Are you ready for disappointment and betrayal?

Even if the Democrats win the election, don’t expect much of a change.

Joe Biden’s transition team is vetting a handful of Republicans for potential Cabinet positions — despite doubts it will win him new support from the right and the risk it will enrage the left.

Reaching across the aisle to pick senior members of his administration could shore up Biden’s credentials as a unity candidate, a message he’s made a cornerstone of his campaign. Past presidents including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all done the same. But that tradition died with President Donald Trump, and liberal Democrats are already warning that a Republican pick, even a moderate one, could sow distrust within the party before Biden even takes office.

It’s bad enough that we’re settling for a tepid centrist Democrat, but if he caves to that degree, I hope he’s ready to be primaried so hard and to be a one-term president.


  1. ubjoern says

    I hope he’s ready to be primaried so hard

    Ok, I’m with you most of the time, and I’m not even american, so it’s not really my business, but come on.

    There’s just no way that’s going to happen.

    And if, and that’s a big if, any primary challenger gets even close to be noteworthy, they’re are going to be treated as spoilers by most of the center left media and by extension the electorate.

    There’s opportunities to steer the us democratic parties into more acceptable directions, but there’s no realistic way a primary challenge to a sitting president is going to be one of them.

  2. oddie says

    Voting for me has been a logistical nightmare this year because I have moved out of the continental US. I haven’t been able to manage it yet and now, in light of this information, I’m glad I haven’t and I won’t be. Fuck the DNC.

  3. Artor says

    Yeah, this is about what I expected; “We need to look forward,” bullshit. The criminals will walk free, the damage will never be repaired, and the US will continue to sink into shithole status.

  4. PaulBC says

    Are you ready for disappointment and betrayal?

    I’ve been a Democrat for my entire voting life, so in short: yup!

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Apparently Biden wants to repeat Obama’s reach-out and forgiveness of ’09 – despite a front-row view of how that failed to create reconciliation or reduce obstruction or lead to anything constructive, thus handing control of Congress to Obama’s enemies for the next six years.

    We need another FDR, with the guts to “welcome the hatred” of the wealthy and entrenched while making major changes; not another BHO of polished words and gestures but trivial tangible results.

  6. mnb0 says

    On the contrary, I will neither be disappointed nor feel betrayed when JoeB turns out to suck badly. I’ve been predicting it for months. On this very blog.

    “I hope he’s ready to be primaried so hard and to be a one-term president.”
    Ha – if JoeB becomes president the party establishment will crow that their strategy worked and will make sure that the next DP candidate will be even more right wing. Remember? I predicted that your “vote for JoeB ‘cuz getting Donald the Clown out of the White House is the only thing that matters” strategy will result in Democrat(ic) candidates worse than Tricky Dick Nixon. I predict this again.
    This is precisely why “not voting for JoeB means voting for Donald the Clown” is such a pathetic argument.

  7. lotharloo says

    Democrats are the most incompetent political party in the multiverse. Watch them win the presidency, Senate and the house, and then give some key cabinet positions to Republicans and also reinstate filibuster.

  8. lotharloo says

    Also, you have already selected the next winner of the democratic primary: it’s called the VP.

  9. weylguy says

    Normally, the Democrats only start to feel guilty about acquired power after they’ve won, then cede to the GOP which immediately demonizes the Democrats anyway. Looks like Biden and Company are already planning to bring the haters on board.

  10. larpar says

    Biden might nominate a Republican, but congressional Democrats would never confirm one. /s

  11. says

    Look the only reason to vote for Biden is to put off the inevitable fascist takeover by a few years. That is it. This would be a lot more interesting if I wasn’t in the middle of it.

  12. favog says

    Don’t remember where or when I heard it, but if it’s true, that won’t be necessary. Biden only entered the race to prevent Trump, and wasn’t planning on seeking re-election in four years if he wins in two weeks. Given his age, I can believe he wouldn’t have the energy for the second term. So it’s likely we’ll be looking to Kamala Harris to stave off the fascists; I’m not sure how good that news might be.

  13. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oh, quelle bloody surprise. Anyone who responds with “that’s the last straw, I’m not voting” is a feckin eejit who wouldn’t get a point if it stabbed them in the eye.

  14. vucodlak says

    If Biden pulls the same “look forward not back” and “bipartisanship” shit that Obama did, it guarantees that:
    1.) Nothing lasting will get done
    2.) Almost nothing worthwhile will get done at all, even in the very short term
    3.) He will almost certainly lose his reelection campaign in four years…
    4.) …to an outright fascist even more vile and extreme than the one currently sitting in Oval Office (say hello to president Bannon, Miller, or zombie Trump)…
    5.) …who will murder the world
    6.) We’ll also lose the House and Senate within two years. They may impeach Biden and Harris in order to install the Republican Speaker of the House, but they might also decide to wait out the first term to make sure the Democrats get the full blame for all the damage Trump did.

    Get ready for Civil War II: With Nukes This Time. If there’s still a world left after the Republicans nuke the blue parts of the country and anyone who looks at them wrong, then we can look forward to WWIII: Fighting Over the Radioactive Scraps.

