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Reich writes: "Soon after President Obama's second inaugural address, John Boehner said the White House would try 'to annihilate the Republican Party' and 'shove us into the dustbin of history.'"

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

How Obama Is Unraveling Reagan Republicanism

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

26 January 13


oon after President Obama's second inaugural address, John Boehner said the White House would try "to annihilate the Republican Party" and "shove us into the dustbin of history."

Actually, the GOP is doing a pretty good job annihilating itself. As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal put it, Republicans need to "stop being the stupid party."

The GOP crackup was probably inevitable. Inconsistencies and tensions within the GOP have been growing for years - ever since Ronald Reagan put together the coalition that became the modern Republican Party.

All President Obama has done is finally found ways to exploit these inconsistencies.

Republican libertarians have never got along with social conservatives, who want to impose their own morality on everyone else.

Shrink-the-government fanatics in the GOP have never seen eye-to-eye with deficit hawks, who don't mind raising taxes as long as the extra revenues help reduce the size of the deficit.

The GOP's big business and Wall Street wing has never been comfortable with the nativists and racists in the Party who want to exclude immigrants and prevent minorities from getting ahead.

And right-wing populists have never got along with big business and Wall Street, which love government as long as it gives them subsidies, tax benefits, and bailouts.

Ronald Reagan papered over these differences with a happy anti-big-government nationalism. His patriotic imagery inspired the nativists and social conservatives. He gave big business and Wall Street massive military spending. And his anti-government rhetoric delighted the Party's libertarians and right-wing populists.

But Reagan's coalition remained fragile. It depended fundamentally on creating a common enemy: communists and terrorists abroad, liberals and people of color at home.

On the surface Reagan's GOP celebrated Norman Rockwell's traditional, white middle-class, small-town America. Below the surface it stoked fires of fear and hate of "others" who threatened this idealized portrait.

In his first term Barack Obama seemed the perfect foil: A black man, a big- spending liberal, perhaps (they hissed) not even an American.

Republicans accused him of being insufficiently patriotic. Right-wing TV and radio snarled he secretly wanted to take over America, suspend our rights. Mitch McConnell declared that unseating him was his party's first priority.

But it didn't work. The 2012 Republican primaries exposed all the cracks and fissures in the GOP coalition.

The Party offered up a Star Wars barroom of oddball characters, each representing a different faction - Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Santorum. Each rose on the strength of supporters and then promptly fell when the rest of the Party got a good look.

Finally, desperately, the GOP turned to a chameleon - Mitt Romney - who appeared acceptable to every faction because he had no convictions of his own. But Romney couldn't survive the general election because the public saw him for what he was: synthetic and inauthentic.

The 2012 election exposed something else about the GOP: it's utter lack of touch with reality, its bizarre incapacity to see and understand what was happening in the country. Think of Karl Rove's delirium on Fox election night.

All of which has given Obama the perfect opening - perhaps the opening he'd been waiting for all along.

Obama's focus in his second inaugural - and, by inference, in his second term - on equal opportunity is hardly a radical agenda. But it aggravates all the tensions inside the GOP. And it leaves the GOP without an overriding target to maintain its fragile coalition.

In hammering home the need for the rich to contribute a fair share in order to ensure equal opportunity, and for anyone in America - be they poor, black, gay, immigrant, women, or average working person - to be able to make the most of themselves, Obama advances the founding ideals of America in such way that the Republican Party is incapable of opposing yet also incapable of uniting behind.

History and demographics are on the side of the Democrats, but history and demography have been on the Democrats' side for decades. What's new is the Republican crackup - opening the way for a new Democratic coalition of socially-liberal young people, women, minorities, middle-class professionals, and what's left of the anti-corporate working class.

If Obama remains as clear and combative as he has been since Election Day, his second term may be noted not only for its accomplishment but also for finally unraveling what Reagan put together. In other words, John Boehner's fear may be well-founded.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. your social media marketing partner


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-130 # Allen 23 2013-01-26 16:20
Does Reich really believe all the silly stuff he writes?

Oh sure Obama is sooo smart. He's always playing "eleven-dimensi onal chess," hadn't you heard? He's just thinking so many steps ahead of the rest of us ordinary mortals that we can't possibly comprehend it.

I mean, when he gives trillions to the banksters & protects their bonuses, and makes sure none of them get indicted for racketeering, ordinary mortals MIGHT get the impression that he was just a stooge of the banksters. But No! Actually, it just shows what a "deep" thinker he is. He's just making everyone THINK he's a stooge of the banksters, to lull them into overconfidence! Then he can more easily carry out his secret socialist agenda, donchaknow.

It's worth posing the question: if the CEO of Goldman Sachs had been appointed US president in November 2008, how would his policies have differed from Obama's? Or if Obama himself pledged to simply carry out instructions from the Business Round Table, how would things be different? It would be hard to think of a single thing that would be different.

The Democrats are not the vehicle for changing this country around. All those, like Reich, who ignore this reality and tell us that these hacks are the only realistic way to go about looking for defeating the rich reactionaries that currently control both corporate parties are the ones who are thoroughly unrealistic, and they should be ashamed at themselves
+79 # maddave 2013-01-26 23:01
". . . John Boehner said the White House would try "to . . . "shove us into the dustbin of history."

