Monday, August 1, 2011

Go Ahead, Democracts, Do It, Primary Obama

Phineas - It’s no secret that a lot of people are unhappy with the debt deal taking shape in Washington. For conservatives and other adults, there’s disappointment that there’s no requirement to pass a balanced budget amendment, no entitlement reform, and not nearly enough spending cuts. On top of that, it authorizes further extensive borrowing, and there’s a danger of a tax trap. (For reasons to be satisfied, even if not happy, see Pethokoukis and Bradley. And you can put me in this camp, too.)
But large segments of the Left are unhappy, too, because spending gets cut (even if it’s just a slowing in the rate of growth of spending) and they don’t get their binky tax increases. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus are just livid with Obama’s bowing to those “Tea Party extremists” and are planning a press conference today to demand he violate the Constitution by pretending the 14th amendment allows him to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. And if he doesn’t…?
Are you ready for Bernie 2012?
But Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is not [satisfied]. In an interview with liberal talker Thom Hartmann on Friday, Sanders spoke out very aggressively about the possibility of Obama facing a challenge from his left for the Democratic nomination.
“Well, at this point I have not,” Sanders said. “But I am now giving thought to doing it. You know, I think you know the names out there as well as I do. And I think the American people have got to be engaged. It’s not just me or anybody else here in Washington. There are a lot of smart honest progressive people who I think can be good presidents.”
Sanders said such a challenge was necessary since in his estimation, the president had begun to take his position as the party leader for granted.
I can genuinely sympathize, since we know the White House is thinking “Where are they going to go?” No one likes to be taken for granted. (1) But a Sanders candidacy? Sanders may be the only open Socialist in the Senate (the House, on the other hand…), but I’m willing to bet that, when asked who Bernie Sanders is, eight out of ten Americans would ask “who?” and the ninth would think he’s a colonel who sells chicken. While improbable insurgent candidacies have happened before –Gene McCarthy’s surprising strength lead LBJ to withdraw– it’s hard to imagine our Montpelier Marxist developing the Big Mo.
And yet the discontent with Obama on the Left is real, so, who else might? Your guess is as good as mine. Jesse Jackson is yesterday’s news; besides, he’d probably like to do something else to Obama. Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold might do it (or not); while he lost his bid for reelection, his progressive/social democrat credentials are near-golden and he’s usually a good campaigner. While he wouldn’t win the nomination (2), a la Kennedy in 1980 he could mount a strong challenge. That would force the President to move left to defend his base, setting up a greater contrast with the eventual Republican nominee and probably costing him more of those independents he is already in trouble with.
Darn. That would be awful, wouldn’t it? (3)
So, come on Bernie, Russ, or whoever. Do it. Do it for True Progressivism. Do it for your party. Do it for your country. Do it… for the children.
Primary The One.
(1) Like, say, the way the Democrats take African Americans wholly for granted. Someday they’re going to wise up to this.
(2) No way the Party would ever let Obama be thrown under the bus. They’d lose most of the Black vote in a flash, and without bloc-voting by African Americans, the Democrats never win another national election.
(3) Yeah, I know the Obama machine would eventually put down an insurgency, but it sure would be fun to watch them have to waste time and money.

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