  15. PaulBC says

    I’m not expecting anything better from Biden than we got from Obama in 2009. Uh, I guess if he comes in with a Democratic senate and then manages to hold it past 2022, that would be better. But I don’t even bother thinking that far ahead.

    We have been in damage control mode since the 2010 election. It would be nice to be in some other circumstances, but that seemed illusory to me in 2016 and is a lot worse now. The main question is holding on to some shreds.

    The fact that the zombies are scratching at the windows and one of them has climbed up on the roof and is pulling off shingles is a really lousy reason to open up the front door and let them right in. That doesn’t mean we’ll be doing great under after the election (though I admit I will be a lot happier at least briefly).

  16. says

    Eh, an anonymous source “close to the transition team” floats some names, and the Beltway media spins it around for rage-clicks. Thanks, but no thanks.

  17. says

    … My recollection of the VP selection process was that Politico was the fount of “Harris doesn’t have a chance” takes, all with the same level of gravitas as this.

  18. Sean Boyd says

    My hope is that this was leaked by the Biden campaign to gauge how open the Democratic base would be to such an idea. But that is a weak hope, because there’s too much history involving Democratic presidents who willingly moving themselves rightward in this (and other) fashions.

  19. PaulBC says

    @19 Well, we could be talking about “OMG emails! 2.0”. Outlets like Slate want you to know that they know how stupid it is, but they still want to talk it up as a real story. There’s also “zoom dick”, which is an object lesson for all of us getting a little too comfortable with working from home. Maybe we need need Mr. Spacely on the screen to remind us it’s the workplace. (Contrarian view: this was an election night simulation as I understand it, and maybe Toobin thought this was exactly the kind of thing that could really happen.)

  20. says

    It was always obvious Biden will be shitty status quo candidate, being disappointed about this now means you didn’t pay attention to primaries.
    Also Biden is planning to be 1 time president, Kamala will be establishment pick for 2024.
    Some people who abstained from voting HRC in 2016 hoped that losing to Trump will make DNC ready to go more progressive – this hope failed spectacularly, they only doubled down.
    Any hope 4 years of Trump will help turn people progressive also failed – it just lowered the bar and scared people enough they are voting for Joe Biden.
    So 4 more years of Trump gives no hope to anyone. The only hope left is that just like 8 years of Obama made people hoping for Bernie, 4 years of Biden will also help people understand that DNC is also bunch of villains.

  21. oddie says

    There a plenty of republicans voting for Biden to cover for the progressives that don’t ever vote for dems ever anyway. Michael Steele is voting for Biden for god sake

  22. says

    Does everyone realize that part of the reason that this narrative is being pushed right now is to help suppress turnout for Democrats in general?

    I don’t care how much anyone dislikes Biden, but he is not and never will be the complete failure that is Trump. Not voting is like saying that you’re not going to jump out of a speeding car that is feet away from a canyon because you might get bruised or break your arm as you roll out of harm’s way. Biden was at the far end of my ranked choices when all this began but I have already voted for him because I’m not an idiot. Trump is not just a failure, he’s not “just” a threat to our democracy; he is an existential threat to the planet. Imagine four more years of his incompetent blather, not just ignoring climate change but doing things to make it worse; not just ignoring injustice, but doing things to make it more unjust; not just ignoring wealth inequality, but shoving even more wealth to the top; and on and on and on.

    When the primaries started I said that I literally would vote for my neighbor’s dog over Trump, because while it’s true that that doggie is not going to come up with any brilliant ideas regarding the economy, the climate, or what have you; he’s not going to be actively making them worse.

  23. PaulBC says

    @25 Indeed. I’m “Ridin’ with Biden” for the next two weeks and maybe into an ugly “post-election.” Consider me a no-nuance zone till the smoke clears.

  24. says

    Bwahahahahahaha! This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been predicting all along! Biden is going to do a few — as few as possible — empty symbolic things, and then get down to helping the right wing continue to screw us all over. The only chance we had, once he got the nomination, was a win by Howie Hawkins, and all the “Blue No Matter Who” idiots screwed that one up. Congrats, Democrats, you got played again — you no longer get to complain about Republicans “voting against their best interests” because it’s all that you ever do, too.

  25. says

    I expect Biden to be a one-term president anyway. I mean, he’s already 77. He needs to live to 81 to complete a single term, likely enough, but no slam dunk. Besides, Harris will be on deck as VP, champing at the bit for her turn. Biden is getting a chance at something he had thought had passed him by (for good reason, too), but Obama’s selection of him as vice president revived his career. A valedictory term as president should provide him with all the laurels he could want. Of course, I’m just guessing.

  26. wzrd1 says

    When it comes to cabinet positions, the party of a post holder is less important, as they either act in accordance with the planning and goals of the POTUS or they’re gone.
    If I somehow royally fucked up and got elected POTUS, that’d be my call – whoever is best qualified to fill a post gets tapped for that post, under the clear understanding that if they violated any of my policies and palns, they’d be out the door so fast that they’d be baked by Unruh radiation.
    Since I never intend to run for office, nor be selected as a VP, that’s about as likely as my suddenly acquiring the power of unpowered flight.
    And there isn’t enough helium in this solar system to get me off of the ground while not being inside of an aircraft.

