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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Democratic News & Discussion Center 2012 (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Democratic News & Discussion Center 2012
BlackBlade
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Obama says if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and buys into Super Pacs.

It's not like he could, you know, take a moral stand, and say, "I don't care how much more money the Republicans can raise through Super Pacs. Super Pacs are the worst kind of disease that plagues our election process, and I don't want to purchase my reelection. I condemned Super Pacs in my State of the Union Address back in 2011 and I meant every word. If I can't be reelected president without letting big business pave the way with their endless supply of money, much of it unfairly earned through tax loop holes, I don't want to be reelected at all! I leave the choice where it should always be, with the American people, not with American big business."

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Jeff C.
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What's a Super Pac?
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Obama says if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and buys into Super Pacs.

It's not like he could, you know, take a moral stand, and say, "I don't care how much more money the Republicans can raise through Super Pacs. Super Pacs are the worst kind of disease that plagues our election process, and I don't want to purchase my reelection. I condemned Super Pacs in my State of the Union Address back in 2011 and I meant every word. If I can't be reelected president without letting big business pave the way with their endless supply of money, much of it unfairly earned through tax loop holes, I don't want to be reelected at all! I leave the choice where it should always be, with the American people, not with American big business."

Here's the issue I have with that. Super PACs are legal. I wish they weren't, but they are. Until they're made illegal, I'd rather use them until they are made illegal. If we don't use them and win, then the wind is taken out of the sails as to why they're bad. "See? President Obama didn't need a Super PAC at all! So why get rid of them?" If President Obama didn't use a Super PAC and lost, it makes the point that Super PACs are bad, but suddenly we have people in office who aren't going to do a thing about them.

At least when both sides are using Super PACs, it's a wash. I want them to be illegal, but until that time that they're made illegal, I don't want to take the tool out of the toolbox on principle. If we remove the option, it's a losing situation in either result.

ETA: To Jeff,

Before the Citizens United ruling in 2010 there were PACs (Political Action Comittees). PACs are organizations that are (technically) independent of a campaign. Because of this, they don't have the same finance laws as campaigns. Depending on the level of the campaign, individual contributions are limited to around $2,300 per person. A PAC doesn't have that limitation.

Citizen's United changed two big things. The first is that organizations may explicitly support candidates in their own advertising. Before you'd have to make your literature and advertising "issue" focused by using soft-money. The second is that corporate contribution limits were removed. Now, candidates have a Super PAC which they (technically) don't run, but they are explicit in their support of that candidate. So now big contributions from individuals, corporations, and unions are funneled into the Super PAC to bypass campaign finance laws.

ETA2: I may have taken away some of the nuance of what constitutes a Super PAC, so if someone want to correct me, I will defer to your expertise.

[ February 07, 2012, 08:14 PM: Message edited by: Vadon ]

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Blayne Bradley
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I agree, in a political environment this toxic, use them and maybe the partisan opposition will want to eliminate superpacs.
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
What's a Super Pac?

Link.
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Jeff C.
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So basically, Obama was trying to stay away from the big business influence on politics, but now he doesn't hvae a choice because he can't compete financially.

Is that about right?

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Blayne Bradley
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As I understand it Obama will actually be able to out spend them by 2 to 1.
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Lyrhawn
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2 to 1? I haven't seen that number anywhere. He's going to be well outspent even with the big lead he has
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MrSquicky
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President Obama has always had really strong beliefs against corruption and undue corporate influence right up until the point where it required him to make any sort of sacrifice. I just assume there's an * after any sort statement saying that these things are wrong and toxic for our country that represents "* unless it inconveniences me".
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Jake
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
President Obama has always had really strong beliefs against corruption and undue corporate influence right up until the point where it required him to make any sort of sacrifice. I just assume there's an * after any sort statement saying that these things are wrong and toxic for our country that represents "* unless it inconveniences me".

Yeah, that sounds about right, unfortunately.
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Rakeesh
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Well, to be fair, it's quite likely that if he hadn't made this switch, he would just have caught a terrific asskicking in the general. It's not as though he realized, "Well dang, I'll have to go a few steps out of my way or keep my principles."

So while I'm irritated and exasperated at this about-face, expected though it was, I'll wait to see what his long term policies are on the matter too.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, to be fair, it's quite likely that if he hadn't made this switch, he would just have caught a terrific asskicking in the general. It's not as though he realized, "Well dang, I'll have to go a few steps out of my way or keep my principles."

So while I'm irritated and exasperated at this about-face, expected though it was, I'll wait to see what his long term policies are on the matter too.

Agreed.

Also remember that presidents use their second terms more often to fix stuff like this, when they don't have to worry about reelection.