I do not believe that President Obama would do that. Throwing the R's into a dust bin is to dispose improperly of noxious contaminants.
+46 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:41
President Obama has no need to throw Republicans into the dustbin of history. THey are doing a good job all by themselves. As Governor Jindal correctly said, Republicans are the "stupid party."
-34 # DPM 2013-01-26 23:48
Allen 23. Sorry you have suffered so many "slings and arrows", but the "apologists" just can't bring themselves to see how they are being duped. Let's see how they "spin" no Wall Street trials in the "have nothing to lose" 2nd term. Or, the "real" reason the president will approve the Keystone pipeline, or the NDAA, drones and other things they would have screamed at Bush for doing. By the way, I have absolutely no love for the Republicans, but at least, they do what they say, most of the time. Like it or not. Can't say the same thing about the White House.
So, Allen 23. I hope we are both wrong. But I doubt it.
+29 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:43
DPM is not living in reality. Republicans have no track record in doing as they claimed. Even their "facts" have been proven wrong over and over again. Remember that Dick CHeney said the American troops invading the Middle East would be welcomed as liberators?
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-30 13:19've forgotten "WATCH MY LIPS"???
+94 # DoctorDemocracy 2013-01-27 00:08
Reich is not saying Obama is smart, nor even good. He's talking about the now-exposed fractures between the factions that have made up the Republican Party since Reagan patched them together and saved an already-dying party. It's hardly a shocking or surprising point Reich makes. This patchwork coalition making up the Republican Party has been widely recognized for decades. Reich does not credit Obama for taking steps to expose those fractures. He credits the Republican primaries. In Reich's piece the President's person and agenda are injecting more pressure into the fissures...yet Obama's role might as well be accidental. IMHO, this acceleration of the breakdown of the Republican coalition would be (will be?) a good thing for America. Today's Republican Party belongs on the Trash Heap of History. I can hardly believe now that I used to think Bob Dole was a radical reactionary.
+35 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:46
DoctorDemocracy is right. Republicans deserve full credit for their own demise. They are now on a path to become a permanent minority political party in this nation because they are so out of touch with the goals and dreams of the American people.

Republicans deserve all the credit for creating the Blue State/Red State divide. Unfortunately, they chose the wrong side.
-6 # Glen 2013-01-27 17:17
FL, the media created the blue and red and the republicans are not doing any more than merging with the democrats.

Our democratic republic is no more. Ignore the showmanship of both sides and look at the reality.
-5 # Doubter 2013-01-27 19:41
What would the use be of having the Republican party now that the Democrats have occupied its former slot?
+3 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 13:43
The musical chairs of tomorrow may end up with the Democrats taking over the Republican's slot and the Green Party taking over the Democratic Party's slot with their lack of corporate underpinnings and the Green New Deal. At least with this configuration, there would be a choice between two different platforms for a change and the hope of a democratic republic finally.
-50 # Laura Mac 2013-01-27 00:15
Thank you Allen 23, you speak for me as well. I rack my brain to understand why Mr. Reich continues to do these clean up fluff pieces on Obama, when we know he knows better. I think he takes the cynical Obama product and tries to relabel it because he feels that if the public buying it cottons on to what is really in the bottle all hope will be lost. Obama passes Reagan's machine in the race for supreme manipulator; what is in the package does not matter, the fanciful label is enough to fob off the consumer till the dealing is done.
+38 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:49
Laura Mac is correct that the only skill that Ronald Reagan showed was in the slick marketing of his candidacy. As is so often the case with Republicans, he was a skillful campaigner but terrible at governing. He proved that what was in the package does not matter. The real problem for the Republicans is that what they are selling is toxic and the American people know it.
+31 # babaregi 2013-01-27 00:35
I tend to agree, Allen.
Until the masses insist that there be real accountability for the way that money influences our government we will have nothing but problems.
-35 # Vern Radul 2013-01-27 11:10
The job of people like Reich is to keep selling "hope and change" fantasies and make sure that what you understand needs to happen never happens.
+32 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:51
Antermedius does not understand that the job of Robert Reich is has an educator. He is telling the American poeple the truth. Your unwillingness to accept reality does not alter that reality.
+30 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:50
barbaregi is conveniently forgetting that the Republicans fought against true accountabilty. They tried to make Elizabeth Warren the enemy rather than those corrupt CEO's who trashd the economy. The American poeple are now well aware that no accountability is even remotely possible if they waste a vote on a Republican.
+57 # Ken Halt 2013-01-27 01:32
23: What you say is cogent and all too true. Obama is not a committed progressive, but let's not pin the blame on him alone. Little, if anything, positive is going to happen for the 99% until people, large amounts of them, take to the streets and make it happen. There's got to be a BIG noise, perhaps along the lines of a national strike, to make the elite sit up and take notice. Those in power will not cede their undemocratic advantages willingly. In the long struggle that lead to the New Deal, many activists and unionists were imprisoned and killed. In the three decades since RR took office, those accomplishments have been frittered away by a docile public led astray by idle consumerism. It's a shame that we have to fight the same fight again, but prosperity and a "fair deal" are not going to be generously handed to us by the one-percenters. Here's a quote from Lincoln (which I'm sure I've got a little wrong) "The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be the one uniting the working people of all nations, tongues, and kindreds." Time to shed our parochialism and put that into practice folks.
+14 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:54
Ken Halt is ignoring recent history. The Occupy movement did not affect a restructioning of any institution. The key to real reform lies in electing MORE progrsssives. We will not be able to repair the substantial damage done by Republicans until the progrssive movement is fully in charge.
-11 # outthereaswell 2013-01-27 01:40
Allen 23: Thank you for the classic illustration of the VAT.

