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nominate someone who likes politics.
Institutions matter more than personality. Pay attention to the issues debated and the promises made during the primary. The Bush/Obama national security state and surveillance state probably aren't going away so don't assume significant difference between candidates on those issues, even if there appears to be. Instead look for differences in management style, approach to governing, and how to handle the procedural impediments to achieving the policy agenda that is broadly embraced by the party.
Echoing Drew, I'll be looking more carefully for administrative/management experience and style. Also some demonstrated ability to form significant partnerships across the aisle. I think Obama's right about what's needed and faced a tough climate for such cross-partisan efforts, but I also think he may have lacked some skills or necessary personal relationships in that area.
He was pretty much what I expected, left of center but never a real liberal. Of the choices I had, I don't regret the vote at all. Maybe the lesson is to work harder to get not just a president but also a Congress that is of like minds. He had the majority for two years but they were blue dogs and hence not that progressive. If you elect a president of one belief and House and Senate of another, it pretty much dooms you to stagnation. A lot of Americans like gridlock as they fear a government that can do something but I feel it costs us a lot of money to have them there and for what? We need an agenda that we support and work for it in both Houses and the Presidency.
Absolutely. Progressives are at a disadvantage with all the checks in the American system becaues they're the ones that want government to be able to regulate the economy. They need to control everything to succeed, whereas conservatives can simply block action and unfettered business interests will take care of the rest. That's why filibuster reform in the Senate was a big win. It's time for Democrats to start being as unapologetically partisan as Republicans when it comes to time make nominations (past time, actually- look at the complete lack of shame Reagan showed in his Supreme Court nominees). Hopefully Janet Yellen is a sign that Obama gets that.
It's important to have someone who can keep the party behind her while defending liberal achievements from dismantlement. In other words she's able to keep the centrist and progressive wings united. It's important to have someone who's able to exploit political opportunities not only through legislative action, but judicial and executive branch nominations and bureaucratic action. It's important to have someone who understands that the employment crisis feeds into the background of every other political controversy, and that the state of the economy overall feeds into the president's perception and her ability to wield power. She recognizes monetary policy, and in particular the actions of the Federal Reserve, is really important. Ideally the president has Christy Romer as an adviser. On foreign relations, the president must be able to articulate a strategy that clearly identifies the greatest threats to American security and how to respond to those threats in an era of rising powers, domestic economic problems, and the American public's reticence to get too involved in overseas adventures. Finally, it's important to have someone who sets up/manages a WH apparatus that gives her the best information/advice possible, and then executes her strategy well. I actually think Obama's done a good to great job on 1, and IMO a decent job on 4 (we probably have to wait a while to really judge on that one). He's been lacking on nominations but pretty aggressive on executive/bureaucratic actions (higher ed reform, NCLB waivers, EPA, etc.). His understanding of monetary policy is disappointing. His overall strategy of retrenchment in the face of overstretch and domestic crises has been sound and, in my view, pretty well-executed. Looking ahead at the field for 2016, I'm not totally sure but I think HRC meets most of what I'm looking for.
1. We don't need a president who can cut through the obstacles presented by Congress, entrenched interests, etc. with the sheer force of his (or her) personality and ideas. We need a president who can masterfully work that system, as riddled with veto points, contradictions, and parochialism as it is. 2. We need a president who speaks the language of power as fluently as he (or she) speaks the language of logic and ideas.
Agreeing with Drew and Jason, I think the specific management piece that is most glaringly wanting from President Obama is appointments, an issue that J. Bernstein has sadly had need to flog. Obviously past experience doesn't necessarily translate, and this instance could be a function of Obama's relatively short resume (despite his "conventional credentials"), but time in as an elected executive does look more appealing than it did before we had a senator elected to the big chair.
My lesson is that bipartisan centrism is dead thanks to the GOP having lost its mind and committed itself to unrelenting obstructionism and Ayn Randian public policy. So I'll be looking for a candidate who doesn't have delusions of bringing both parties together to pass legislation on major issues and who isn't going to pre-negotiate with himself when confronted with Congressional hostage-taking. Not wanting to start or continue stupid, expensive wars in the Middle East will also be high up on my criteria.
