism epidemic.

We're going to be reading a lot about how Republicans are forcing Obama to make sensible, necessary and minor changes that will benefit us all in the long run, I think.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

fish is an emo-proggie firebagger who lets the perfect be the enema of the good!!!1!
~

KWillow said...

This time nobody is gonna be claiming that Obama is playing elevinty-dimensional chess or something, just wait! And "Occupy" is still around.

Anonymous said...

Notably missing from anything Obama said: "I will DESTROY ALL MY CRITICS!1!!!1!! Kill! Kill!"

Don't worry, you'll have another chance to vote for a Republican president (via your favored third party candidate) in 2016. I'm sure that will work out better for the poor, the sick, and the meek then whatever moderate corporatist the Democrats offer up.

Susan of Texas said...

KWillow, the Occupy movement gives me a lot of hope.

Susan of Texas said...

Anon, no doubt that will be a great consolation to you when the economy does not have enough jobs, you are old and sick, and Obama's raised the retirement/Medicare age to 79 or above.

Downpuppy said...

Talking to supporters isn't betraying anyone. This is definitely the time to make noisy demands, not to preemptively surrender to the preemptive surrenderer.

Sure, there's a high probability that a sellout will follow anyhow. That will be the time for quiet retribution, & the start of the 2014 campaign. Ready to run?

Susan of Texas said...

Don't you know third parties can't win? (heh)

We'll see what the supporters do. Since the other side is always worse no doubt they'll be pretty happy to oblige.

tobymarx said...

Once again, you've nailed it, Susan. What never ceases to amaze me (although you'd think it would have long ago) is how many otherwise reasonably intelligent people continue to believe that our "leaders" have anything but their own personal interests at heart.

Downpuppy said...

One neat thing about the US system is that anybody - from Lyndon LaRouche to Bernie Sanders - can run as a Democrat (Or even a Republican, if you have no shame)

No need to go third party. Take over the machinery. Hell - in a lot of places they'll just hand it to you if you promise to mop.

Susan of Texas said...

No money, no credentials except now-useless teaching degree, no backing, no career, no support system, family responsibilities, too old to work my way up from nothing.

I would enjoy writing speeches and copy for a campaign but I would also enjoy riding a unicorn through fields of flowers.

HMDK said...

I still don't get why american so-called lefties are so quick to accept Democratic jizz. If I was american, sure, I'd have voted for Obama in the end, because the alternative was worse. But I'd have worked overtime to establish something better in the meantime.Here's the thing, though: All of you leftist voters, who voted for the Democrats, now is the time for you to actually do shit. There´s 4 years. Don't fucking waste them.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read it the same way. Maybe I'm not cynical enough. The way I understood it is he wants his ground game working on moving public opinion, so they (the people) can get what they want.

Just imagine if at the time the Tea Party started protesting against stimulus and helping swindled mortgage owners the Occupy movement had been going strong. who knows, we might have gotten some semblance of meaningful reform in wall street. It was the same thing for health care reform. Same thing for the Dream act.

come to think of it, we do need to be cynical. we need to be cynical to understand that Obama is not going to do anything we don't force him to do. We can't think, "He's like me; he knows what is right and will act accordingly." We need to move public opinion until the conservatives and independents are as ashamed about calling for lower taxes on the rich as they are about their rapey republicans and show-me-your-papers policies.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, I've seen a great number of people tell me that they are just looking out for their own interests yet they think Obama will not do the same. We need to continue to pressure everyone to preserve the safety net.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

All of you leftist voters, who voted for the Democrats, now is the time for you to actually do shit. There´s 4 years. Don't fucking waste them.

I expect the lesser evil crowd to do the same thing over the next four years that they did the last:

Make excuses for Obama, and shout down any Opostates who dare to point out that he's selling us all out.

P.S. Related.

P.P.S. Not to forgive myself entirely, I was a bit late in catching on.

Some figured it out before November of 2008.
~

Anonymous said...

My Green vote feels good, and better every day we get closer to the "grand bargain".

Downpuppy said...

So McArglebargle got into the whole Jubilee Scam & I'm all NuhUh - http://downpuppy.blogspot.com/2012/11/fun-with-irs-also-playmate-twins.html

Anonymous said...