  27. numerobis says

    What were people expecting? The Democratic Party is an alliance of everyone from the centre right to the left; the GOP had the centre-right bloc but it’s ceded that ground to become an openly white supremacist party.

    Until the GOP completely collapses, the competition will be between the centre-right and the far right, with the centre-left and left taken for granted. That’ll be some time yet, because there’s still a lot of people whose home team is the GOP even if they haven’t agreed with their policies for a while (political parties are just like sports teams for a lot of people).

    If the GOP succeeds at collapsing, we’ll quickly switch into a new party system because without competition from the far right, the Democrats will split up — probably along different lines than the current ones. The resulting parties may even have the same names, which is what happened last time there was a major realignment.

  28. says

    @#31, numerobis:

    Until the GOP completely collapses, the competition will be between the centre-right and the far right, with the centre-left and left taken for granted. That’ll be some time yet, because there’s still a lot of people whose home team is the GOP even if they haven’t agreed with their policies for a while (political parties are just like sports teams for a lot of people).

    The fact that you don’t realize the last 8 words of your first sentence demonstrate that the parenthetical in the second one applies to way more than just Republicans is what’s wrong with this country.

  29. bcwebb says

    An unsourced article from an operation like politico could be any number of things – an effort to undermine Biden by pissing off supporters , a trial balloon by Rahm-type corporate democrats seeing how much the can they get away with for their donors, or the actual worse case that Biden is that dumb.

  30. says

    Organized pressure against the government should be issue and not party based. I intend to revisit Biden’s serial sexual harassment and other boundary issues.

    If Biden is saying and doing worrying things start planning criticism shaming. Passion can be shifted.

  31. nekomancer945 says

    If…a mighty big if…if he is offering posts to Republican senators for their votes against the Supreme Court nominee to sink her, and any after her that Trump & Co. want to force it, then it might well be worth it. That would keep him from packing the S.C. later.

  32. PaulBC says


    This is precisely why “not voting for JoeB means voting for Donald the Clown” is such a pathetic argument.

    Except it’s not even the argument. If Trump were a harmless “clown” who cares? Clowns are fine with me. When he’s the nearest thing to an actual mob figure to inhabit the Oval Office, that’s a problem. Still, if he didn’t also have the backing of a Republican senate, there would be a wider range of options about what to do. And an otherwise normal-looking president like Jeb Bush or John Kasich would have been about as damaging in terms of judiciary appointments and regressive tax shifts.

    So it has never been about Trump.

    To be clear, we already fucked up in 2016, when we collectively decided to “crash the plane.” (I know, a rightwing metaphor.) The 2020 election is more like a choice between crawling out of the wreckage or staying inside and dying. The plane is still wrecked. We’re still dying. But this improves our chances a little. I realize I can’t persuade anyone who finds this to be a difficult decision. So yeah, let’s just keep Trump, or vote in our favorite fantasy pick.

    We already fucked up in 2010, which is the year the GOP consolidated power and began taking over the federal judiciary (blocking new appointments to leave spots to fill with the Federalist Society’s clone army of jurists).

    I had sort of a measured optimism in 2016 that having a president who opposed the GOP Senate (then nearly a given) could provide some breathing room. Clinton or Sanders would have done, but Clinton was the one on the general election ballot.

    Since then, I have no idea what the fight is supposed to be about. So whoopie! The neolibs and the big Davos world conspiracy has been defeated. Some other side won. (Maybe it wasn’t yours.) Most of the global trade agreements that Hillary Clinton would have liked to do are off the table. Nobody really believes the words of “milquetoast neolibs” or “centrists reaching across the aisle.” (Granted only one side still believed any of that in 2009.)

    And hey, Hillary Clinton learned her lesson, and so did Debbie Wasserman Schultz. So 2016 was a big win, right? Do you guys ever smile about anything? I’d say your hard work paid off.

    But sure, why not do battle against the smoking ruins of the Democratic party establishment? I mean, it’s an easier target than the Republican party (in case anyone noticed, they are much better as these kinds of fights and if they were not wildly unpopular outside specific demographics, it’d be time to give up).

    I think what bothers me the most about the entire leftist view of American politics is that I have never once seen it work to win an election at a national level. Won’t it at least be more fun to rake Joe Biden over the coals as president than just have one more has-been Democratic losing candidate to kick around?

  33. rpjohnston says

    Deep Blue Sea, but Sam Jackson keeps inviting the sharks to help find a solution for getting out of the shark-infested lab

  34. PaulBC says

    One thing. I would have more respect for the 2016 anti-Hillary squad on the left if they’d at least gloat a little and take credit for their work. The rightwing has no problem with this.