Your passion is certainly clear, and your frustration with the establishment and corruption that effects us all is well felt. Nevertheless, following the VAT simply illustrates that you are just stirring pots with anything to see what sticks. It’s very much like the person who has no grasp of the subject and ends by saying, “think about it”.

Certainly, you are clearly in the company of millions, who are at once crazy and numb over the running results and absurdities of our systems. It’s just that the VAT style usually indicates someone whose idea of a “solution” is simply fomenting a common enemy. May your passion find better.

The VAT– the Vacuous Argument Template:
1) State a rhetorical jab that is meant to disarm the target with the folly of their own actions.
2) Make a factious statement to ridicule the target with their own skills.
3) Lay out a hyperbole to look like condescension is acceptable and common to us all because we share a type of inferior martyrdom.
4) Simplify a complex matter that pisses us all off and blame it squarely, and matter-of-factl y, on the target.
5) Give an opinion of why anything happens and for what clever motives –all as if these are facts.
6) Ask virtually any question with no basis in reality; so, its veracity is not questionable.
7) Lump everyone together as a common enemy –the more diverse the better
8) Drive home a moral bromide to look like you care.
+8 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:57
Outthereaswell has documented the validity of the statements made by Professor Reich about Ronald Reagan. He was the firsr practioner of the VAT mentality.
+4 # outthereaswell 2013-01-29 01:31
FL Democrat: My comments about the VAT were directed to Allen 23’s original, first comment. In my opinion, they could certainly fit many of us along the way. It’s just that it is such a stretch of a wild, hopeful imagination to pretend that they would apply to Mr. Reich, even on a bad day. He may be guilty of many things, as are we all, but the VAT has never been one of them.
+33 # jlg 2013-01-27 01:41
The article is all about the crack-up of the GOP. The fact that you don't address this is probably the reason why you're so determined to discredit our President.
+16 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:58
jlg is correct. Republicans are their own worst enemy and they are not likely to change any time soon. The Republicans are on a sure path of becoming a permanent minority political party. They have no one to blame but themselves.
+9 # WestWinds 2013-01-27 01:50
You have received a lot of negative votes which only reminds me that John McCain once said that Americans don't like the truth. It is uncanny that so many people are so out of touch with reality and insist upon this Disneyland between their ears. I think you have the correct take on things. How quickly they have forgotten the FISA vote, the re-ratification of NAFTA, TPP, tar sands, the complete corporate give-away of Single Payer/Medicare for All, secret G-Summit meetings to get other world leaders to trash their countries in the name of "austerity" which is to say, driving all of the money from the bottom to the top and into the waiting hands of the few, losing the solar industry to China, or inviting Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush41 and Bush43 to the oval office and then placing himself between the two Bushes while the camera shot tightens to exclude Carter and Clinton, or how about backing "clean coal" (of which there is no such thing)? And what about all of the Right-of-Center people he has around him as his administration, like Eric Holder who has tap roots into Wall Street? I just don't get how people want what they want so badly they are willing to delude themselves to the point of being ridiculous. I agree, the Democrats are not the vehicle for changing this country. The only group that even comes close are the Greens with their Green New Deal, and nobody even wants to have a look at it. Insane and deeply disheartening.
+7 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:01
West Winds needs to learn from history. Third party movements have had no success in this nation. There is no reason to expect the Green movement to now be successful.

You have to play the hand that is dealth and work with the progrssives in the Democrat Party to affect real solutions.
+3 # Glen 2013-01-27 17:06
Sorry FL, that doesn't work, either. There is no working with any group already associated with the government. The power and money that runs this country does not care one whit about who you work with to accomplish anything.

Playing "the hand that is dealt" is accepting the least of what democracy used to offer. High expectations, low returns.
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:05
FL Democrat:

And this is to ignore the current crack-up of the Republican Party (and the empty space it's going to leave,) and this ignores that people can, when motivated, change party affiliations as I did changing from a devout lifelong believer in the Democrats to the Greens because I had the courage of my convictions never to support lies or liars consciously again. This also ignores history as seen when the Dixiecrats went Republican BIG TIME.

I was undecided whom to vote for just hours before submitting my votes; it was a vehement tug-of-war that had gone on inside me for months. Then I consulted someone who is conversant in political science and he said, "Vote your conscience." My mind was made up in a fraction of a second and I voted Green. Their Green New Deal is everything Progressives want without the strings attached to some stealth corporate contributor. We will NEVER get out from under as long as the corporations own everything. Get Netflix and watch The Last Enemy, then come and tell me how wonderful it is to have corporate anything in the mix.
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-30 13:24
They'll be looked at ONLY if they start getting elected at the grassroots level and then work themselves up.
+11 # mickeynow 2013-01-27 02:01
With some of the points made here, I must agree. But, until we see that Obama is clearly right of center and has done any number of things that appear to be very republican in thrust, we shall not be able to focus on regaining our liberties lost so far. Reich does us all a favor by pointing out the many inconsistencies of both democrats and republicans in governing our country. We must maintain our pursuit of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Yes, I know some will say this is very trite and pithy. It's still true.
+6 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:04
Mickeynow is wrong. President Obama is not right of center. If he were, he would not have been elected twicc. This country is not right of center so it is not a place to look for real leadership.

