Media Criticism

The Phrase 'Obama must declare war on the Republican Party' Was Analysis, Not Advice, Claims Journalist


Neil Patrick Harris's best role yet

In January 2009, as Barack Obama was preparing to take over the White House from George W. Bush, Slate columnist John Dickerson wrote a piece on rhetoric, with the subhed "When politicians declare war on something, it's not usually a good sign." The nut:

Politicians are fond of comparing things that aren't war to war. It's both an abuse of language and a rhetorical trick. […]

Obama campaigned against Bush's use of fear as the justifying language of public policy. But he has almost matched his running mate Biden in his use of dire language to describe the severity of the economic stakes.

Well, that was then. Last week, Dickerson, who is also political director of CBS News, had a new piece out, headlined "Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party." His argument now:


Washington's partisan rancor, the size of the problems facing government, and the limited amount of time before Obama is a lame duck all point to a single conclusion: The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat. […]

Obama's only remaining option is to pulverize. Whether he succeeds in passing legislation or not, given his ambitions, his goal should be to delegitimize his opponents. Through a series of clarifying fights over controversial issues, he can force Republicans to either side with their coalition's most extreme elements or cause a rift in the party that will leave it, at least temporarily, in disarray. 

Obama, Dickerson added, "has no time to waste."

Unsurprisingly, people in the crosshairs of Dickerson's proposed pulverization were not fans of the column. Or, as Daily Download media writer Matt Taylor snarked, "Of course, it didn't take long for aggrieved righties to come out of the woodwork."

Dickerson's response to the criticism was hilarious: "Conservatives despise my analysis of Obama's second-term options. But it was analysis—not advice." Yes, you can always distinguish analysis from advice by the presence of such words as "must" and "should"….

Especially when you're wrong

In my editor's note in the February issue on how the "fact-checking" press gives the president a pass, I discussed how the go-to pose by lefty opinion journalists in the Obama era is to cloak their essentially partisan cheerleading in the holy glow of "facts," "science," and "math." Dickerson deploys all three words in the main section of his non-apology:

I was using a very specific definition of transformational presidencies based on my reading of a theory of political science and the president's own words about transformational presidencies from the 2008 campaign. It was also based on these givens: The president is ambitious, has picked politically controversial goals, has little time to operate before he is dubbed a lame-duck president, and has written off working with Republicans. "Bloodier-minded when it comes to beating Republicans," is how Jodi Kantor put it in the New York Times. Given these facts, there is only one logical conclusion for a president who wants to transform American politics: He must take on Republicans—aggressively. 

For me, this was a math problem with an unmistakable conclusion. Some people thought I was giving the president my personal advice. No. My goal was to make a compelling argument based on the facts.

Dickerson also insisted that he has "close relations" who are conservatives, so obviously he doesn't "hate Republicans." Fascinating, I'm sure.

I've always found the enthusiasm among opinion journalists for helping build a permanent governing majority to be as creepy as it is futile. But different strokes, etc. What interests me here is how the Cloak of Empricisim is beginning to blind wearers to the plain meaning of their own words. That, and I think Dickerson was on to something in his description of Obama's divide-and-conquer strategy. As he put it in the original column, "The president already appears to be headed down this path."

Obama's refusal to countenance spending or entitlement cuts in the fiscal cliff talks deepened divisions between true fiscal conservatives and John Boehner-style pragmatists. His nomination of Republican realist Chuck Hagel for defense secretary deepened divisions between neo-conservatives and GOP non-hawks. You could read his choice of issues to focus on–gun control, gay marriage, immigration–as variations on a theme of bringing the most politically unpalatable corners of the Republican tent to the surface. As the president said in his Second Inaugural (engaging in some at least quasi-Dickersonian rhetoric), "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."

It's a neat trick, using spectacle to denounce spectacle, denouncing "name-calling" 10 words after calling your political opponents absolutists, and bathing your own bare-knuckle politics in the warm glow of "reasoned debate." The bad news for Obama (and Dickerson), is that these tactics will slowly leak potency over the next 1,400-plus days.

NEXT: David Purchase, Founder of Nation's First Needle Exchange, Dies

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  1. The War on Republicans (or actual conservatives) will be just as successful as the Wars on Drugs and Poverty.

    1. The big question is, how much collateral damage will they do in the process? Hopefully not as much as the War on Some Drugs and the phony War on Poverty.