    Here’s a fact. I am am ordinary if partisan Democratic voter (on the liberal side) who liked having Obama in the White House and was looking forward to having a Democrat hold onto power in 2016 (and also frightened of the alternative, not of Trump specifically but frightened of Republican executive orders, legislation, and judiciary appointments). I was counting on the party establishment to do whatever it is they do and I was just going to vote for the nominee with about as much enthusiasm as I did in 2000 or 2004 and less than in 2008 and 2012.

    I had never heard of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about her. I was totally willing to overlook whatever shenanigans the party might do to get their preferred nominee through the convention. I didn’t care, didn’t want to know. I tell you this in complete honesty. I watched the Sanders campaign with interest, first with a little curiosity like Nader’s in 2000, then more focus… Hey the kids like him. The old boomers like him. This is big! This could be a lot of fun if I didn’t know he was going to lose, and it’ll be pretty sad–I have some millennial nieces and nephews–to see their disappointment when it’s Hillary.

    And Hillary would have gotten away with it like a Scooby Doo villain if it weren’t for the hard work on the left exposing Democratic corruption. Yeah, the rightwing did their bit, but it would not have been enough. Look, I’m not “blaming” you for Clinton’s loss. (There’s plenty to go around and I blame Comey.) It was her job to win, not yours to help her. But it really did take some effort to gum up all those machine gears in the big Democratic establishment. You guys worked hard for it, and you got it.

    I have never once seen a leftist gloat about blowing up the Democratic party. But seriously, you did. It was not an accident. It is not something you should feel embarrassed about either. It was kind of the aim, wasn’t it? So I don’t know. Is it just something with this ideology that’s like a collective stick up the ass. I mean, maybe you high five in private. I have no idea. You sure don’t sound happy.

    But it really did take some work to wreck the Democratic machine enough to make Hillary Clinton’s campaign fail. I mean, yeah, it was a pretty lousy campaign, and yeah, she is one of the most reviled figures in American politics. But without the effort of many people, there is no way even she could have lost against Donald Trump. I watched a group of people set out to stick it to the Democratic party–and with limited resources, not billions of dollars or political connections–and really succeed in sticking it. Congrats!

    I’m gonna add you’re a bit lackluster this year with the exception of some of the comments here. Brings back the good old days though.

  35. consciousness razor says

    I have never once seen a leftist gloat about blowing up the Democratic party. But seriously, you did. It was not an accident. It is not something you should feel embarrassed about either. It was kind of the aim, wasn’t it?

    The green new deal, healthcare as a right, a jobs guarantee, raising the federal minimum wage, workplace democracy, statehood for PR and DC and the rest, ending the electoral college, federal laws to prevent all sorts of voter suppression tactics…. And plenty more where that came from, whether or not the party establishment would prefer to align with conservatives.

  36. mickll says

    It all comes down to this.

    The only good thing about Biden is that he’s not the other guy who is a Fascist.
    That’s huge.

  37. PaulBC says

    CR@39 Sounds great! I would be happy having about a tenth of it if I thought it would really happen any time soon.

    I am also not lying when I say the the tactics used in 2016 were effective. Let’s take journalist Glenn Greenwald. He’s a smart guy. He works hard. His reporting on the Iraq war showed depth and integrity, and I read it regularly at the time. If he was working for environmentalism or healthcare in 2016, I must have missed it. He was working relentlessly to get as much dirt on Hillary Clinton to come to light as he could. I don’t think he gloats either. I don’t know what drives him, honestly. But it’s not only him, and there was a segment of leftwing commentary very clearly devoted to the destruction of the Democratic establishment. If they handed out prizes for this kind of success, they deserve one.

    It’s not uniform. Bernie Sanders emphasized the positive agenda (and famously dismissed “emails” as nonsense). Good for him! Michael Moore made a sound prediction that Hillary Clinton would lose, and even why, but he didn’t want her to lose. For that matter, Noam Chomsky articulated a view that I can support.

    My point, though, is that sometimes when you work hard at something you get it. I saw what a large chunk of leftwing American politics continued to work at after the 2016 convention, and it was making the Democratic establishment pay. And pay they did. Seriously, job well done.

  38. says

    I love every single article on this blog except the “Biden is a secret Fascist” ones. Why in the world would anyone believe Politico? The ones who said that Harris was right out? Come on, people! You should be smarter than this!

  39. unclefrogy says

    this election is just one step in a journey of a thousand steps it is not the second coming of christ nor should we think it is supposed to be
    I will support ideas like @39 I do not care very much who does or does not get elected or who is appointed to what position as long as those ideas get promoted I will support those who support those ideas
    the noise about this is mostly just being used to suppress votes.
    I would be rather shocked if any of the current administrations cabinet were carried over how ever
    uncle frogy

  40. oddie says

    I am dreaming of a Graham and Collins defeat. How sweet would it be to see Jamie Harrison take Graham’s seat. I was really hoping McConnell would go down but doesn’t seem likely.

  41. logicalcat says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If we are not careful in seizing the opportunity and take control of the democratic party, others will take it instead. And republicans actually vote so they might just do it.


    Everyone predicted this you clown. The point was to prevent it through primaries and other forms of pressure.

