Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

cross-posted on Dailykos

Simon Rosenberg at NDN and the New Politics Institute is a brilliant guy who introduced me into politics, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.  He framed a lot of my thinking about the party, and one point he made is that Democrats have traditionally been tremendously uncomfortable with disagreement whereas Republicans have traditionally loved to argue and debate.  He was of course right, and you can tell by watching the Republican primary and the Democratic primary.  

Here's Sam Brownback challenging Mitt Romney.

Have you seen anything remotely similar to this on the Democratic side?  The Obama campaign will send a memo highlighting subtle disagreements with Clinton, and candidates will present different plans.  But when push comes to shove, there's just this, I don't know, fear of seeming different.  Obama will not even broach a disagreement with Clinton, for some weird reason.  John Edwards is putting forward the most ambitious rhetorical campaign, by far.  He's attacking the frame of the war on terror, calling it a bumper sticker slogan and genuinely going after the whole intellectual edifice of the right.  Clinton and Obama are not doing that, though Obama occasionally makes stabs in that direction.

But why is he so uncomfortable with the fact that he believes different things than Clinton?  Here's what I mean, from the South Carolina debate:

Senator Edwards, you made a high-profile apology for your vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution. You have said, quote, "We need a leader who will be open and honest, who will tell the truth when they made a mistake." Was that not a direct shot at your opponent, Senator Clinton?

Former Sen. John Edwards: No, I think that's a question for the conscience of anybody who voted for this war. I mean, Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they've voted the right way. If so, they can support their vote.

Why couldn't he have just said yes?  I mean, it is a direct shot at Clinton.  It's not an 'attack', but it's a disagreement.  And that's FINE.  That's democracy.  Here's what he could have said.

Yes.  Senator Clinton is a good person, but she thinks the vote to authorize the war was correct.  I don't.  As President, she has said she will keep troops in Iraq.  I think that's a bad idea.  Senator Clinton and I have different ideas about America's place in the world, and it's good for the party to have this debate.

Watch the Brownback video, where he challenges Romney on a whole range of issues.  What's wrong with disagreeing and arguing based on that disagreement?  Nothing.  And yet, I'm convinced that a fair number of base Democratic voters do not believe that disagreement within the party is ok.  Take, for instance, the notion that Democrats need courage.  Do you think that Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel are cowards for voting to fund the occupation?  Perhaps they are, and perhaps their decision was cravenly political.  But what if they genuinely disagree with us on the vote.  Maybe they have different ideas about national security and executive authority, ones we don't agree with.  Or let's take the notion that the problem with Democrats has something to do with a lack of messaging capacity.  We can't say one thing clearly and simply.  Maybe that's true.  Or maybe Democrats have different ideas about stuff, and it's not actually a messaging problem so much as it is that we disagree.

I'm a partisan Democrat, and will be for the foreseeable future.  But I believe in the power of ideas more than the power of political parties, which is why I never hesitate to make criticisms of anyone based on their arguments.  It's really quite silly to pretend that we all agree on stuff, and also that it's necessary to all agree on stuff to win elections or wield power.  The way you govern is you work through your disagreements by acknowledging them openly and submitting them to scrutiny.  That's called pluralism, and it's the basis of the scientific method and political liberalism.  

It's ok to disagree.  It's ok to run primaries against people based on good faith disagreements.  When I talk about Hillary Clinton being principled about her hawkishness, I am not any less inclined to want to see her defeated in a primary.  But that's because I don't agree with her ideas, not because she's this or that as a person.  It's really remarkable how many supporters of hers read into her ideas their own liberal instincts instead of trusting what she says.  And when John Edwards refuses to acknowledge that he disagrees with Hillary Clinton, while obviously dancing in the media with a high profile apology that implies a whole lot of disagreement with a whole lot of people, he's avoiding the argument the party needs to have.  Edwards is putting forward real and different ideas about America's place in the world.  He disagrees with Clinton and Obama about a bunch of stuff.  That's fine.  There's no reason to hide it.

Seriously, watch Sam Brownback's video clip.  What he does in that Youtube clip suggests a healthy party structure.  Republican Presidential candidates are willing to fight with each other to see who comes out on top, to see who's more persuasive.  In lower and mid-tiers of the party, the GOP isn't having a debate, just as there is a real debate on the left in some areas of the party (though not really on the Presidential level).  But it's instructive to see what a party that's comfortable with disagreement looks like, and to compare that to what we have.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Ideology, progressive movement (all tags)

Comments

77 Comments

Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Sometimes I think the difference between a liberal and a conservative isn't political so much as psychological. And in most ways, this psychological difference reveals--I think--a level of maturity among liberals that is absent among conservatives. As a political movement we tend to act more like teenagers than toddlers. Not that acting like a teenager is so wonderful, but at least we're usally beyond temper tantrums and 'mine, mine, mine!'

But this maturity can be a real problem, too. For example, liberals tend to have a willingness to imagine that we're wrong. We try to appeal to reason as well as emotion, to use nuance and fact. We often work to reach common ground instead of working to impose our own preference.

That's what this reminds me of. At least on some level, liberals preference cooperation, respect, emphasizing areas of agreement, and so on. Conservatives, on the other hand, preference victory and one-upmanship. They find disagreement pretty damn agreeable.

by BingoL 2007-06-10 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

At least on some level, liberals preference cooperation, respect, emphasizing areas of agreement, and so on.

That's entirely untrue.  Conservatives are far superior at building coalitions.  But it does fit into my larger point, which is that you equate disagreement with not being cooperative.  This is just weird.  People can disagree with each other and cooperate with each other.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-10 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Conservatives don't build coalitions so much as they construct hierarchies--and sometimes alliances.

And I didn't only equate disagreement with not being cooperattive; I also equated disagreement with not emphasizing areas of agreement, which is pretty unassailably true.

by BingoL 2007-06-11 04:39AM | 0 recs
Did you even watch the debate?

Honestly, I don't see how anyone who actually watched the last debate could say the difference between a liberal and conservative is psychological.

No, the difference between a conservative and a liberal is the difference between believing Iraq was a good idea and believing it was a criminal act. It's the difference between believing gays should serve if qualified and believing we're better off leaving qualified people out of the service. I could go on and on about the very real ways liberals are different from conservatives. While Stoller's post here is typically Dem-bashing and irrelevant, the rest of us shouldn't lose sight of the very real and important differences between us.

I'm glad Brownback is not in my party.

by tryingagain 2007-06-10 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you even watch the debate?

That's like saying that the difference between a toddler and a teenager -can't- be psychological: hell, a teenagers doesn't like wearing a diaper, and a toddler is afraid of the potty.

The question is, -why- do they think Iraq's a good idea? Because they believe that inspiring fear and  exhibiting strength are the two most effective strategies for control. -Why- do they fear gays more than they love America?  (That's the question I wanted the moderators to ask!) For political reasons, sure,  partially--but go a little deeper and there's -got- to be something psychological going on.

by BingoL 2007-06-11 04:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Sometimes I think the difference between a liberal and a conservative isn't political so much as psychological. And in most ways, this psychological difference reveals--I think--a level of maturity among liberals that is absent among conservatives. As a political movement we tend to act more like teenagers than toddlers. Not that acting like a teenager is so wonderful, but at least we're usally beyond temper tantrums and 'mine, mine, mine

Thats BS. Arguing isn't a sign of immaturity its a sign of fighting for what you believe in. Having conviction and having a spine.

Furthermore I dont think your argument is correct. In my experience, relating to democrats versus republicans as a whole, when democrats get pissed off they skip the arguing and go straight to name calling.

Someone on Daily Kos just compared me to Hitler because I disagreed with his stance on the war.

I think this reflects the "education" between the voting blocks. Not in the sense that republicans are smarter than democrats, ( I think democrats as a whole are smarter in the sense that they recieve more schooling.) But its a matter of the average voter.

The average conservative voter knows the message the party is trying to promote and is on top of the "talking point" arguments with examples given to them constantly through fox, conservative radio, conservative think tanks etc.

This does not occur with the average liberal. In my blunt assesment, the average liberal voter is very unintelligent. No offense but I will defend that argument with every fiber of my being.

Now before you get angry keep in mind that this isn't a personal attack. In fact I'd say most people on Mydd especially aren't unintelligent

Also keep in mind that this isn't a matter of "I disagree therefore you are dumb"

Last, keep in mind that some of the most intelligent people I know are liberals. Hardcore, "I'm a marxist liberal who will defend Marxism to my death." liberals, and I say this as a moderate.

by world dictator 2007-06-10 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Well, if you really think Democrats usually skip the arguing, the marshalling of facts, the reference to rationality, and  go directly to name-calling while Republicans tend to do the opposite, I'm not sure exactly how to respond.

THere are, obviously, different ways to argue. The Republicans are better at brash diagreement, because that style fits better with a conservative winner-take-all viewpoint. Democrats are more inclined to highlight areas of agreement.

by BingoL 2007-06-11 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Yes I do think the average voter liberal normally skips the marshalling of facts and goes straight for the "I think this and if you don't you're a war criminal" or the "I think this and have no real justification or facts to back this up."

Keep in mind, I don't think its a matter of the average conservative having good or correct arguments in my opinion, obviously I disagree with most of them.

My point is that if you take three people in a room, a liberal, a conservative, and a non partisan I vote but vote for what sounds right american. And the liberal and conservative try to persuade the third person, more often than not the conservative paints a much better narrative and gives a much more compelling argument to support their point.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

You have to remember, Brownback is considered second tier, at best.  He has to attack Romney, McCain or Rudy.  Otherwise he'll get ignored.  Part of the reason that Dodd and Richardson have staked out some of the positions they have is because they need to make a splash.  They will get ignored by the MSM otherwise.  Another reason is, what would the media say of Edwards really went after Clinton?  They'd harp on it like they did his $400 haircut.  Lastly, Democrats in general tend to play nice, whereas Bingo said, Republicans will do anything to win, including eat their own.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-10 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Sure, but Brownback's method of getting attention is a lot more combative than Richardson's or Dodd's.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-10 10:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

True, but Brownback's not on a par even with them.  He's a one-percenter, comparable with Kucinich and Gravel.

by RT 2007-06-11 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

When it comes to the "War on Terror is a bumper sticker" thing, I never really understood it until Afleck explained it on Bill Maher.  I still didn't get it when he talked about it at the second debate.  Wonder if that will hurt him or help him.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-06-10 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

That's weird you didn't understand it.

by adamterando 2007-06-10 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Maybe we need to explain it slowly to you.  Bumber sticker phrases keep you from intelligent discussion and debate.  If you say why are we at war in Iraq - the answer is - It's the Global War on Terror.  why can't we leaver - the GWOT.  Why do we torture?  GWOT. Why do we wiretap Americans? GWOT.

No discussion, just a bumper sticker slogan to use as a sledgehammer to stop any serious examination of the issues.

Now do you get it?

by pioneer111 2007-06-10 09:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

way to be a douchebag just because he didn't understand what Edwards meant.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

The reason few people understand it is because MSM does bumper sticker reporting.  Edwards gave a wonderful speech originally at the Council on Foreign Affairs, explaining what he meant.  The only sound bite you would have heard unless you had access to the speech was that he denied the war on terror was real, that it was a bumper sticker.  In the speech, Edwards explained how Bush et al have used GWOT to squelch any expression of resistance to anything they proposed.  

The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political "frame," it's been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It's even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents "weak on terror," they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.

But the worst thing about this slogan is that it hasn't worked. The so-called "war" has created even more terrorism -- as we have seen so tragically in Iraq. The State Department itself recently released a study showing that worldwide terrorism has increased 25% in 2006, including a 40% surge in civilian fatalities.

By framing this as a "war," we have walked right into the trap that terrorists have set -- that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam.

Edwards also spent a good deal of time talking about how to deter terrorism, and certainly did not deny it exists.

For a transcript of the full speech, go to http://www.cfr.org/publication/13432/  or see it at http://www.cfr.org/publication/13380/cam paign_2008_series.html

MSM stuck with their simplistic and misleading story.  It is so much easier than giving an important set of observations diligent coverage.

by ashlarah 2007-06-11 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Actually, I  think Edwards gives a really good answer that kills a lot of birds w. 1 stone- he's defending his own decision process, setting himself parallel to the country at large which supported the war and now doesn't, and also critiquing her stance in a way that's a lot trickier for her to deflect.

