Next Morning Presidential Election Thoughts

Last year in October, I did a book tour of Germany. Every night I was there, after my reading, I would have dinner with some of the Germans who were kind enough to have hosted me on the trip. And almost without fail, after enough time had passed that they felt comfortable with me, the more-or-less same question would come up. Paraphrased, it is thus: “Okay, seriously, what is going on with your politics over there? You’re scaring the hell out of us.” And specifically, they wanted to know what was going to happen to President Obama, which the Germans, to a person, saw as a reasonable and moderate leader. They were terrified that he would not be re-elected.

Here’s more or less what I said to the Germans then: “Look, all the political noise is going to get much worse in 2012 because it’s a presidential election year and that’s how we get. It’s going to get loud and weird and you’re going to be much more scared before it’s all over. But in the end Obama’s going to win, because he’s doing as well as he can under the circumstances, and because things are slowly turning around, and because the GOP is running its B-team for President. It’s going to be close, but Obama’s going to do it.”

So to all of my German friends: See? Just like I told you.

***

Four years ago, there were a lot of people who believed that Obama’s election heralded a material change in American politics. I would argue that it’s this one that’s the actual signifier of that change. Look: It’s one thing for a black man with a name like “Barack Hussein Obama” to win an election after eight years of a GOP presidency that culminated with two wars and the greatest economic crisis in eighty years. It’s another thing entirely for that same black man with a funny name to win a second term in the face of an unimpressive economic recovery and the full, uncontained and often unreasoned fury from his opposing side. For better or worse, Americans view one-term presidents as losers or historical flukes: See Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush as examples of this. Barack Obama, whatever else you will say about him — and many will — can no longer be categorized as a loser or a fluke. He won both the electoral and over 50% of the popular vote twice, which is the first time since Reagan that any president managed that.

More to the point, two years after a mid-term election that swept into office some of the most recalcitrant opposition that any modern president has seen, and after four years of dealing with a GOP whose major legislative goal (as Mitch McConnell so memorably put it) was to make Obama a single-term president, Obama’s electoral map was strikingly similar to his first; he lost only two states from 2008. This was a close election, on the popular election front. But after all the noise and thunder and intonation, and assuming Florida falls into the Democratic tally, as it appears likely to do at this point, Obama walks out of the election with 50% more electoral votes than Romney.

This wasn’t a squeaker, and Obama didn’t just get lucky. To be clear, he did get lucky, most obviously in drawing Mitt Romney as an opponent, who gave Obama far too many opportunities to punch at him, and in a GOP which persists in fielding candidates far to the right of the US population as a whole, giving the Democrats a field of bogeymen with which to scare its voter base. But Obama also won because he was canny: how Obama won Ohio this year will be required reading for political wonks for decades. And he also won because of demographics — a word which is currently being used as code by the right for “people who are not straight white men.” Well, as it happens, there are lots of people who are not straight white men in these here United States, and whatever code word you want to use for them, it turns out that their votes count just the same as anyone else’s. Unless the GOP is irretrievably stupid, this is the last presidential election they’ll assume they can win entirely white.

And saliently, Obama successfully made the argument that he was doing his job, despite (and sometimes in spite of) a solid, unified wall of opposition from the GOP. At the end of the day, luck, campaign smarts and “demographics” aren’t going to make the case for a re-election by themselves. People have to believe he’s getting things done. It appears they do.

Obama is not a fluke or a historical blip. You can argue he won his first presidential election on credit, and I’ll let you have that argument. It’s four years later, and the voters have seen him in action. This election he had to win with what was on his ledger. He won it, and he won it big enough to forestall all doubt. If you are one of those who will persist in thinking he’s there by accident or by trivial circumstances, you’re delusional. And you’re likely doomed to see your preferred presidential candidates lose. This isn’t Reagan’s America anymore, or Bush’s. It’s Obama’s. You should get used to that.

***

For all that, four years ago when Obama won, I offered readers here a reality check regarding their expectations for the man. Here is the reality check this year:

* The House is still in GOP hands. In the Senate the Democrats do not have a filibuster-proof majority. We have a divided government, and the GOP standard operating procedure is to oppose every single thing Obama is for. Don’t expect that to change.

* You’ve had four years to see how Obama works and how he does his job. If you’re expecting that to change, you haven’t been paying attention.

* Obama is not a liberal. He’s definitely not a socialist. He’s a moderately left-leaning centrist. Anyone who believes (or at least says) otherwise on either side of the aisle is speaking rhetorical nonsense. Obama will lead from the center. That’s what he does. That’s who he is.

* Those who dislike Obama for whatever reasons they do are still there. And they dislike him even more today. They also dislike what he represents: The end to a comfortable (for them), right-leaning United States. You will not stop hearing from them.

* The presidential election settled one thing: Who is president for the next four years. All the rest of it is up in the air. And a lot of it will be up to you, and us.

***

How do I feel about Obama’s re-election? As I said last night: Relieved. Pleased. And ready to move forward.

Congratulations to our president.

Congratulations to the United States.

Let’s get to work.

152 thoughts on “Next Morning Presidential Election Thoughts

  1. Not much for me to say that wasn’t said last night. Unless Obama and the Democrats really are closeted fiscal conservatives who can balance budgets and cut the debt, I foresee Very Bad Stuff for these United States. Maybe Romney was a “B Team” candidate, but I liked him best of any candidate since Perot, and Perot was my pick for (knock knock) economic reasons. Others obviously have different criteria. And many appear quite content to lay off all ills on the Republicans while not holding the feet of the Democrats to the fire for gross profligacy. Now we have four more years of . . . what, I am not sure. No wait, I am sure. It’s not gonna be good. And I hope I am so totally wrong. I really do. This country needs me to be wrong in my dour prediction for our economic insolvency. In the end, Obama voters, you wanted him back? You got him. And if things aren’t so chipper and rosy as time passes, please do yourselves the favor of not blaming things on anyone other than yourselves. After 8 years, Obama and the Democrats will have no more excuses.

  2. “GOP is running its B-team running for President”

    I totally agree with you on this. My question, though, is who is the GOP A-Team? And could that A-Team ever survive the GOP Primary process?

  3. One of the reasons that I think that Obama won is he proved in the last year especially that though he was demonstrably willing to sell out things that Liberals and Socialists admire (like civil liberties and sticking it to Wall Street) there were things we was demonstrably not willing to sell out, including Women’s health. Also he made movements towards immigrant reform that brought out a positive hispanic/latino response.

    Yes, he isn’t the great Liberal President the leftists wanted him to be in 2004, but he is someone women and non-whites could come out and vote for.

  4. We have a divided government, and the GOP standard operating procedure is to oppose every single thing Obama is for.

    This sums up pretty much all of my problems with modern politics. Last night Orrin Hatch said that he expects Pres. Obama to compromise and work with the Republicans. Dude, it works both ways. The GOP needs to learn to compromise a little, too.

    At the end of the day, though, I’m also relieved that Romney didn’t win. The problems that I have with Obama (let’s face it, nobody’s perfect) are things that he can work on in a second term.

  5. John – As always, nicely said. And, FWIW, thanks again for all the work moderating a place for us all to talk about the crazy weird passion fueled election topics.

  6. Brad R. Torgersen:

    “Unless Obama and the Democrats really are closeted fiscal conservatives who can balance budgets and cut the debt”

    Oh, you mean like this?

    Although I’m sure you’ll come up with a reason that shouldn’t count as being something done by a Democrat. Or would, if you didn’t subscribe in a “one and done (sometimes)” philosophy here.

  7. I am extremely interested to see what the Republican party, and its supporters do now.

    They could move even further to the right, or left, or they could factionalise. And it’s that latter one I hope for – the screaming nutjobs could carry on rightwards, but the rest will disavow the hardline social conservatism and concentrate on sensible economic policies.

    And then we can have two sane and competitive voices. For once.

  8. “Sometimes wanting is better than having.” Said about a partner, I say it about government health care. I’m going to be saying “You’ve voted for it” a lot in the next couple of decades. Not that I’ll be happy doing so, but actions have consequences.

  9. I am, like you, relieved.

    The sweetest victory, in my book, were two of the state questions on my ballot in Maryland. But since this thread is about the White House, I’ll abstain from dancing too long on the grave of the ‘but the people have never voted for it’ argument against equal marriage.

    Obama wasn’t the presidential candidate with whom I aligned most closely, but he’s the candidate whom I most trust to govern this country wisely for the next four years. I was glad to vote for him, and I’m glad he won.

  10. As a brand new Senate takes office in January, there is an opportunity to adopt Senate rules by simple majority vote (hoo boy, are there a lot of constitutional arguments built into that sentence). I hope Harry Reid and the Democrats will implement major changes to the filibuster rules. All judicial and executive branch nominations should be able to be brought to the floor for an up or down vote after a reasonably short time. Bills should get a vote too, again, after having been pending for a reasonable amount of time.

  11. Your post highlights to me the reasons I didn’t vote for either candidate. I am not of Obama’s political leanings, but I could not vote in good conscience for the candidate that should have been representing my political views. The Republicans are not a viable choice at this point, at least in my view.

    “Obama will lead from the center. ” I hope you are right. I just wish he would lead. I think it is more important that we have a good and effective president than that we have one who agrees with me on everything. I realize the Republicans make reaching consensus extremely difficult. I hope this round they are more cooperative. However, Obama needs to lead. He hasn’t done a lot of that, in my view. Maybe he’ll do better at it the next four years.

    In the end, I agree with your points about the historic nature of reelecting Obama, and being fairly unimpressed with either candidate as a choice for President, that is a significant and beneficial outcome. As a result, overall I am not unhappy with the outcome even though I am not of Obama’s political persuasion. And I hope that he will truly become the leader his best speaches suggest he aspires to be.

  12. Concur with Paul’s line of thought above: OK, if not Mitt then whom? He got nominated at least in part by being the most-electable of the whole R slate… and it wasn’t enough. Who’s waiting for 2016? I don’t see a Bush, or Christie taking it; certainly not Ryan or one of his colleagues like Bachmann – too bad she’s still there! I’m not sure that, if I were given license to pick a well-known R right now as my candidate for 2016, I could find one I thought was likely to win or even have a good shot.

    I would be grateful for any pointers that you have toward suggested reading on “how Obama won Ohio this year [that] will be required reading for political wonks for decades.” Thanks.

  13. Well-said. Thank you.

    I keep trying to figure out some way to get people to pull together; we have some major problems to tackle here — infighting oughtn’t to be at the top of the list.

  14. You can’t lie through your teeth (up to the very day of voting, even), have those lies debunked, and still expect people to vote for you just because you have wanted it so badly for eight years.

    Just like you cannot run on a platform that every non-partisan group finds full of holes, economic or otherwise, and still expect to win just because you have wanted it so badly for eight years.

    B-team. That’s good stuff. Do republicans have an A-team?

  15. Here’s a reality check. Unless the lame duck congress passes a budget, budget sequestration will go into effect Jan. 2, triggering tens of thousands of layoffs in direct government jobs and in contractors working indirectly for the government, and even more indirectly in businesses providing goods and services to those contractors. Possibly never before in history has a lame duck session been so important. So will it step up to the plate, or will it screw us all over on its way out?

  16. It’s historically very difficult to unseat a Presidential incumbent. But more often than not, the Oval Office switches party hands after a two-term president. There can and have been exceptions, but they are the exceptions. Those are the statistical trends with or against which both major parties must contend, even before factoring in what they actually do or don’t accomplish.

    And he also won because of demographics — a word which is currently being used as code by the right for “people who are not straight white men.”

    I know you’re pretty satisfied with the job the President’s been doing these last four years, more so than I. But you understand that there are significant numbers of voters on the left who voted for the lesser evil this round, and that not all criticism of Obama is motivated by his name or skin tone, right?

    Obama is not a liberal. He’s definitely not a socialist. He’s a moderately left-leaning centrist.

    Some would say he’s a right-leaning centrist. But the fact is that, even though it’s a handy signifier, where one draws the left/right line is really totally arbitrary. And most Americans, our President included, aren’t liberal or conservative on every single issue.

    Anyone who believes (or at least says) otherwise on either side of the aisle is speaking rhetorical nonsense.

    Those labels can be useful, but pretending there’s any hard and fast rules for applying them, that, IMO, is nonsense.

    Also, hail to the chief. Now do a better job this term and justify my vote of confidence in you, Mr. President.

  17. Congrats to him I guess, he won fair and square. I have no respect for him at all for reason that are pointless to mention here. However, If I read your rhetoric correctly it seems you are saying that race and homosexuality was a significant factor?

  18. I predict that the majority of people will notice very little to no changes about any aspect of their life based on the election. I predict that a small number of people will be greatly affected based on availability of health care, right to marry, and right to work. I predict a small number of people will notice a difference in their taxes, but those people already make so much it will have zero affect on their style of living. I predict people will continue to suggest the end of the world is coming, but nothing will actually happen on December 21st and America will just keep right on going for the foreseeable future.

  19. Mitt Romney was the B-Team? I’ll admit that the people around him had a fair number of bone-hunded strategies and gaffes. (Although I could never get behind the argument “I can’t choose good people to run my campaign but I’m sure I’ll run the government just fine.”)

    But Mitt seemed to me to be a very credible candidate. Who else could they have run who would have made any headway into independent voters? Bachmann with her Muslim witchhunts? Santorum and his fetishization of gay sex? Perry with his downhome Texan charm? Jeb Bush and his nuclear last name? (Maybe 2016–maybe.)

    Frankly, I think Mitt was one of the better candidates they had; and I think recognizing that will be central to the reconstitution of a sane, right-leaning party interested in governance.

  20. Unless the lame duck congress passes a budget, budget sequestration will go into effect Jan. 2, triggering tens of thousands of layoffs in direct government jobs and in contractors working indirectly for the government, and even more indirectly in businesses providing goods and services to those contractors. Possibly never before in history has a lame duck session been so important. So will it step up to the plate, or will it screw us all over on its way out?

    John Boehner is already denying that the GOP ever really agreed to the sequestration despite having a majority in his chamber that voted to do so, so I’m not feeling too confident on this. I’m sure Brad et al have an explanation of how it’s all Obama’s fault, though.

  21. As long as the Republicans have to pander to the extreme right Tea-Partiers to get the nomination, I don’t think they can field a nationally electable candidate. I might have voted for Governor Mitt Romney, but by the time he finished morphing into Presidential Candidate Romney he was just awful.
    I also hold out hope that the Repubs don’t want to be seen as the obstructionist ‘party of no’ going into the next election cycle, and that we get some real compromise. It’s just a sliver of hope, but it’s there.

  22. Gulliver:

    “But you understand that there are significant numbers of voters on the left who voted for the lesser evil this round, and that not all criticism of Obama is motivated by his name or skin tone, right?”

    Toward the latter, yes, of course. Toward the former, I don’t think the “lesser evil” voters on the left are a significant number. I think there’s a large number of independent voters who probably fall into that category.

  23. @Kilroy: do you mean Mitch Daniels (or his ilk, which maybe includes Jon Huntsman and/or…?) could have done as well (or better) than Mitt in the general election?

  24. Thanks, John, as always for a well spoken piece in an area so often overcome with loudly screamed nonsense. I think America made the right choice last night, not only in the Presidential race, but many important choices throughout the country. I can’t say exactly how things will pan out, but I feel much more hopeful than I did with the idea of a Romney administration.

  25. Please, fellow Obama supporters, clip and save the last portion of this post and reread it from time to time. As disgusted as I get with the Fox News catechism that Obama opponents recite reflexively, I get even more disheartened when I hear Obama supporters who criticize him for being, well, Barack Obama. Yes, I’m disappointed with President Obama from time to time, but have to admit that he’s exactly the guy I thought he was when I voted for him.

    Oh, and lest my comments be a little too gloomy for the day after a victory, let me close with this: Whoopee!

  26. John, because you live in John Boehner’s district, you seem better situated than most of us to make your arguments for finding common ground in a way that could actually have an effect. I envy you that aspect of living in his district.

  27. @Kilroy, @Kevin Williams:
    But if Daniels/Huntsman/[other governor here] was the A-Team, why wasn’t he fielded? Or rather, what would have to change in the Republican party to make that guy acceptable as a nominee? Right now, the Republicans seem junior varsity because they keep kicking out all the people who might be varsity-league. Or do you think that’s wrong?

  28. MEMO
    TO: The GOP
    FROM: Reality, remember me? It’s been a while, but…

    OK, guys (and yes, most of you are guys,) here’s the coffee. Take a deep, deep sniff, because seriously, this may be your last chance to save yourselves from political irrelevance and the dustbin of history.

    Item: Over the next four years, more old, straight, white, racist guys are going to die. They’re going to die in increasing numbers, at a faster rate, because, well, that’s what those evil Librul “demographics” make them do. Don’t try to understand it, it will make your heads hurt. Trust me on this one.

    Item: You will certainly be able to use fear and hate to gin up many younger straight white guys to racism and homophobia over the next four years, BUT… they are still a smaller percentage of their age cohort, AND… too many of them are actually in touch with me and worry more about things like jobs offshoring and whether they’ll end up in debt-servitude for the crime of seeking a higher education.

    Item: While it won’t happen in the next four years, it is now officially irreversable. The Brown Tide is washing over America and within 30 years white people WILL be a minority.

    Only three items. Think about them. Think HARD.

    Because, really? I don’t hate you. I know you hate me, but I really, seriously do NOT hate you. In fact, I remember fondly some days long ago when you held me close, and we… well, never mind about that. Suffice to say, we’ve had some good times. I’d really like to think we could have some more.

    But it’s up to you.

  29. Well, as it happens, there are lots of people who are not straight white men in these here United States, and whatever code word you want to use for them, it turns out that their votes count just the same as anyone else’s.

    I think it goes further than that, seeing that the pro-same-sex marriage ballot questions passed, and the anti-SSM question failed as well. While the non-white, non-straight, non-male vote undoubtedly matters, it’s important that the white, straight, male vote is in favour of tolerance and equality too.

    The hard fighting and heavy lifting to make things like equal marriage a reality is done by the people directly involved, don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving credit to the white straight man’s benevolence for civil rights or anything like that. But the fact that the mainstream votes are pushing these issues forward, not back, is the one source of hope I can get from your election yesterday.

    So, as a Canadian, let me say — welcome to the party.

  30. My prediction, timestamped as above: In 2013, or 2014 at the latest (prior to the mid-term elections), the House will impeach Obama. I don’t know for what (perhaps Benghazi – apparently, the deaths of four Americans in a consulate in Libya on 9/11/12 is worse than Watergate, but the deaths of 3,000 in lower Manhattan on 9/11/01 was a national unifier and a cassus belli to invade Iraq), but they’ll find something.

  31. I’m very happy Obama got a second term. I think it very important that this country as a whole gets used to seeing “minorities” in high office. The success associated with a 2nd term that John mentioned will bode well for future non-white, non-male, non-hetero candidates. Their campaigns will now be able to concentrate a little bit more on issues than on race/sex/orientation and it will be that much harder to dismiss a candidate along those lines. (Not for some, but those who want and believe in lily-white America are rapidly becoming their own minority, and a not so respected one at that.)
    As for Mitch Mconnel and his just-say-no cronies; I think they’re going to find that many of their constituents will be demanding that they come to the table; the Republican’s number 1 job has been mitigated by the election results. It’s time for them to find a new one.

  32. JS: I was a Clinton voter in 1996. If Obama had proven from 2008 to 2012 that he had even half of Clinton’s desire to balance the budget, I would have voted for him despite Romney. Alas, Obama gave me precious little hope that he has any intention of balancing a budget or controlling the debt. And this appears to be just fine for a majority of Americans? I say again: I hope I am wrong, and I hope the country thrives. I am not a complete partisan who would cut off his nose to spite his face. I just don’t see a track record (with Obama or the Dems of late) that gives me any encouragement that responsible fiscal policy is a top priority. I am not saying the Republicans are awesome. The Republicans under Bush were almost inexcusably bad about the nation’s financial long-term future. But Obama and the current Dems need to make some big-time changes in how they approach spending over the next four years. They do that, they win me back. I will vote Democrat if it means voting for fiscal sanity. But I’d like to see some results first.

  33. @Terry
    Ah, yes, sarcasm. Refuge of the simple minded. Anyway, so according to you it is all about race and homosexuality? JS implied that as well and I am curious if that is the general feeling. Granted of course that this blog may attract only Obama supporters that race/homosexuality is their greatest concerns in life so I would not attribute the response to all but I interested on the feeling here.

  34. Came here wondering about what Obama did in Ohio, was it the union thing?

    And InDaButt, the problem is that when political parties alienate groups of voters they need a higher proportion of all the other groups to win an election. So if the GOP alienates everyone who isn’t white, straight and male then even if all the white straight males vote for them they are unlikely to win. Extreme example but basically for a party to win it has to offer something to everyone. That can be more economic hope through a lighter tax regime, but if its paired with anti-woman, homophobic dogma then there are many people who are worried about their basic freedoms before their finances and will never vote for them.

  35. I view the overall national election results as a democratically exercised movement away from the right leaning, socially conservative, organized religion, non-inclusive hardliners. That being the case, the administration really does need to get the defecit and federal budget/spending under control. I hope they all take that seriously now and work together to get it done. The oval office, the senate, and the house of representatives have all got to step up. If they don’t within the next two years, the mid-term elections could get really nasty for the incumbants up for re-election, and it should. Does Obama have a mandate from this election? I think he does to some extent, but it’s based on continued improvement.

    I don’t think America has to return to greatness – we’re still the greatest country on earth IMO. I can’t and won’t buy into all the rhetoric and fear mongering articulated during the last two elections. Our democracy and people still have the all the potential to continue doing great things.

  36. Balancing the budget and cutting deficits would be a lot easier if the GOP actually would allow it to happen, instead of blocking every move in that direction because they don’t agree with the spending *priorities* and they’re so beholden to wealthy interests that they’re willing to throw the country into the ditch to save the richest and most exclusive group of millionaires and billionaires on their tax bill. Growing the economy and spurring growth and hiring would be a lot easier if the GOP actually would allow it to happen, instead of blocking every move in that direction because they don’t want any Democrat to succeed, no matter the cost to America in suffering.

    The GOP needs to wake up from its 2010 Tea Party euphoria — born out of justifiable frustration and fear at the height of the Bush-era economic downturn, misdirected at President Obama who hadn’t even been in office for 20 months — and realize that the country wants it to grow up and actually, you know, *govern* and represent them, not play childish games and represent only the hardest right-wing core which voted for them in the primaries. Richard Luger would have been easily re-elected in Indiana. (Source: me, someone who lived in Indiana for 22 years.) A remotely less extreme candidate would have been easily elected in Missouri. (Source: everyone with a brain.) Heck, without those (and other) extreme candidates dragging the GOP back towards the Stone Age, Romney may have woken up this morning as the president-elect.

    But there will be more frustration on that end, as thanks to historic levels of gerrymandering after the 2010 elections, House district maps dictate that the most important election for the US House of Representatives is the Republican Primary, where the only risk to continuing to select the most rabidly socially conservative candidate on the ballot is the fallout and blowback against that extremism in races constituting a wider electorate. (Meanwhile, political dissatisfaction is high across the board, which I think some simple voting changes, and perhaps some more complex proportional representation changes, could go a long, long way towards soothing, e.g. http://fairvote.org proposals.)

    But it wasn’t all good news. In my state, NC, the GOP claimed the governor’s seat for the first time in quite a long time, even though it also racked up a veto-proof house. (Again, for that latter bit, thanks go to the historic levels of gerrymandering and Art Pope’s Project Red Map.) And elected a severely conservative state supreme court, to boot. So in January 2013 I will get to enjoy: Voter ID, unleashed fracking, the continued deconstruction of public schools, college tuition hikes, the continued assault on women’s reproductive rights and gay rights, etc. We could use some help down here, because years of Democratic control has made it into a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Looks like down the toilet, dead ahead.

    Meanwhile! Since Obama’s inauguration, the DOW has doubled, consumer and business confidence has doubled, exports have risen 50%, the federal budget has grown at the slowest rate in recent history, initial unemployment claims dropped out of the sky like a stone, and, since his policies began to take effect, have cut the national unemployment rate from its depression high of 10.9% to 7.9% in just two years. Four more years of that, please. Now if the GOP would grow up and come sit at the adult table and govern, we might actually get somewhere, and! we might find ourselves with two viable parties again, which would be a good thing. Healthy, robust debate, seeking compromise and trying to do the job of representing the electorate, not just your loudest or richest backers, makes for a country which is less divided, where people feel like their voices are being heard rather than ignored. And that would be a good thing.

  37. “This isn’t Reagan’s America anymore, or Bush’s. It’s Obama’s. You should get used to that.”

    As one of the half-dozen or so Whatever voters who *didn’t* vote for Obama, I’ll weigh in for the opposition.

    I think that Scalzi’s above statement is 100% on target. These results weren’t marginal. This is apparently what the American people want.

    Which might explain why the dollar dropped against major currencies today, and why there is presently a sell-off on the stock market. As John Scalzi notes, America is not the country it used to be. Obama’s reelection more or less clinches the reappointment of Ben Bernanke, which means more money being printed. The U.S. is now following the economic path of the Weimar Republic.

    On the family values front, the GOP would do well to completely let those issues go, and focus solely on economics in 2016. Clearly Americans don’t care about moral values anymore. At the present time, some 41% of American children are born out of wedlock. States are legalizing recreational marijuana use. The President’s last big ad push featured a 20-something actress encouraging young girls to lose their virginity. (Even Clinton wouldn’t have been that tasteless.)

    I completely agree with Scalzi on one point: This *is* Obama’s America. And it isn’t the country that many of us grew up in.

    I don’t however, personally blame Obama. I see him as a symptom of our overall decline rather than its primary cause.

  38. I think, ultimately, Obama needs to take a few notes from Crazy Uncle Joe Biden and get a bit more aggressive with the obstructors in Congress. The whole “get out of the way” litany aimed at Ryan and his kindred in the Veep debate (the whole of which, I might add, was a MAJOR fulcrum in the election, given that it arrested the freefall from the first prez debate’s somnambulism — Joe deserves some major credit, and I’m not sure he’ll get it) needs to be carried forward. It needs to be made clear to the public every time something good for the country is killed by the GOP for no better reason than petty spite, whether it’s a judicial appointment or the closing of Gitmo. It needs to be part of the zeitgeist before the midterms, in such a way that hopefully the electorate responds. Moderate Republican feet need to be held to the fire over the scorched-earth shenanigans of their wackadoo teabagger brethren. Anything less and we’re just going to get 2011-2012, the sequel.

    Do I think Obama will do this? Not optimistic, because he didn’t pick up the “get out of the way” meme after Biden coined it … but then, he’s a tactical dude and maybe decided he didn’t need it (and anyway, Romney himself wasn’t technically in the way anyway, given that he was a washed-up one-term poor governor and not actually in office). Maybe he’ll surprise me and start insisting that there is, in fact, a “com” in “compromise.” I hope so.

    Oh, and speaking as someone from Massachusetts: thank you thank you thank you to America in general for being smarter than we were 10 years ago, Mitt-wise. I can only make the excuse that we were bamboozled by Romney’s figure-skating show in Salt Lake earlier that year. Fortunately, we’ve smartened up too, hence Elizabeth Warren defeating Scott Brown. Both Warren and Obama, in fact, demonstrate a serious victory of nerds over the kinds of jerks who held down the nerds and forcibly cut their hair in high school (to pick a random example). You could add Nate Silver’s thumping of the bellowing punditry to that roster too.

  39. An interesting thing happened on the way to the voting booth. Well, actually after:

    43% of Texans voted for Obama.

    Of course, those were votes from people in Dallas, Harris, El Paso, Travis and Cameron (Harlingen) counties. You know, the places where the big cities are, and the last one, a very populated area.

  40. @benjb: I’m one of those fiscally conservative socially liberal voters that probably makes up a huge chunk of the american population. I’d love to vote for a republican that would actually stick to economic issues and restricting the bulging size of the government. But those darn social issues and fact that republicans stopped being fiscally conservative about 20 years ago keeps me from pulling the red lever. My man Mitch does actually stand for those principles and demonstrated that it really can work over the last 8 years in Indiana. I think he probably would have beaten Obama by at least as much as Obama took Romney. Maybe 2016?

  41. @Bristolbookworm – good response thanks. Is the GOP really viewed as white only and anti-woman? What real evidence of that is there? I get the fact that the GOP is anti-gay, but that is a small minority compared to non-whites and women.

  42. I’d agree with almost everything you said there John, with the exception that as someone who grew up outside the US, I would call Obama a right-leaning centrist rather than a left-leaning one. I think his apparent lean to the left is a result of the US political spectrum as a whole skewing right.

  43. Time for the GOP to do some serious soul-searching, I think. Besides the presdential race, last night was also a rebuke to the tea-part congressmen. Akin, Mourdock, Brown, all sent packing. At some point, purging the moderates to make way for zealots is going to have to be recognized for the mistake it is.

  44. “However, If I read your rhetoric correctly it seems you are saying that race and homosexuality was a significant factor?”

    Women are apparently still invisible.

  45. Don’t be so hard on “white straight males” 40% voted for Obama and I would wager at least half of the other 60% voted for Romney not because they like his actual policies but because they are republicans and have always been republicans.

  46. For me, the important part of Obama’s reelection is that his health care act will be fully implimented. Most provisions don’t start until 2014 if I remember correctly. If by 2016 we start to see improvements in the health care system, then Obama will be fully vindicated. Otherwise, we’ll see a Republican elected with a sizable majority.

    The other elections and ballot measures were more interesting to me than the presidental election. Seeing support for same-sex marrige is encouraging. I noticed that this election was pretty culture-war light, which indicates to me that many of the social issues are starting to be settled in a positive way, from my prospective.

    Finally, as I said on the previous post, the real winner was Nate Silver and mathematics. Long live the standard deviation!

  47. @Todd: “Clearly Americans don’t care about moral values anymore. At the present time, some 41% of American children are born out of wedlock. States are legalizing recreational marijuana use. The President’s last big ad push featured a 20-something actress encouraging young girls to lose their virginity. (Even Clinton wouldn’t have been that tasteless.) ”

    I disagree on morals. I think it’s more moral for us as a country to not limit women to marriage and childbirth and classify them by some false sense that they are something else based on who they have sex with. These types of issues are exactly why the Republicans lost the vote with women.

  48. In fact, I am already drafting a letter to the two Senators in the state I share with John (1 D & 1 R), and to my Representative in the House (D) telling them that so far as this Democrat is concerned, in order to make this country work we have to both raise revenues by way of higher taxes and loophole closing, and to trim projected costs by way of reforms to the major social entitlement programs. Not eliminating the latter, mind you, or privatizing them, but trimming and making them realistic given our financial straits.

    I’m old enough to remember the Bush arguments that brought about tax cuts and the Bush administration gleefully signing the unfunded expensive Medicare D plan, so I view the relatively recent Republican concerns with the “towering debt” as nothing more than political persiflage. It is true that the deficit and government debt needs to be addressed. It’s just that doing it during what could have been the New Depression was a profoundly potentially self-destructive notion, and doing it in what so far is a weak recovery seems to me to be not smart.

    One only hopes that our elected representatives can get their heads out of their asses long enough to avoid the looming disaster that is the fiscal cliff. It would be nice that if you agree, you might communicate that to YOUR elected officials.

  49. “Women are apparently still invisible.”

    In what way? I seem to recall the GOP having a VP candidate that was a woman?

  50. I would think your German friends would see the last four years in the US as reminding them of Greece. As a country that spends way more than it brings in, as a country with an ever increasing dependency class and a country attracting less and less taxable institutions. Your German friends should be tired of bailing out Greece and Spain and Italy and others. The scary part for us is we have no one to bail us out.

  51. @Todd — Americans do care about moral values. They’re just not necessarily your moral values. Do try to adjust.

    @InDaButt — Is the GOP really viewed as white only and anti-woman?

    Yes.

  52. @InDaButt ,

    Yeah, @bristolbookworm got it right, said it better than I probably could at this point. But check @Jenn_Dyer’s response, too. The point is not what “issues” (or even non-issues ginned up as issues) the GOP chooses to run on, overtly. As long as they keep diligently alienating the kinds of voters who are becoming a larger share of the electorate, and pandering to an ever-diminishing group of voters whose outdated, hate-and-fear-saturated amygalas (amygdali?) control their beliefs, the GOP will continue its slide into irrelevance.

    As a voter who grew up in the era of Rockefeller Republicans, and who can still remember the GOP’s finest hour of the modern era, when Eisenhower laid out the realities of the military-industrial complex poised to sap the life from our post-War flowering, I can only grieve.

  53. @InDaButt Is the GOP really viewed as white only and anti-woman? What real evidence of that is there?

    What is this I don’t even.

    Seriously? You don’t see any evidence of this? Stances on immigration? Abortion? Birth control? “Legitimate rape?” Racial-dogwhistle-through-a-bullhorn tactics ? Islamophobia in general? Birtherism? Responses to the Trayvon Martin shooting on the Republican side? Every other word out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth? Binders full of women?

    Man, just look at the crowds last night for Romney’s (eventual) concession and Obama’s victory speech and you’ll get an idea of how race and Republicans play out. And … well, there’s a reaon there was a double-digit gender gap this election, and it’s not because the broads get all hormoney. It’s because Republican policies are actively driving women (and non-whites, and gays) away. The longer the Right refuses to acknowledge this, and correct it (rather than playing rhetorical games and inventing alternative reasons for the demographical rift within their party) … well, the better for those of us on the Left, I suppose. Because angry old white men don’t win by default any more, and probably won’t (much) from now on.

  54. Hope this isn’t OT, but…”not the country I grew up in.”
    No, it isn’t the country you grew up in. It can’t be. Time passes, things change. The house you grew up in isn’t the same anymore, even if it’s been preserved in a Niven Stasis Field(TM) for posterity. The kindergarten you went to? All the chairs are teeny-tiny now, though they weren’t then. That Green Lantern comic you loved when you were a kid, the one that was so deep, so profound? It’s somehow become rather shallow and obvious (but still fun). Not to belabor the point — too late! — but history moves along, and no generation in the history of the world has ever lived its young adulthood and mature years and old age in the world they grew up in. It’s perhaps the most vapid of all whines, lacking even a robust bouquet.

  55. I was a Clinton voter in 1996. If Obama had proven from 2008 to 2012 that he had even half of Clinton’s desire to balance the budget, I would have voted for him despite Romney. Alas, Obama gave me precious little hope that he has any intention of balancing a budget or controlling the debt.

    Brad, if Obama proposing to almost exactly match Clinton’s fiscal policy isn’t evidence of said desire, then what is? The fact that you refuse to answer this simple question is telling.

  56. I am, of course, saddened by the results of the election. I believe America just passed on it’s last chance to stop our slide into insolvency and slow the steady creep of Totalitarianism.

    Big Government will only get bigger from this point forward. I understand that is popular here, but I think that is only because so many of you are mistaken about the consequences of this course.

    Nonetheless, I hope you will hold President Obama more accountable for his promises this time around. You, and he, will have no one to blame but yourselves for what happens from this point forward.

    As for Mitt Romney, he was not my first choice in the primary, but I have nothing but the highest respect for the campaign he ran. He should be proud of his effort. I am proud of him.

    I fear we are in for an increase in unemployment, much higher energy prices (Energy companies are facing huge tax increases and their stocks are already down around 10%, those costs will be reflected on everyone’s monthly statements) and huge increases in gas prices. I hate to think about what is going to happen in the housing market.

    I want to be clear that I’m not just upset because my guy lost. I really believe that the course we are on is disastrous, but I do hope that I’m wrong. Maybe things won’t turn out as bad as they look to me now. Perhaps President Obama will prove to be a much more effective leader in his second term. I sincerely hope so.

  57. @Jenn Dyer: “I disagree on morals. I think it’s more moral for us as a country to not limit women to marriage and childbirth and classify them by some false sense that they are something else based on who they have sex with. These types of issues are exactly why the Republicans lost the vote with women.”

    I wasn’t aware that the GOP had an official plank to keep women barefoot and pregnant. I must have missed that.

    But in any regard, I partially agree with you. Three generations after the 1960s, the U.S. has become a moral cesspool. I think that the GOP should completely throw in the towel on all such matters. Maybe we can even find a way to legalize actual infanticide…That would *really* excite some Obama voters. If a woman doesn’t want a child after she’s given birth, why the heck shouldn’t she be able to terminate it at any time, after all? Radical, in-your-face feminism all the way, baby.

    I’m cool with all the homosexual agenda too. In fact, let’s even encourage it. Let’s keep our minds, wide, wide open to every form of depravity that can possibly be imagined.

    I’ll even go for welfare: With 41% of kids now born out of wedlock, a large percentage of the population is going to be living on the public dole for a long, long time.

    However, the *one thing* that Republicans should insist on is fiscal soundness and putting an end to wasteful stimulus packages and printing money. Since half the country is mostly concerned with securing its continued access to abortion-on-demand, gay sex/marriage, and pot, I think we can all agree that the GOP is never going to win an election by championing anything that vaguely resembles traditional morality.

    Hence their need to refocus on economics. The country is simply too far gone in other regards.

  58. InDaButt

    Granted, I hang out on liberal blogs, but from what I hear, a lot of Latinos are wary of GOP immigration policies (in fact, according to NPR last night, they were the only group voting less for Romney than they did for McCain four years ago) since they seem devoted to making anyone who looks Latino’s life more of a hassle and both blacks and Latinos see a lot of the GOP welfare and education policies as being full of racist ‘dog whistles’ (basically statements worded in such a way to not be openly racist, but let racists know the policies will lead to covert racism against non-whites).

    Add in the list of stupid comments about rape that a number of GOP elected officials made, and treating contraceptives as if it was at all controversial (the politics have shifted that many women view contraceptives as an economic issue — they can’t support another kid in this economy), and you have a turn-off for women.

    And, well, statistically, Democrats do much better among women and non-whites, even when you have two candidates of the same race and sex. And the GOP seems to have no clue how to fix that, at least on a national level.

  59. Todd, perhaps it is rather that most Americans now disagree with you on what is moral.

    From my viewpoint, a few moral guidelines might include:

    – ensuring everyone in my community gets adequate food, water, health care, clothing and shelter
    – ensuring that women (and men, and everyone else) get to control their own bodies, including their sexual choices
    – ensuring that the state does not privilege one group of citizens over another (in terms of who gets to marry whom, who gets to vote, etc. and so on)

    As for marijuana, though I don’t use it myself — if you’re in favor of alcohol (an at least equally dangerous drug) being legal, I don’t see how you can be against marijuana legalization without being a complete hypocrite. And that’s without even taking into account the individual and national cost of prosecuting marijuana usage.

  60. Maybe we can even find a way to legalize actual infanticide…That would *really* excite some Obama voters. If a woman doesn’t want a child after she’s given birth, why the heck shouldn’t she be able to terminate it at any time, after all? Radical, in-your-face feminism all the way, baby.

    I’m cool with all the homosexual agenda too. In fact, let’s even encourage it. Let’s keep our minds, wide, wide open to every form of depravity that can possibly be imagined.

    What the actual fuck, dude.

  61. @BRT –

    I hope I am wrong

    Congratulations! You are wrong! Economically wrong, historically wrong, empirically wrong, consistently wrong, as has been pointed out to you, with facts, more times than anyone here would care to count. So you can relax now, and enjoy watching the Rightist apoplexy as the inevitable reality of the second term of the Obama Presidency begins to sink in.

  62. Quoth Brad: “If Obama had proven from 2008 to 2012 that he had even half of Clinton’s desire to balance the budget, I would have voted for him…”

    Except that the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is exactly the wrong time to be balancing the budget. People are shoveling money at the US Government and literally paying them to accept it as a loan. (Yes, I do mean literally – the inflation-adjusted interest rate on US Treasuries is negative). Even if you’re not a Krugmanesque believer in Keynesian economics, you’d be a fool to not run a deficit in that environment.

  63. @Todd — wow, did you just actually call homosexuality “depravity” and expect not to get malleted? What are you even doing on Whatever?

  64. And as a minor note from the socially liberal side of things — quite a few of us social liberals would also fight for a balanced budget, strong economic growth, financial stability for our country and its people. We just disagree on how to get there.

    You see ‘government bailout of losers’, I see ‘prudent investment in our people.’ You see ‘austerity as a means of tightening belts in tough times,’ I see ‘foolishly cutting off people at the knees, to fall into foreclosure, poor health, joblessness, etc., which take so much longer to climb out of, with long-term terrible (and predictable) effects on our economy’.

    I think Obama’s fiscal policies have already dragged us back from the plummeting brink of economic disaster, and that if he’s allowed to continue them, we’ll continue to see steady economic progress. I think that progress would have been a lot faster in the last four years, and we would all be noticeably richer now, if Republicans in Congress hadn’t blocked so many of his financial plans.

  65. There is now a good representation of the current republican party posting here that is demonstrating exactly what is wrong with the GOP. e.g. Todd and Billy.

  66. @Genufett: “What the actual fuck, dude.”

    Spoken with all the articulation that one would expect an Obama voter to rise to.

    @MaryAnneMohamraj:
    “Todd, perhaps it is rather that most Americans now disagree with you on what is moral.”

    I think you’re partly right on this point–but I would disagree that it is “most”. I would give you “a significant percentage,” though.

    Of course, your prescription for morality is cradle-to-grave socialism. (But if Genufett is a product of the younger generation’s best and brightest, perhaps we had better double our order for the socialism you prescribe.)

    As I mentioned, this is why the GOP really *does* need to write off many of these moral issues and focus on the big ones that could truly sink our economy, like the quantitative easing and wasteful stimulus spending.

  67. Todd, wow. Your impotent rage is astounding and entertaining. I really really hope you are just trolling and don’t actually believe that stuff.

  68. Guys, I don’t think Todd actually needs to be responded to directly. Petard-hoisting-wise, he did a good enough job with his own.

  69. “It’s the economy, stupid,” might still be the slogan that defines what will happen, not just over the next four years, but most probably for nearly a decade. The Obama admin is not (or cannot) do enough and Romney-Ryan would have most probably increased unemployment dramatically.

    Last night, I referenced Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s END THIS DEPRESSION NOW! This morning, I’m adding response from another Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz about Europe that also applies to America (especially his last sentence):

    Stiglitz: “No, Europe’s crisis is not caused by excessive long-term debts and deficits. It is caused by cutbacks in government expenditures. The recession caused the deficits, not the other way around. Before the crisis Spain and Ireland ran budget surpluses. They cannot be accused of fiscal profligacy. More fiscal discipline will only worsen the downturn. No economy ever recovered from a downturn through austerity.”

    Since the 1930s, economists have known how to get out of economic downturns: increase demand through massive government spending. But when everyone is concerned with cutting spending, demand falls and the economy worsens. Without demand, businesses will not invest, expand, and hire more employees. Instead, they look to cut costs–and eventually cut employees, helping to decrease overall demand. It’s a cycle only government spending can break. A business or bank would be crazy to invest when demand is low. But governments should be just sane enough to want to make the national economy and investment a matter of national security.

    The Obama stimulus package (as these and other economists warned) was too small ($2 or 3 trillion was needed)–yet still it helped to increase demand enough to stop a new Great Depression. Since 70% of the demand of the American economy depends on consumer spending (“Your spending is my income.”) the first priority is not to worry about debt or deficits (during WWII the debt ratio to GDP was over 100%, but rapid economic growth after the war along with extremely high taxation rates for upper incomes quickly reduced that ratio).

    The first priority is rapid economic growth spurred by massive federal investment in infrastructure, research and development, education, and aid to the states to keep teachers, firefighters, police, and other employees employed–and buying consumer goods to keep increasing demand. Scientific and technological innovations also contribute strongly to economic growth. Again, pouring billions into R&D and into GI-Bill type programs help to grow the economy.

    Once the economy is thriving again, the GDP rises and the debt-to-GDP ratio falls–and that it is the time to reduce the debt–when government income is much higher.

    The history is all there to examine, but conservatives generally fall back on simple family income or family business analogies that just do not apply to modern economies. Many of them also want to use the crisis to finally phase out (privatize) Social Security and Medicare, which they have always hated because (let’s face it) they are socialist programs with similarities to some European socialist programs. And again, there is no immediate crisis with regard to these programs–they are solvent for years to come. When the economy is booming, we can look at them again.

    The solution to many of our woes is a fast-growing economy–but how to jump start the economy seems to have been forgotten or willfully ignored by most politicians. Many ideologues will not look at the numbers honestly–just as they pooh-poohed Nate Silver’s projected numbers on the Electoral College.

    All the above helps to understand why Romney-Ryan’s plan to further cut taxes and to cut back more on government spending would have made the economy worse. If the Obama admin can find a way to invest more, then the economy will grow faster. If not, we will continue to limp along with a slow-growing economy whose progress can be stopped dead by a European crash or other disaster.

  70. In case it wasn’t clear, I’d be delighted with something damn close to cradle-to-grave socialism, and would vote for it if given the chance. Because if done right, a) it’s highly moral, and b) it generates wealth. Win-win.

  71. Spoken with all the articulation that one would expect an Obama voter to rise to.

    Says the person who was foaming at the mouth about “Depravity!!!11!!!1eleven!one!” only a few comments previously. Irony can be really ironic sometimes.

  72. Good points overall, John. The one difference this term with Obama, I feel, will be he won’t be as politically conciliatory. The GOP are too nuts to talk sense to on the whole, and he knows that now without a doubt. It’s time for hardball and some major heat at that.

  73. @ Todd -

    You probably should calm down a bit: “Obama’s reelection more or less clinches the reappointment of Ben Bernanke, which means more money being printed. The U.S. is now following the economic path of the Weimar Republic.” Well, no. Actually, the latest betting is that Bernanke will retire after his term expires in 2014. And the Weimar economy was notable for explosive inflation, leading to banknotes being carted around in wheelbarrows for shopping trips. No sign of that happening here yet, and the Fed is hovering like an anxious mother to prevent it. The mere fact that you’re scared it’s gonna happen doesn’t mean it *will*.

    Likewise, your paragraph about moral decline has some problems. First, the pot legalization movement basically tries to make pot the same as alcohol. Sold and taxed in the states. Not to be used by underage folks. Etc., etc. Whether it works or not is open to debate, but if you’re saying it’s not moral, I’m assuming that you would have said the same thing about the repeal of Prohibition.
    I won’t bother with the out-of-wedlock thing. I don’t think you can blame that on the Dems, and it seems a bit of a throw-away. But I will point out that the commercial you reference was NOT telling girls to lose their virginity, but using the notion of losing one’s virginity as a sly metaphor for voting for the first time.

    Lastly, the “this isn’t the country I grew up in” argument. Damn straight. The country I was born and raised in (in the great State of Ohio, mind you) was a country in which a significant percentage of states had laws banning inter-racial marriages, and in which an even larger percentage placed massive legal and extra-legal blocks in the path of any african-americans who dared to vote therein. It was a country where, in my hearing,, upon being told that Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered, proper respectable members of the well-off community (white, of course), cheered. It was a country where it was almost impossible for a married woman to get a credit card without her husband’s approval. It was a country where friends and relatives of mine had to hide their sexual preference to keep their jobs, and were repeatedly told that they were vermin and evil. As a matter of fact on the last point, I remember quite clearly a court case in 1984 or so in which a teacher in a town near where John lives was fired solely because she came out to her students. My dad’s law partner argued the case for the school board.

    So please, don’t go on about the good old days and the high morality of the country back then, It just won’t wash.

  74. As a minor side note, the 41% of children born out of wedlock does not necessarily correlate to folks on welfare, and it’s misleading to assume it does. For example, my partner and I haven’t married (we’re a heterosexual pair, but would find it distasteful (perilously close to immoral, in fact) to take advantage of a host of legal marriage benefits while others are denied them — sort of like we’d be unwilling to join a country club that excluded blacks).

    But we despite having had two children out of wedlock, we’ve nonetheless been together for twenty+ years, own a rather large house in a rather posh suburb, and have never needed to take unemployment, food stamps, government health care, or any other government benefits along those lines.

    We do use the roads, the highways, the public libraries, and the awesome public schools in our posh suburb, so I’ll grant you that level of suckling-on-the-public-teat. But y’know, I bet you use most of those too.

    I have an American friend who married a Swiss girl; he told me about talking to her sister, who had kids, and asking if she and her partner ever planned to get married. The Swiss sister just looked at him with complete bewilderment and asked, “Why would we? We’re not religious.”

  75. Obama won despite the horrible economic conditions because he and his team started the boots on the ground earlier and were better organized. For all those Republicans who made fun of his “community organizer” job; this election is the definition of community organizing. Also, the right wing women haters really helped.

    (definition: community organizing is the practice of identifying a specific aggrieved population, say unemployed steelworkers, or itinerant fruit-pickers, or residents of a particularly bad neighborhood, and educating them until they become so upset about their condition that they take collective action to put pressure on local, state, or federal officials to fix the problem, often by giving the affected group money or voting. Organizers like to call that “direct action.)

    P.S. Also even at the GOP, Jason Whitman, the national Republican policy chairman tweeted “I just want to say a quick thank you to @ToddAkin for helping us lose the senate,”

  76. @Todd: “I wasn’t aware that the GOP had an official plank to keep women barefoot and pregnant.”

    1. Limiting contraception (opposing anything that allows women to stop being pregnant including calling women who use contraception sluts, oh and also calling contraception the same as abortion)
    2. Abstinence-only education (or “aspirin between the knees” if you will)
    3. Opposing abortion (you may not agree with me about abortion, but there’s no denying that it ends pregnancy)
    4. Keeping poor women poor (ending welfare, calling women who have children out of wedlock “welfare queens”)
    5. Framing poor people as loafers and leeches

    No, not at all.

  77. “And as a minor note from the socially liberal side of things — quite a few of us social liberals would also fight for a balanced budget, strong economic growth, financial stability for our country and its people. We just disagree on how to get there.”

    Also, quite a few of us social liberals don’t look at balancing the budget and strengthening the economy AND ensuring equal civil rights and protections for everyone as mutually exclusive propositions, either. Both can be pursued at the same time and both actually tend to be tied up together and believe it or not, social liberals tend to view fighting for economic mobility as just as much of a moral imperative as civil rights equality.

  78. Todd, the grim reality is that Obama actually has a better economic plan than Romney and Ryan. You obviously haven’t taken the time to read up on the Obama plan — which, like it or not, IS a plan — and the Romney/Ryan “plan”, which was to splutter incomprehensibly, wave their hands, yell “five points!” and then tell people that single motherhood causes crime.

    Somebody who is *serious* about America’s finances should be on the rooftops shouting for socialized medicare and a reduced military. That’s the no-brainer that a six-year-old with a slide rule and an abacus can figure out. But when pressed, you switch from “finance first” to dark mutterings about the Homosexual Agenda.