This notion that Obama is a cult leader is a classic right wing trope. The presser by congressional progressives drawing the line on SS/Medicare/Medicaid cuts is getting just as much attention as Obama's speech. Obama's willingness to negotiate with SS/etc. is reprehensible, but the election wasn't all about Obama. The progressive wing of the party seems to be emboldened--as a result of the progressive successes in the election. At least for the short term, Obama is likely to receive significantly more pressure from the left than in his first term (and again, I'm talking about the House/Senate, not dem voters, who you take such pride in mocking). If you think the left's potential for a real policy impact would be greater under Romney, you are truly delusional.

So, to sum: if the objective is to strengthen Dem institutions like SS/Medicare/Medicaid, that's best done by supporting legitimately progressive elected officials, who are more powerful now than a month ago, no thanks to third party fantasists.
David

Susan of Texas said...

I did not call Obama a cult leader. He does not need to do anything to get anyone to do anything. They do it willingly, eagerly, in anticipation of his needs and wants. If you want to say that authoritarian followers share some characteristics with cult followers I might agree.

The presser by congressional progressives drawing the line on SS/Medicare/Medicaid cuts is getting just as much attention as Obama's speech

Non-sequitur; my post was about the underlying message in the presser, not the lack of attention given to those pushing back against the idea of cutting the safety net.

Obama's willingness to negotiate with SS/etc. is reprehensible, but the election wasn't all about Obama.

Also non-sequitur; nobody says it was. However, we do agree that Obama is willing to "negotiate" with SS and that such a move is reprehensible, hence my post above about SS "reform."

The progressive wing of the party seems to be emboldened--as a result of the progressive successes in the election.

How? Who is emboldened? The election was not a success for progressives, it was a success for moderates, which most people acknowledged by saying that there were some problems with Obama's position but that he was a lot more liberal than Romney.

At least for the short term, Obama is likely to receive significantly more pressure from the left than in his first term (and again, I'm talking about the House/Senate, not dem voters, who you take such pride in mocking).

You are acknowledging that these people will probably not be able to keep up the pressure; they all need money for reelection and the power in Congress is not on the side of people who oppose the rich and powerful.

If you think the left's potential for a real policy impact would be greater under Romney, you are truly delusional.

If Romney threatened to cut SS the left would immediately go on the attack en mass. They would not tell the left to be quiet and let Romney do whatever he wanted because while cutting SS is reprehensible, it must be permitted anyway.


So, to sum: if the objective is to strengthen Dem institutions like SS/Medicare/Medicaid, that's best done by supporting legitimately progressive elected officials, who are more powerful now than a month ago, no thanks to third party fantasists.

I think I called this earlier in the thread: "We're going to be reading a lot about how Republicans are forcing Obama to make sensible, necessary and minor changes that will benefit us all in the long run, I think." You say benefit, I say necessary, same thing.

Also I have never supported third parties, I have said that we need to pressure Obama to keep his hands off of SS and Medicare.

So, to sum: You have accused me of doing several things I did not do, told me that cutting SS is reprehensible but would strengthen SS, and that Romney would have cut it more anyway.

Congratulations; you have proven my theory that the left will do nothing to stop Obama from cutting SS and will attack anyone who tries to do so.

Anonymous said...

You don't think the house and senate are significantly more progressive than they were before the election? You're the only one. Yes, Obama is a moderate, but Elizabeth Warren isn't. Alan Grayson isn't, etc.

I absolutely oppose any cuts to social security. I have no idea how you interpreted my point to suggest that I agreed with the beltway consensus that we need to cut ss to make it stronger in the long run. What I actually said was that I think it's more likely than before the election that elected Dems could successfully influence Obama to avoid cuts altogether. Likely? Probably not, but a better chance than before the election.

And obviously a better chance than in a Romney presidency. And a much better chance of stopping the cuts now than eliminating them in the next Dem presidency after a horrible Romney term unifies the Dems, or whatever you seem to believe is better than what we have now.

You say that my mention of a major press conference where progressive Dems insist on NO cuts to ss is a non sequitor: I was responding to your repeated insistence that there is supposedly never an appropriate time to criticize--or even differ with--the president. You say "the left will do nothing to stop Obama from cutting SS and will attack anyone who tries to do so." That's exactly what I was arguing against, by citing the press conference where real live actual democrats insisted that Obama not cut SS! And guess what? Most of the left wing world agreed with them!

Downpuppy said...

For a post about the lack of jokes on comment boards ( http://downpuppy.blogspot.com/2012/11/susan-burgess-shall.html ) I need more bad driver jokes!

Thanks everso.

fish said...

Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He is an independent.

The Promiscuous Reader said...

Obama is not a moderate, either. He is a Reagan Democrat, and Reagan was a far right-wing Republican.