Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

Home of the This Is Not Normal podcast, Bill Scher columns and other liberal commentary

Category: Democratic Party (page 1 of 11)

The Great Ted Kennedy dies

From AP:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins’ bullets, has died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.
For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America’s most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy. (more…)

I’ll have more later. My heart goes out to the Kennedy family.
Statement from the Kennedy family:

“Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply — died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port.
“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.
“We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.
“He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it.
“He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

Here’s Ted Kennedy at his best (in my opinion) endorsing Barack Obama.
As Kennedy said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.

What now?

(I wrote this before the election.)
At this time of year, I especially like to use football analogies. Leon Lett was a very talented defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys during the early- and mid-1990s. In the Super Bowl, Leon Lett picked up a fumble and ran towards a certain touchdown. Approximately five yards from the goal line, he began to celebrate and Don Beebe of the Buffalo Bills came out of nowhere and knocked the ball out of Leon Lett’s hand before he crosses the goal line. No touchdown.

There are a couple of ways to look at this story. One way is from Don Beebe’s perspective. The Buffalo Bills were losing and losing badly. The Bills were about to lose their third Super Bowl in a row. Beebe could’ve easily given up. Instead, he has become a part of football legend. With grit and determination, he prevented a touchdown. Leon Lett, on the other hand, is remembered for being a great player who made a boneheaded play.

As both presidential campaigns try to sprint to the finish line, we must remember that the world will not stop on November 4th. All the problems that existed on November fourth will still be around on November 5th. For almost two years, Barack Obama has asked us to be an active participant in his campaign. After the election results are announced, we cannot stop being activists.
For more than 30 years, the American people have been spectators. We have been busy either cheering or booing our politicians. It is time for us to help our candidate carry the ball over the goal line. Our goal must be more than just to win a presidential race but, to make a better America.
It is my opinion that we, the American people, need to accomplish five things in order to save our republic. First, we need to create jobs. Many of these jobs should come from the creation of a clean energy industry. Without good jobs, we are not going to get out of this economic recession. Secondly, we need to revamp our tax structure. We need to reward businesses that hire and pay a fair wage. Thirdly, we need to extricate ourselves from Iraq in an orderly fashion. Some troops will need to be redeployed to Afghanistan. We need to provide Afghanistan with an infrastructure so that the central government can be effective. Fourth, we truly need to invest in education. We need to do more than just throw money at the problem. We need to rebuild our crumbling schools, which would create more jobs. We need to create a system where the best and the brightest want to go into our public school system and teach our children. Last, but not least, we need to look seriously at health care. Doctors, nurses, patients, hospital administrators – almost no one is happy with the way our healthcare system is running. The system needs to be friendlier to everyone. Is excellent health care a right in this country? We need to have this discussion. The American people, not just our politicians, must be involved in this discussion. Whatever solution we come up with is one we’ll all have to live with.
If we are able to accomplish these five things relatively quickly we can save our wonderful country. Through letters and e-mails, phone calls and faxes, we must continue to be engaged with our politicians. We must demand town hall meetings where we see our politicians face-to-face. We need constantly to remind them that they work for us. They should carry out our wishes and our desires. Right now, we want change.

It’s Not About Lieberman, It’s About 60

Sen. Joe Lieberman is an awful person who lacks principles. He won re-election in 2006 by pretending he was against the Iraq War. After spending a career advocating Democratic domestic policies, he spent the 2008 spouting conservative distortions of core Democratic principles. He is more motivated by personal pique than the public interest. He is dishonest and untrustworthy.
And it completely doesn’t matter that he kept his committee chairmanship.
What matters? Passing legislation that averts a climate crisis, provides health care to all, and modernizes our infrastructure.
We get those things done, we not only get the economy back on track.
We not only make clean energy and health care affordable and accessible to all.
We show that liberal progressive government can deliver, and we lock it in for a generation.
The chief threat to achieving these goals is falling short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to cut off filibusters.
On any given issue, it is possible that getting the 60 vote supermajority will require scratching and clawing.
There’s not a lot of room for error, and it is myopic to unnecessarily alienate anyone that could be in the 60 — regardless of how much of a petulant jerk he or she is.
(And if we’re not doing business with petulant jerks, we won’t get 10 votes in the Senate, let alone 60.)
As Lieberman has shown that he is driven more by personal pique than principle, giving the baby his bottle is perfectly understandable, if decidedly unpleasant.
Because if Lieberman helps squelch filibusters on the big issues that matter, it is a very small price to pay.
Also, as a secondary matter, no one seems to think stripping Lieberman of his environmental subcommittee chairmanship is significant. But arguably it’s more significant than his Homeland Security committee chairmanship.
Again, global warming is one of the issues that truly matter. Lieberman’s subcommittee was the one responsible for global warming legislation.
And the legislation he drafted last year was insufficient to the challenge, yet it became the main global warming bill.
Now, he will not play a critical role in drafting global warming legislation. That’s a pretty big deal.

