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The Octangulator

© Jen Sorensen

Sorensen has some interesting commentary to go with this comic about Obama’s seeming hyper-cautiousness. From the NY Times:

A Democratic Congressional adviser, granted anonymity to discuss party deliberations, said: “We’re at a loss to figure out a way to articulate the argument [for economic stimulus] in a way that doesn’t get us pegged as tax-and-spenders.”

Sorensen’s response:

Democrats could balance budgets until the end of time and still get tagged as tax-and-spenders. So this strategist’s solution is to stand like an unblinking cow in the middle of the train tracks and do nothing? For this, he or she actually gets paid?



  1. jonah wrote:

    The key is to act like whatever they are doing is the right thing to do and not be apologetic about it. The white house is nervous about perception. The Shirley Sherrod incident is a prime example. Why perception and not action is more important beats me. To me that’s the most disappointing part about the BHO presidency.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 3:25 am | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    “Why perception and not action ” Jonah has come upon the whole crux of the matter. Perception is what gets you elected to the office the first time, action is what gets you re-elcted. BHO is the consumate candidate,a well articulated champion of the everyday man with opinions about all matters that make sense. Someone who inspired hope and could by his very presence have an impact. The action has fallen very short, outside of health care reform and even that did not quite live up to expectations or perception. We could say that we put him on that pedestal, but he gladly climbed up there and accepted that mantle.
    For me he lost my confidence almost immediatley. As a candidate he said he would eliminate or illuminate pork spending. The ARRA and shortly afterward the first omnibus appropriations bill were both loaded with pork. As a candidate he had vowed to reform earmarks, but he signed them into law without question, just like GWB did to get his war spending.
    He caved to congress, his own congress. Repub were only to happy to take a seat at the pork fest as well, Boehner aside (who has never taken an earmark). In my mind if he had held firm from that first moment, he would have my vote and much of the middle a steward of the peoples money. There would have been a new sheriff in town and things might have been much different. The ARRA was supposed to be for “shovel ready” projects, but fell way short. Yes a few got done, but not enough. 850 Bill gone where? To top it all off Americans need jobs, jobs, jobs, pass this bill now jobs. But our own government outsources jobs to China and other countries.
    If our own governments federal and local don’t want to support American workers we are in deep trouble and will likely never start regrowing our economy. Maybe we should outsource our government to China.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    Psgt – the core issue that Obama has faced is that what he (or anyone else believes) is the right thing to do on any issue is not what can get past the House and get 60 votes on the Senate. Obama can be for single payer health care – but can’t get it passed. Can be for consumer protections – but can’t get them funded. Can be for making sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes – but can’t get the tax changes enacted.

    I, too, had hoped Obama was a true breath of fresh air in Washington. I am now deeply disappointed that either he wasn’t, or that the Washington smog polluted that air to the point it remains almost unbreathable.

    All that said, the question is not whether we like Obama – the question is, what do we do about it? As Sorensen correctly responds, standing like an unblinking cow on the train tracks is not a solution. I joined and worked with No Labels hoping it would be part of a solution, but I don’t think their approach is going to work. And I am completely against the current Republican party’s Tea Party vision of America where we have a plutocracy not a republic, we take money out of the mouths of poor children to give rich people tax cuts, and we dismantle every positive social program we’ve enacted over the last 50 years.

    So again, what do we do? We can’t get MORE disgusted with the current system – in the latest NY Times poll, only 6% (!) of people think incumbents in Congress should be re-elected. Changing the process and the Washington machine will take action that can’t be in place before the 2012 election. A real new party that can sweep to complete power isn’t going to appear tomorrow – there aren’t even real signs of one on the horizon, and I am actively searching for them.

    Unfortunately I think that means we have to give complete control back to the Democrats – re-elect Obama, retake the House and get a full 60 seats in the Senate, and accept that even though they will do many stupid things they will be less stupid than electing Republicans. And even if they don’t quite get a full sweep, a massive Democrat victory will put nail in the coffin of the Tea Party’s influence on the Republicans (although I don’t think the final nail) and will make very difficult for them to take the full obstructionist position they have since 2008.