    If your goal were fiscal solvency, you’d be all about better regulations on Wall Street, socialized medicine and a sane-sized military. I’m guessing “finance!” is what Fox has told you to talk about, but you haven’t really given it *that* much thought at all.

  79. @ Pixlaw: seconding the applause.

    Why is it that every time I hear some social conservative waxing poetic about the “good old days” it sounds like what they’re really yearning for is turning the clock back to the days when the only people with power were wealthy white Christian male landowners?

  80. A tangential note: though the USA tends to be a strange place in some ways, the state of Washington made me feel pretty good this morning. Same-sex marriage was big, and legalization of the ganja is a good first step in what will likely be a contentious journey with the federal gov’t. Not that I’m a stoner, I haven’t smoked pot in decades. But, pot is nothing compared to alcohol, in my opinion, so why not?

  81. Do I want everyone (for whatever values you assign to “everyone”) to be dependent on the government? Of course not. Self-sufficiency is a marvelous thing, for those who can achieve it. No: what I want is for everyone to be able to rely on the government.

    Language is so important. Dependence vs. reliance. Look it up. Oh hey: it works with the co- prefix also. Co-dependence is bad for everyone; but wouldn’t it be great if, given a citizenry who could rely on their government, we also had a government that could rely on its citizens?

    (go go good guys. i’m a happy vixen today.)

  82. The GOP A-Team is a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem…if no one else can help…and if you can find them…maybe you can hire…The A- Team

  83. Our Gracious Host said:

    Obama is not a liberal. He’s definitely not a socialist. He’s a moderately left-leaning centrist. Anyone who believes (or at least says) otherwise on either side of the aisle is speaking rhetorical nonsense. Obama will lead from the center. That’s what he does. That’s who he is.

    This was fine until the third sentence. Obama is a “moderately left-leaning centrist” in — perhaps, and only perhaps — his instincts at most. His actual policy initiatives, and in particular his policy advisors (and footsoldiers), are nuanced-center-centrists.

    As a small example of what I’m talking about, consider the merger guidelines used by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (and, occasionally, the Federal Communications Commission) in determining whether a proposed merger would make things “too concentrated.” They are descedants of a rather out-there set of theories codified in the mid- to late 1960s by pro-merger economists, adopted with glee during the reign of Ronald I, and have never had majority support among serious economists or antitrust law scholars, let alone concensus. The multitude of conceptual and data loopholes led directly to banks that were too big to fail, among other problems we’ve seen. Nonetheless, when the Obama political advisors were asked to reconsider the foundation of those guidelines (established half a century ago for an economy of half a century ago), they refused.

    Multiply this by hundreds of issues that didn’t make the headlines because neither the issues nor their advocates/opponents were telegenic enough. It’s one thing entirely to say that “we shouldn’t move too rapidly toward change, because some measure of certainty is good for the economy, for jobs, for society.” It’s another thing entirely to be certain in the beneficial economic effects of the Easter Bunny’s careful redistribution of a limited number of eggs on the White House lawn.

  84. I saw mention previously as Palin being proof that the GOP likes women… let’s all really take a step back and have a look at her for a second. She was VP Barbie — pretty, but ultimately, about as plastic as they come. She lacked substance! She had all the conviction in the world, but none of the knowledge. Show me the GOP that can respect a woman like Hilary Clinton, and I’ll be impressed. No matter if you like the Lady Clinton or not, you have to give her some props for being both intelligent and ballsy.

  85. *Brad*: Unless Obama and the Democrats really are closeted fiscal conservatives who can balance budgets and cut the debt,

    Depends on whether the opposition is ready to admit that the tax rate for millionaires right now is just plain stupid.

    *Bob*: , I’m disappointed with President Obama from time to time, but have to admit that he’s exactly the guy I thought he was when I voted for him

    I don’t think anyone was expecting a constitutional lawyer to invent the presidential power to assassinate American citizens without due process. I’m pretty sure that isn’t in the Constitution I was thinking of.

    *Billy*: I fear we are in for an increase in unemployment,

    Even though its been going down for the last 3 years?

    much higher energy prices (Energy companies are facing huge tax increases

    You mean an end to oil subsidies?

    their stocks are already down around 10%, those costs will be reflected on everyone’s monthly statements and huge increases in gas prices.

    Yes, an excellent tradeoff, Billy. Put a larger proportion of taxes on the lower and middle class so you can give tax breaks to millionairs and billion dollar subsidies to oil companies, because you’re worried about the poor and middle class people’s monthly statements going up.

    Put a bigger burden on the middle class to give oil companies a tax break so oil companies don’t raise their prices and the middle class has to spend more on oil????

    That’s one of those examples of what I call “republican math”.

    I hate to think about what is going to happen in the housing market.

    I just told you that new housing starts are the highest they’ve been in 4 years. Do you hate to see a continuation of that historical trend of improvement?

    This is one of those examples of what I call “Republican Alternate History”.

    I want to be clear that I’m not just upset because my guy lost.

    You are. Clearly, you’re NOT upset due to the facts. the facts consistently show that the things you’re saying are wrong and the things you’re afraid of have no historical backing.

    I really believe that the course we are on is disastrous

    This is probably the one totally true statement you’ve made: you believe. I’d say it’s a religious kind of belief.

    but I do hope that I’m wrong.

    Old Billy has a question for Current Billy: What then? Will you admit you were wrong? Will you vote for him to have a second term?

    Apparently not, eh?

  86. Todd @ November 7, 2012 at 11:48 am:

    Which might explain why the dollar dropped against major currencies today, and why there is presently a sell-off on the stock market. As John Scalzi notes, America is not the country it used to be. Obama’s reelection more or less clinches the reappointment of Ben Bernanke, which means more money being printed. The U.S. is now following the economic path of the Weimar Republic.

    FFS. The Dow fell this morning because the Eurozone reported soft results for the last quarter and another dip looking forward. And that has nothing to do with Obama, and everything with Europe’s discombobulated attempts to get their finances back in the black after their economies crashed. And do we remember why countries like Greece and Ireland are tanked? Let me remind you! Because when their economies were flying high, circa 2000-2005, the US deregulated a whole bunch of financial options and set US-based multinational banks and investment firms loose on Europe to extend frankly predatory loans, sucked foreign municipalities dry, and then basically sold those loans off at a discount to other financial agencies. It was multinational, Eurozone, Bain-ism, the overseas of equivalent of our own mortgage-bundling. (This, my friend, is a big part of the reason that the US wasn’t terribly popular with the Eurozone during Bush II’s last term.)

    Europe is in terrible financial shape, and that has a rebound effect. The Bush policies were terrible domestically, terrible overseas, and terribly short-sighted, because what happens overseas eventually rebounds back. If China’s economy tanked tomorrow, the US Dow would reflect that. If Brazil’s economy tanked tomorrow, the Dow would reflect that. India, Britain, et cetera. There are no bright lines anymore, if there ever really were: we are the world, we are the children, sing it Stevie, a manufacturing butterfly in Singapore is a layoff hurricane in Michigan, la la laaa.

    Also, “Weimar Republic.” Come ON! I rarely see Godwin’s Law in effect on this blog, thankfully, so, um…. FAIL.

  87. Um, it doesn’t seem to be getting much attention yet, given all the other noise, but Puerto Rico just voted to pursue full statehood. Congress would have to make it official, and there may be other complicating details, but it’s possible we’re going to have to add another star to the flag. How about *that*?

    (Just so nobody else needs to google it, the last addition was Hawaii, on August 21, 1959.)

  88. @todd your argument might hold water once the GOP gets a platform pushing for free birth control and real, actual sex education that doesn’t include abstinence as the only moral solution. Being female and having sex doesn’t make one immoral. Not wanting children and still wanting to have sex with someone you love doesn’t make you immoral. There is nothing inherently immoral about consensual adult sex. (no, minors cannot legally give consent).

    “Maybe we can even find a way to legalize actual infanticide…That would *really* excite some Obama voters. If a woman doesn’t want a child after she’s given birth, why the heck shouldn’t she be able to terminate it at any time, after all? Radical, in-your-face feminism all the way, baby.”

    Feminism is not synonymous with sociopathology, no matter how much you want it to be.

    The thing that really pisses me off about pro-birthers (because they usually have very little concern with life, or the quality of said life after birth, I refuse to call them pro-life), is they don’t want to make sure no one should get pregnant if they don’t want to, they just want to make sure SOMEONE suffers if they have the audacity to live an adult life that differs from whatever rhetoric is popular at the moment. I long for a time when abortion is no longer an issue, not because no one cares about babies anymore, but because unplanned pregnancies are an anomaly. (49% off all live births are a result of an unplanned pregnancy.) Until then, I sadly remain pro-choice.

    BTW, unplanned pregnancies don’t just inflate the abortion rate: they also mean higher infant mortality from natural causes, higher birth defects, higher health care costs, etc. Ideally, a woman who PLANS to become pregnant should start taking neonatal vitamins a year before becoming pregnant, as well as doctor visits to rule out any health concerns. Unfortunately, only the well-off (those that can afford health care) currently have this privilege. many people don’t even have the education to know pre-pregnancy health is a concern.

    I didn’t vote for Obama or any other democrat because I want to kill babies. I voted the ways that I did because I care about the quality of life for ALL humans, even those that some in society deem inferior or immoral.

  89. Except that the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is exactly the wrong time to be balancing the budget.

    Pretty much. People really should be paying attention to Europe now, where austerity is keeping the economy in recession and 1990s Japan.

    Reality is a bitch, but you have to pay attention to it.

  90. Obama is a “moderately left-leaning centrist” in — perhaps, and only perhaps — his instincts at most. His actual policy initiatives, and in particular his policy advisors (and footsoldiers), are nuanced-center-centrists.

    Oh brother. Are we really fighting about the difference between moderately left-leaning centrist and nuanced center centrists? I think Obama’s a nuanced left-tendency central centrist, so there.

    Can we avoid the circular firing squad discussions for a bit?

  91. I’d be a lot more receptive to conservative calls for fiscal sanity if they included reduction of the military budget and corporate welfare, not just social safety net programs, environmental regulation, health & safety regulation, Medicare, public education, and the arts. Most so-called budget warriors call for cuts to Social Security while pushing for dramatically increased military spending. A couple of years ago, if we had let the Bush tax cuts lapse on the wealthy and ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that’d have taken care of two-thirds of the deficit.