In contrast to Drew, I would really work the progressive grass roots to rein in and regulate the security/ surveillance state before a Republican gets into office.It goes unchallenged in the United States that the ground and air troops are directly under the control of the Executive in Chief. We do not allow generals to choose the wars they want to fight, and they abide by clear, open, and well-defined rules of war.Why should the surveillance arm of the military be any different?
I want no more of this "leading from behind" nonsense. It's important to pay attention to public opinion, but Obama outsourced way too much leadership. He didn't have a firm plan for the stimulus, for health care reform, for budget control, etc. He took how many months to decide what to do about Afghanistan, for crying out loud. I also want someone who'll put a cork in Nancy Pelosi and the left wing of the Dem party.
Right, see, us liberals aren't that interested in putting a cork into Nancy Pelosi. She wants to improve the lot of the middle class, and so do we. She's also a brilliant politician, which apparently bothers conservatives a lot.
Bill Clinton put a cork into a bunch like Pelosi, and it was better electorally for Dems, as 2010 demonstrated. Seeing that isn't limited to conservatives. You're obviously not of the ones who see that because you think she's brilliant despite turning to big win in 2008 into megalosses in 2010. That was quite a hat trick.
Honestly I don't think Bill Clinton did a great job of keeping Dems united in 1993-1994, and he upset both moderates and liberals. Also, the above comment ignores the fact that Dems suffered huge losses in 1994. I think many liberals (including me) admire Pelosi because she kept the caucus together for tough votes that accomplished long-standing liberal goals. The next nominee should similarly be able to appease both moderates and liberals in order to beat back the Tea Party right. I'm realistic enough to know we'll need more Heath Shulers and Bart Stupaks, and be able to keep them in the tent, to win a majority that can enact liberal priorities.
@Bryan, you can admire Pelosi all you want, but that doesn't help you explain or reverse her loss of the House (now made semi-permanent with gerrymandering, but that wasn't the reason for the 2010 loss).
But you forger that the GOP also made huge gains in 1994 under Clinton (even though the economy was much better in 1994 than in 2010) and retained control of the House *and Senate* throughout the rest of his administration.
@David, I didn't forget it. It's a reminder of how readily the country reacts to overreach in the liberal direction--a lesson Clinton learned but Pelosi and most liberals don't want to learn. There are reasons the liberals have been out of power so much in the last 30 years, and a big one is that the tax-and-spend impulse hasn't been conquered in the Democratic party.Now, what is your analysis of why the Dems lost the House in 2010?
ModeratePoli: my analysis of why the Dems lost the House is that they were the party in power, and the economy was terrible.
@Neil, The people generally blamed Bush for the economy, and still do. But if you don't want to see any other reason, it's not in my power to make you. I'd think you'd want to so that your understanding and analysis were more accurate, but that's secondary for many people anyhow.Consider this: 2012, the economy still isn't good, but Obama is reelected and the Dems make gains. How does that stack up with your analysis of choice?
Actually, many believe the economic data that year presaged a modest Obama victory. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/09/if-obama-wins-you-can-thank-economy-not-blame-ithttp://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/its-still-the-economy-stupid-obama-remainsIn the second article, our Plain Blogger is quoted as to how direction and pace of change in the unemployment rate probably matters more than the rate itself.
Has anybody been alive for the past 20 years? These magic administrative/political skills don't exist anymore, functionally speaking, not in the Washington of today. The last lever-puller was LBJ and he ruined the country for a generation or more with the Vietnam war. All the social legislation was already in the pipeline--his "skills" were of marginal and debatable benefit.Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States. This doesn't suggest some reason for some of the problems? The polarization isn't going to vanish with Hillary, any more than with Bill C. Obama got the world out of the great recession, ended the Iraq war, stopped the torture policy, is doing about as much as any president could do to turn the ship of state in more positive directions on the environment, energy, the economy, on income inequality, social justice. Every president has strengths and corresponding weaknesses. But if you think any Democrat could do better as President, and particularly at being President, I don't think recent history supports that notion. Everybody has their views. But my observation has been since similar views expressed in the Clinton administration and the Kennedy administration, that the President is the Chief Executive of projection. We could all do a better job than him, or her.
My only thoughts are that its always really Congress that is impediment to good legislation, not the President.If Democrats kept majority in 2010, everyone would be saying how great President Obama was.My second point is that I would however like a president with better management skills. The ACA rollout was simply piss-poor management
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect