Diary of a disenfranchised Democrat

Ok, I published this a few years ago but with the pundits hopping all over themselves to write President Obama’s most recent obituary, I thought we could use a laugh.  Oh, how the 1990s were just an era of wonderful bipartisanship and hope…


There’s been a lot of talk about how President Obama is in trouble with his base.  The narrative goes something like this: liberals are disappointed with Barack Obama’s performance.  Maybe he has been too timid, too hands-off, too much of a law professor when what we neehttp://www.alysonchadwick.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?post_id=688&action=grunion_form_builder&TB_iframe=true&width=768&id=add_formded was a scrappy street fighter, willing to go toe-to-toe with an obstructionist Congress and the wiley John Boehner and Eric “Dr. No” Cantor.  Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton would have put up with this malarky.  No, sir.

My friend, Chris Rugaber (you know the AP business writer, if you don’t read his stuff, you should start), sent me this piece: When did liberals become so unreasonable? The idea being, that liberals are never happy with anything.  I dug through my personal papers and the following represent excerpts from my journal.


Fall 1991:

Dear Diary,

My mom and I were talking about what Democrats will run for president next year.  Seems pointless to me.  George Bush is just so dang popular, what with that stupid Iraq war and all.  I like Paul Tsongas a lot but, seriously, another liberal, Greek from Mass?  That’s never gonna happen.  I said Bill Clinton is the only viable candidate.  She thinks his performance at the 1988 Democratic Convention will do him in, they did lower him off the stage and all, but I think he’s got a certain “je ne sais quoi.”  I cannot wait to move to France.  If Bush gets reelected, I am going to move there.

Winter 1992

Dear Diary,

Well, I don’t have to move to France.  Bill Clinton is our new president!  We have the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives!  I hear that means a lot!  There’s nothing stopping us now!  We are going to make health care available to everyone!  It’s a good time to be alive!  Diary, you had better not stop thinking about tomorrow!  I know I won’t!1

Spring 1993

Dear Diary,

This has been a sad time for Democrats.  We have a Dem in the White House and control both sides of Capitol Hill but President Clinton’s stimulus package went down in flames in the Senate, damn you filibuster! ( http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/22/us/gop-senators-prevail-sinking-clinton-s-economic-stimulus-bill.html) Weren’t they paying attention to the It’s the economy, stupid! message?  Hello! I remain hopeful that we can get healthcare reform through, Hillary Rodham, I mean Hillary Rodham Clinton (I keep forgetting she is using his name now!) is heading up the committee for that so I am sure it will go through.  She tried to soften her image with that cookie recipe and my mom swears by her turkey tips (hint: avoid basting by putting bacon on top — saves time and is delicious!) but she’s tough as nails. President Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience is pretty clear, I sure wish we’d stop the genocide in Bosnia.  Slobodan Molosovic sounds like a dick.

Fall 1993

Dear Diary,

I just cannot shake the feeling that we are fucking up big time here.   If we cannot capitalize on the promise of Bill Clinton, we are totally screwed.  Does he know the damage he is doing to our party and system?  Bosnia remains a mess.  When are we going to help these people?  I hear there’s going to be a new Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, I sure hope they look into Bosnia.  This crap is unacceptable.  None of my friends will even talk to me about it.  And now the crazy “liberal” media seems obsessed with some innocent investments the Clintons made a thousand years ago, I think they’re calling it white-water?  I don’t know why they are so anti-rafting.  Seems like a good hobby to me.

Spring 1994

Dear Diary,

Am so depressed.  Hillary Clinton’s health reform looks to be headed towards disaster!  They say she didn’t consult Congress enough, as if!  What has happened to our party?  I thought we had some guts but I guess not.  Man, Bill Clinton sucks.

Winter 1994

Well, the end of the world is here.  Officially.  The Republicans just took the House back — after about a million years.  The Speaker was the first to lose his seat since we had a speaker.  Healthcare reform died a painful death.  Damn senators act like they should be consulted on policy issues, how rude!  Don’t they know Bill Clinton is a D?  Stupid “liberal” media is still into that rafting crap.  Have they no lives?

Winter 1995

Dear Diary,

Have been too depressed to write.  Bill Clinton has failed us all.  First no action on Bosnia, then health care reform failure and then he was all about welfare reform.  Says that will be his big thing should he win reelection, good luck, jerk.  Thank god for Newt Gingrich.  He was so mean/whiny that he made us look good.  Shut down the government because he was pissed about his seat on AF1.  I sure wish Democrats would grow a pair.

Winter 1997

Dear Diary,

Wow. It’s been a painful few years.  When did Democrats stop being Democrats?  Sure we had a few victories but that’s all because Newt Gingrich is so stupid. And whiny.  Bill Clinton totally caved to the GOP on the last two budgets and welfare reform.  Thank goodness he won reelection, though he seems more like a Republican.  That rafting thing ended up being more of a big deal than I had thought. And now, it looks like he may have had an affair with an intern.  Question:  If you know the world is watching you, can you keep your pants on for five minutes?  No?  Work on it.

January 1998

Dear Diary,

Just got a job in the record industry (publicist for RCA Victor).  All my friends were surprised that I would pick music over politics but it has been hard to be a Dem.  Fr weeks, every day, reading the paper has been a challenge.  But then I was walking down the street and had a thought — why am I upset with Bill Clinton?  He has been a good president.  We have had a near unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.  That has been a good thing.  I am tired of being unhappy with him for stupid crap that doesn’t matter.


Ok, those aren’t really from my journals, though I am sure I wrote similar things back then.  I remember worrying that Bill Clinton was going to squander the opportunity to do some truly spectacular things with his presidency.  I could not understand why Congress resisted working with him, did they not understand that he and they were in the same party?

It is easy to criticize President Obama for being too hands off when dealing with Congress, his absence from the conversations about the debt ceiling or the super committee’s failure only reinforces the narrative and it is easy to forget that he accomplished more in his first year in office than Bill Clinton.  He also managed to get health care reform, as imperfect as it is, passed.  I would like him to be more of a fighter, to het his hands dirty a little — politics is a dirty business — but that’s not who he is.  That’s also not the person many people voted for.  I am going to try to remind myself of how I felt during the Clinton administration whenever I am tempted to buy into the narrative that says I am supposed to be disappointed in President Obama.

Top Five Political Fails for the Week of August 24, 2013


A San Diego radio station put this up as their message to Bob Filner.


Yeah, every week is a crazy one in the rough and tumble world of politics.  This is a roundup of some of the fun pundits had watching their favorite sport.  You can read that here.

And some bonus content readers here:

Near Fails:

1. Sarah for Senate?

Wasilla City Hall in Alaska

If Sarah had stayed here, comedy writers all over the country would have been denied her awesomeness. Wasilla City Hall in Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conservative columnist Bill Crystal knows what Sarah Palin needs to do to get her gravitas back (did she ever have any?).  She needs to run for the Senate!  Yes, he thinks she should run against incumbent Democrat Mark Begich in Alaska next year.

Read more here.

Now, I would like to see a Palin Senate campaign because it would be hilarious.  I write satire and it would be a gift from the heavens for me (oh, Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell, please run for something else, we miss you!) but I don’t think she has the stomach for real policy.  Quitting her day job ten minutes after she lost in 2008 made that pretty clear.  She doesn’t want to make a difference, she wants to make money.

Read more here.

This is a near fail because it’s never going to happen.

 2. Liz Cheney’s Goes Fishing

When Liz Cheney moved back to Wyoming to run for the Senate (challenging another non-liberal, Mike Enzi) she did what she thought she should do — get a fishing license.  The problem?  You need to be in the area at least a year to get one legally so she lied on her application.  She paid a fine but blamed the clerk for making the mistake (her application said she had been a Wyoming resident for 10 years).  Enzi is ahead in the polls and apparently, Wyoming residents take this kind of thing seriously.  Take home message: don’t lie on your permit applications.  Read more here.



It’s not all bad. This isn’t a political story but a win nonetheless.  Antoinette Tuff’s quick thinking saved the day when a gunman entered a school in Georgia.  This could have been Sandy Hook all over again but it wasn’t.



Enhanced by Zemanta

The politicians we settle for

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

Current conventional wisdom goes something like this:

Our system is more partisan and mean than it has ever been.  Politicians don’t have any interest in leading, they base their decisions on poll numbers and focus group data and refuse to tell us the truth.  Things have never been this bad.  If only the parties would nominate some qualified candidates who would put the good of the nation ahead of themselves.  None of the jokers running are at all qualified to do anything.

Whine, whine, whine.  I may not agree with Secretary Clinton‘s recent comments about women but I sure share her opinion about this.  Let’s call it whiner fatigue.  I don’t know what I hate about it the most, the whining itself or the fact that it puts me in the scary position of wanting to defend people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  I think I disagree with everything Paul Ryan has said but when someone I know  said he was no more qualified than Sarah Palin, well, no, Virginia, I guess there isn’t a Santa Claus.

Mr. Pot, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Ms. Kettle.

I think one reason we love to hate politicians is because we love to hate ourselves.  I can think of no other explanation that makes sense.  The people in our government weren’t beamed there from outer space.  They weren’t born there.  We sent them there.  We want many things from our elected officials.  We want them to be both better than and the same as us.  I, personally, want them to be smarter than me.  Statements like, “all politicians do that” are bad for a number of reasons.  These statements let our politicians slide but more than that, they let us do the same.  Plus  by expecting so little of them, and ourselves, we set everyone up for failure.

I am tired of it.  I expect more of myself and I expect more from them, it’s just that simple.  You may be wondering how this will impact my presidential pick.  You know what?  That’s a bullshit question.   I do expect more from the person who will get my vote for president but even if I didn’t, my entire view of our system does not rest on one person or one office.  My vote has the least influence in the presidential election, where I don’t even vote for the person directly.  Where it can make a bigger difference is in local elections or for members of Congress.  Now, I have no real representation in Congress but I vote for my non-voting member and so should you.

Having said that, my opinion about Barack Obama is not the point.  In fact, in one draft of this I gave the reasons I think he deserves another four years but removed them because they detract from my point.

Bottom line:  Our electeds represent us in every way.  They are reflections of us in every way as well.  We need to own that and move on if we expect to change anything.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Seriously, things have never been this bad in the history of the world except of course when they were.  My career got its start during the Clinton administration.  You know, that rosy time when Democrats had everything they wanted and the economy grew so much that all over Washington people greeted each other with puppies and kisses.  Oh, wait, they didn’t.  (for the record, I wrote this about that time.)  Bill Clinton was concerned to not just be a bad president, he was evil.  He was accused of everything up to and including murder.  So was Hillary.  She offed Vince Foster donchaknow.  He was impeached.  Republicans alleged that as governor he ran drugs and guns into his state.  As president, the nefariousness just never ended.

So now, things are bad.  Congressional districts are becoming increasingly radical.  Members of Congress go on the record to say they will never use the word compromise, ever.  Congress used to stay in Washington over the weekends but now they go home.  We don’t even get our news from the same sources.  My side watches our news and your side watches yours.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say you have a right to your own opinion but not your own facts but that may not be true any more because we literally cherry pick our facts.  Yet, whining about this is still whining.  It might feel good at the time but unless you’re going to get out there and do something to change the tenor of public discourse, shut up.

Bad people get sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote…

That used to be my outgoing voicemail.  I went on to give information about polling places and a number to register to vote.  We are an apathetic country and this is actually a sign that our system is working vs. not but that it doesn’t excuse not voting.  Not even a little bit.  And if you don’t vote and then come whine to me about government, the shit storm that comes your way is your own damn fault.

If you have made it this far, you might be wondering why I wrote this.  I get just as fed up and upset at the state of affairs in this country as anyone but as bad as our system can be, it still beats most of the other systems on the planet.