History has shown us that second terms are what define the legacy of a President. Thus, it is now inevitable that President Obama will be credited as one of the great progessives in our national history. He has the American people behind him and a decayubg Republican Party.
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:27
No, I'm sorry, FL Democrat. You don't have your facts together. Obama is a corporatist and a global player. That means he does what is best for corporations, not what is in the best fiscal interest of We the People. You are confusing crumbs from the Social Issues table with best fiscal interests of 99% of working Americans.
0 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:24
#mickeynow >>"But, until we see that Obama is clearly right of center and has done any number of things that appear to be very republican in thrust, we shall not be able to focus on regaining our liberties lost so far."
-8 # joedeane 2013-01-27 06:12
I usually admire Reich's commentary, but not this time. He states the opposite of the truth. Obama has saved these Republican neo fascists from their own destruction. Bush and Cheney and the neo-cons were hated by the end of their second term, Instead of prosecuting them and dumping them in the ashcan of history, he elevated them by adopting their anti democratic, unconstitutiona l policies. Obama is worse than Bush in his covering up Wall St fraud and doubling down on torture and imperial expansion. The man is a true con. So what if he wants more bucks from the super rich. He needs them to continue with the fascist attempt to rule the world.
+6 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:07
joedeane is wrong. It is impossible for anyone to be able to save Republican Neo fascists for their own self-destructio n.

There is no evidence that President Obama has covered up anything. Like a good poker player, he knows what is in the cards and he will play his cards at the most opportune time.
+4 # Glen 2013-01-27 17:13
There is plenty of evidence of what Obama has done and will continue to do. The two parties are merging under the guise of the republicans killing themselves.

Do some serious research on Obama and his policies and laws, and then tell me he is not covering up and going with the neo-con agenda.
+2 # Michael_K 2013-01-29 11:09
exactly so, President Cheybama, that's what we got.
+2 # Merschrod 2013-01-27 07:39
Allen is asking sound questions! I'd give him many thumbs up.

The general mass of liberals writing here seem as delusional as the GOP thinking that that O'Bama really represents their progressive interests. O'Bama is a corporatist - face it. Where have the reforms been that have not given the corporations the lion's share? Obamacare was a gift to the unsure-ance industry. The Bail out was top down and the folks did not get diddly, and so it goes. Some one please make us a list answering Allen's questions or contradict my examples of corporativism.

(Darn - I wanted to keep tongue in cheek, but it came out!)
+5 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:11
Merchroad needs to learn history. All Presidents during their tenure are regarded as corporatists.

Reformss are on the horizon because the Republicans will not be able to obstruct as they had done in the past.

Ending the unnecessary Iraq war and setting the stage for departure from Afghanistan are the best exanokes if the abti-corportati s agenda of President Obama.

It is important to remember that the "war on terror" is the biggest corporatist scheme ever inflicted on the USA.
+3 # Doubter 2013-01-27 19:50
"All Presidents during their tenure are regarded as corporatists. "

Gee, Gosh; I wonder why...?
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:31
You've got it right, Merschrod. Obama gave away Medicare for All and sold us to the corporations under the threat of law.
-6 # Vern Radul 2013-01-27 10:41
Robert Reich is a shill for the two party scam.

Tens of millions - no, hundreds of millions - of people are still falling for the two party shell game and believing that fake corporate controlled and run WWF match-like con jobs called "elections" are real - in large part because of people like Reich, Moore, and others.

The guy who came up with the quote attributed to P.T. Barnum must be rolling in his grave laughing.

There is a myth. A faerie tale. A fictional story of a functional two party system in which the the two brands legitimately oppose each other and present legitimate choice to voters.

In that framing Obama is "caving" to republicans.

In reality however, Obama does NOT cave.

When someone consistently and repeatedly goes along on everything with someone else whom he claims to be opposing it's not "caving".

It's the plan. The intentional plan to sucker the voters. Again.
-5 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:14
Antrmdius is wrong about Profession Reich. The two party systemn is a reflection of the wlll of the people. Learn from history. Third party movements in this nation consistently faii.

President Obama has no reason to want to "sucker the voters."
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:36
The two party system is the product of too much corporate money in the system. The Democrats became the Demorats when Terry Aucliffe, then head of the DNC, first approached the corporations for campaign contributions. The corporations contributed to buy influence and hedge their bets by owning both sides of the the show elections. Your loyalty is admirable, FL Dem, but patently ill informed and sadly misplaced.
+6 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:39
It is important to remember that the corrupt Bush/Cheney regime had ZERO indictmants for those who caused the economy to collapse.

Anyone who is so foolish as to believe that President Obama has a"socialist" agenda only demonstrates that they know nothing about the economic philosophy.

If President Obama had pledge to carry out the instructions of the Business Round Table, it would have gotten big headlines in the global media.