    Like many independents, I prefer a divided government for check-and-balance reasons, but it only works if they two sides can compromise and our current political climate makes compromise impossible – and since it is the conservatives that refuse to compromise, it is the conservatives that must be thrown out.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    “Why perception and not action is more important beats me”. Ha ha ha ha ha. I’m totally cracking up here. You have the perception that the White House is nervous about perception. For heaven’s sake, politics IS all about perception. Death Panels anyone? Why are the Republicans (and many Democrats) so concerned about deficits now when they didn’t care a fig about them under Bush?

    I was kinda hoping that this comic would lead to a discussion about Sorensen’s main point. She claims that since Obama will be labeled a “tax and spend” president anyway, that he should go ahead and tax and spend to stimulate the economy. And yet, how many elections have been lost due to widespread accusations of being tax and spend socialists?

    And PatriotSgt, don’t you even read your own links? The PolitiFact article clearly says that Obama did NOT say he would eliminate pork spending, but that he wanted to reform it (and yes, illuminate it). And he has tried and Congress (including both parties) have fought tooth and nail to keep pork spending. You say Boehner has never taken an earmark — read He may not have ever personally *requested* an earmark, but he has had other congressmen request them for him.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  5. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Didn’t i say that IK – “As a candidate he had vowed to reform earmarks”

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    “As a candidate he said he would eliminate or illuminate pork spending.”

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Alright- let me revise to be clear – it is reform and illuminate, ie. transparency.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    On the Joint Strike Fighter there appears to be alot more to the story. The Pelosi house passed the bill in 2010. Yes, the Boehner house tried to vote to keep it, but many Tea Partiers along with liberals joined forces to kill it in 2011. Close, but not quite what thinkprogress depicts it to be.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  9. kshoe wrote:

    Isn’t there some youth expression along the lines of, “haters are gonna hate”? In politics, perception isn’t just more important than action. Perception IS reality. The right will criticize Obama no matter what he does, so he what does he have to lose by “taxing and spending” to stimulate the economy? As Arthanyel points out, there’s only so much that the president can do, given the situation in Congress.

    Rhetorically speaking, however, (and I may have this here, but at the moment I can’t remember where) the right has called Obama and illegimate, a communist, a fascist (at the same time, apparently) etc. They’re painted into a corner in effect. Even if a Republican member likes this jobs bill, how can you get behind the president when he’s all of these evil things? It’s perception, or portrayal, as reality.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  10. oregonbird wrote:

    I don’t care what Obama and his adminstration is called by Republicans, of whatever ilk. The fact is, his policies and actions have been old-style Republican – and that’s what progressives and MOR democrats are now calling him. He’s backed the corporatists at every turn, given lobbyists time to dismantle any legislation proposed, and now – now that he’s in campaign mode again – he’s singing the song we’ve sung for the last three years. The difference being, he’s singing it from beneath the wing of one of America’s richest men. It’s horrifying to watch Obama take cover behind Buffett; we’ve had good democratic legislators trying to push through tax rises for years, and the name of a “job creator” gets hung on it like he bought the right to name a ball park?

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  11. Reed Elliott wrote:

    Obama has certainly appeared pretty gutless to me. He caves every time before he fights. I’d give worlds to have FDR back again. That guy once said something to the effect of, “Those people (who support doing nothing) hate me. I welcome their hatred.” Picture Obama saying anything like that under any circumstances!

    That said – it’s still very much a situation of looking at the realistic alternatives. How would you like to discuss these issues with Perry, Bachmann, or Palin?

    Bottom line – it ain’t pretty pardner, but ya better send yer money and spend yer time supporting the best bet out of a bad lot. I am. I ain’t lovin’ it, but I am.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink