“When the debt deal goes through,” he mused on Twitter to what he describes as a fairly modest following, “can we start a meme where we all make videos of ourselves slowly & sarcastically applauding our politicians?”
That was the beginning of Slow Clap for Congress, what is at present a very basic website hosting Ashworth and a handful of other folks doing — well, you get the idea.
“I think everybody’s responding to the fact that politicians are generally just behaving immaturely,” Ashworth told me today by phone, “and that’s just frustrating when there are so many things that we can have disagreements about that we can have in a mature way.”
[My Slow Clap for Congress video is after the jump]
If you want to read some reality based analysis of the debt ceiling deal, here are some links that won’t make you want to run around screaming “IT’S THE REPUBLICAN’S FAULT YOU STUPID FUCKING IDIOTS” or some variation on that.
This video of President Obama talking to the college students in Massachusetts back in March is showing up all over the internet. There is one passage that I particularly liked that will hopefully help to educate some of the people who bristle at every compromise with Republicans…(emphasis mine)
“And so, one of the challenges of this generation is, I think, to understand that the nature of our democracy and the nature of our politics is to marry principle to a political process. That means you don’t get a 100% of what you want. You don’t get it if you are the majority; you don’t get it if you are in the minority.And you can be an honorable in politics understanding that you are not going to get 100% of what you want.
“And that’s been our history. You think about our greatest presidents — Abraham Lincoln, here is a guy who didn’t believe in slavery, but his first priority was keeping the Union. I’ve got the Emancipation Proclamation hanging up in my office, and if you read through, it turns out that most of the document is: those states and areas where the Emancipation doesn’t apply because those folks were allies with the Union so they can keep their slaves. Think about that. That’s the Emancipation Proclamation.
“So, here you’ve got a war time president who is making a compromise around probably the greatest moral issue the country ever faced because he understood that, ‘Right now my job is to win the war and to maintain the Union.
The Tea Party on the right and the Firebaggers on the left have both staked out intransigent positions. In my many years of obsessing over politics, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Tonight, Lawrence O’Donnell dropped some more knowledge about the debt ceiling negotiations, and I must admit to a sense of self-satisfaction that what he said tonight dovetails nicely with what I’ve been saying for a week (see e.g., here and here) about Obama governing and courting swing voters1 simultaneously:
Outrage notes have been struck today in the liberal blogosphere and elsewhere that the President was entertaining modest modifications in Medicare and Social Security that could save trillions, even though liberal democrats in the past have done exactly that. The President’s willingness to discuss raising the retirement age in Medicare or Social Security has met rage from some who don’t know that the eligibility age of Social Security has already been raised, that a gradual increase of a retirement age was enacted in 1983, increasing the full retirement from 65 to 67, and that increase had the support of liberals in the House and the Senate.
The debt ceiling is sooo hot right now. It’s all anyone in Washington and Blogoslovakia can talk about.
Will Congress raise it? Yes or no! No maybe so!
Tonight, Lawrence sated our thirst for tawdry debt ceiling sexitalk, as he talked about his time working on the Hill dealing with debt ceiling negotiations, and gave “liberals” another stern talking to:
In fact, when I was running the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, we wrote and passed debt ceiling increases with ease… This is the Reconciliation Act of 1993. [I]t is worth noting at this time that in this bill are a couple hundred billion dollars in medicare and medicaid cuts that were proposed and supported by president Bill Clinton, written into law by a democratic congress and passed with Democrat votes only. The biggest cuts ever enacted in Medicare at that time. That was the very first thing that Democratic president Bill Clinton did with Medicare — actually cut it — to no objections, none, not one word of objection from liberals at that time about cutting Medicare. Not one person who has attacked president Obama from the left for even discussing Medicare cuts objected to the Clinton Medicare cuts, which were supported by every liberal in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Now, I don’t know where the newly appointed protectors of Medicare were at the time. It was the middle of the summer; they might have all been at baseball games. But the President didn’t hear from one of them — not from one of them — what Barack Obama has heard from so many about betraying their trust by discussing Medicare cuts. You know the rest of this story. This bill passed. Medicare continued to be the best government-run health insurance program in the world. The biggest tax increase in history did not cripple the economy with this bill, and the economy soared to new heights.
Lawrence O’Donnell has been on fire as of late. Below is his latest on the debt ceiling shenannies.
Notably, he had the following to say:
Consider the lead editorial today in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. Normally a champion of the most ludicrous Republican policies and strategies… they have finally caught on to what they say today: “the President’s strategy all along: take the debt limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and the rich.”
If the Republicans had a plan that they thought would work when they took the debt ceiling hostage, it could only have been the misguided expectation that when the moment came for the presidential decision in these discussion, Barack Obama would simply cave to the hostage takers’ demands. Ironically, others who shared that view as the possible outcome, here on the left side of our politics, have positions in the blogosphere and megaphones in which they have trumpeted their distrust of Barack Obama’s strength of character and his command of presidential power. As of tonight, the one person who we know is not panicking about what to do next is Barack Obama. Eric Cantor, however, has just described the meeting tonight at the White House this way to reporters. He, the president got very agitated, said that he had sat there long enough, that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here like this, and that he’s reached the point that something’s got to give. a Democratic aide tells NBC, Cantor’s account of tonight’s meeting is completely overblown.
I have a busy day today, but for now I want to steer you to this great piece from Eclectablog that seems appropriate with everyone getting their panties in a bunch about the compromise that is coming down the pike on the debt ceiling. Once again, we will see and hear the immaturity of some on the “professional left” because you know, what is this thing everyone calls compromise and why is it getting in the way of what I want…a pony! The piece is from April, but is timeless. From Eclectablog…
And when they don’t have anything to get upset about, that’s no problem. They just invent something. Here’s the playbook for your reference:
Read the day’s headlines.
Determine a spin that characterizes the President and his administration in the worst possible light.
If such a spin does not exist, postulate what the President and his administration’s response will be. Make sure that it is as negative as possible, even if it contradicts his past behavior.
Write endless blogs on how the President has once again sold his “base” down the river and kicked hippies in the teeth (after punching them, of course.) It is not necessary for him to actually have done this. Your prediction that he WILL do this is sufficient.
When what you predicted turns out to be quite wrong, ignore that and focus on the next day’s news item. No point in issuing a mea culpa. Just raise a fuss about something new and nobody will notice.