      1. More like the War on the Laws of Supply and Demand.

  2. Make no mistake Libertarians, when he says “Republicans” he really means anyone who is not completely on board. If you are not a liberal Democrat, you have no right to speak, no right to participate in the public debate or have any say in how the country works. You are not even a human being to these people. He just let the mask slip.

    What is most appalling of all is not only are you not a human being and totally unworthy of any control over your life or government, if you are expected to like this fact and be thankful for it. What mostly aggrieved this guy was the nerve of right wingers to be angry about his desire to completely marginalize them from the public sphere.

    1. Oh, we know…

      Tony has told us repeatedly that we need to STFU and stop oppressing the majority by refusing to allow them to rule us. 🙂

    2. That is the essence of tolerance, inclusiveness and equality.
      Tolerance means not tolerating intolerance (defined as any disagreement).
      Inclusiveness means including all who agree (and excluding anyone who doesn’t).
      And equality means all who agree are equal (while anyone who disagrees is a worm).

      1. Exactly. War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. We’re scarily close to that nowadays.

      2. And, of course, hating the haters proves that you are against hate.

    3. I’m used to being despised from both the left and the right. Nothing new here.

      1. The right just doesn’t like you. But they wouldn’t try to make sure you have no right to even speak in a public forum. The Left would. They want to kill you. They just haven’t quite gotten the guts to come out and say it.

        1. “The right just doesn’t like you. But they wouldn’t try to make sure you have no right to even speak in a public forum.”

          Tell that to the Paulbots. Or the Libertarian Party,

          1. Because playing political hardball in a caucus is just like doing something like banning all “corporations” from political speech or reinstating the fairness doctrine.

            1. The GOP neutered the Libertarian campaign for President by suing them for the ballot access they earned pretty much everywhere. They DID try to make sure Libertarians had no voice in the public sphere. They succeeded, too.

              But hey, stifling debate is ok if it only happens during an election.

              1. Bullshit. Parties sue each other all of the time over ballot access. It only works if your party is too fucking incompetent to follow the rules.

                Whatever effect that had, says more about the LP, which is notoriously incompetent, than it does about the GOP.

                Are they trying to make the LP illegal? Are they demanding that every LP event also include the other side? When they do, get back to me.

                1. It only works if your party is too fucking incompetent to follow the rules.

                  You mean the ballot access rules that the Rs and Ds drew up so that they automatically qualify, and all other parties have to spend time and money to meet these artifical hurdles whose only purpose is to try to maintain a duopoly?

                  Those “rules”?

                  Fuck that.

                  1. Are they trying to make the LP illegal?

                    They would LOVE to do that, but that is unconstitutional. So they try to do the same thing via ballot access laws.

                2. Speaking of masks slipping…

          2. Oh, snap!

          3. Sorry, this just doesn’t ring true. The GOP was trying to squeeze out the Libertarians because of they wanted to get libertarian votes. That is to say, they were engaging in sleazy politics, and not trying to rub libertarianism from the face of the Earth.

        2. “The right just doesn’t like you. But they wouldn’t try to make sure you have no right to even speak in a public forum.”

          Um, bullshit.

          at the very least a plurality of “the right”, especially the religous components of it would be more than happy to ban anyone who disagrees with them from having a public voice.

    4. [i]If you are not a liberal Democrat, you have no right to speak, no right to participate in the public debate or have any say in how the country works.[/i]

      When they came for the conservative Christians, I did nothing.

      When they came for the race realists, I did nothing.


      1. “Race realists” ? What is that, exactly? Someone who broadly stereotypes groups of people based on the amount of melanin they have?

    5. Plus: if you disagree with him you may not be “rational”, you certainly aren’t “serious”.

    6. But the liberaltarians tell us the Democrats are our friends. Front-line allies in the War For Women, government funding for fetal stem cell research, taxed and regulated medical marijuana, and gay marriage.Nick Gillespie even suggested we might should follow DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in the War Against Anti-Government Hysterics, Numbskulls and Nutjobs.

      1. One trick pony has one trick.

        *makes shocked face*

        1. IT is all well documented in the archives of reason.

          1. *looks around for somebody that cares*

            Nope, nobody gives a shit.

            Maybe if you say something about “cocktail parties” and put random words in all caps someone will care. Yeah, try that.

            1. COSMOTARIAN!!!!11!

            2. so basically, general, being a rock-ribbed libertarian is no different than being a committed liberal? Someone accuses Nick of doing things that he actually did and your response is to attack the messenger. Seriously?

              1. Maybe if SIV ever did anything besides shout “COSMOTARIAN!” and “COCKTAIL PARTIES!” we might actually care when he does bring up stuff like this

                1. But, that’s silly. In the case of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, bear in mind that, although the boy was killed by the wolf, the townspeople also wound up plagued by it.

      2. For the cosmos, it’s all about knowing which side their bread is buttered on. That takes precedence over basically everything.


            1. NO!!1!

              You take the Orange Line Metro to COCKTAIL PARTIEZ

              1. Ew, no cosmotarian would ever live in the fucking Valley. Oh, are we talking about DC cocktail parties?

              2. Red line, dude. Orange line is Virginia and PG county.

      3. We need to find/start a REAL libertarian site. Not LRC though, those people are nutjobs.

        You can be chief editor, but we need to find someone to head the video wing. I hear Lonewacko is available.

        1. I hear some guy named Eric Dondero has such a site.

      4. Show us on the doll. Where the did the bad cosmotarian man touch you?

  3. Dickerson also insisted that he has “close relations” who are conservatives, so obviously he doesn’t “hate Republicans.”

    That to me was the most ridiculous part. “I have black friends so I can’t possibly be racist.”

    1. James Carville had close relations with a conservative.

      1. I have to say, it’s pretty awesome that Carville and Matalin can make their thing work.

        1. I think it shows how phony our politics really is. Team Red and Blue foot soldiers can hook up all they want but the generals? Shows me that the team leaders are in it for the process itself rather than to drive any particular results.

  4. Love the tag on the first pic…

    1. I don’t. NPH is a national treasure.

  5. Of course, Dickerson is wrong. Destroying the Republicans would hurt, not help. The Republican-Democratic faux fight is a crucial PR mechanism. If it becomes clear that everyone in Washington wants the same thing (moderate but steady growth in the size and scope of government), people might get wise and start looking elsewhere.

    1. Nah. Hawaii’s legislature is 90% Democrats and there’s basically no possibility of any third party candidates being elected.

      Welcome to America’s demographic future.

      1. That influx of North Korean refugees in your future will swing your state rightward (PS. No one was ever nicer than my Hawaiian acquaintances, so no hate).

      2. Unsurprising from the state that produced the world’s most famous Catfish sucker.

        1. Michelle Obama doesn’t exist???

    2. if CA is an example, your thesis is not supported. The state keeps electing more Dems, supporting more statist buffoonery, and continuing down the path that yielded predictable results but people expect different outcomes. On what planet does that ever happen?

      1. CA is HI about 40-50 years ago, politically. The number of Rs keeps getting whittled down in HI, with the LP not gaining any traction.

      2. I don’t think state politics and federal politics compare well. Of the little attention most people give to politics, almost all of it is given to federal politics.

        And besides, I would think in heavy Democratic states, the phantom of “Republicans who want deep cuts to everything” probably drives a lot of the Democratic success.

  6. Wasn’t only two years ago that these dickheads like Dickerson told us that Republicans like Sarah Palin had “blood on their hands” because their “overheated” rhetoric of “targeting” Democrats for defeat had somehow “caused” a nutjob to shoot a Democrat Congresswoman?

    1. This is okay because he knows anyone who would listen to him is ineffectual and thinks guns are icky. Only evil conservative tea bagging fanatics are truly dangerous.

      1. And if some crazy kids get out of hand and you know blow up a few things like they did back in the 70s, that is okay. They mean well.

        1. “Back in the 70s?” You mean back a few weeks ago, when those Occupy Manhattan trust-fund kids were caught with explosives in their apartment? Notice how quick that story totally disappeared, just as all the non-kool-aid-drinkers among us knew it would?

          1. And what do you want to bet they get off with a few months in prison at most? If they had been Muslims, they would never see the light of day. But rich Ivy League kids are just confused and need some talking to. Remember, liberals are not racist or anything.

            1. Some things never really change. Puerto Rican nationalist got hard time, rich kids in the Weathermen Underground guilty of the same and then some, didn’t.

              1. I think you downplay the significance of being forced into a tenured professor position at a major university. Things are tough all over (for a bomber with a good lawyer).

    2. He wrote a column criticizing Palin’s “blood libel” response, but I didn’t see anything from him blaming her or right-wing rhetoric for the shooting in the first place, or advocating a post-shooting chill out on rhetoric. But this was only after a cursory search.

      1. No, but he basically said, “That’s what happens when you talk about guns. Maybe that’s not fair, but tough shit.”

        Then he rambled on about how stupid and tone deaf Palin was and how super awesome Obama’s speech was going to be because he was going to wax all eloquent about the victims and stuff. I wonder if the fact that nobody was blaming Obama for a random mass shooting had anything to do with the difference in their responses.

        1. You just don’t understand the rules. Palin is supposed to like and thank liberals for blood libeling her. How dare she fight back. This is how these people think.

          1. That’s very tone deaf of you, John. Don’t you care about the victims, like little Christina Taylor Green? This is why you will never be president.

      2. Dickerson put great weight on the “cross hairs” and “bulls eyes” while reporting on “the national conversation” on Twitter and other media after the Giffords shooting.

      3. You’re sure to get invited to all sorts of cocktail parties now.

    3. Don’t you know that Democrats are too important to live up to the same standards that they insist everyone else live up to? (/sarcasm)

    4. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have yet to hear a single left-wing scumbag in the media question the fact that Hollywood has just come out with a new crappy-looking Stallone movie with the charming title of “Bullet to the Head.”

  7. I suspect a lot of Obama’s success, during the last election, was due to his ability to convince swing voters that he wasn’t really the horrible threat that his Republican opponents made him out to be.

    But Obama looking better than Romney doesn’t mean the Republican Party is dead.

    Obama had a hard time selling himself as a moderate after ObamaCare, TARP, having nationalized GM, etc.–back in the mid-terms; it really wasn’t that long ago that the Republicans by way of the Tea Party cleaned his clock.

    I know the demise of the Republican Party has been a popular topic among the chattering classes lately, but the Republican Party (with whatever emphasis) will regain some of its stature eventually.

    And probably the best way for Obama to make sure the Republicans recover as quickly as possible is to actually become the bogeyman they make him out to be.

    Yeah, hit hard, Obama! Govern from the hard left! If Obama believed that nonsense himself, he’d have hit a whole lot harder on gun control.

    1. He is going to go full retard. There are two problems with buying into a cult of personality. First, when the personality goes off the rails, there is no one there to speak out and stop him. You watch, Red State Dem senators are going to march to their deaths over gun control because they are incapable of taking on the cult that is the Obama Presidency.

      The second problem is once the personality is gone, everyone else is left to live with the legacy. Unless they can create another cult of personality that makes moderates and low information voters feel good about voting for the guy, they are going to be left defending their record.

      1. This has all happened before, though.

        Hell, don’t even go back to FDR, I’m not convinced Obama’s sway over Progressives is significantly greater than Dubya’s sway over a lot of conservatives was at the height of his power.

        They all overreach when they get like that. If Obama were smart, he would still try to govern from the center. If Obama tries to do too much, it will have an effect on the mid-terms–just like it did before.

        Yeah, Obama’s got a cult of personality thing going, but he knows his time is short. And even gun control is fizzling! How much of a threat can Obama really be now if–with the media all behind him–he can’t even capitalize on all those dead children?

        I despise the man for what he’s already done; I just think the demise of the Republican party has been greatly exaggerated.

        1. People voted for Bush in 04 because the war was going well and Kerry and the Democrats couldn’t help but make it look like they were ready to surrender the country to the Muslims. Letting Micheal Moore have a prized seat at the 04 convention and letting their nitwit supporters in Hollywood go on endlessly is what lost them the election. The right was never that wed to Bush. They turned on him in 06 and stayed home in the midterms. I don’t get how people say Bush had a cult of personality. No, what Bush had was people who supported the war and felt like him, for all of his flaws, was the only available option to fight it.

          1. I think some of it was that all of the things the democrats were campaigning against were things that they voted overwhelmingly for not a couple years before. They stunk of hypocrisy.

          2. For a long time there, for a lot of people, opposing George W. Bush (or whatever he was doing) was like supporting Al Qaeda.

            Right now, for a lot of people, opposing Barack Obama is like supporting the Westboro Baptist church–and racism.

            The way to break the spell in either case if for the president to overreach. I’m not saying Obama won’t overreach; I’m just saying that when he does, there will be negative consequences for the Democrats.

            Some people, these days, seem to think that the Democrats cannot lose! And that’s ridiculous. The Republicans were more powerful under Bush than they are under Obama right now.

            I’m not sure which is worse: the Democrats imagining themselves invulnerable or the Republicans imagining themselves permanently defeated. I suspect Democrats imagining themselves invulnerable is the more dangerous of the too because it can make them try bigger and bolder things–without any fear of reprisal.

            So, we should start poking holes in their invulnerability myth. When Obama overreaches, the Democrats will pay the price.

            1. For a long time there, for a lot of people, opposing George W. Bush (or whatever he was doing) was like supporting Al Qaeda.

              And to the extent that was true, that was entirely do to the image the Democrats projected in 04. Bush was merely the beneficiary of it.

              1. If you’re going to argue that, someone could just as easily argue that same case regarding Obama being the benificiary of the image Republicans projected

                1. That doesn’t get argued anymore because now it’s considered a simple fact by the media. Or have you not heard that Obama is the ‘adult in the room’ enough yet?

        2. It wasn’t too long ago that everyone was talking about the Republican permanent majority and how impossible that was to break.

          Everyone always seems to forget about midterm elections and how much can change in 2 years.

          1. Yes Zeb. And they forget what stupid and shallow reasons most people use to vote. There is a large group of people who pay little attention to politics, know very little and seem to randomly sway back and forth between the parties each election. There is nothing permanent about any majority built with those people.

          2. and it was in ’08 that the talk was of a permanent Dem majority after Obama won to go along with the party’s 06 takeover of both houses.

            Same thing happened in ’92. Then came ’94.

          3. Everyone always seems to forget about midterm elections and how much can change in 2 years.

            Midterm elections are a poor barometer for the overall trend of political culture because the participation rates in midterms are always a fraction of POTUS cycles. But the one that really will carry the Dems onward and upward is single women, a huge and increasing bloc. TANF, WIC, Section 8, SNAP, EBT. Every fucking acronym there is caters to the single and divorced wimminz. They are the ones that will destroy the republic.

            And the demographics that break overwhelmingly left are increasing at rapid rates, spurned along primarily by Dem welfare policies. There has been much talk about hispanics.

            1. But, because they are spurred by Democratic welfare policies, it can only go on so long. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, eventually you run out of other people’s money. You can’t build a permanent majority on income transfers.

    2. That is cool but the media will continue to give him a pass and discuss the color of the First Lady’s shoes, who designed her dress, who lipsynched what, and how horrible it is for the NRA to mention how the President’s kids are guarded while overlooking his surrounding himself with innocent and ignorant young children in order to pass his legislative agenda.

      1. All true. The question is whether the media will be able to treat all future Democratic politicians with this kind of reference and worship or is there something about Obama that has created this? IF it is the former, then the next Democratic candidate will be equally unaccountable. If it is the latter, some poor schmuck (Paging Mr. Biden, Mr. Joe Biden) is going to take the entire blame for Obama’s fuck ups.

        I could see it either way. But my instinct is that no matter how bad things ever get, people cannot deny the truth forever. And that when Obama is gone, there is going to be a swing back. The media will never admit Obama is the biggest fuck up ever elected President. He means too much to them and they have too much invested. But they will probably not treat the next guy the same and then pin all of Big Daddy’s failures on him. Everything was so great until Obama’s successor just wasn’t worthy.

        1. And that when Obama is gone, there is going to be a swing back.

          You’re assuming Obama will leave. Sure he won’t be president anymore after 2016. He’ll simply be a national level community organizer, his preferred vocation. He’ll be able to get away with even more then and the media still won’t call him on it.

          1. That is the concern. Notice how leftist X-presidents don’t fade into history and instead inject themselves everywhere, lingering like a bad rotten fish smell, whereas republican X-presidents you barely ever hear of?

    3. I suspect a lot of Obama’s success, during the last election, was due to his ability to convince swing voters that he wasn’t really the horrible threat that his Republican opponents made him out to be.

      Yeah, I remember a lot of happy talk about how Obama wasn’t going to go after anyone’s guns if he got reelected because he was all pragmatic and respected the Second Amendment and all that rot.

      Then, before he even got inaugurated again, he went after everyone’s guns.

      1. All of my liberal friends swear on a stack of bibles that Obama is a moderate. He is like Clinton. He has no intention of raising anyone but the really rich’s taxes, enacting any gun control or doing anything to slow down the economy. They really believe this.

        Something like 40% of gun owners voted for the dumb bastard.

        1. Perhaps by their standards Obama IS a moderate. I have a prog sister who thinks Jesse Jackson is kind of a center-left moderate, and thought Clinton was almost unbearably far-right.

          We had this discussion where I said I thought everyone, regardless of race, should be treated equally, and she said that obviously implied that we must hand blacks buttloads of money to make up for “past injustices”. She was appalled when I insisted that that was racist and by definition meant treating people unequally.