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Jake
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If you were redesigning the system, Lyrhawn, what would you do with regard to the length of presidential terms, and term limits?
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Well, to be fair, it's quite likely that if he hadn't made this switch, he would just have caught a terrific asskicking in the general.
I don't grant that this is true. President Obama can and already has raised a ridiculous amount of money for his re-election. He also enjoys the unparallelled power of the bully pulpit of being the President of the United States.

Frankly, the idea that he would suffer a "terrific asskicking" when limited to this seems ridiculous. It might make things somewhat more difficult for him, but the idea that he would be doomed to lose seems unrealistic to me. It seems to me that there are even several positive aspects of sticking with what he claimed as his principles.

---

Also, I want to make the point again about what this perspective says about the validity of American democracy and the ways of fixing it. To me, complaining about the overwhelming role that campaign finance plays in our elections is a tacit admission that American democracy is fundamentally broken at the level of the voters. It only works if you see a large section of the American public as failing in their very important responsibilities and voting based on poor reasons.

To me, there is a contradiction of believing this while also pushing the populist narrative that it is better when we give more power to the people and that what they decide is unquestionably good. It seems to me that it'd be more logical to dispute the core idea of this.

The primary problem with campaign finance is that more money roughly translates into more votes. The primary problem with that is that people vote irresponsibly and are swayed by the use of money much more than a reasonable consideration of the quality of the candidates. That seems to me to be the core message to push instead of the one that seems to say "It's okay that you don't approach voting responsibly. You're a victim of those terrible corporations and unable to do any better."

[ February 09, 2012, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, to be fair, it's quite likely that if he hadn't made this switch, he would just have caught a terrific asskicking in the general.

Honestly, I doubt it. I know it feels true, but there are (IIRC) very mixed results in the PolySci literature on how effective money is in influencing an election beyond a certain threshold. I can go look for links if people are interested but I don't have any on hand at the moment. I find the thesis that Super PACs will significantly impact the Presidential election to be at least less than a certainty.

Where money does have an inordinate impact is on down ballot races. If a state senate candidate can outspend an opponent in a race for name recognition, it can significantly change electoral outcomes.

<edit>Here is a post from John Sides on the impact of money on elections, in response to a David Brooks Op-Ed in the NYT. Sides (at least on the surface) disagrees with my above characterization:
quote:
[T]he major debate is not over whether money matters, it’s over the relative impact of incumbent and challenger spending.

There are other questions where political science doesn’t have a solid answer, as far as I know. One is whether independent expenditures matter over and above the (much larger) spending by candidates and parties, so Brooks’s skepticism regarding these expenditures isn’t necessarily contradicted by any evidence.

That said, a (seemingly well informed) commenter in the comments thread for the post says
quote:
I think the more accurate statement (rather than simply that money matters) is that political science has uncovered considerable complexity. Money seems to be influential, but in a threshold, ratio, or conditional way. In other words, its relative to how much the incumbent spends, the marginal effect per dollar changes in a non-linear fashion, and/or the effect of spending is conditional on party, popularity, type of spending, etc.
which sounds more like what I was trying to say (although with additional nuance).</edit>
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MrSquicky
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One of the things that the Super PACs allow is representatives of the candidates (that are totally not coordinating with the candidates any more) putting out all sorts of false and/or nasty information with the candidate being able to say "Hey, I can't do anything about what my former campaign strategists and leaders/business partners/relatives/etc. do."

It also allows candidates to take brib...I mean campaign donations from sources that can remain anonymous, which strikes me as another thing that is right up President Obama's alley.

[ February 09, 2012, 12:15 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
President Obama has always had really strong beliefs against corruption and undue corporate influence right up until the point where it required him to make any sort of sacrifice. I just assume there's an * after any sort statement saying that these things are wrong and toxic for our country that represents "* unless it inconveniences me".

But isn't that every politician?
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SenojRetep
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After a disappointing fund-raising total for January ($59,000), Priorities USA is getting a $1,000,000 check from Bill Maher
quote:
In a statement Maher said that having Obama as president over his Republican rivals was "worth a million dollars."
I whole-heartedly endorse this form of voluntary wealth redistribution. Given the dearth of evidence that any of this money matters at all (in terms of political outcomes), I figure opening the super PAC floodgates actually amounts to a luxury tax on the elite who want to believe themselves to be politically important. I'll have to endure more virulent political ads, but it'll comfort me to know that the millionaires' money is out there circulating around, stimulating our economy.*

In related news, the AFSCME is helping out Rick Santorum in Ohio to the tune of a $360,000 anti-Romney ad buy, while MoveOn.org does the same in Michigan. Politics, strange bedfellows, hunh.

*BTW, my tongue is only half-way in my cheek.

[ February 24, 2012, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Mucus
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Thought this was kinda neat. Headline needlessly provocative, but a neat side-effect of a global Internet.
http://www.chinasmack.com/2012/stories/chinese-netizens-occupy-obamas-google-americans-annoyed.html

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BlackBlade
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Heh, I didn't realize Google+ was open!
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Lyrhawn
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Dennis Kucinich lost his primary battle against another long time Democratic incumbent. Like his zaniness or not, Congress just lost a strong liberal voice, which I'm not thrilled about.
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SenojRetep
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Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who many saw as the favorite to capture the open seat in Maine being vacated by Olympia Snowe and who was being pushed by progressive groups, has decided not to run. Instead, the Dems best hope now for a pickup in the ME race is for the Independent candidate, Angus King, to win and then choose to caucus with the Democrats.
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Blayne Bradley
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Cross posting from SA I wish there was a source for this but it would be interesting to know more about:

quote:

The GOP has been dependent on gerrymandering, corruption and election rigging to win even states that used to be their strongholds. In the 2008 election it was coming out that Georgia and a few other states rigged the vote so hardcore that Obama lost by impossible numbers in some places. However since Obama won by so much he didn't really care and everyone just wrote Georgia off as "lol racist" and moved on. In the 3 months leading up to the election you are going to see the administration work to repeal all the voter suppression laws GOP passed in the past 2 years AND going after gerrymandering. Notice he is waiting until AFTER the GOP primary to do it this is nice because they seem to be not following the new laws they passed anyway during primaries giving him more fuel. I think that Obama would have a shot in a fairly districted Texas with all the minority and youth voter suppression repealed. Obama is also going to have a shitload of lawyers on hand to watch southern states like a hawk.


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BlackBlade
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If you don't think Democrats gerrymander as hard as the Republicans do you are woefully mistaken.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
If you don't think Democrats gerrymander as hard as the Republicans do you are woefully mistaken.

You got data for that?
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Dennis Kucinich lost his primary battle against another long time Democratic incumbent. Like his zaniness or not, Congress just lost a strong liberal voice, which I'm not thrilled about.

That is very sad indeed. With Feingold gone as of 2010, the idealism of congressional Democrats has taken a huge hit.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
If you don't think Democrats gerrymander as hard as the Republicans do you are woefully mistaken.

Because they don't have a choice. It's inherent to the FPTP system:

Gerrymandering
Mixed Member Proportional ftw

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kmbboots
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Yes, Blayne. I understand how gerrymandering works. I am asking for data to support BB's assertion that both sides do it equally "hard". I would not be surprised that they do; I would just like to see the numbers.
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Blayne Bradley
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My point is that it doesn't matter if they do it "as hard",its a fault with the system not the party.
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BlackBlade
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Kate: I'd be happy to find numbers later, but it's a bit difficult while I'm at work.
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kmbboots
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No hurry. [Wink]

Blayne, certainly it is a fault of the system - or an advantage depending on the circumstances. That is not why I am interested in the numbers.

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Blayne Bradley
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I'm confused as I thought my convo was in parallel.
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Geraine
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I wasn't able to find any stats, but I was very surprised to see the Supreme Court basically ok'd the practice as long as it didn't harm racial or minority groups.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_United_Latin_American_Citizens_v._Perry

There are numerous news stories out there though that I was able to find in a quick search that go both ways. Democrats want to redistrict Illinois, Republicans want to redistrict Texas, etc.

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Lyrhawn
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Even that provision is only because of the Voting Rights Act.

I think it's also important to note that Democrats in California were largely responsible for pushing the non-partisan redistricting committee that is considered the fairest in the nation. Not everyone gerrymanders.

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BlackBlade
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Pres. Obama affirms his support for same-sex marriage.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Pres. Obama affirms his support for same-sex marriage.

About darn time.
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Samprimary
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oh no now the old evangelicals won't vote for him
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Pres. Obama affirms his support for same-sex marriage.

About darn time.
Evolution doesn't happen overnight. And sometimes you have to de-evolve before you can evolve back.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Pres. Obama affirms his support for same-sex marriage.

About darn time.
Evolution doesn't happen overnight. And sometimes you have to de-evolve before you can evolve back.
Yes, it was almost certainly a political move.

Don't care, provided he takes actions in regards to his current stated position.

Some would call that cynical. I call it pragmatic.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:

Some would call that cynical. I call it pragmatic.

Politically expedient opinion changes are "pragmatic leadership" in those we ideologically support and "craven pandering" or "flip-flopping" in those we don't? I mean, I find it a little ridiculous that the same Democrats who eagerly parroted (not saying this is you, necessarily) Axelrod's talking points about Romney's "lack of a core" are now so anxious to point to Obama's "pragmatic evolution" on same-sex marriage.