That's a pretty deft bit of rhetoric, IMHO, even if it lacks the entertainment value of a direct brawl.  

by sb 2007-06-10 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

I guess I understand your argument for a more aggressive presentation by each of the candidate in separating themselves from the other.  I think that is fine in the context of an election, but do you propose the same for Congressional votes.  Where does party loyalty come into play?  I would say part of the Democrats problem in the past has been lack of party unity, which may stem from opportunism or just principle.  I guess I don't see this great Republican comfort with disagreement that you do(outside of the debates).  Party unity was their strength as the Majority and even as the minority.  I think of the Habeas Corpus "argument", where Sens. Graham and Spector pretended to be concerned about the assault on the constitution, yet went right along with Bush's version in the end.  Similarly, Warner has spoken about his concern about what's going on in Iraq, but could only find it in his heart to support a non-binding resolution.  Didn't 80 Dems show their disagreement with a majority of the caucus by supporting the most recent funding for Iraq.  From what I've seen, there are only two issues that cause real in-fighting amongst Republicans, immigration and abortion, the rest of the time, they will vote with the party.

by Kingstongirl 2007-06-10 07:02PM | 0 recs
Disagree


It's really remarkable how many supporters of hers read into her ideas their own liberal instincts instead of trusting what she says.

Disagree. In my humble opinion, a couple of us Clinton supporters know exactly where she stands, what kind of political spectrum she is in. It's not like we are trying to 'fantasize' her being such a far 'liberal' candidate.

A few supporters like my own ideology is very close to Clinton's. Some are to her left. Regardless, we support her not because we trust her, we believe she's a woman of principal.

We DO NOT care what she will do or say to WIN in order to win the primary. We JUST WANT HER TO WIN.

I guess this is a bit like George W Bush's supporters in 2000. When W spouted out 'compassionate conservative' no-sense, they knew from their bottom of their hearts he's with them.

We know from our bottom of our hearts Hillary is with us. That's why many Clinton's supporters are 'die-hard', we will give her lots of leeway. On the other hand, many Edwards/Obama supporters are NOT, whenever there's any trivial stuff such as disagree on gay marraige, they will whine and threaten to jump ship.

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Disagree

sorry, should be 'we support her because we trust her.'

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:10PM | 0 recs
I feel like I should recommend this

For the astonishing combination of honesty and self-delusion.

Dear, if she's lying to everyone else in order to win, she's probably lying to you, too.

by Drew 2007-06-10 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: I feel like I should recommend this

I don't think she's lying about anything, anything more than the typical politician to be fair. I like her exactly because she is not liberal. I'm not a liberal and I passionately disagree with liberals. She's my representation in this race as much as Edwards is the liberal representation.

by world dictator 2007-06-10 08:19PM | 0 recs
About what do you passionately disagree

with liberals?

The Iraq War?
Pre-emptive wars in general?
Trying to help the least well-off in society?
Civil rights?
Protecting the environment?
That health care should be a right not a privilege?
That we need to reduce the influence of $ in politics?

by Jim in Chicago 2007-06-10 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: About what do you passionately disagree

The two things I most passionately disagree with liberals on are :

1. Foreign Policy in general which obviously includes the war in Iraq.  Though I would add a caveat that I do not believe that AL Gore or Bill Clinton has a liberal policy stance. I would say that I'm slightly to the right of those two on Foreign Policy.

2. Free Trade.

As a standard rule of thumb, in foreign policy I'm  to the "right" and on domestic issues I'm to the "left".

Though on both foreign and domestic issues even my stances are usually in the two ideologies.

One of the biggest disagreements I have with liberals is the air of purity and the attitude that they have towards people they disagree with. Granted, not all of them but in large part many of them.

...this is just a snapshot of my political beliefs keep in mind.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 09:47AM | 0 recs
So you believe the Iraq war was a GOOD idea?!

Really?

by Jim in Chicago 2007-06-15 09:50PM | 0 recs
Re: I feel like I should recommend this

What is a liberal to you and why do you not like liberals?  I don't understand.

by pioneer111 2007-06-10 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: I feel like I should recommend this

I don't "dislike" liberals. As I said before I have a lot of friends who I consider very intelligent true liberals. Not just the bumper sticker "No Blood for Oil" liberals.

I simply noted that I find that many people on the far left are no better than their counterparts on the far right. Ideologues who don't listen to reason or logic and are unwilling to believe anything but what they want to believe.

My point above however is that I think that the average liberal lacks warranted arguments/reason behind their stances. Which is why any attempt to discuss policy issues with them results in "nun uh" or name calling.

I think this critism is ultimately of the party failing to do one of its key jobs, that being providing information and proper "ammo" for its members.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I feel like I should recommend this

I am what many would consider a moderate just because I hold some opposite views in certain areas. Guess what, I can't stand Hillary. Her Iraq war stance and her refusal to learn from her mistake on this war is the main reason to want to see her beaten. She cops out by acting like she couldnt have known any better back then. IN reality, she had the counsel of her husband and his powerful friends who had foreign policy expertise and she still fucked up her vote and her speeches back then smacked of idiocy on the iraq issue. In the CodePink meeting, she made a reference to how women were suffering and part of the war was to make their lives better in Iraq. She also made some other baseless statements that would tell us that she is either a 1) first class dumbass OR 2) a lying weasel who sold out her country for her presidential ambitions.

So Hillary, what exactly were you briefed on in the intelligence report Graham asked you to read? She wuill never tell us the truth on this. ROn Paul has more principles than this woman even if one doesnt follow his ideology. He has courage to bring up some badly needed reality check  this country needs and he does it in front of a hostile audience.

by Pravin 2007-06-10 10:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Disagree

I'm not sure who exactly "we" is in this context beyond yourself. Polling suggests that Clinton's strength comes more from self-identified liberals than any other major candidate, and less from self-identified conservatives than other candidates.

Some people may support her due to the belief that she can win, but many people do seem to support her based on liberal beliefs and this, combined with a few other statistics like Edwards' relative strength amongst conservatives, would appear to represent general public ignorance (in this case perhaps a layover from 2004) about political positions.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-10 10:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

I don't think I am on board for your basic premise Matt. Republicans can get that old lockstep goin' as well or better than the Dems. Witness what is happening to Hagel right now and what has happened to other ReThugs who 'strayed' from the deification of Dear Leader.

I do agree that Democrats with the exception of Edwards are wimps on this issue.

It's hardly edifying, in fact it makes me see red, to hear Hillary maintain we are 'safer now' when we are not...when the American citizenry does not feel that way and....

Nobody calls her on it.

I just hope Edwards has it in him to become the bare-knuckled brawler who will use the left jab of rhetoric to set up the fascistii of both parties for the big looping overhand right of the truth.

Which is: This nation is in deep, deep shit and we need a massive change in how we think and act or....

We will go the way of the Easter Islanders in Jared Diamond's Collapse.

by Pericles 2007-06-10 07:13PM | 0 recs
Great post
You have been moving toward this for a while, and I think it is really good. It is remarkable how often liberals and progressvies assume that when Democrats do something they don't like, it is because those Democrats are just being cowardly or something to that effect, rather than because it is something they actually believe. I bet a lot of Democrats do want to end the war, but also believed that not passing a funding resolution soon would result in troops losing equipment, for example. They weren't being cowards--they just did what they believed. And we should know that they disagree with us on that issue.

This feels like a breath of fresh air, and that someone has finally said what needed to be said. It feels almost like coming out of the closet. There are times when unity is needed, but if unity in order to present a certain type of image prevents us from ever discussing or debating our own ideas, then our ideas will never be persuasive. Not only is there nothing wrong with presidential candidates disagreeing with one another, but they are obligated to do so, if you ask me. We need to be open about the ideological differences among the people who seek to lead our party. If we aren't discussing what we stand for amongst ourselves, how can we do so to the rest of America?
by Chris Bowers 2007-06-10 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Great post
Chris,
But isn't that also a problem of message?  Those that voted for the funding caved to right wing frames?
by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-10 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Great post

This is one of your best posts Matt.  I agree with virtually everything you say, in terms of perspective, maybe not policy.  

It is true that the Democratic debate was a love fest compared to the GOP debate. As others have mentione this is becuase there are more GOPers, their party lost in 2006 and looks to lose in 2008 thanks to Dear Leader, and they are divided on issues like Immigration more than Dems are divided on the war.  It is also a product of Hillary's strategy and no one is calling her on her stuff.

I won't vote for her in the primaries, but she sure is impressive.  I won't vote for Edwards either, but I am glad he is in the race (although I wish Elizabeth was in his place instead, I would vote for her).

There are many topics which Matt and I disagree but we can have a civil discourse about it. and so should the candidates.  by not having real debates about matters that are under dispute within the party, the other candidates are letting Hillary build a big lead.

Primary voters need to have a reason not to vote for her and a reason to vote for Obama or Edwards or...no none of the others have even close to a prayer now.  Obama's plan is to hang out until the fall, and then dump all his cash and supporters on her.  But will his supporters stick around if he continues to make such whippy retorts to Clinton's comments?

I hope so.  More than any other candidate, I feel he really could dramatically change things (with Gen. Clark at his side of course).

by DaveB 2007-06-10 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Great post

Let's not exclude the possibility that they believed the message. This, in fact, is one of the reasons why a vibrant debate within the party is so important. Plenty of people will disagree, but at least if they're informed they'll do it on the evidence.

Your representatives are going to disappoint you sometimes, due to a different perspective, lack of knowledge or different opinions. If there's no debate - either by accepting these betrayals or by branding them cowardice - then there's no pconversation so no progress.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-10 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Great post

It is remarkable how often liberals and progressvies assume that when Democrats do something they don't like, it is because those Democrats are just being cowardly or something to that effect, rather than because it is something they actually believe.

My problem with this, Chris, is all the times in recent years when Dems have voted the right way on a (losing) vote, but when it counted - on a cloture vote - they voted in favor of cloture, failing to block the GOP.

And then there were all the times when they just plain ducked hard issues altogether.  Or voted for the Patriot Act bill that Bush sent to Congress and the GOP rammed through before even the staffers had a chance to read the damned thing, even though Congress had already pretty much drafted a pretty good bill that would have accomplished the same goals but without trampling on civil liberties quite as much.

Quite simply, the Dems in Congress have a track record of cowardice that justifies its being the rebuttable presumption for an explanation of their behavior.

I bet a lot of Democrats do want to end the war, but also believed that not passing a funding resolution soon would result in troops losing equipment, for example. They weren't being cowards--they just did what they believed. And we should know that they disagree with us on that issue.

And they could have passed a bill extending funding for 60 days, without any strings attached, and revisited the issue in June or July.

There were options short of a total cave-in.  Here's another: they could have held a vote on a bill with timelines, and when it failed due to the likely loss of Hagel's and Smith's votes, they could have passed the bill they passed.

But they took a quick and easy dive, rather than taking a stand first.

by RT 2007-06-11 10:49AM | 0 recs
Difference

Another difference between Clinton supporters & Edwards supporters:

We clinton supporters do NOT pretend some of Hillary's votes are based on political expediency. We understand the political reality that she sometimes has to 'pander' in order to win. I personally believe her latest Iraq funding vote was an example. I wished she had voted for it instead of against it. However, I understand the political reality, and I don't whine.

On the other hand, most Edwards supporters try to portray to 'saint' Edwards image. They are insanely defensive on accusation of his flip flop actions. They seem to suggest to themselves or non-Edwards supporters that everything Edwards has done is based on principal, which itself is laughable.

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

I have yet to see an Edwards' supporter claim Edwards is a saint.  In fact they acknowledge that they didn't like some of his votes.  However they like his positions now.  

Stay with the debate.  And stop smearing people.  who is "insanely" defensive.  Prove your point.  That is a very serious slur.  

And if you want to talk about flip flops, although I didn't realize you were a Republican with old memes.  As I was saying how about Obama - against the war, against the $87B funding, then voted for the funding four times, voted for the Gregg amendment, then wouldn't let us know on the last funding bill what he was going to do.  Couldn't decide what was the better political move.  Hardly consistent.  Don't know what he believes.  Perhaps by 2005 it became a smart war since he supports smart wars.  That is laughable.