          1. My sister is a Mother Jones subscribing lefty, too. I really can’t talk about politics with her, as she doesn’t acknowledge basic reality. She went a little nuts during the build up to the Iraq invasion and became what we know call a prepper. I shit you not. She was convinced the war would expand throughout the entire Middle East and cause an economic collapse.

            Mom is a bit more sensible. A Clinton Democrat who doesn’t like Obama or where he has lead the DNC.

            1. we know now call a prepper

              Not really a homophone in this case. Changed the sentence from ‘know today as . . .’ but thought it sounded awkward.

            2. There are Mother jones reading preppers? I wonder if they will start to form militias.

        2. He almost won the Catholic vote.

      2. He tried. Looks to me like that gun control effort is fizzling.

        Regardless, the harder he hits, the more of a backlash he’s gonna have to contend with.

        It’s just like it was during the midterms when the GOP used the Tea Party to kick his ass.

        He won’t have Romney to run against this time–just his own record. And the last time he did a lot of big stuff–TARP, nationalized GM, ObamaCare, etc.–the voters crushed the Democrats in the midterms.

        It was a little over two years ago!

        I’m not saying that Obama won’t go full retard; I’m saying that if and when he does, there’s gonna be a big reaction. Just becasue the voters didn’t warm up to Romney–doesn’t mean they won’t react to Obama’s overreaching again.

        Hell, a lot of my fellow libertarians wouldn’t vote for Romney–that doesn’t mean they like it when Obama grinds their sensibilities into the ground like a cigarette butt. I think there are a lot of non-libertarian voters out there like that, too.

        1. Hell, a lot of my fellow libertarians wouldn’t vote for Romney

          I would say that if you voted for Romney, you have precious little claim to being a libertarian.

          1. I don’t know about that.

            I expected Obama to be a lot worse for libertarians than Romney. Romney may not have been a libertarian, but he didn’t actively oppose libertarian economic idea on principle–like Obama.

            Obama is opposed to libertarianism on principle–on every issue I can think of. Romney wasn’t a libertarian by any means, but sometimes, when an alternative like Obama is so bad, voting for his opponents is the best thing a libertarian can do.

            Oh, and voting against an incumbent, no matter the party or candidate, is always defensible from a libertarians standpoint.

            1. Come on Ken, you know the first two things Romney would have done in his second term was go for gun control and carbon rationing.

              1. I don’t know if Ken knows the first two things that Romney would have done and I certainly don’t know the first tow things that Romney would have done.

                So tell me, how do you know?

            2. Always? You know who else ran against an incumbent…

            3. So you’ll be voting against President Rand Paul and for Cory Booker or something in 2020, then? I’m kidding. We all know Rand Paul will probably never be president.

              1. “We all know Rand Paul will probably never be president.”

                LEAVE MY DAYDREAMZ ALONE!11!!!

              2. Not sure about the last part. He might just be able to pull it off.

            4. Oh, and voting against an incumbent, no matter the party or candidate, is always defensible from a libertarians standpoint.

              That’s not a bad default position. You are in effect helping to balance the incumbent’s advantages by always voting against him/her. Anyone who feels a duty to vote, but doesn’t have the time to analyze policy positions or care doesn’t have to do too much.

  8. The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP.

    This dovetails perfectly with the progressive definition of “bipartisanship” (on the part of Team Other) as surrender.

  9. I thought they just wanted to have a conversation?

    1. Their idea of a conversation is: they talk, you listen and obey.

  10. I’ve told my FIL (makes him crazy:))a couple of times that there are three detestable strains in the republican party – theocratic, neocon warmonger, and corporate welfare whore – and in order for me to vote R, they must ditch two. I can tolerate one of those strains, no more. If Obama succeeds in breaking off a chunk of the R base, I might be able to vote for them.

    1. Since you just described three out of the four wings of the Rs (the last is the tiny libertarian wing), it seems unlikely that they will ditch over half their base.

    2. so you find the parallel strains of Dem – corporate welfare whore, race-baiting welfare whore, and statist fuck – suitable then? Or are you voting LP all the time in which case neither party is of much use to you?

      1. “corporate welfare whore, race-baiting welfare whore, and statist fuck ”

        I agree with this assessment of Obama/Dems. Actually, I could say a lot more than this about the D’s. I’ve voted in every election since 1980. The only time I have ever voted D or R is 92 (Clinton) for which I say this:
        I apologize. I am really, really sorry.
        I apologize unreservedly. I deeply regret any distress my 1992 vote may have caused you, or your family.
        I’ve re-read my post 3 times and I’m trying to figure out where I stated or implied that I found these things suitable.