The only evidence of anyone ignoring reality is found in those who foolishly believed that Mitt "Flip Flopper" Romney would win in November. It is true that anyone who wasted a vote on a Republican should be ashamed on themselves.
+3 # DB Chumstick 2013-01-27 15:47
Yes, I don't see how Reich has really made the case that Obama has done anything to "unravel the Republican Party". He hasn't proven that post election rhetoric has anything to do with the precipitous drop in the popularity of the Republican Party. Fact is, for decades the RNC have been playing biased identity politics while stabbing working Americans in the back, and it has finally caught up with them. If anybody deserves credit for bringing the debate back to the interests of ordinary Americans, it is OWS. Not the Obama Administration who is already appointing Republican and Wall Street operatives to important oversight positions.
Reich illustrates the Reagan coalition accurately, at any rate.
+6 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-01-27 19:41
Obama loves the Republicans! With all this bipartisanship, they share the same agenda. He gets to do all the stuff the Republicans can't get done, but still keeps the brain dead loyal Democrats sure that their leader is trying hard against the power of the Republicans. Our elections are only a show with out any chance that the government will pay any attention to any but the richest people in the nation. For the sake of our children we must turn off that propaganda box and get out and talk to people. Read the Declaration of Independence if you want a plan for the future.
+3 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-01-28 08:38
I agree with most of what you said. Obama is a serial compromiser in order to get everyone to like him, but it doesn't work. He needs to fight for what his Party once fought for - fair treatment of working people! Besides, I heard this song, "The Republicans are Falling Apart" back in 2006 and again in 2008, but it didn't happen! Democrats too often bring their pillows to a knife fight and allow if not enable the recovery of the other side! 2014 could just as likely be a replay of 2010!
+2 # Michael_K 2013-01-29 11:08
Reich is too smart to not know that Obama is an admitted "Reagan Republican". That's from Obama's own mouth.

I'm getting very very tired of this Obama the Democrat charade.
+34 # ganymede 2013-01-26 22:56
Reich is right. The Republican Party is collapsing big time. The big question is will Obama rise to the occasion. I'm noticing that a lot of left people are with good reason fed up with Obama and are sounding as cynical and nihilistic as the rightwing idiots. They're missing the big picture. We should all be supportive of our President because with all his shortcomings, this is the opportunity we've all been waiting for. We must now hold Obama's feet and ass to the fire. I sense that's what he's wanting us to do in order to get our country back on track. The financial powers holding Obama back are as fragile as the Republican Party itself. It is really time for a change.
+3 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:17
ganymede is correct. Critics of Presidebt Obama are missing the big picture.

President Obama has gift wrapped for the American people the political structure so that they can implement the progress now needed. The Obama for American team is remaining in place and it can now be used to formulate the will of the people.
+2 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:45
I certainly hope you would be right. I'd love it if BHO would come around to finally taking care of the 99%. But in all honesty, I'm not going to hold my breath.
+2 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:43
If a Harvard law graduate with a specialty in Constitutional Law can thumb his nose at the Constitution and break the law over and over and over again, I don't hold out much hope that anything Left-of-Center will influence him. He went into office with the lint in his pockets and now he is a multi-millionai re. Whom do you think butters his bread and whom do you think he will continue to support?????
+23 # anntares 2013-01-26 22:57
Thanks Robert Reich. In his Inauguration speech, Obama spoke about fairness - but in response, Republicans howled that he was extreme liberal. I thought if we say we love democracy, we are supposed to pay at least lip service to fairness to all Americans an extreme... Even if we may be discriminating against anyone with a different race, religion, nationality, urban/rural region, gender preference, educational or economic level, we're supposed to be for fairness, equal opportunity, a level playing field ideals that Republicans seem to be destroying as they try to suppress voters, gerrymander states, dismantle legal protections for fairness, etc.
+8 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:20
anntares needs to understand that Republicans view "fairness" as a hostile concept. Thus, the Republican reaction to the President's Inaugural speech was predictable. It is just one more reason that Republicans are now on a path to becoming a permanent minority political party.
+6 # L. Sabransky 2013-01-27 00:01
I mostly agree with Allen. I can't believe the Dems will suddenly figure out how to be the party they used to stand for, not with their current leadership, anyway. And, while I think the Repubs will unravel, there are still far too many dangerous, gun-mongering reactionaries and far too many passive progressives for the balance to shift rapidly. If it does, I don't think anyone is placing bets that it will be smooth.
"Star Wars barroom." Great visual! In all that has been written to describe the pathological, toxic extremists, this really works for me!.
+2 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 12:22
Jaezing have no need to br the political party that they once were. They are still that party. However, they have had to deal with unprecedented obbstructionism so they have had to invent new strategies. The goals have not changed.

The Republican Party is their own worst enemny.
+22 # X Dane 2013-01-27 00:22
Yes Obama is smart Allen 23. For he is a STATESMAN. And a statesman DOES think several moves ahead, whereas a politician only think about the NEXT election. As he said in the SPEECH. It will take several terms, to get us in good shape, and get us to where we want to be.

"The rich reactionaries"" do not give a damn about OUR COUNTRY. It is ALL about how much money they can grab for themselves. They are not in the least interested in advancing and strengthening
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 14:57
I'm sorry, but Obama keeps playing for time. What he's really saying is, "Keep still for the fleecing while I'm in office."

Look at Iceland. They threw out the IMF (International Monetary Fund,) established their own currency and banking system and TWO YEARS LATER they are on their feet and doing fine.

There are several small things that Obama could do that would turn our economy around and in TWO YEARS we could be well on our way out of this mess but he hasn't done it and he's not going to do it because he is Right-of-Center and is a corporatist not a laborist.

All of this blind adulation and fawning all over Obama for a wonderfulness he doesn't possess only makes the Dems look stupid in their determination to make his pretty face and warm-fuzzies charm into the rock star du jour to have someone to scream, cry and faint over. Pleeeeze!
+30 # WASABIMON 2013-01-27 00:33
RONALD REAGAN--may he rot in hell for all that he opened doors to
+23 # artic fox 2013-01-27 01:07
This article in(Toronto) Star of Aug 12, 2011 shows what Republicans did & have down to this country. Here's the URL: .

Here's a synopsis:
The headlines have been apocalyptic and relentless. Unless the U.S. cuts trillions in social spending, it will go bankrupt. Unless Canada cuts billions in federal spending, our economy will go bust. Unless Toronto cuts more than $700 million in program spending, the city will collapse. We live in an age of apocalyptic crisis budgeting. Unless the most drastic social spending cuts are implemented, the world as we know it will sink into the quicksand of debt, never to reappear again. How could this happen?

During the Reagan era, a friend and former colleague, a professor of American history, was invited to the deliberations of a Washington think-tank that provided policy direction for the Republican Party. As they discussed growing the debt and increasing the deficit, he was flabbergasted: “Are you not the party of balanced budgets and debt elimination?” The reply was unequivocal, “Our goal is to grow the deficit as much as possible in order to create political space to eliminate government-fund ed programming. Until then, we want high deficits while lobbying for a balanced budget — and promoting social program cuts as the only solution.”

See the second part of this comment
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 15:01
#arctic fox:
And they keep quiet about manipulative economic models. Models that give us the saying: Bulls make money, but Bears make money, too.
+27 # artic fox 2013-01-27 01:09
Part 2 of the article from the Star paper of Aug, 12 2011:

To create this useful deficit, tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporate sectors would be dramatically increased, especially to the banking, energy and military segments. In short, one would implement a transfer of the state’s revenue supply obligations from the wealthiest to the poor and middle classes in order to permit an even greater transfer of wealth from the middle classes to the rich thereafter.

The only trick was to convince the poor and middle classes to “buy in” via a mixture of patriotism and structural necessity so that they would vote in favour of cutting the very programs that benefitted them.
+4 # JCM 2013-01-27 17:57
Great summary. Thanks
+12 # m... 2013-01-27 01:14
I agree in a general way with a lot of what you say, especially about the Democrats.
As disappointed as I am in Obama's first term and that I still tend to think what you've seen is what you will still get, I have adopted some degree of wait and see with him now.
As for the Democrats. I also have small hope in some of the newer elected members and in their energy and large support base driving the Party back closer to its post Great Depression roots. But in general, most who have been there a long time are not folks I place any degree of progressive-lea dership hope in. They stand for little or nothing as far as I can tell acting more like fearful reactionaries who became like a 'go along to get along' reelection franchise operation devoid of new ideas while living in fear of Rightwing Media and The GOP.
Old habits die hard.

I think much of what makes changing government difficult for all of us is that almost all media in America is now controlled by just a very few Global Corporate Conglomerates, all with agendas dedicated solely to the enrichment of their Wealthy Global Shareholders.
We need more Parties in Government and a far more broadly owned 'Free' Press.

Americans should ask their 'Representative s' and Obama why it is that the only Press/News Outlet in the world to show the American Third Party Debate hosted by Larry King was Al Jazeera and why this was not shown in America for Americans during an election season.
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 15:07
>>"We need more Parties in Government and a far more broadly owned 'Free' Press."
+13 # Ralph Averill 2013-01-27 03:56
The best analysis I've read on the self-immolition of the Republican party. The Star Wars barroom metaphor describing the collection of clowns and charletens seeking the Republican nomination is wonderful.
+7 # Smokey 2013-01-27 04:32
Think back to the days when - wow! - Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Problem? President Obama hadn't done much of anything. The wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and in a few other places, were still in progress. Even if you liked Obama, you may have thought, "Isn't it a bit early for this kind of praise?"

Come back in two years. If Obama and Congress have defeated the Reagan program in a big way, we'll have have a celebration.

In particular, keep your eyes on the Obama program for managing financial institutions and the Obama plan for energy.
+28 # walt 2013-01-27 07:24
Reagan's worst contribution to America was convincing many that "government is the problem." He took outrageous action against a union and even sent people off to the private sector in pensions via 401K plans. He even accomplished this with federal employees by ending Civil Service Retirement.

Bush carried the love of "privatization" even further and we saw the entire economy dumped due to his cutting those pesky government taxes Republicans hate so much.

Now we have all seen how Wall Street is our savior and government is the problem, eh? Not hardly. At least with government we get to vote!
+7 # m... 2013-01-27 18:26
30+ years of insanity and tearing apart what was the best government system the world ever knew. It was the envy of the world. It paved the way for America's great prosperity.
All of this tearing down of OUR Government and for What?
'Smaller Government'--th e relentless Conservative Talking Point to national discombobulatio n and destructive-contraction.
NONE OF IT was on behalf of Americans collectively.
It was always about GREED.
We now have 3 decades of it to assess.
30 years where we fired untold numbers of civil servants who worked directly for all us. People who made good livings with good benefits and who contributed to economic prosperity as consumers and stable neighborhoods as established residents with dependable careers. We did that in the name of 'Privatization of Government' where we systematically handed the functions of Government over to for-profit Business Contracts and Corporate Boards beholden first and foremost to increasing the wealth of their Shareholders before ALL else.
We allowed almost all media enterprises to become narrowly owned by that same mindset, by a very few Corporate Empires with the same Shareholder agenda.
We rendered OURSELVES impotent to protect ourselves from Corporate greed and We starved OUR Government damn near to death through rampant deregulation and de-taxation schemes on behalf of that same GREED.

Where am I wrong? Enlighten me please..
+2 # Doubter 2013-01-27 20:03
I don't know about you being "wrong," but as the top people already own everything; how about calling it

+5 # m... 2013-01-28 02:20

Its been all about what its always been all about since the beginning of time--- GREED and POWER.

What is the most disconcerting is that anyone over 50 can easily see it if they would only look.

What has the dismantling of Government brought the voters who have supported all this nonsense now shoveled like religion 24/7 by supposed 'News' Media?...

Just to name a few disasters:
-Privatized Government is bigger and more costly than ever and merely shifted the flow of Tax Revenue way from the greater good and into the pockets of fewer and fewer.
-Rampant Deregulation destroyed the Global Economy and the Free Press and has rendered food, water and drugs less safe.
-Corporate De-Taxation has left behind a crumbling infrastructure.
-Homelessness went from rare in America to common.
-America went from Creditor Nation to Debtor Nation.
-We ALL live under a Government run by (Global?) Corporate Lobby.

The Catastrophe List is endless..!
0 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 15:15
What good are votes unless they translate into appropriate action?

We need a government that is responsive to the wishes and wants of the people.

Most of this country is Left-of-Center, but anyone connected with the 2% have been dumping billions to convince us otherwise to have us support our worst interests.

It is past time for us to wake up to their game, get off the merry-go-round and smell the Starbucks.
+6 # dick 2013-01-27 07:39
Is Obama "reversing" Reagan's emphasis on gratuitous military spending? Is Obama reversing RR use os patriotism to empower Big Brother? Did Obama return tax rates to the Clinton era, or close to the Reagan era for the large # of people between $250,000 & $450,000? Reagan RAISED the SocSec cap; Obama offered to CUT the COLA. Obama TRANSFERS almost a TRILLION OUT of PUBLIC Medicare to PRIVATE Obamacare. Public Option decreases. RR PROSECUTED banksters. Reich leaves a LOT out.
+4 # RMDC 2013-01-27 07:53
Obama is not at all trying to dismantle Regan's legacy in the republican party. He is trying to take it over and make it the legacy of the democrat party. Reagan was not a deficit hawk. He was not against "big government" even though he said he was. He increased the debt and the size of government more than any president up to his time. All presidents following did the same thing, except for Bill Clinton who cut government spending on social programs and balanced the budget. Clinton was able to balance the budget because of a lot of help from the dot-com bubble. But by reducing taxes on investment income, other bubbles did not return any tax revenue to the government.

Obama is a neo-con. He follows right in the footsteps of Reagan. The fringe lunatics in the republican party -- the teaparty -- faction is losing ground because they are mostly white and male. Obama will lead a multi-ethnic nation down the same neo-con rat hole that the republican used to follow. It is all war all the time and all support for wall street all the time. That's the neo-con vision of amerikkka and that is where Obama is leading. Democrat and republican are meaningless categories at this level.
+20 # Wyntergreen 2013-01-27 08:14
Hey, one can only hope Professor Reich is right. Ronald Reagan and his descendants have done a magnificent job of turning this great country over to the haves and have-mores. Look at the facts, folks. In the past thirty odd years we've had republican administrations getting us into wars, creating huge budget deficits, alienating the populace from each other, and on and on, whereas when a democrat takes office, they spend massive energy trying to fix the damage, always against fearsome, partisan opposition based in greed, divisiveness, and hate. Ronald Reagan was an evil man and his legacy has been one of horror. If his brand of Republicanism is doomed for the dustbin of history, I for one say: good riddance!
+4 # Dale 2013-01-27 09:02
The dustbin of history is where Neandertal Zombies belong.
+8 # humanmancalvin 2013-01-27 09:58
The Right,, politicians & their Fox fueled followers, & the right wing media all go off on their varying paths. Thank goodness there are far to many egos involved for the right to come together in any type of coherent party. Yes they all agree that Americans have the God given right (he did write the constitution, right?) to arm themselves to the teeth with anything & everything manufactured. Yes they all think that a woman that even considers an abortion has purchased herself a one-way ticket to hell & they will even murder an abortion provider to show how much they love life. (?) On & on they agree to every harebrained conspiracy & Democratic (especially "Obongo", & we are NOT racists) laid plot to somehow harm good, decent, God fearing white folk but, here is where they will never be successful: Too many divergent views led the GOP to finally select Romney as the most viable candidate to pounce Obama. When this came to be I thanked the great Gods of political suicides as there was no way this flip flopper of monumental shame could ever be elected president. So I do not want to see the Tea Bag party die & go away as they just add to the jumbled, never get anything accomplished Blob which is today's Republican party.
+11 # Inspired Citizen 2013-01-27 10:20
The lesson of both Reagan and Obama is that a sufficiently charismatic figure(head) can pull together a coalition better than anything else in our celebrity-obses sed culture.

What we need is an issue, and overturn Citizens United could do just that. It is much less divisive than reducing gun violence, immigration reform, climate change or anything else on the horizon.

Move to amend the Constitution; get involved.
+9 # FL Democrat 2013-01-27 11:31
It is the Republican Party that is to blame for the fact that Ronald Reagan's legacy is now a part of the "dustpin".

Republicans as Governor Jindal has correctly stated are the "stupid party." They are advancing an agenda that is not one that the majority of the American people want. Ronald Reagan would not recognize the anti-science, anti-logic, and anti-common sense that is now the Republican Party.

It would useful to the future of the Republican Party if they would stop insulting the intelligence of women and minorities.
+6 # reiverpacific 2013-01-27 11:42
None of the (sadly only two) parties are what they were pre-Reagan, who used "Aw shucks" faux patriotism, B-movie acting, non-accountabil ity and simplistic jargon to fool the increasingly gullible populace and drag the whole socio-political spectrum to the right, as his UK counterpart Thatcher did resulting in Blair's "Labour-lite".
Even Obama himself has confessed that in Reagan's day, he'd likely have been a Republican. We might not like it but that was a pretty good piece of self-appraisal and you Obama-haters should remember that when you whine about him "not being left enough" -he's a Helluva lot better that the alternative offered by the reprobate party.
Even the latter-day level of debate or discussion has become possessed of a seemingly unbridgeable chasm of belligerence. I miss the days when I could at least have a hard-hitting but civilize, enlightening conversation with a conservative, exemplified by the late Willian F. Buckley, who was smart, sharp, sometimes quite funny and always fairly factual.
The owner media bears a great deal of responsibility for this decline in debate.
I'm glad that the current bunch of reactionaries is self-destructin g in their drive for a one-party system but that we on the left have to be careful that we don't seek the same. Debate and fact-airing are healthy for everybody.
Sadly Obama insists on trying to work with entrenched reactionary forces and is unlikely to drag the spectrum back to left-center.
+1 # WestWinds 2013-01-29 15:29
#reiverpacific: No, can't agree. Obama is the lesser of two evils but certainly not "a Helluva lot better than the alternative offered by the" Republican Party.

Elizabeth Warren? Yes, now she is a Helluva lot better than either of the previously offered. Let's just hope it stays that way and they don't get to her like they got to too many others.
+9 # Corvette-Bob 2013-01-27 16:24
The real problems is that the old angry white males control most of the money and power in this country and it will be more difficult to unseat them then you can imagine. They are working like little beavers to dismantle the Federal govt which they view as the enemy.
Look at the House of Representatives where they receive many less votes but still control the House. Now they are working to turn Virginia, Ohio, Penn., Michigan and Wis. into red states by changing the vote for President by limiting your vote to your Congressional District. If changeds are made as they wish they would win the White House even when they lose the popular vote. Also, the are more vigilant to vote in the off years. Consequently, they control the state governments where the rules are made. In order for the Dems to win we will need to work every year not just during the Presidential Election. An interesting statistic, is in primaries, the vote of Republicans is 65% men. For the Democrats the voters are 65% woman. The radicals come out to vote to select the candidates they they feel passionately about. That is why the Republicans are putting more and more radical candidates up for office.
0 # charsjcca 2013-01-28 16:22
What an interesting item. I wanted in 2011 to see what Mitt Romney wanted for America. I asked a question: "Tell me about your view of the Domestic Marshall Plan promoted by the late Whitney M. Young, Jr., President of the National Urban League." I wrote Tagg Romney seeking an understanding. I waited until the revealed 47% statement. When I found who was in the room that day I wrote a person known to be there, M. Anthony Burns, former CEO of Ryder System Inc, my former employer who had been Chair of Ryder for clarification. I never got a response.

The Inaugural speech by Barack Obama made a call for fellowship, both home and abroad. You might recall that the BBC in it's September polling found that must national communities supported Obama for president. They felt more trusting and Obama's call for togetherness matched their enthusiasm.

At this departure, Mitt Romney son's declaration that his father had been a failure in the campaign seems in line with the world view. We have our verdict.
0 # indianfirst 2013-01-29 14:35
Republicans, to their misfortune, followed the light to the right into those areas of social reform, primarily against women, prisoners, immigrants, LGBT, health, research using stem cells, and a number of other ways society could continue to progress. If they had let those go and stayed with governmental reforms, the tea party and several other extremists would not have made it into elected office and wound up running for the vice presidency. Now the Republicans have to start shedding those social reform areas one by one. It is going to take time but it will eventually happen. Meanwhile lifetime appointees in federal courts and the Supreme Court are still harking to the drill, like tired old evangelists.

The president has had to ride a bumpy road and in the meantime he has lost support from the left. Learning to be a true Democrat again will be a lesson for him but he should take his lessons well. I'll be waiting to see if that happens. The inaugural address was a good sign that this will indeed be the case. Let's see.

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