    Also, Obama engaged in honest accounting by putting the wars on the budget rather than keep them off like Bush did. That made the deficit appear to spike on his watch. And Romney was running on cutting “entitlements” while boosting military spending by–what?–a trillion? Kajillions, in any case.

  92. Todd: I wasn’t aware that the GOP had an official plank to keep women barefoot and pregnant. I must have missed that.

    The GOP opposes equal pay, birth control, and abortion. You think they’re doing women a favor?

    Maybe we can even find a way to legalize actual infanticide…I’m cool with all the homosexual agenda too. In fact, let’s even encourage it. Let’s keep our minds, wide, wide open to every form of depravity that can possibly be imagined.

    Someone’s having a case of the vapors I think.

  93. Um, the Repubs didn’t have an economic plan in any way shape or form – just waving your hands about saying “20% tax cuts” and “close loopholes” (when refusing to name any single one to close) doesn’t count.

    Getting the budget in balance isn’t too hard:
    1) Cancel the F-35, buy more F-18E/Fs, develop the X-47B too
    2) Cancel the LCS for the Navy, which is a catastrophic boondoggle of a totally ineffective surface ship, and replace with destroyers.
    3) Remove the salary cap on social security tax
    4) Remove the lower capital gains and income tax rates on investments in public companies, increase the age-related allowances to cuhsion this on retirees.
    5) Increase social security retirement age gradually, lower benefits.

    That’s a big chunk of the problem

  94. @ Billy Quiets November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm:

    I fear we are in for an increase in unemployment, much higher energy prices (Energy companies are facing huge tax increases and their stocks are already down around 10%, those costs will be reflected on everyone’s monthly statements) and huge increases in gas prices. I hate to think about what is going to happen in the housing market.

    Since unemployment is decreasing by every measure, and all those measures predicted this trend regardless of who was elected, I respectfully suggest that this fear is not fact-based, so you may rest easy.
    In re energy and gas prices, yes, they will continue to rise, as they have since *always,* because the cost of finite resources always rises. In the middle ages, in Europe, firewood became rare and expensive, and the penalty of “stealing” wood could be death; petroleum is 20th century firewood. Occasional dips are exceptions that prove the rule. The 20th century oil-based energy boom is over, and has been for 40 years. Unless someone develops a Shipstone, the only hope for moderating the rate of increase is developing sustainable sources of non-finite energy. I, personally, never expected President Obama to start pissing petroleum.
    The housing market is in an interesting place. If the US develops better infrastructure, along the lines of decentralized sustainable energy, fast public transportation, and bullet trains, single-family detached housing could increase, following the 30-minute-commute algorithm. If the trend towards urbanization continues, though, the housing market will shift towards high-density residential rental properties. I don’t think the effects of that are predictable. Personally, I think it would be a toss-up, good for some, bad for others.

  95. Those who do not understand economics are doomed to think everything they don’t like leads to hyperinflation, the Weimar Republic, the rise of Naziism, etc, etc.

  96. Genufett: saying and doing are two different things. Saying is easy. Doing is hard. I await the doing. If Obama is a doer and he can push this country rapidly away from financial insolvency and a total economic reset — the fallout of which will bring untold misery to millions of Americans regardless of political affiliation — then I will happily applaud him. Despite what you may think of me, I am not an Obama hater. But I am an Obama pessimist. I would like to see some results. I didn’t vote for Clinton the first time either, but I liked him by 1996. I may like Obama’s second term. We’ll just have to see if he’s the competent, quality man you’ve been saying he is, or if he lives down to my less hopeful speculations. I honestly and distinctly hope you are correct, Genufett.

  97. @htom: Sigh. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Godwin’s Law is about Nazis; the reference to the Weimar Republic is about hyperinflation, which contributed to — or at least preceded — the rise of the Nazi party.

    You do realize that by (falsely, but I’ll grant it for purposes of mockery) equating Obama with the Weimar Republic, by extension you’re making a very interesting inference about the Republicans who mean to “save us” from all that, yes?

  98. “* The House is still in GOP hands. In the Senate the Democrats do not have a filibuster-proof majority. We have a divided government, and the GOP standard operating procedure is to oppose every single thing Obama is for. Don’t expect that to change.”

    While I do not expect it to change without being forced to, I think it will change because I am certain that American people have had enough of it, and I expect to see boots flying when they are being unreasonable.

    “* Those who dislike Obama for whatever reasons they do are still there. And they dislike him even more today. They also dislike what he represents: The end to a comfortable (for them), right-leaning United States. You will not stop hearing from them.”

    I agree and I think people who understand and agree with what the President is doing have a responsibility to try and not be dicks, which would only hinder progress.

  99. Brad for fucks sake, Genufett has provided reams of fucking data that show you are wrong about just about everything you say. Stop ignoring ALL of his points at least answer one of them.

  100. No one else has said it:

    The SuperPAC’s spent $1-2 billion, blunted a grassroots groundswell, got a 2 year extension to the status quo, and are in good position for an overwhelming 2014 off-election where money can be even more influential. All of the elements of the GOP 2010 shellacking are still in place.

    – - – - –

    **claps for viskell** Someone paid attention to high school econ! (or college level national macro-economics) Thank you! I see Mr. Treman, my high school econ teacher every once in a while, and he just sadly shakes his head when I mention national economics.

  101. chtp — actually, I’d blame Nixon and the abandonment of the Bretton Woods agreement. His successors (including both Bush and Obama) have merely pushed the can down the road, and the knee in the inflation curve is approaching.

  102. The various movement in favor of gay marriage may actually help the GOP. I’m sure there are people today who are against inter-racial marriage, but that is a done deal, so there is no point in bringing it up. The GOP might never endorse gay marriage, but at some point they might just give up and it will cease to be a talking point. This will make them more attractive to fiscal conservatives who are pro-gay marriage because, hey, at least they aren’t actively against it.

    I don’t see the same shift on abortion. That’s pretty hard-wired into their DNA.

    I do expect to see a big shift in the GOP’s relation to minorities. It’s pretty clear that the country is getting browner, and if they want to continue to win nation-wide, they have to do something about that. I don’t see any conflict between conservative values and immigration reform and I don’t see why, fundamentally, the GOP can’t appeal to minority voters. It’s not working particularly well now, but I expect to see some smart people thinking about it very hard over the next few years.

  103. Sigh. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Godwin’s Law is about Nazis; the reference to the Weimar Republic is about hyperinflation, which contributed to — or at least preceded — the rise of the Nazi party.

    We’re at a period of near-historic low rates of inflation, so I have no idea what you mean here.

    saying and doing are two different things. Saying is easy. Doing is hard. I await the doing.

    The “doing” has already been done on Obama’s end. The Clinton-era fiscal policies have already been written up in several budget bills and at least one jobs bill written with assistance from the Administration. They aren’t sitting there waiting for Democrats to be on board.

    If Obama is a doer and he can push this country rapidly away from financial insolvency and a total economic reset — the fallout of which will bring untold misery to millions of Americans regardless of political affiliation — then I will happily applaud him.

    He’s already doing this. I know it pains you to admit it, but said financial insolvency happened in the fall of 2008, and we’ve already felt the fallout. The reset started in February 2009, and by almost every single metrics of improvement laid out by the economic community, has worked as well as it could. So why aren’t you applauding him now?

    Despite what you may think of me, I am not an Obama hater. But I am an Obama pessimist. I would like to see some results.

    See, the second sentence belies the first. We’ve been seeing results three and a half years now. Pretty much every solution you’ve suggested has already been tried, sometimes several times, over the last several decades, and every one of your proposed solutions has turned out to be at best a misguided experiment, and at worst a complete and utter disaster.

    We’ll just have to see if he’s the competent, quality man you’ve been saying he is, or if he lives down to my less hopeful speculations. I honestly and distinctly hope you are correct, Genufett.

    Okay, then. If things are better in 2016 than they are now, I can assume we’ll both be happy.

  104. htom:

    My, my, my, look at that image. Obama’s efforts really did manage to pull us out of Bush’s power-dive. Now if we could just get rid of the ice build-up on the right wing, we might be able to regain some altitude.

  105. Now comes the wait for the “curse” that all modern two-term presidents seem to face…

    * Bush had his with the deterioration of the Iraq War and government’s inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina.

    * Clinton had his with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which ended with his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

    * Reagan had his with the Iran-Contra scandal, where presidential staffers attempted to sell arms to a hostile nation, and then use the proceeds to fund a war that Congress had prohibited the U.S. from getting involved in.

    * Nixon had the biggest with the Watergate scandal – the cover-up of illegal domestic intelligence work aimed at subverting political opponents – which resulted in Nixon’s resignation in disgrace on threat of impeachment.

    * Johnson’s curse came early: the Democratic party splintered underneath him, and after the Tet Offensive in January 1968, the public ceased to believe in Johnson’s handling of the Vietnam War. Johnson declined to run for re-election three months later.

    (Note: I count Johnson and Truman as two-term presidents, even though neither was elected to a first term.)

    * Eisenhower’s curse was a minor one: his chief of staff, Sherman Adams, was forced to resign after it was found out Adams accepted an expensive fur coat and oriental rug from a businessman under federal investigation.

    * Truman’s curse, in my view, was the entire Korean War, but particularly after Truman relieved the very popular Douglas MacArthur from command and the war broke down into a stalemate between U.S. and Communist forces. Allegations of Communist influence at the State Department (some of which were later proved true) didn’t help. Truman declined to run for re-election.

    * Even FDR had a curse at the start of his second term, with a double-dip recession in 1937-38, and the public failure of his plan to pack the Supreme Court. Of course, FDR would win re-election, but it was with a diminished legislative hand.

    As Twain may or may not have said, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme…

  106. Well, Obama’s still black and will always be black, so some people will never like him, including anyone who ever wanted to see his birth certificate.

    In other morning-after news, Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson both won?

    Oh, man, that’s gravy on my biscuits.

  107. In other news, Hulu has replaced the never-ending political adverts during commercial breaks with Twilight adverts. I THOUGHT THINGS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER AFTER THE ELECTION. I blame Obama.

  108. “He won both the electoral and over 50% of the popular vote twice, which is the first time since Reagan that any president managed that.”

    Didn’t Clinton also manage this or am I missing something?

  109. @vmiskell — Wow. I’ll actually take this as my economy lesson for today. I’ll admit I was completely ignorant of most of that information until I read your post.

