In 1976 Carter did okay outside the Deep South--he carried almost the entire South and Border States, as well as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusettes and Rhode Island.
And you're ignoring the fact that Clinton came back and won 4 of 11 states of the Old Confederacy in both 1992 and 1996, plus the Border States.
Not to mention the fact that the Dems took 9 GOP Senate seats in 1986, and lost just one, for a net pickup of 8. Fully half their pickups were in the South--Alabama, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina--and they split the Border States, picking up Maryland, but losing Missouri. That's the main reason why you can't credit Reagan with realigning the South. He helped make it more Republican, to be sure. But it was already moving that way, and he was unable to help his party hold the majority of its Deep South gains in the Senate from 1980.
I find it very troubling. But when you look at the logic here it is exactly the same: Forget the truth of what Reagan was. Look at the myth! It was a powerful myth! It was a successful myth! By embracing his myth, we show we are bipartisan!
That's just the problem. He's missing a similar grasp on truth.
There doesn't have to be a contradiction between the two. FDR is a prime exmple of that. RFK--even more than JFK--was another great example. If Obama were to attune his mythos to historical reality, a good number of skeptics such as myself would become enthusiastic supporters.
But it's Obama himself (as well as supporters such as yourself) who is setting up myth vs. truth as a dichotomy and defending his (very Reaganite) disdain for inconvenient truths in terms of a superior mythic reality.
I hate to remind you, but this is the core belief system of Leo Strauss, godfather of the neocons.
The notion that Reagan realigned the electorate in a manner similar to FDR is simply false. The Democrat's embrace of civil rights--starting with Truman and Humphrey in 1948--is what realigned the electorate, turning the once Democratic "Solid South" first into a swing region, then into a Republican "Solid South." Reagan came in at one point in that process, but did not have any sort of dramatic effect. In fact, the Democrats made quite healthy gains in the House in 1982, and even won back the Senate in 1986.
What Reagan did do was help provide the umbrella for tranforming elite Washington opinion. But he was hardly alone in this. The Washington Times was established in 1982, funding for rightwing think-tanks mushroomed during the 1980s, and progressive or merely independent investigative reporters were punished for breaking major stories that made Reagan look bad--such as Raymond Bonner at the NY Times and Robert Parry at AP.
At the same time, corporate America undertook a sharp change in its labor relations, adopting a broad policy of aggressively violating labor laws in order to destroy unions. They were happy to live with the possibility of eventually paying some slap-on-the-wrist fine for the short-term gain of breaking a union and slashing labor costs by 30-50%. This naturally had a tremendous impact on the relative political power of labor vs. corporations in DC at the same time that corporate campaign contributions were skyrocketing.
In short, Reagan was just one part of a complex toxic mix that still didn't produce a realignment of the electorate, even though it did produce a realignment in Washington DC.
It was the DC realignment that then propagated all manner of myths about Reagan, including his "mythic bond" with the American people, his realignment of the electorate, etc., etc., etc.
I agree that we have a great opportunity, and this sort of ground-level annecdotal information is an early-warning system we should take quite seriously.
While complacency is certainly something to guard against, I'd rather not go negative on going slack. I'd rather take an optomistic view, and say this is all the more reason to pour it on.
This time two years ago, I was one of the first wave of folks talking about a possible wave election, taking back the House. And I think we can do as well or better this time out. But nothing is guaranteed.
And has done so for years. Both Dish and Direct TV.
There are also a lot of people with tv production and hosting experience who could be drawn on to put together a quality network rather quickly.
Bill Moyers is pretty much joined at the hip with PBS, but Maria Hinojosa, who's worked with him as a correspondent, has extensive experience in both TV and radio, and would make a wonderful TV host. Danny Schechter, who produced "South Africa Now" and "Rights and Wrongs" as well as working on network shows for around 20 years, is another highly experienced talent to build on. Heck, he might even be able to lure Charlene Hunter-Gault back to work with him, given a shot at a primetime slot.
My point is simply that there's a lot more experienced talent out there than you're seeing. This may not help in the short run, but if things get to a certain critical point...
At a press conference yesterday with Michael Chertoff in San Pedro yesterday, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher repeated his insistence that Port Security be paid for in part by fees on good imported from China, as part of their cost of doing business.
This, in contrast to the California Chamber of Commmerce, which insists on opposing such fees, and would even prefer higher taxes on Californians instead--at least to pay for other externalized costs, such as improved air quality and new infrastructure.
In short, it looks like the unified field theory of conservative denial must yield to the phenomena of symmetry-breaking as Nov. 2008 approaches.
I'm sorry, but $6 billion (less than the operational cost of the Iraq Was for a month--ignoring all longterm costs, such as health care, pensions, etc.) is totally inadequate to address the problem of poverty in the US.
Consider just one element: The EITC alone is estimated to cost $36 billion at current levels, and estimates are that 15-25% of those eligible don't apply. So just fully enrolling all those eligible for EITC would cost $5.4 - $9 billion. Thus tripling the EITC for full-time workers at the minimum wage cannot possibly be as siginificant as it sounds--perhaps because so few minimum-wage workers are employed full-time (thus exempting them from various protections). Simply doubling the overall value of the EITC would cost $36 billion per year--six times what Obama is pledging (assuming he's talking about $6 billion annually, which isn't actually clear from what you've written).
OTOH, the expansion of the SCHIP just approved by the Senate Finance Committee would increase five-year funding for the program from $25 billion to $60 billion. That's an additional $35 billion ~ six times what Obama is talking about. Assuming his $6 billion is an annual figure (which, again, isn't clear), that works out to $1 billion per year more than what Obama is proposing, just for this one program.
Don't get me wrong. I am glad that Obama is saying something about poverty. And I'm glad he's thinking about a multi-faceted approach. But my first impression is that this is wildly inadequate to making any serious impact, and doesn't even try to present a realistic picture of what the problem looks like and how his proposals compare to the magnitude of the problem.
I'd like to recommend you take a look at a diary I wrote last year, "Forced Childbirth--What The Data Says", which is based on an analysis of data from the General Social Survey. As I say in my summary:
While individuals can certainly have all sorts of different views, statistical surveys can tell us a great deal about what mass movements and their constituencies are really all about. And in this case, the evidence is overwhelming: those who profess anti-abortion attitudes are not consistent in their beliefs. They are consistent, however, if they are regarded as being for forced childbirth.
In appearances across the country, from New Hampshire to South Carolina, his speeches have ranged from "pretty decent" to "quite underwhelming."
I hate to belabor the obvious, but Thompson's been on Law and Order for several years now.
The role of DA has always been a background one. The lead ADA and his assistant get the majority of face time in the show's second half, and the DA weighs in for maybe 2 or 3 short scenes. For years Steven Hill packed a lot of punch in his few minutes onscreen. After he left, Diane Weiss was more low-key, but consistently conveyed a sense of someone raising contradictions and weighing things carefully, who could easily have had twice as much screen time and made it all the more interesting.
But with Thompson, the impression we're left with, again and again, is that he's in a hurry to have a bourbon, and we're in a hurry to get on with the rest of the show. He delivers his pompous declarations with little, if any, sense of interacting with other characters, and then they go off an get the action back on track.
And that's what he does with some of the best sceenwriters in the business writing his lines for him.
So, if he can't hold things together for a 90-second scene in a 60-minute show (44, excluding commercials), why in the world would people be surprised that he's pretty much a dud on stage?
Reagan, too, was a second-rate actor. But he had made a long career out of capitalizing on his modest talents, and making the most of them by honing his shtick. Thompson is apparently too much of an egomaniac to recoginze his own need for help.