The Republicans deserved to lose Florida

Put aside Iraq, Afghanistan, the financial melt down, Katrina, embarrassing behavior, inarticulate statements, etc. The Republicans would still have deserved to lose Florida.

"Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer charged personal expenses to the state party during a fundraiser this summer, adding fresh details to growing complaints that his money management was hurting the party. Confronted with a $5,100 bill showing he used party money on spa treatments, seafood dinners and limousines during a party fundraiser at the

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Obama lays out BOLD recovery plan in weekly address

Obama lays out his economic plan for both "Wall Street and Main Street," which is intended to create 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding "infrastructure...improving schools, reducing our dependence on oil and saving billions of dollars."

The metrics for progress Obama cites include the reforms implemented, as well as a standard common in my corporate-tool life but conspicuously absent from government the past seven years--results. This encompasses easily measurable categories such as jobs created, energy saved and America's competitiveness globally.

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Democrats assail Obama for failure to shed "elect"

"At a time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos, he says we only have one president at a time," Frank said. "I'm afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have. He's got to remedy that situation."

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The damaged Republican brand

Can Republicans can catch up quickly, in regards to the lead that Democrats and progressives have with the use of new media technologies? Of course, without a doubt. There's nothing stopping them from using them all right now, and building new and better ones, except that they have nothing to sell that anyone wants, given their recent track record. Until they get ideas to sell that people believe are real, it doesn't matter how good they use new media and the internet, they will be in the minority.

This is the key difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party this decade. The Republican establishment, earlier this decade, had been at it's zenith. They controlled all three branches of gov't, and didn't really need to embrace the use of blogs and internet fundraising to maintain their majorities. All they needed to do was govern. Democrats, in contrast, had the ideas that could turn this country around, but its campaigning mode was stuck in the 1980's.

Now, the tables are reversed. Democrats are on the up, and Republicans are on the down. It's probably going to take the Republicans years to reform their party around ideas that are compelling to a majority of the nation, especially if the Democrats don't blow it.

The areas where the Democrats could blow it? Getting much deeper into Afghanistan comes to mind, so much so that it becomes a Democratic war, or not pulling out of Iraq sufficiently. That would tear the Democratic Party in two. But I believe that the real areas around which Democrats could provide an opening to Republicans is going to be financial reasons.

From the looks of reading the Sunday NYTimes, Obama is going to prioritize a stimulus bill in January. It looks very promising, except that its going to dramatically increase the already bulging deficit, which I guess there's no way around for the near future. I'm also encouraged that it seems that we are going to let the Bush tax cuts expire on their own in 2010. I really wasn't looking forward to having to defend a tax raise the next few cycles in tight contests. We are going to have to see some belt-tightening of federal spending at some point though. Bailouts and stimulus can't be the only cure. If the spending becomes outrageous in examples of waste, it's going to come back to bite us.

Charlie Cook has some further notes on the Republican mess:

"We lost because we weren't conservative enough." If that mind-set prevails, the only way for Republicans to regain real power will be to wait until Democrats completely implode and to hope that Republicans can win at that point simply because they aren't Democrats.
A fierce conservative social and cultural agenda?  Please, welcome that decades long minority. Or, "tax cuts, come hell or high water, with little regard for the size of deficits" or the fall of the dollar? Yes, welcome that minority too. Cook doesn't mention it, but the third pillar of the ancient GOP, national defense in support of invasions of other countries that didn't attack us, has also become problematic.

As far as for what the Obama administration can do to help keep the lead that our side has in the use of the internet, this is an idea:

Ellen Miller, director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency, expects technology in an Obama administration will have two components: transparency and connectedness. Transparency means using technology to open the windows of government, allowing all Americans with a computer to supervise the officials they've elected, starting with Obama. The president-elect has talked about crafting a user-friendly portal where people could look up and comment on legislation before he signs it.

Connectedness, Miller says, means allowing people outside government to have a bigger role in crafting policy (or at least feel like they have a bigger role). It might mean a period of a few days for open comments on newly passed legislation before Obama signs it into law, or administration-sponsored wiki Web sites that would let users make suggestions on budget bills, which are often notoriously opaque.

This level of connection seems a bit utopia in request. For instance, I don't think the stimulus package that is said to going to be on the desk Jan 20th will go this route. We've gotta have more transparency though, and this is a good start.

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Yes, Obama is a centrist on foreign affairs

I got some interesting feedback from Obama supporters in the primary, earlier this year, over why they were supporting Obama over Clinton. My opinion, blogged much throughout the year, was that they were basically the same, as far as policy goes, and my only reason for choosing Clinton was because I was pretty sure she'd win, and Obama, not so much. Of course, when the markets melted down in September, and 90% of Americans said the nation was heading in the wrong direction by October, there was really very little that Obama could have done to lose the election, or for McCain to win the election.

Now, throughout the year, I was told that I didn't understand how Obama was different-- that he was really progressive and would change our foreign policy radically... and so on. It amazed me that, despite every indication from how Obama had voted and said about Iraq, Afghanistan and the mid-east, anti-war progressives believed differently. Well, reality is emerging:

Mr Obama has moved quickly in the last 48 hours to get his cabinet team in place, unveiling a raft of heavyweight appointments, in addition to Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

But his preference for General James Jones, a former Nato commander who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department has dismayed many of his earliest supporters.

The likelihood that Mr Obama will retain George W Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has reinforced the notion that he will not aggressively pursue the radical withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq over the next 16 months and engagement with rogue states that he has pledged.

Chris Bowers of the influential blog complained: "That is, over all, a centre-right foreign policy team. I feel incredibly frustrated. Progressives are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far."

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos site, the in-house talking shop for the anti-war Left, warned that Democrats risk sounding "tone deaf" to the views of "the American electorate that voted in overwhelming numbers for change from the discredited Bush policies."

My expecations of Obama are pretty much just what he is delivering. If Clinton had been the nominee, she would have chosen Obama as her VP, and we'd probably be seeing Biden as the SoS choice. Despite campaign projection from a lot of progressives that Obama was different in regards to foreign policy, these are centrist Democrats on such matters that are going to be in the White House. Anyone that didn't realize that was deceiving themselves:
There is growing concern among a new generation of anti-war foreign policy analysts in Washington, many of whom stuck their necks out to support Mr Obama early in the White House race, that they will be frozen out of his administration.

Mrs Clinton is expected to appoint her own top team at the State Department, drawn from more conservative thinkers.

A Democratic foreign policy expert told one Washington website: "They were the ones courageous enough to stand up early against Iraq, which is why many supported Obama in the first place." Their fear, he added, is that they will not now secure the mid-level posts which will enable them to reach the top of the Washington career ladder in future.

Suspicion of Mr Obama's moves has been compounded, for some liberals, by the revelation that Mr Obama has for several months been taking advice from Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush.

Well, Obama's foreign policy team is pretty status quo driven at the top, and it's tough to imagine that these progressives will be brought in at the mid-level, but if it happens it'd be good for the long-term. It'll be up to Senator John Kerry probably, as the Foreign Affairs chairman in the Senate, to push for deep governing changes.

All that said, I think the strongest progressive hope for Obama remains with more domestic concerns: universal healthcare, new energy priorities, fairer taxation, liberal judges. That's reason enough for Obama as President. But as far as foreign policy goes in the mid-east, expect more of the same in the short term, with the long term change still a possibility.

Update [2008-11-22 23:35:33 by Jerome Armstrong]: More of those hated Clintonites getting appointments:

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as director of the White House National Economic Council, a transition aide said on Saturday.

The selection of two veterans of the Clinton administration, both widely respected on Wall Street, may calm frazzled financial markets. Obama plans to formally announce the picks at a news conference on Monday.

"I think the new administration is off to a good start," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill. He's just glad to be getting Bush's numbers off his back.

Update [2008-11-23 0:51:13 by Jerome Armstrong]:Jane Hamsher has more thoughts on this, and her answer to it is spot on:

Look, for people who convinced themselves that Obama was the second coming of Saul Alinsky -- wake up. He never was. He may, however, be the most progressive person we could have possibly hoped to elect as President of the United States. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to help keep the obstructionists off his back and push him to fulfill his campaign promises to end the war, pass health care legislation and the Employee Free Choice Act, clean up the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, repair our infrastructure, create good jobs and restore the middle class.

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