Getting to 60

Getting 60 Democratic Senators would be nice, but it is no guarantee of preventing filibusters. You still need to hold 60 Senators, of any party, to overcome each cloture vote on an issue-by-issue basis.
So with Dems only having at least 57 senators (with three seats still up in the air), what are the prospects of beating back conservative filibusters?
Here is an admittedly crude analysis.
Consider: there are 10 Republican senators representing states that Obama won.
Martinez (FL)
Lugar (IN)
Grassley (IA)
Collins (ME)
Snowe (ME)
Ensign (NV)
Gregg (NH)
Burr (NC)
Voinovich (OH)
Specter (PA)
These senators represent states that affirmed Obama’s platform and — so long as individual agenda items are well argued — may be reluctant to be seen as obstructing the public mandate, especially in a time of economic distress.
They should receive maximum pressure from those of us in their states.
At the same time, there are 12 Democratic senators representing states that Obama lost.
Lincoln (AR)
Pryor (AR)
Landrieu (LA)
McCaskill (MO)
Baucus (MT)
Tester (MT)
Nelson (NE)
Conrad (ND)
Dorgan (ND)
Johnson (SD)
Byrd (WV)
Rockefeller (WV)
One one hand, these Senators generally want to see Obama’s agenda succeed, so the Democratic Party’s prospects in their states can further flourish.
On the other, any backlash against a particular idea may prompt them to break ranks and highlight their “independence” to their constituents.
The bottom line is as it was: we have to continually make our case. Nothing is assured.
We cannot forget what we have learned about framing debates, distilling arguments, and honing messages that are compelling to the broader electorate.
We will have to guard against distortions of policy details, and be prepared to get in the weeds without getting lost in the weeds.
We will have to remain engaged at the grassroots level, and not allow the conservative movement to regain momentum.
Democracy doesn’t stop between elections.

NEWSFLASH: More Than 60% See President-Elect Obama As “Liberal”

Here’s a little news that probably won’t dominate the post-election punditry. More than 60% of voters considered Sen. Barack Obama a “liberal.” And he won.
Politico interviewed Sen. John McCain’s long-time close aide Mark Salter, who revealed the result from the McCain campaign’s own polling.

Our polling showed that more than 60 percent of voters identified Obama as a liberal. Typically, a candidate is not going to win the presidency with those figures. But I think the country just disregarded it. People didn’t care. They just wanted the biggest change they could get.

Some conservatives are trying to rationalize their defeat by claiming Obama duped the nation into thinking he wasn’t liberal. For example, the conservative blog Power Line said: “Despite his thoroughgoing liberalism, Obama did not run as a liberal. LIberals can run successfully for president under camouflage donned for the occasion.”
And as David Sirota has been chronicling, many in the punditocracy are clinging to the fiction that the election somehow proves America is a “center-right” nation.
Sorry folks, but McCain’s own polling completely refutes that claim. America read the label, saw all the plans for active government, and knew what they were buying.
We at Campaign for America’s Future have always held that the American majority was already a progressive majority when it came to the big issues: role of government, public investment, taxation, clean energy, environment, health care, wages and worker rights.
But there was no getting around that conservatives have been able to deploy “liberal” as an all-purpose damning slur for a long while. Self-described moderates may be supporting progressive positions, but could be made wary people tarred with liberal stereotypes: soft, weak and irresponsible.
Not today. The liberal boogeyman card could not be played, no matter how hard they tried. Perceived fear of liberals is far outweighed by the disgust of the actual damage conservatives have wrought.
Despite this hugely positive change in American politics, it does not mean we should assume the American public will embrace every liberal progressive policy proposal that comes down the pike without question.
Conservatives may no longer be able to quickly dismiss ideas with the “liberal” slur. But a poorly conceived plan can still be beat on the merits, and a poorly argued plan can still have its details distorted to appear poorly conceived. A big policy failure (such as 1994 Clinton health care plan) can rapidly resurrect debilitating stereotypes.
But conservatives will not be able to stop us just by screaming “liberal” over and over again. And the longer conservatives delude themselves about the choice America has made for the direction of our country, the easier it is going to be for us to turn the progressive mandate into progressive policy.
Originally posted at