        Are you my partisan republican shill FIL? Does your first name start with S?

  11. To ask of a Libertarian who might believe that either there is no difference between the two parties or that the GOP is actively worse,

    If the GOP were pulverized (or go the way of the Whigs) how many election cycles would it take for there to be a counterpart to the Democrats?

    A decade, a generation?

    Is it possible that there would not again be a second national party but that there would be regional counter forces (perhaps a “green” party in the west from the left of the Democrats and a “conservative” party in the south)?

    1. The better question is, if the Democrats were ever given unchecked power, for even a few years, why wouldn’t they use it to ensure that no other party arose to challenge them?

      1. You know who else ensured no other parties could arise to challenge them…

        1. Adam Weishaupt?

    2. It would take about 5 minutes for another counterpart. Most Republicans’ only principle is that they are definitely not Democrats, so they would jump to whatever alternative came up. The rest would either actively support the Libertarian party (Tea Partiers, most SoCons, gun rights nuts) or form their own third party (neocons). The Democratic party is as strong as it is only because the Republican party is so absurdly incompetent.

      1. “The Democratic party is as strong as it is”

        Haven’t they been getting extinguished at the state level everwhere but the Eastern seaboard and Left Coast (and, God help me, here in IL)?

        As dumb as the Elephants have been, the Asses cannot retake the House, with Crying Orange Man as the face of the party?!

      2. actively support the Libertarian party

        You do realize the Libertarian Party would then become something completely different that it is today? It might actually be able to win elections.

  12. What dofference does this make at this point?

    /all liberals about pretty much everything odious

  13. Having an “other” to blame all problems on is too valuable to both parties. It’s not going to change.

    The Dems will get slaughtered in ’14 and the GOP will think they have a mandate for all the wrong things just because they were the slightly less-worse choice.

    1. Sad, ain’t it?

      I learned last night that 50 state carry was put up a few times when the republicans had both houses and the presidency and it never went anywhere. What the fuck?

      1. Because it would require spending political capital on something other than futile roundabouts on gay marriage and abortion, or distract from their military intervention-boners.

        Both parties are shit. Slightly different flavors of shit, but you are still eating shit at the end of the day.

        1. yup

          Thing is that 50 state carry would be a fucking huge leap in gun rights. Could you imagine the freakouts in NY, L.A., and Chi over out-of-staters being allowed to conceal carry? Jesus, they’d fucking lose it.

          1. Oh, and not to mention that someone in NY could easily get a Fla license and be legit in NYC. Oh man, they’d shit their stoopid skinny pants.

            1. But guns are scary Naked!!1

      2. It cuts both ways. If the federal government can tell 50 states they have to allow CCW, it can tell 50 states they have to ban scary guns or assist in drug raids in contravention of state law.

        1. Depends on why. If the federal government say states must allow CCW because that is what the Second Amendment means, it is different from saying states must allow CCW because “we rustled up enough votes to pass a law which can be repealed if enough votes can be gathered by the other side in the future.”

          1. Legislative Intent is not binding on future Congresses. All legislation is “because ‘we rustled up enough votes to pass a law which can be repealed if enough votes can be gathered by the other side in the future.'”

  14. My goal was to make a compelling argument based on the facts.

    Compel is an even worse choice of words than advice, as the definition of compel is to “cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure.”

    But why should one expect one of the D.C. court eunuchs to know about word choice?

  15. Thing is that 50 state carry would be a fucking huge leap in gun rights. Could you imagine the freakouts in NY, L.A., and Chi over out-of-staters being allowed to conceal carry?

    Which is why there would be a huge push to “rationalize” handgun laws as part of reciprocity uniform federal handgun safety legislation.

    And if that happens, it will end up looking more like common sense Massachusetts than wild west Montana.

    Fuck that.

    1. I can guarantee that if National Reciprocity had passed, may-issue states like CA and NY would have become no-issue to avoid having to recognize other states’ permits. So you’d actually wind up restricting the right to bear arms.

  16. I thought this was a good reply from the Ace of Spades website:

    Let me explain the problem to this fucking imbecile.

    First of all, advice is the same as “analysis of your best possible move.”

    But more importantly, Dickenson would never have written a piece with the headline “GO FOR HIS THROAT!,” advising the GOP to “bloody up” Obama. Including before/after the 2010 elections, when such advice would have been, uh, well, advisable.