    And if anyone here is delusional to think you cant control a party through primaries let me introduce you to the Tea Party, the evangelicals, and the alt-right. Let me introduce you to Bernie Fucking Sanders, who almost won the ticket despite previously being a candidate with 1% of the vote and lackluster voter pool from leftists who don’t understand politics.


    Hi, Obama would like to have a word. Often seen as an establishment democrat, which he is, but everyone forgets that he was the spoiler. The DNC hated Obama (still do, since he emptied the coffers and left it financially bankrupt leaving Clinton to have to bail it out) and favored Clinton. They failed, he won.

    Another example of a leftists who knows fuck all about politics.

    Leftists are hard at work ensuring the demise of the democratic party, except they’ve proven inept in strategy and organization so doing so would effectively made the country a one party state. And its not the party you want having that kind of control.

  42. John Morales says

    Stuart @46, no. It was said about him, which is not the same thing.

    As I understand it, polling showed that were he to commit to only one term, his prospects of being elected would diminish. So he took the middle ground, and basically did not rule out a second term, without committing to one, either.

  43. mvdwege says

    Holy fucking shit. Tiger Beat on the Potomac quotes an anonymous source which is by their own admission at least one level away from the actual transition team, and in 50 posts only one commentator is not taking it as gospel.

    The rest is acting like gullible Fox News viewers. On Freethoughtblogs. Are you not ashamed of yourselves?

  44. KG says

    Bwahahahahahaha! This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been predicting all along!- The Vicar@28

    Notice how delighted The Vicar is. Being (seen as*) right is evidently much more important to him than any consideration of the interests of others. Remind you of anyone?

    The only chance we had, once he got the nomination, was a win by Howie Hawkins, and all the “Blue No Matter Who” idiots screwed that one up.

    The degree of delusion necessary to say that is truly gobsmacking. If there had been anything within a gazillion parsecs of the thirst for radical change necessary to elect Hawkins, Sanders would have swept the primary vote.

    *We don’t know if this report is accurate, we don’t know if Biden will actually appoint Republicans, if he does we don’t know what positions they will be given. But in any case, no-one commenting here has any illusion that Biden is anything other than a conservative. The point that The Vicar and the other Self-Righteous Brothers (consciousness razor, mnb0…) either can’t understand or can’t bring themselves to admit is that electing him is the only alternative to a likely descent into full-blown fascism.

  45. mvdwege says

    Sad Oldguy @42

    I apologise: Two posters are not willing to take Politico’s word for this. Your dissent was easy to overlook between all the raging True Believers.

    Thank you and Blake Stacey for being outspoken against this shit.

    And for the record, Politico pulled this same shit before, quoting ‘Anonymous Democrats’ who would push for more right-wing Democrats for positions ranging up to Vice President. And every time they’ve turned out to be wrong.

    Politico is a mouthpiece for the establishment; even across the Atlantic I know this. Anytime a conservative Dem doesn’t like something, they’ll turn off-the-record to Politico. And you chumps allow yourself to be played like Fox News rubes.

  46. Anton Mates says


    The only chance we had, once he got the nomination, was a win by Howie Hawkins, and all the “Blue No Matter Who” idiots screwed that one up.

    Howie Hawkins, age 67, who has run for elected offices 24 times in 30 years and has lost every time? Who has never gotten more than 4% of the vote in any election at state level or higher? Why would a Hawkins win even be on your radar as a possible future?

    I’d be delighted with Hawkins as president, of course, but I’d also be delighted if Biden was visited by the ghost of Karl Marx on Christmas Eve and converted to socialism. Neither of these things was ever going to happen.

    You want progressives not to vote Blue No Matter Who, you gotta give them a non-Blue candidate who aligns with their preferences and has a shadow of a chance of victory. (And that’s not going to happen in the US anytime soon; our viable third-party candidates tend to look like Ross Perot and Donald Trump, not like Howie Hawkins.)

  47. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    cf. Douglas Adams:

    “It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see” Said Ford

    “You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?” Said Arthur

    “No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

    “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”

    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”

    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

  48. PaulBC says

    mvdwege@53 I’m not taking Politico’s word for it or even very interested in details. Based on everything I know about Biden, I am convinced that he will try his hardest to work for the old senate collegiality he remembers. Obama did try to “reach across the aisle” in 2009 and it took him a long time to concede the futility of it, by which point he had lost the leverage he entered with.

    Biden could be a little better only because facts have gotten ahead of bipartisan fantasy. But I expect him to revert back given the slightest excuse.

    And yes. Obviously I’m voting for him. “Ridin’ with Biden!” I will even smile as I cast my vote.

  49. mvdwege says

    PaulBC @56 I don’t get this. This is the man who said to a reporter, half a year ago, that he’d be fine working with sane Republicans ‘if you can find them’ (and that’s a quote). The same man who went ‘Malarkey’ at Ryan, and ‘Will you shut up?’ at Trump.

    It’s obvious that Biden is not at least interested in trying his hardest to reach across the aisle. If Republicans move left and want to join him, what’s the problem?

  50. PaulBC says

    If Republicans move left and want to join him, what’s the problem?

    Yes, and if my late grandmother had wheels, what would be the problem with calling her a bus?

  51. PaulBC says

    BTW, is it good enough that Noam Chomsky’s position in January, 2016 is more or less what I (and I think many commenters here) have been saying to leftwing purists for the past four years after that catastrophic election? (Note that Chomsky himself reached that position as early as mainstream Democratic voters.)

    Chomsky, who lives in the blue state of Massachusetts, said he would vote for Clinton if he lived in a swing state such as Ohio.

    “Oh absolutely…my vote would be against the Republican candidate,” Chomsky told Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan in a two-part interview — part of which will air Friday on “UpFront.”

    The MIT academic, a self-described libertarian socialist, called Sanders “a New Dealer” rather than a “socialist,” and praised him overall but offered a grim view for his campaign.

    “I agree with him in a lot of things, not in other things,” he said. “I frankly think that in our system of mainly bought elections he doesn’t have much of a chance, but if he were elected I think he would — of the current candidates — I think he’d be the one who would have, from my point of view, the best policies.”

    My disagreements here are at most quibbles, and it’s accurate to call Sanders a “New Dealer” (the “socialist” affectation is one of the things I find irritating about him). I could vote my favorite fantasy candidate in “safe” California, but why bother? I would still rather see a vote for a major candidate in the popular vote tallies. It’s a weak signal, but it demonstrates the absurdity of the electoral college better than a vote for a candidate who will not be mentioned at all, or only briefly.

    But sure, if you live in Massachusetts, vote for whoever you want. For that matter, if you live in a swing state like Pennsylvania, your vote is your own business and I have never said anything else. But please don’t try to “shame” me or call me a sheep or a fool for choosing between the two viable candidates. I am following a sensible strategy here.

  52. consciousness razor says


    Sounds great! I would be happy having about a tenth of it if I thought it would really happen any time soon.

    Then what if it were not the case that you believed about a tenth of it would really happen any time soon? And if it were greater than one tenth, would you be less happy or more happy about that? That’s not too clear. I mean, maybe tenth-measures are the new half-measures, maybe not.

    Anyway, it makes no difference what you think sounds great or doesn’t sound great. The implication should have been clear: we’ve got lots of goals, which have to do with substantive issues that actually matter to many people, not “blowing up the party.” On the flip side, whether conservatives in it act like suicide bombers is up to them, not a person like me.

    A few more important ones: dismantling our military- and prison-industrial complexes, free public preschools and colleges, no lifetime appointments for SC justices, term limits for the House and Senate. And it shouldn’t be a law, but we should stop electing rich old people for everything.

    If any of that stuff really does hurt the Democratic party, then it sounds like it’s a branch of the Republican party. If not, then not.

  53. mvdwege says

    PaulBC @58

    Yes, that’s exactly the position Biden has been taking publicly for almost a year now.

    Now, the likes of Vicar may of course scream that this is to hoodwink the stupid weak-willed centrists; but I tend to take people at their word unless there’s no reason to do so. And for some reason, if I look at the dry facts, that fantasy of a Biden that goes out of his way for comity at all costs, is just that, a fantasy.

  54. PaulBC says

    CR@60 A tenth or more would be good. It’s a pretty common idiom. There are probably some positions I would not take but most of them seem fine, just unlikely to happen.

  55. PaulBC says


    On the flip side, whether conservatives in it act like suicide bombers is up to them, not a person like me.

    Remind me not to hire you to negotiate a hostage crisis.

  56. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC, #62:
    Again, it has nothing to do with what you like. I’m disputing your claim, which cast the left as destructive terrorists who were “effective” at our purported goal of “bombing.” No one in their right mind would ever frame it that way, when it’s actually about a bunch of great-sounding legislative items (which so far are also not goals that we’ve realized).

    It’s a pretty common idiom.

    I had no trouble reading what you said. But if it’s not what you meant say, then you should’ve said something else.


    Remind me not to hire you to negotiate a hostage crisis.

    Who made you the one doing the hiring anyway? I think their bad decisions are their responsibility, so don’t dump it on the left. We can try to talk them out of it. So could people like you. Whether anyone listens is another question.

    And really, a hostage crisis? I don’t get this sense of urgency from you, when it’s about doing next to nothing as long as it’s not any time soon. Do you often start negotiations with “I won’t accept less than 10%, on the condition that it’s not until we’re all dead”? Does that strategy ever work?

  57. consciousness razor says

    our purported goal of “bombing.”

    Sorry, for you it was “blowing up,” so i shouldn’t have quoted that as “bombing.” Not that it makes a big difference.

  58. PaulBC says


    I had no trouble reading what you said. But if it’s not what you meant say, then you should’ve said something else.

    Uh, OK. I am confused. By one tenth, I meant “even doing one tenth of this looks like a stretch goal to me” I’m also aware that there’s no clear way to quantify it. Again… it’s vague. It’s an idiom. I could say: “Wow, that’s ambitious!” Would that be better?

    If you grasped the above informal meaning, then I don’t know why I should have said something else. Or did you actually not understand that? I thought my meaning was clear.