Military wives support Barack Obama

This is a nice commercial made by the Blue Star Families – military families. It is simple. It is straightforward and presents the facts. John McCain has not supported military families. He even campaigned against the new GI Bill. He didn’t even vote on the bill. He was at a campaign fundraiser when the vote was being cast in the Senate. Military families for Barack Obama. That has a nice ring to it.

On Offense, On Issues

It’s been widely noted that Barack Obama is on the offense again, for the first time since the Republican convention. And early indications are that it’s helping return the race to where it’s been most of the year: Obama in the upper 40, McCain is the lower 40s.
But less noted is how Obama is on the offense.
It’s not just that the shaky economy is back on the front page and giving Obama a fresh opening.
It’s that Obama is making a fundamental philosophical argument about the need for smart government regulation to maintain rules of the road, enforce responsible corporate behavior, and have markets function effectively.
And he’s daring to talk in paragraphs, not always sound bites, to fully make his case.
By attacking McCain as a “deregulator,” and claiming the mantle of “real regulation,” Obama is not simply on the offense.
He’s playing for a mandate that will allow an Obama administration to rapidly move forward with ideas which involve active government.
Less broadly, but still notable, is that Obama released his first ad attacking McCain for supporting Social Security privatization.
I’ve been waiting for this attack line to surface.
The only age group McCain is winning with is seniors. This is atypical for a Republican, as seniors usually vote Democratic because of Social Security and Medicare issues.
With such a stark generational gap, and with racial sensibilities clearly changing with subsequent generations, it’s hard to believe that race isn’t the primary factor. (What issue could possibly explain such a generation gap?)
But I also suspect that many seniors do not know that McCain supports Social Security privatization — in part because media outlets let McCain get away with fuzzing up his position. But we have the videotape.
I do not know if that issue is enough to overcome racial bias. But it’s the best shot to take.

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention

The expectations. Managing the expectations. This was almost an impossible task. Some of the political pundits had set the bar so high Barack Obama needed to build a rocket ship, fly to the moon, land safely, and fly back again all while singing God bless America out of his belly button.
I’m sure that the Barack Obama camp, like myself, were somewhat confused at what he really needed to accomplish with his speech. I knew exactly what Sen. Hillary Clinton need to accomplish with her speech. I also knew exactly what former president Bill Clinton needed to achieve with his speech. Obama speech was altogether different. He needs to rally the troops so that they would be inspired to stuff envelopes and knock on doors and made hundreds of calls to get him elected. He needed to inspire.
Well, Barack Obama did more than inspire. He decided that he would also discuss policy. He would lay out a plan, a vision for America. He also was able to contrast his vision with that John McCain’s and the Republican party. And finally on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream Speech, Barack Obama was able to tie his vision of looking forward – towards the future to that of Martin Luther King’s so many years ago where King also look towards the horizon of hope and compassion.Obama gave a remarkable speech. Pat Buchanan said it was the best acceptance speech he had ever seen. (I really hate quoting Pat Buchanan.)

The speech that started it all – Obama 2004

This is the speech started Barack Obama on his remarkable journey. The Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

Convention Blogging, Streaming, Twittering

(UPDATE 8/28 8 AM MT: I expect to have the stream up today by 10 AM MT.)
Dem Convention Live Stream: The feed will be on whenever and wherever possible. IM me at “billscher” if you have any questions for any interviewees (or myself) throughout the convention. Video by Ustream.TV

    More convention blogging from me at and (including coverage of Take Back America)

    Older posts