  110. @Clint Harris: WELL done on the A-Team thing. As I scrolled through the comment thread, I kept waiting for it. ;o)

    @Bearpaw re: Puerto Rico: I’m glad I’m not the only one that jumped right to wondering about the extra star on the flag!

    Back to the subject… I’m not relieved, necessarily, because I wasn’t worried to begin with. I knew that the President would win a second term and I’m glad the campaign BS is over with and we can move on with things.

    I’m a 42 yo SWF, a single mom who was on welfare for 2 months after my child was born 17 years and 47 weeks ago, and on food stamps for about 3 years after that. Said child will graduate in the Spring and attend college next fall and will be a more successful woman than I have been.

    I believe that in my case, as in the case of many single parents, the system worked as it is supposed to work. It helped me out a bit until I didn’t need it to help me out anymore, and the next generation, my daughter, won’t need it to help out a bit at all, provided she has access to the full spectrum of women’s healthcare that she *should* have available to her… which I hope she *does* have available to her indefinitely.

    Also, @Todd… my reaction to your ludicrous comments earlier was much the same as Genufett’s so I would venture a guess that your *comment* was the reason for that kind of reaction and not any perceived lack of articulation that you personally would expect from an “Obama voter”, or those “young kids”. As our host and many, many of the commenters have demonstrated on multiple occasions, they are extremely articulate. So insult fail on your part, my friend.

    My meager congratulations to you as well, Mr. President. You inspired me (once again) last night and I’m happy to have you aboard for four more years!

  111. [Exclamation of surprise], Brad. You’re like the Iraqi reporters in 2003 who kept on dutifully claiming that the American reports of their successful invasion into Baghdad were pure lies even while Abrams tanks were rolling through the streets behind them on camera. It’s simultaneously knee-slapping hilarious and grotesquely sad. And a fine example of the Rightist apoplexy now that the inevitable truth of the second term of the Obama Presidency is starting to sink in. But this comment you made in the previous thread to Genufett -

    I am sure Genufett can produce plenty of reasonable link-filled arguments as to why this is not a correct picture of the situation.

    - really does bear all sorts of repeating. As others continue to point out, your claims have been shown demonstrably false, with facts, over and over. Yet your single comment that even vaguely resembles an acknowledgement of that is the sideways sneer above. You sneer at someone’s proven ability to provide evidence that the picture you paint does not square with reality. Someone clearly shows how and why you are wrong, repeatedly, and all you can finally do is offer a single sneer.

    The mind boggles to consider what you might consider a reasonable expectation of evidence and integrity from others.

  112. Um. John, after hitting POST the first line of my most recent comment looks to me needlessly inflammatory. Please feel free to strike-through or edit out as you see fit. Thanks, and my apologies.

  113. Obama has always been pragmatic. He has always been focused on getting something out of his effort. He wasn’t a law professor at U of C because he obstructed people from getting things done, unlike many of our current elected officials.

    @John Scalzi – Any thoughts about how an average person can influence the political process so that it becomes more bipartisan? Many of us are tired of waiting….

  114. @Todd, that you conflate not wanting to bear your rapist’s child and being enthusiatic about infanticide, that you imagine wanting to marry the person you love is depravity – yup, that’s why you keep missing the planks we see. However, I agree that if you can convince your party to stop caring one way or the other about abortion and homosexuality, perhaps both you and we can be happier.

  115. One thing that has struck me is that I heard, and am still hearing from various talking heads (personally I think it is another anatomical part that is talking, but…), about how it was really Hurricane Sandy that won the election for the Democrats. When I hear those pro-Republican (and by extension pro-austerity and micro-government) moaning about Hurricane Sandy winning the election for Obama. I really hear them moaning that Sandy made people realise the true benefits of having big government, and disaster relief organisations, and all those other non-profit generating parts of society. Yeah, how dare the electorate be reminded of that stuff and its necessity. They’d much rather the people voted to do away with it all and just suffered in silence. I really don’t think that is a good image for them to be putting out, what with the party’s image as the Hate-Party as it is.

  116. One thing you left out of your description of demographics – “Christian”. For a large proportion those of us from other religions, the current GOP is very scary. Don’t think we missed the Texas party trying to oust someone from leadership for being Jewish.

  117. I totally agree with you on this. My question, though, is who is the GOP A-Team? And could that A-Team ever survive the GOP Primary process?

    Good question, Paul. Because nowadays I don’t think the Tea Party/theo-conned GOP would let the Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon get out of New Hampshire alive. Forget about Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln.

  118. As for the Republicans not wanting things to change, what they are really saying is: I have learned all I need to know and I do not need any more knowledge!: Therefore they will not compromise, that would be admitting there is something they do not know.

  119. What your German friends missed in 2011 was that the target audience for last year’s Republican political process not only wasn’t them, it wasn’t even the US Democrats. It was the US right wingers, and the goals were to let the C and D teams run around and play and get all that excess energy out of their systems so they’d acknowledge that Mitt Romney was going to be the Party Machine choice and they should fall in line behind him. That’s what Donald Trump’s opening clown act was for, and letting all the small fry have their 15 minutes in the spotlight, and even Newt Gingrich got trotted out to show them that the GOP wasn’t going to be able to sell a hard-core right-winger to the American public. And just to give the moderates a bit of recognition, they brought out Jon Huntsman to remind everybody that the billionaire Mormon ex-governor spot was already taken.

    As far as the A-Team goes, I love it when a plan comes together. Rove, Norquist, the Koch boys, Fox News, and their friends have long ago decided that an emotionally committed Party base that’s focussed so entirely on Winning that it will stay on message about everything and attack anybody who disagrees is the way to take over control of the political process. The Religious Right never were in charge – they’re just tools, and the machine’s happy to throw them a few bones about gay marriage and abstinence-only birth control as long as they don’t go talking about Unjust Wars and feeding the poor and healing the sick. And Evolution Denialism is a wonderful thing, because it not only brings in their voting block, but it lets you do the same Teach the Controversy denialism about Global Warming (which, unlike evolution, is a really core problem for the party’s Corporate Sponsors.) And the Tea Party? The anti-deficit folks got brought into prominence about the time Bush and his radically increased federal debt were getting term-limited out of office, and the FreedomWorks PAC and similar groups made sure to stick the deficit hawks together with the Birthers and other right-wing crazy people, because a party that doesn’t want to take responsibility and raise taxes to support its military spending doesn’t want deficit hawks to be actually in charge of anything.

    But one of the machine’s serious problems is that you can only sustain that kind of thing for so long, and by chasing out all the moderates, they’ve really marginalized themselves. If Obama had actually gotten the economy turned around and in good shape, they wouldn’t have had a chance this time, because all they’d have to sell is identity politics. (And sorry, but Obama hasn’t fixed the economy – the amount of damage that Bush’s gang did to it is would have taken a long time to fix even if there weren’t lots of other fundamental problems, like the decline of manufacturing, the demographic changes that break the economic ratios that sustained social security, and the end of the 1990s technology boom, and Obama’s no Bill Clinton. I think Hillary Clinton would have done a better job on the economy, because she might have stood up to the Republicans more effectively.)

  120. The shrieking about “morals” is particularly amusing coming from a guy who has bragged about all the women his newly-acquired middle-aged wealth attracts and who claimed to have voted for Obama the first time around.

    Four states just voted to allow more people to be allowed to get married. You know: marriage, the founding unit of our society that creates stability and responsibility, and which reduces that horrible out-of-wedlock birth rate. One would think that an honest conservative would be applauding same-sex marriage.

  121. Unless the GOP is irretrievably stupid, this is the last presidential election they’ll assume they can win entirely white.

    Arguably it’s been a long time since an election was winnable entirely white, and one of George W. Bush’s great successes was in bringing large numbers of Latinos to the Republican Party. I was honestly surprised by how badly Romney alienated Latino voters, and I don’t know why he thought it was a good idea — as Obama said in the Des Moines Register interview, that was pretty much the election right there.

  122. @crypticmirror
    I love it when the talking heads blame Hurricane Sandy for Obama’s re-election!
    Do they really want to say that God wanted Obama to be president?

  123. We focussed too much on the presidential election.

    We still have a split Congress. This means 4 more years of posturing, bickering and stalemate, with no progress on important issues due to idealogical standoffs by the GOP.

    I was all for Obama winning, but I am now afraid its going to get more acrimonious and ugly in his second term as the GOP goes out for revenge and completely stalls the government.

  124. Obama is not a liberal. He’s definitely not a socialist. He’s a moderately left-leaning centrist.

    He’s a progressive. Gay marriage, Obamacare, etc. All his policies and stances are progressive.
    Centrism would involve implementing some conservative policies as well. But he doesn’t have any conservative positions on anything.

  125. @Bill Stewart, re: the emotionally committed party base, well said.

    re: political effects of Sandy, take a look at fivethirtyeight or similar places with constant odds calculations. You see Romney getting a sizable upswing from the first debate, then that bounce eroding over the next month. There is no real discontinuity around Sandy and Romney’s odds never rose above 40% the entire course of the campaign. Given how accurate Nate Silver was overall, I take this to be a reasonably accurate picture. The states hardest hit by Sandy were always predicted to vote Democrat anyway. The loss was no fluke of nature.

  126. @Adam K, Obama was slow to promote gay marriage. Obamacare is largely the Republican plan from the 90s (which is part of why it looks so much like Romneycare), with no government insurance – the negotiations gave way to the opposition on many things and then the gop voted against it anyway for political reasons.

    Aside from social issues, Obama is very centrist. There have been no strong changes in foreign policy aside from not being such a dick to allies.

  127. All his policies and stances are progressive.
    Centrism would involve implementing some conservative policies as well. But he doesn’t have any conservative positions on anything.

    Republican health plan from the 90s. Raised taxes less than Reagan. Agreed to surge in Afghanistan. Pursuing Bush Doctrine in warfare. Stated that gay marriage is best handled by the states (nominally the GOP position, even if–when it comes from conservatives, at least–state’s rights has been code for protecting straight white guys). Agreed to cuts in Social Security and Medicare as part of the sequestration/fiscal cliff agreement that the GOP is now claiming they didn’t agree to. Agreed to follow the Hyde Amendment. Put together a bipartisan fiscal commission that was scuttled by the GOP (including their candidate for VP).

    Yeah, totally has no conservative policies.

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