As for what actions he will take due to his newly evolved opinion, the leaked statement from his interview makes it clear that this is strictly a symbolic gesture. He still supports a federal solution in which states work out, individually, their own definition of marriage.

<edit>GOProud makes an interesting point; if Obama truly had the courage of his new convictions, he should have come out in favor of gay marriage last week, when his announcement could have had an actual impact on the NC amendment battle. That he didn't indicates to me that his position change is less about political courage, and more about political risk-reduction.</edit>

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kmbboots
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I think that it is possible to discern (not all of the time but some of the time) when a politician is changing position because he has learned something new and when he is changing position because it is politically expedient. One of the clues is when they acknowledge their former position and explain how they reached their current one.
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Samprimary
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http://imgur.com/6MCDc
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
oh no now the old evangelicals won't vote for him

Not to mention the state of Utah. [Wink]
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that it is possible to discern (not all of the time but some of the time) when a politician is changing position because he has learned something new and when he is changing position because it is politically expedient. One of the clues is when they acknowledge their former position and explain how they reached their current one.

It seems to me that the primary determinant or whether a politician's position change is attributed to political expediency or whether it is attributed to something more personal is whether <edit>one agrees</edit> ideologically with the candidate's new position or not. Obama's "evolution" matches almost perfectly Romney's change in position on abortion. I think that people who (rightly, IMO) explain Romney's evolution as political expediency but Obama's as a courageous, if pragmatic, decision are deluding themselves as to their own objectivity and ability to discern "true" conversion from the more political sort.

<edit>To be clear, I believe Obama's current position more closely approximates his true one than what he'd previously purported his position to be. I think he made the (politically advisable) choice when moving to the national stage to supress his support for gay marriage in order to improve his electoral chances, but that now that the mean voter has been shown in several polls to hold a pro-gay marriage stance the political motivation to lie about his position has disappated, allowing him to be more honest with the public.</edit>

[ May 09, 2012, 07:09 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
... his position change is less about political courage, and more about political risk-reduction ...

Seems like the slogan of the Obama presidency sometimes.
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Scott R
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quote:
Here's the issue I have with that. Super PACs are legal. I wish they weren't, but they are. Until they're made illegal, I'd rather use them until they are made illegal.
Ahem:

Here's the issue I have with that. Waterboarding is legal. I wish it wasn't, but it is. Until it is made illegal, I'd rather use it until it is made illegal.

If Obama HAD said, "Super PACs are killing the ability of regular citizens to meaningfully engage in our democracy, and I will not take a cent from them," I would have almost certainly voted for him regardless of any other political stance he might have taken.

More than ever, we need a moralist government. By "moralist" I mean people doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. That means not engaging in torture or wiretapping even though such methods have (allegedly) proven effective in protecting American lives. That means refusing the money of special interest groups even if it means shortening your re-election chances.

Mr. Squicky is right about the President's campaign funds:

NY Times shows Pres. Obama with more than twice the funds of Mitt Romney

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
oh no now the old evangelicals won't vote for him

The question is, will it hurt him in the conservative minority areas?

It could, if their priests push the issue, but I doubt they will.

[ May 10, 2012, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: Stephan ]

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that it is possible to discern (not all of the time but some of the time) when a politician is changing position because he has learned something new and when he is changing position because it is politically expedient. One of the clues is when they acknowledge their former position and explain how they reached their current one.

It seems to me that the primary determinant or whether a politician's position change is attributed to political expediency or whether it is attributed to something more personal is whether <edit>one agrees</edit> ideologically with the candidate's new position or not. Obama's "evolution" matches almost perfectly Romney's change in position on abortion. I think that people who (rightly, IMO) explain Romney's evolution as political expediency but Obama's as a courageous, if pragmatic, decision are deluding themselves as to their own objectivity and ability to discern "true" conversion from the more political sort.

<edit>To be clear, I believe Obama's current position more closely approximates his true one than what he'd previously purported his position to be. I think he made the (politically advisable) choice when moving to the national stage to supress his support for gay marriage in order to improve his electoral chances, but that now that the mean voter has been shown in several polls to hold a pro-gay marriage stance the political motivation to lie about his position has disappated, allowing him to be more honest with the public.</edit>

So your first paragraph doesn't apply to you? Everyone but you is subject to delusion?
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
So your first paragraph doesn't apply to you? Everyone but you is subject to delusion?

I don't think I suggested that in what I wrote, nor do I believe that.
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kmbboots
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Okay. In your first paragraph you dispute the ability to discern whether or not a politician's position is politically motivated or not. Then, in your second paragraph you give your opinion on the President's motivation.

Did you mean that only liberals were deluded?

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