BTW keep don't mix up your principles with the principal.   As a former principal I know my principles.

by pioneer111 2007-06-10 09:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

You want to see insanely defensive and "sluring" read the 3 or 4 post underneath Bryan's post. This is exactly my point and Chris' point. If someone disagrees with many liberals they're demonized. This is a tactic the far right uses. Grow up.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

When that pandering leads to the many deaths and wasted billions of dollars, that is some pandering indeed. And she has the audacity to act arrogant about her mistakes and brush them off. She had a head start back in 2002 compared to other people like Edwards when it came to foreign affairs thanks to her husband and his advisors. She has shown no growth since then. She did little to help the party win in 2004 because she did not want to take the chance of being asspciated with a potential loser. Now she starts talking, just when she wants to campaign for President. That does not represent growth, but rank opportunism to me.

by Pravin 2007-06-10 10:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

Hmm...


We clinton supporters do NOT pretend some of Hillary's votes are based on political expediency.

Ah.  Good.


We understand the political reality that she sometimes has to 'pander' in order to win.

Wait - didn't you just rebut your own point?

by RickD 2007-06-11 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

His slogan:

"bryandem - Where logic takes a holiday and all facts are rendered utterly meaningless"

by adamterando 2007-06-11 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

I concur. Hillary is a pragmatist like Bill was. Perhaps even more so because her biggest political failing, Hillarycare, resulted because she refused to be realistic. I would even go one step further note that she is a firm believer in compromise, something I heavily advocate.

I think its easy to stand on a high horse and demand  something happen your way or the high way, but how many lives could we have saved if Hillary had compromised and got a universal health care plan passed? Next,think of how much difference we could have made by preventing the Republican revolution that has heavily influenced by the Hillarycare scandal.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 10:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

We understand the political reality that she sometimes has to 'pander' in order to win.

I understand the reality of making the right noises on issues that are of little significance because they're not the hill one wants to give one's political life in order to take.

For instance, I don't mind that Dems have given up on gun control, or aren't willing to call corn ethanol a sham.  That's pandering, sure, but you can't fight every battle that comes down the pike.

But you're saying that Hillary pandered in her Iraq funding vote, and that's OK with you.  So what you're saying is that Hillary's afraid to speak her mind plainly on the single biggest issue of the day.

Sorry, but that's the point at which there's no excuse.  If she's not going to stand for something on Iraq, what's she saving her political capital for?  She should want to be President for some stronger purpose than simply to be President.  If she's not going to take a clear stand on the war and tell us what she really intends to do, then she should stay in the Senate.

Similarly with her onetime signature issue of universal healthcare.  Edwards has a plan, Obama has a sort of plan, and Hillary's got some vague noises.

It's not like she hasn't had time to think about how universal healthcare should really be done, and how the politics of the issue works: she's had 13 years to reflect on this.  If all she learned from 1994 was to be afraid of bringing up the issue again, then we need a leader who isn't scarred by 1994.

I don't really care that Hillary's for an increased minimum wage.  So's every Dem.  Nor do I care that she's against violent video games: that's small potatoes.

The problem I have with Hillary is that she's willing to take strong stands on small issues like violent video games, and even willing to take strong stands on issues where pretty much all Dems agree.  But on the war, on universal healthcare, on global warming - all we're getting from Hillary on the big issues is some pretty thin gruel.

by RT 2007-06-11 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Difference

To get back to Matt's point, I think Hillary doesn't serve her party or her country well when she ducks the big issues, or says things that kinda slide on by, leaving everyone to believe she believes what they believe.  

I'd have more respect for her if she'd say exactly how many troops she thinks we should have in Iraq in 2010 if Iraq then is pretty much like Iraq now, and what those troops will need to be there to do - even though I think we should have no troops there by then.  If she makes an argument I can't refute, then I can change my mind, on the war, and on who to support in the primaries.  But if she's fuzzy, then what's to discuss?

by RT 2007-06-11 11:12AM | 0 recs
Read it twice

I read Matt Stoller's comments twice.  My feeling is that Matt wants John Edwards to tear into Hillary and squash her, once and for all, thus paving the way for his own victory.  

I have always predicted that Edwards would run a negative primary campaign, or at least of the three top tier candidates, his would be the most negative and so far it has been. His wife Elizabeth has also said a few things to the press that had they been said by Bill Clinton or Michelle Obama, all hell would have broken loose.

I don't see Edwards or his wife as being afraid to criticize Hillary and Obama. It's just that when they do it, it backfires on them.  Obama telling Edwards he was four and a half years late on the leadership issue when it comes to Iraq was brilliant.  If John Edwards were a smart campaigner, he would never have chosen to go after Obama DURING A TELEVISED DEBATE! Who advises Edwards?  He ended up looking like a fool. And his attacking Hillary gave her the perfect opportunity to drive home that it is Bush's war.  

I rather doubt that Hillary will openly criticize her Dem opponents, but they aren't going to have an easy time going after her either, because she will fight back if they do, and in all likelihood she will come out the victor.  Don't under-estimate Hillary.  She's been tested by some of the most evil people in politics.

And besides, many of us are getting a little tired of John Edwards constant implications that he, and only he, is honest enough to be President.
His apology didn't get him the traction he hoped it would.  Maybe I'm not the only one who thinks he's as genuine as a three dollar bill.  

by samueldem 2007-06-10 07:29PM | 0 recs
exactly

You sums up my feeling exactly. Edwards is not afraid of going negative. But since he's becoming the star of late night comedy, the more negative he goes, the less credibility he'll have.

I predict he'll go nuclear on Hillary if he still can't get any traction in the next one or two months, but I have every confidence he'll just self destruct.

I can speak for you, but I truly trust Hillary. I don't care what she'll say or do to get elected. Just GET ELECTED first.

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

sorry, 'i can't speak for you...'

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

Perhaps I shouldn't have used Edwards or any of the Presidential candidates in this post, because they really aren't the point.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-10 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

I think your observation is flawed just based on your own wish. It's all about strategy. Edwards has not gone nuclear probably he thinks the time has not arrived yet, or perhaps his strategists told him it's not going to work. Going negative is always the last resort, not the first.

I don't recall any restraint of Dean's rivals attacking him mercilessly last time.

by bryandem 2007-06-10 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

Your point is a good one, but you missed something.  Yes, people remembered for a bit, the smackdown moment from Obama, but Obama didn't really do that well with it.  He sounded awkward and left himself open to criticism about the lack of leadership he has displayed since he got to the senate.  Edwards was trying to be gracious and stay on point, but it was about leadership.  Hillary and Obama have shown no leadership about getting out of the Iraq War.  What has Obama shown leadership on?  More and more will surface.  Edwards went negative on Hillary and Obama because Wolf pushed him to name names. Perhaps this is the point you are making.  That they should be comfortable in naming names.  

Leadership is not about these testy moments although those do play well on TV.  And the TV moments did bring us Regan and Bush.   Genuine disagreement does not have to be a fight, but that is how the "debates" are set up.  True debate of intelligent conversation would allow us to determine who we can trust with the leadership of our country.  I don't know that we have the mechanism in place to allow for that.

by pioneer111 2007-06-10 10:05PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

Matt can you ban him already? I fail to see what he has ever added to any discussion that has been positive.

He doesn't disagree or debate or try to show why his candidate is the best. He just throws petty little bombs and intentionally trys to start name-calling contests.

What does he add around here?

by adamterando 2007-06-11 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

You trust her?  Why exactly?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-10 08:01PM | 0 recs
Re: exactly
I don't care what she'll say or do to get elected.

What worries many supporters of Obama and Edwards is that she doesn't either.

by horizonr 2007-06-10 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Read it twice

And Hillary is genuine as compared to Edwards?  How so?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-10 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Read it twice

Define 'negative'. Obviously nobody wants a candidate who pretends that Whitewater was a real scandal or any such rubbish, but an open and honest debate on the issues doesn't have to devolve into a brawl. In fact if you care about the issues, that debate is something you very definitely should have, to raise awareness and therefore support for the issue. That'll be necessary especially on healthcare to help force it through congress, but there are plenty of other places where a grown-up debate would do no harm.

Of course, a grown-up debate would probably be less likely to get on TV than a non-substantive bitchfight, but it's nice to dream.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-10 11:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

When did Clinton say that she would keep troops in Iraq if she became President? Do you think I would support her if that were true? If you are referring to the NYT imterview where she said a number of troops would remain for training purposes- it's the same thing Obama has on his website.

I am so sick and tired of seeing this dumb shit over and over again.

by bsavage 2007-06-10 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

By the way, I am not a conservative Democrat or whatever else you might assume because I am a Clinton supporter.

by bsavage 2007-06-10 09:44PM | 0 recs
It isn't remarkable Matt

"It's really remarkable how many supporters of hers read into her ideas their own liberal instincts instead of trusting what she says." (Matt Stoller)

I don't know how old you are Matt.  I consider  you to be very smart, whatever your age, but like many who dislike Hillary, you fall into the trap of assuming her supporters are inept in some way; as though we don't even understand the simple concept of trust.  I'm 60 years old. I've been following politics for thirty years.  I still consider Howard Dean to be the most important Democratic hero of the 20th century. I worked on his campaign.  I know about trust and I learned the hard way to trust my instincts.  For me, Hillary Clinton is the best we've got; and she's clearly one of the smartest, most commited politicians in the country who has made a positive difference in the lives of many, not just in the United States but all over the world.

I hope she makes it all the way to the Whitehouse; and after she's been President, say a year - I'd bet the roof over my head that the general consensus among Democrats will be extremely favorable. Bill Clinton can't hold a candle to her, and he knows it.  And Gerth, Van Natta, Bernstein, Morris and all the other parasites who try to make a buck by publishing "revelations" about Hillary, know it too.  It's why they are trying to stop her.  The reality is, the cold calculating bitch they portray does not exist anywhere but in their opportunism.  

I'll tell you something else about Hillary's supporters before you so quickly discount us as being blind followers ... having to sit back and watch our candidate get trashed ruthlessly, day in and day out, for years on end, has only stengthened our support for her.  I've always got this question buzzing around in my head "How can she take this crap and still keep going the way she does and not hold a grudge against anyone?"  I don't know anyone else like her.

 

by samueldem 2007-06-10 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: It isn't remarkable Matt

Lots of Clinton supports like her ideas.  Many of those are conservative Democrats.

I'm just musing on the fact that most liberals I know who like Clinton tell me that they don't believe her words on her illiberal policies (like flag burning), and just think she's doing it to get elected.  I actually am according her the respect of thinking she believes in her ideas.

Look at the person who just wrote in the comments that Clinton will not keep troops in Iraq and attacked me for writing that she will do what she herself has said she will do.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-10 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: It isn't remarkable Matt

Matt, I agree with 90% of the stuff you say about politics but when it comes to 2008, I support Hillary Clinton. Gore and Edwards are other possibilities.  

by bsavage 2007-06-10 09:41PM | 0 recs
Re: It isn't remarkable Matt

Take these as questions or a challenge from one who disagrees with her DLC politics: (please)

1) Why does Hillary Clinton want to be president? I don't recall I've heard her say.

2) Why do you want her to be president?

This doesn't answer it for me since I'm a pragmatic progressive populist. All it tells me is that you like her, appreciate her gumption, and endurance. It doesn't tell me why I should like her.

"For me, Hillary Clinton is the best we've got; and she's clearly one of the smartest, most commited politicians in the country who has made a positive difference in the lives of many, not just in the United States but all over the world."

"How can she take this crap and still keep going the way she does and not hold a grudge against anyone?"  I don't know anyone else like her.

by mrobinsong 2007-06-10 09:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I like Hillary Clinton

I can tell you why I like Hillary Clinton. Certainly not my only reasons but a few are:

1. Her commitment to making health care more affordable for all Americans. Say what you will but she was promoting universal coverage before it was cool. Furthermore she helped to create the  SCHIP program. And most importantly she was dead on in the debate the other week where she said political will was the most important thing needed to push health care reform through and we know without a doubt she has that.

2. Her unrelenting fight for a woman's right to choose as well as women's rights both domestically and abroad

3. She's a liberal Hawk. I was a big supporter of the Clinton doctrine and I think of myself as slightly to the right of the Clinton's foreign policy wise.

4. I trust her political will and fortitude, which is big for me. Yes I said it. Its sort of funny, because some people support Edwards for his conviction on the war and hate Hillary because of hers, and thats fine, I disagree of course but I understand why you do it. Its actually the opposite for me. I don't hate Edwards but he's always seemed like a salesman and a phony to me. It might not be true he just honestly isn't very persuasive in my eyes. He lacks an air of authetncity in my opinion one that Clinton has for me, Obama too.

I love the fact that she won't apologize for her vote. It would be easy for her to say I'm sorry and lie in order to gain political opinion with the liberal wing of the party. But she doesn't think it's good practice for politicians to retroactively apologize for a vote based on 4 years of after the fact information. Good, stand up for what you believe. I respect that.

I happen to feel the same way about her marriage to Bill. It would have been easy for her to divorce him and gain the huge popularity boost that would have came from it. But she stuck with her marriage despite the fact that it made her even more hated in America.

5. And an added bonus, I think her presidency is the most predictable out of every candidate. She's had some policy experience from the executive branch and the Clinton Adminstration gave me an 8 year preview of what a Hillary white house would be like.

by world dictator 2007-06-11 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: It isn't remarkable Matt

"I still consider Howard Dean to be the most important Democratic hero of the 20th century. "

Whoa. I don't think I'd put him up there with FDR, but he was definitely good.

by adamterando 2007-06-11 06:34AM | 0 recs
Getting the troops out

Anyone who thinks troops won't be left in Iraq for a period of time -- and every candidate has said troops would remain, in one capacity or another - should play a game of visualization.

It is not possible to extract close to two hundred thousand human beings; and their machinery and equipment in one fell swoop. It will, at best, be a staggered effort and as much as we think we can predict what the results will be, we really cannot.  The next President has a helluva job on his or her hands.

by samueldem 2007-06-10 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting the troops out

this is just quibbling about details.  I think most people know what the difference between "immediate and complete withdrawal" and "staying in Iraq" is.  One means having departure as a goal and pursuing it in the safest and most orderly fashion.  The other means staying in Iraq, possibly for the next 50 years.

by RickD 2007-06-11 12:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

I disagree.

Sorry, couldn't resist. ;-)

Seriously, there does appear to be a certain gauzy, glossed-over quality to many of today's leading Dems, an unwillingness or aversion to disagree too strongly or be seen as taking too strident and passionate a position, not only those running for president but in congress. Dick Durbin's unfortunate taking back of his comment about how the US is emulating Nazi Germany in its use of torture is one example that keeps coming to mind. He was absolutely right to say it, and he was absolutely wrong to walk it back. The political "damage", as it were, had already been done, and mostly among people who would likely never vote Democratic. Taking it back just made him and Dems look weak, and just made things worse.

I'm tired of this "Mommy Party" image, which so many Dems seem at pains to validate. No, I've got nothing against mothers. Good mothers, like good fathers, are both tough and loving. But "Mommy Party" implies soft, weak and passive, and too many Dems appear ready to actually be soft, weak and passive. Dems don't have to call for bombing countries and torturing people to look and be tough. They just have to actually BE tough, by not backing down from fights, when fighting is called for, and by standing up for what they supposedly believe in, instead of trying to come to some mushy consensus in which no one comes away bloodied. I WANT to see blood when they go at each other--of the metaphorical, argumentative sort, of course--not group hugs and mild rebukes and attempts to look like one big happy family. Dems have tried that for decades, and the public hasn't gone for it at all. Nor should it.

I'm still waiting for some genuine fighting Dems to emerge in the leadership of the party, in congress and in the run for president. I'm not seeing it yet. Yes, we have fighters, but they're still mostly second tier politicians and backbenchers. E.g. Jim McDermott, Tim Ryan, Anthony Weiner. Yeah, there's Kennedy, Feingold and Waxman, but not enough of them. I want to see many, many more fighters, who don't mind coming to blows when it's called for. Guys like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhi5XSdqj AQ

"I don't yield". Three simple but powerful words. They should be our party's motto.

I thought Obama would be like this, but he's dialed it back a lot, for reasons unknown. Maybe he's trying to not peak too early, or maybe he's just getting the hang of presidential campaigning. But he's not there right now.

by kovie 2007-06-10 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

But "Mommy Party" implies soft, weak and passive, and too many Dems appear ready to actually be soft, weak and passive.

Sorry, I have to disagee, too.

You are buying into the patriarchal "power over" paradigm, where if you are of value, you control everyone and everything.  The opposite of this (in this paradigm) are the weak and passive qualities our culture attributes to females.

There is another kind of power, what Riane Eisler termed as "gylanic."  In a more mature culture, "power over" would be shunned in favor of wisdom, strength, courage and effectiveness.  Sometimes, that does mean refusing to yield.  But not just to prove some silly macho quality.  Wisdom, by nature, will find the needed balance between individuals and our increasingly dense population as a whole.

I hope to see the Democratic party evolve into a gylanic model.

by ashlarah 2007-06-11 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

You completely misread my comment, because I was actually advocating what you advocate here. By invoking the "Daddy/Mommy" paradigm, I wasn't condoning it, but rather condemning it as an artificial, simplistic and distorted binary view of political power and policy. When I refer to qualities like strength and power, I mean of the wise, responsible sort, that seeks not to dominate, but cooperate--while at the same time not being weak against actual aggression.

I'd like to see this country's foreign policy get away from these silly and dangerous binary Daddy/Mommy, strong/weak, aggressive/passive dualities, with Repubs being typically portrayed as the former, and Dems the latter. E.g. Nixon, Reagan and Bush are "strong" and "manly" because they won't hesitate to attack our "enemies", while Carter, Clinton, Gore and Kerry are "weak" and "feminine" because they'd rather negotiate than attack.

Instead, I want to see us adopt a foreign policy that is based on wise and cooperative strength. I.e. have a strong military, but one suited to actual current and anticipated threats, not ones based on the Cold War or some mythically super-powerful Islamofascists who would destroy all of western civilization. Use it sparingly, wisely and only when absolutely necessary. And rely far more on multinational negotiation, diplomacy and cooperation than on the military to advance and protect our interests. Enough of the chest-beating nonsense, and calling leaders who favor negotiation over war as weak and effeminate.

Not Daddy or Mommy, but humanist.

by kovie 2007-06-12 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Yah, we fight harder over here for our choice than the candidates do over there in debates. Pretty ironic.

by mrobinsong 2007-06-10 10:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

It's certainly a plausible premise, but I don't think the comparative evidence of this election cycle is as meaningful an example as you seem to think it is.  Brownback isn't a contender, and barely has a constituency--if he wants a spot in the next election, or a spot on a ticket to balance a more moderate nominee, he needs to make waves.  Obama is a pretty good bet to be on the ticket one way or another, and is top tier, so there's no real comparison.

Further, ALL of the Democratic candidate except Kucinich and Gravel are using a softer touch because they expect the next president to be from their party and want a seat at the table.  The Republicans are broken into three camps, from what I can tell: those who want the nomination and worry about a more conservative candidate running as an independent, those who want the nomination but don't have much in the way of measurable support, and Ron Paul.  In the event that Giuliani or McCain wins the nod, all of the wingnuts running want to know that the door is still open for a challenge from the right.  We don't have that problem on our side, because none of our current contenders is a likely candidate to run as a spoiler from the Left when they think playing nice will actually result in a Cabinet post or the Veep slot.

Your general point may be right, but I don't think you've made the case based on this election cycle.  Hell, Gravel asked Obama to his face whom he was planning to nuke...the guys with no measurable support will frequently provide the barred fangs and claws, on both sides.

by Jay R 2007-06-10 10:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Brownback isn't a contender right now (although he still looks like the most likely theocon to surprise in Iowa), but his issues are. He's putting abortion right back on the agenda.

I can't help think that any of the top-tier candidates on our side are more than eloquent enough to politely stake a clear disagreement on an issue that's important to them with another candidate, therefore creating a few news cycles which raise the profile of said issue.

Just because any MyDD comment thread of 2008 tends to devolve into personality conflicts, not issues, doesn't mean that that'll be true amongst the candidates. Since they don't need the soapbox so much, they've got much less incentive to be incendiary.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-10 11:06PM | 0 recs
Democrats have disagreed before

remember the 2004 primary which had people disagreeing with each other and with Howard Dean picked on mercilessly. Bill Bradley and Al Gore in 2000. I would not generalize base on one election cycle.

These debates are useless anyway. They should be allocating two or three topics for each debate. a debate on foreign policy,  a debate on economy, etc.

by Pravin 2007-06-10 10:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats have disagreed before

I fear that the abuse heaped on Howard Dean in 2004 has led Democratic candidates to fear speaking frankly and forthrightly about what they believe.  It's clear that the media complex punishes any Democrat who does that.

by RickD 2007-06-11 12:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

This can be a very long and involved discussion.  But, basically, I suspect that the important differences between Democrats and GOPigs on this and other subjects reflect basic -- maybe even hard-wired -- psychological preferences.  

For starters, look at the four Myers-Briggs personality metrics and the sixteen personality types.  Then note how the 16 types aggregate into four temperaments.

Now look at personality temperaments of Presidents, here and here.  From the first link:

There have been forty-one Presidents of the United States, half doing what was sanctioned by law, the rest doing whatever would get the job done, with or without legal authority.  Some rose nobly to the demands of the office, some merely occupied it, while a few were crushed by it.  But all of them, whether they graced or disgraced the presidency, acted according to their temperament.

To my knowledge, no one has looked at the personality temperaments of losing candidates, nor do I know of an academic study on personality types and temperaments of either the American electorate at the time of each election to see what correlations may exist or of the people who affiliate with specific political parties.  It would also be interesting to see a study on the personality types and temperaments of legislators.   I suspect there are lot more "intuitives" and "feelers" among legislators and a lot more "thinkers" and "judgers" among presidents.  And I also suspect the American people make this distinction subconsciously when voting.  I also suspect that more Democrats are "feelers" than "thinkers" and feelers don't like disagreement or conflict, while GOPigs don't mind.

I will try to write a diary on my thoughts on this subject if I can find the time.  

by Airpower 2007-06-10 11:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

These are interesting characteristics to think over, and probably it is true we intuitively do that when choosing a president.  It is tempting to try to pigeon-hole our  present candidates into the four categories and your diary would probably be enjoyable for this exercise alone.

I do think, however, that beyond an academic exercise and for identifying what characteristics we ourselves value, this won't do as much as we would hope in predicting what kind of president we would be electing.

Campaigning is far different now than it was even when Kennedy was elected.  Buzz words that have meanings beyond that intended by the candidate are spun into lives of their own by MSM.  Knowing this, I think campaigns package the candidate more than before.  Between a lazy and manipulative fourth estate and professionally managed campaigns, we don't really know the candidate's true character until s/he is in office.  (partisan note:  Edwards has learned to resist the professional campaign direction and seems determined to be authentic in his presentation of himself and his plans.)

Also, choosing one temperament for any person, especially those complex souls that are compelled to run for president, is too simplistic.  Most have shadings of all temperaments, with some temperaments shaded more heavily than others.

Still, I will keep an eye out for your diary.  Should be an interesting discussion.  BTW, fascinating story on Teddy Roosevelt's shooting.  If I had heard that before, I would definitely remembered it - the image of him defiantly delivering a speech while bleeding and with a bullet in his chest is not one you can forget.

by ashlarah 2007-06-11 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Getting Comfortable with Disagreement

Democrats have traditionally been tremendously uncomfortable with disagreement whereas Republicans have traditionally loved to argue and debate.

That may be the appearance you get from the campaign. However, when it comes to the actual activity of governing and legislating, Democrats gave traditionally loved to argue and debate (at the expense of accomplishment) and Republicans have been tremendously uncomfortable with disagreement (Rove is only the most recent enforcer.)

I prefer to see Democrats get elected and to implement progressive policies when they do get elected. I find it counterproductive to complain about them not squabbling enough during the campaign.

by De Re Rustica 2007-06-11 03:41AM | 0 recs
Edwards' statement _was_ a personal attack

Read especially the first ten words:

We need a leader who will be open and honest, who will tell the truth when they made a mistake.

Edwards was indicating that Hillary is neither open nor honest (using and reinforcing, by the way, a favorite Republican anti-Hillary spin). The question at the debate was asking him to make that more explicit. It was entirely right for Edwards to backtrack and I'm glad he did.

by fairleft 2007-06-11 07:11AM | 0 recs

Diaries

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