    Only liberals are cheered on by the media to let their ideological freak flags fly. When liberals offer “advice” (or “analysis”) to conservatives, it’s always the same:

    1. We must compromise.

    2. We must concede the general outline of the liberal agenda.

    3. We must buckle under — For our survival!

    And what bothers us at this point isn’t that this is unfair; it is, but we’re used to it.

    We’re just sick to death of being fucking lied to every fucking day by organizations which, although claiming to have the mission of truth, are now dedicated to lying to the audience.

    Day in, day out.

    They will continue denying the undeniable — that they are liberal, and root for liberals, and consciously slant their coverage in favor of liberals (and congratulate each other for scoring points on conservatives).

    1. Fucking fierce.

      1. Yes, but that and $4 will get you a Skinny Late. The media gets more ‘blue’ year after year – bolder and bolder. They’ve gone from dropping a damaging story on a Dem President (Newsweek and Clinton) to not looking at all at a Dem President less something damaging turn up.

        But what does Team Red have in response besides whining about it for the entire 17 years I’ve been watching politics? Every four years the Rs meet the Ds in debates where every question takes a leftish tack. And in 2016 they’ll do it all over again. They’re STILL trying to make nice with a media that is trying to destroy them.

  17. A court eunuch gets caught with his pants down.

    His defense, “Nothing to see here!”, is probably not too far off.

    His mindset, I believe, is that there is a wolrd of difference between describing what Obama should do to “cement his legacy” or whatever and advising Obama on what to do to “cement his legacy.” The distinction, frankly, is lost on me.

    1. There is an important distinction but, given the context, it’s highly unlikely he’s doing only one and not the other.

      For his analysis not to be advice, he would have to believe Obama should NOT cement his legacy.

  18. Obama’s refusal to countenance spending or entitlement cuts in the fiscal cliff talks deepened divisions between true fiscal conservatives and John Boehner-style pragmatists.

    Don’t insult pragmatism by applying the label to Speaker Boner. Pragmatism means you’re willing to accept a small violation of your goals in return for something bigger that helps your goals. It doesn’t mean bending over and taking it, which is basically what Boner is doing.

  19. The distinction, frankly, is lost on me.

    Look at it this way: if I were to say to Obama, “No, fuck you, cut spending!” he would be under no obligation to do as I wish, even though only an idiot can deny that truth. Because that is not what he is already predisposed to do.

    But I’m just an aggrieved right winger who hates the President because he’s black.

  20. I suppose if some right winger said that “if you want to save America from oblivion, you must kill all Democrats” that would just be analysis, too.

    1. The thing is, they’re BOTH right. If we just combined their ideas and killed off BOTH parties, I think we’d see some progress

  21. I urge Obama to follow his advice, as turning the Democrats into a crowd of extreme haters whole think their sole purpose in life is to destroy Republicans will do more to delegitimize THEM than the Republicans.

    1. I urge them to do it too, because gridlock is freaking sweet and the House will respond by not cooperating on anything at all.

      1. I think you are correct – even the dumb GOP would get its hackles up if kicked enough times.

  22. I think this guy is a communist asshole. I’m not name calling though. I’m just analyzing the situation.

  23. Just yesterday CNN had an editorialist criticizing the GOP for playing the blame game with Clinton on the failures in Benghazi as “politics as usual”. This same guy wrote a book condemning the Bush Administration on the failures of the Iraq war.

  24. If I can ask a stupid question here, how many went from being liberals to libertarians? I mean, my political trend has been from being conservative to becoming a libertarian. Honestly, I really only see it as being true to my first principles. That is to say, I’ve realized that if I apply the things I said I believe to the world I see around me, libertarianism is the logical conclusion. The thing is, I can’t see that from the perspective of a Democrat/progressive. If I were so inclined, I can’t see the intellectual journey that would take me to the conclusion of “you know what, just leave everyone alone and respect their rights”. I know it happens. There are plenty of self-described ex-liberals who call themselves libertarians. But, is it something more of a Road to Damascus moment where you realize you were wrong? Or is there some line of reasoning that I’m missing?

  25. Libertarians always like to claim that Democrats and Republicans are the same and thus give themselves reason to vote for a third party candidate or maybe the Dem when they know they are not contributing in a positive way or in fact helping support candidates that are really bad news. That’s how Reason has managed to basically support a guy who’s done more to destroy the rights of US citizens than any president I remember.

    Well check this out, at least when a republican is in office, they get pushback from the media. When a Dem is in office, it’s free ride time.

    So why not finally recognize that there is a de facto difference in how much these guys can get away with.

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