    And really, a hostage crisis? I don’t get this sense of urgency from you,

    Global warming is itself an urgent issue. That doesn’t mean I have a clue about what to do about it. My hunch is that a functioning Democratic party establishment will be more useful in mitigating the damage that is nearly inevitable at this point, than throwing elections to Republicans until we get a counterweight of equal power to the current Democratic party establishment (even in its current form, which is less powerful than ever).

    And how “urgent” is a hostage situation? In many cases, it looks more like certain death than urgency. If I’m a hostage, I may abandon my fellow hostages and make my own escape if I see a chance. Who wouldn’t? A hero? Well I’m not one.

    I guess it’s a question of how you want to triage American politics. I do not think the Sanders 2016 platform is likely to happen, though I’ll concede it is actually more popular than the true platforms of either the Democratic or Republican parties. It’s still a question of what can be pushed through in the actual present political environment.

    But we’ll never see eye to eye. I am curious how you’d respond to Chomsky’s stance as I quoted in @59.

  59. PaulBC says

    CR@65 Bomb, blowup, same metaphor. But in a political context, it’s totally reasonable to see your task as disrupting an establishment. It’s not morally wrong, though you’ll probably “deprive” a lot of people of appointments, internships, and promotions they were all but counting on in a Hillary Clinton administration (for example). They’ll definitely be pissed off at you. That’s the game part and it is something that you might accomplish with a certain amount of effort and take pride in doing.

    Is Glenn Greenwald proud of his work? I imagine he is, and I don’t even think he’s wrong in that. I simply judge that on balance, his work as part of the bipartisan effort to keep “OMG emails!” in the news was not of public benefit (unlike his Iraq war reporting). But hey, neither is most work in investment banking but an asshole like Anthony Scaramucci can at least crack a joke about it.

    Given that you’re not going to accomplish everything, and assuming that disrupting the power of the Democratic establishment is a worthy goal, it is reasonable to see 2016 as a partial success. If the idea was to somehow disrupt things just enough but also prevent Trump from winning, well oops, that didn’t go so well. Was that the idea? I hope not.

    There are many people to blame or credit for the catastrophe of 2016 and obviously Hillary Clinton is one of them. But I am sick of “Don’t blame my little old lefty ass. Hillary Clinton didn’t need my help to lose.” The leftwing attack on the Clinton campaign that continued after her nomination and after the concession of Bernie Sanders was a contributing factor among many that combined to cause Trump to win the electoral college vote.

  60. PaulBC says

    Or more succinctly, what galls me is this false modesty about one of the few real accomplishments of leftwing American politics in my lifetime. Usually, it’s just a sideshow (there’s Nader 2000 of course). But in 2016, you guys were a holy terror and really took down the “bad guys”, just not the “worse guys.”

  61. consciousness razor says

    Paul, none of what you’re saying leads to the conclusion that the left doesn’t have the goals I mentioned, since instead we were just interested in “blowing up the Democratic party.”

    We haven’t been effective yet at raising the minimum wage, for example. And very generally, there’s little democracy and little socialism here, which means things are not so good for democratic socialists, at least not yet. True story. So your claims about how effective we supposedly were get tossed into the trash too.

    Look, we know millions of people in this country (and not just “the left”) say those are the types of policies they support. So what is there to say? They’re not fucking kidding about it. Those are honestly the goals, no matter how much you may want to diminish them or distract us from them. So there just doesn’t seem to be any good reason to tell the story you’re telling.

    Re: Chomsky quotes in #59….

    Sanders was better, and he didn’t have much of a chance. He’s an FDR “New Deal” type of Dem, who may not qualify as a “socialist” depending on what you think the latter means. (I think the distinction is dumb, but older folks seem to shit their pants less if they’re not made to think of Stalin or Mao.) He realizes that, in the presidential race, which state a person lives in matters.

    So … yes, sure, whatever. What he said about 2016 is fine and pretty boring.

  62. consciousness razor says

    For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think Greenwald identifies himself as a leftist. He probably fits somewhere in left libertarian realms, but that’s not the progressive left as normally understood. Anyway, he’s just one guy, while I’m talking about millions of people.

  63. PaulBC says


    Paul, none of what you’re saying leads to the conclusion that the left doesn’t have the goals I mentioned, since instead we were just interested in “blowing up the Democratic party.”

    I never said you were “just interested” in this (where do you think I said that?). I did say it is one of the few tangible accomplishments I have seen in leftwing American politics. And I have been watching since I was a seven year old in 1972, heartbroken to see McGovern lose the election to Nixon.

    I agree that the American left is interested in a lot of other stuff, much of it very good. How will you get it to happen?

    Me, I am really interested in evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence and in self-replicating hardware off world, such as in the asteroid belt. No joke, these ideas both get me really excited, honestly way more than politics does. I’d also love to see either an implantable artificial kidney or an ability to grow non-rejecting natural kidneys (personal reasons for this one). They are not fantasy goals either, just not likely to happen in the near future, and not something I have a lot of control over.

    But on a day to day basis over my career, most of my contributions have gone to various Internet-based business models of significantly less appeal to me. What I’m interested in and what I actually accomplish are not the same thing.

  64. oddie says

    Clinton lost because she was a shitty candidate with a lot of baggage running in a very sexist country.

  65. PaulBC says

    oddie@72 But she was running against a terrible candidate and would have won under only slightly different circumstances.

  66. consciousness razor says

    I never said you were “just interested” in this (where do you think I said that?).

    Then leave that out, because I didn’t need it. That’s simply not what we’re interested in, full stop. I’m not just talking about myself here, knowing perfectly well that I’m farther to the left than a lot of people. Many supporters of the proposals we’re talking about are very middle of the road indeed, but I’m happy to have all sorts of bland allies (those who really mean it) against the vile extremists who think the poors shouldn’t have healthcare, an education, political or economic power, etc.

    Blowing up the shit that you happen to care about is definitely not the point, because we’ve got tons of real problems of our own to worry about. The most I would grant is that maybe the establishment has been engaging in self-harm, although at this point it’s still hard to see how much lasting damage has been done (if any). It’s always like the sky is falling any time those who are already in power don’t get everything they wanted, but just as often it’s a bunch of noise.

  67. PaulBC says

    CR@74 To be clear, I don’t even think you’re representative of the people I am talking about, who are mostly connected to me through facebook. There is my sister-in-law who loves the words “milquetoast” and “neoliberal” and was pretty angry with me when I said I was voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary not reluctantly, but because I thought she represented my interests well as highly paid tech worker, and I’m entitled to vote that way, and you may vote as you see fit. Also a friend of a friend who literally bragged that he had not voted for a major party presidential candidate since 1972 (not sure if this was inclusive or exclusive). Both of have made a habit of reposting any attacks on the Democratic party at any time for any reason, including days before the general election in 2016. These are examples, but by no means exhaustive ones.

    Another facebook friend is more pragmatic, aging hippie maybe 10 years my senior, clearly supports leftwing issues and Bernie Sanders, is especially focused on global warming and overpopulation. Since he’s in California, he might not be voting for Biden, not sure, but he would clearly prefer Biden to win at this point. I get it. Makes sense to me, but I will still vote for Biden.

    So it’s a mixed bag. Also, this year there are fewer of these internal attacks, and this backs up my hunch that it is less about “mainstream”, “milquetoast”, or “neolib” and mostly that a lot of people just despise Hillary Clinton. I am hoping that’s a good sign that Biden will actually win this thing handily and it will be done on election night, but I have given up making predictions.

  68. consciousness razor says

    Also, this year there are fewer of these internal attacks, and this backs up my hunch that it is less about “mainstream”, “milquetoast”, or “neolib” and mostly that a lot of people just despise Hillary Clinton.

    Well, there’s “corrupt” too, as if not being that in some very narrowly-defined sense would make a milquetoast neoliberal any better…. Either way, that’s a milquetoast neoliberal in my book.

    I think people tend to have trouble thinking about things systemically, because that’s not what our individual lives are like, so maybe we’re just not built to do that sort of thing well. We can easily picture one person bribing another — a lobbyist and a congressperson, let’s say — and that goes into the “corruption” bucket. But things like privilege and nepotism and class interests, which happen among millions of people (even when it’s “the top 1%” or whatever), are rendered almost invisible by the ways we usually talk about them. It’s often not a “conspiracy” of a few individuals in some dark boardroom plotting to do this or that; and it doesn’t need to be, in order to go in exactly the bad ways that we’re so worried about. If something like that does come out, it will make headlines and probably find its way into a campaign’s attack ads. But it’s hardly a news story that a big class of insulated, self-obsessed, entitled, rich people act exactly as they have always acted. At any rate, it’s not really surprising when some set of people have the larger-scale issues in mind, even when a thing they happen to bring up sounds like a smaller-scale one.

    As for whether it’s fewer this year…. What about the claims that Biden’s not mentally fit to do the job, or that reports of his sexually predatory behavior should also be disqualifying? Even if you don’t believe a word of that stuff, there’s still the argument that it’s an incredibly risky move to make him the candidate. So how else would you categorize non-policy criticisms like that?

  69. PaulBC says

    Even if you don’t believe a word of that stuff, there’s still the argument that it’s an incredibly risky move to make him the candidate.

    He wasn’t my choice. I would have liked Elizabeth Warren to be the candidate, but that wasn’t an option by the time it got to me. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the California primary not out of any great enthusiasm, but thinking briefly that he was likely to win and worth throwing support behind.

    My fantasy candidate a few years back would have been Al Franken, but he’s out of the picture due to a “scandal”. Despite having written a satirical novel about running for president, he proved to be a pragmatic and well-informed progressive senator. I am not sure if he ever had serious ambitions, and again it’s just a fantasy but I think he’d have been a good presidential candidate.

    If Bloomberg had managed to buy the nomination, I admit it would have been tough to vote for him, but I suppose I would. Biden seems fine to me, though not my pick. “Ridin’ with Biden!” Of course I will vote for him!