The Frustrati: Lost in a World of Fantasy

I’ve taken my fair share of shots at the frustrati, because they have a lot in common with the Tea Party.  That is, they both have a fantasy of what “should be,” and base their attacks and plans around the fantasy, not what is.  Their “ideal” mainly revolves around what they think is good.     One of the things that the frustrati do is constantly attack the President.  It’s a rare day when they don’t attack him for “betraying his base,” i.e.; them, or or come up with some reason he’s a failure.  You see, they know what he ran on, and he’s not doing it.   Except for one little problem.

You see, they had a  platform, and  convinced themselves that he was really running on that.   Of course it wasn’t just Barack Obama that they’d managed convince themselves about that.  In the time since late 2008, they’ve managed to convince themselves that Hillary Clinton had an even better version of their platform.   If only Hillary had won, their platform would already be installed!   They believed in fantasy, and it isn’t the reality.  If you read his actual platform, or even later editions, you’d realize something.  What he ran on is not what they think he ran on.  Matter of fact, if you look at Hillary’s platform, it’s pretty much the same thing.  It’s not what they thought it was.

That’s why I’ve been saying they’re living in a fantasy, and it’s the cause of their rage.  Instead of implementing their fantasy, he  is actually doing what he said he was going to do!  That’s not to say that he hasn’t had missteps, been unable to do something he said he was, or changed his mind on something. He has.  Sometimes I agree with that, sometimes I don’t.  But, in general, he’s been doing what I’d thought he’d do – more realistically, hoped – when I voted for him.

But I’m a realist, a (gasp!) pragmatic liberal.  I knew the problems the country faced, I’m very aware of actual political dynamics, and I didn’t delude myself for a second that candidate Obama was a “radical progressive.”   He was very much a somewhat to the left of center candidate.  Key words are italicized.   How did I know that?  I read the platform.  I read his books.  I listened to his speeches and watched the primary debates.   At no point was there anything which said he was “really a radical progressive.”

So the frustrati who complain about “bait and switch,” and being “betrayed” are just demonstrating something:  They’re idiots.   The President is not responsible for their failure to pay attention.  He’s not responsible for their inability to understand what he actually said.  He’s not responsible for their rude awakening from their fantasy to the reality.  That’s their problem, but they’re still deluding themselves in that they don’t admit it.

It’s not just their “problem” with the President that indicates they’re in a fantasy world.  It’s that they think they’re really a political force to be reckoned with.   A group which can drive policy inside the Democratic Party,  influence mass numbers of voters, and can get members of Congress to toe their line.    Capabilities that have never been demonstrated by them.  They’ll all tell you they can, they spend a great deal of time on their blogs patting each other on the back for it, but in the real world, they haven’t done it.  Ask them the hard questions and you’ll hear crickets.  Look around and see what they’ve actually accomplished, and the answer is “not much.”

I’ve said this in previous blog posts here and elsewhere, that they made threats, not promises.   The massive number of candidates they were going to recruit to primary various Blue Dogs?  Didn’t happen.  Their ability to mobilize resources and help progressive incumbents?  Not there.  Of the ones they “helped,” they either ended up losing – sometimes badly – or having the closest election they’d ever had.   They spend a lot of time on blogs telling the Democratic Party what it should be doing, but none actually working in the Party to be in positions to make that a reality.  When it comes to working to get legislation introduced and passed, they’ve been inept at best.  They don’t understand how to lobby, they can’t do simple “whip counts,” or focus their efforts, and they’ve never demonstrated any working knowledge of how Congress operates.  As Rick Ungar put it:

What progressives like Mr. Krebs consistently forget is that Obama has another virtue in addition to character – he knows how to add.

The President can manage to work out that, if he is to get anything done, he has to get a vote through the House of Representatives where the vote totals are stacked against him.

So, you ask, why didn’t he get his way when the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress?

Because the President can also add to 60- the number of votes he needs to accomplish anything in the Senate where the filibuster results in minority rule. All it takes is 41 ‘nays’ and the best-laid progressive plans go down the drain.

Which is something the frustrati never grasped.  The ability to count, and the fact that just because Democrats controlled Congress, it did not mean that there was a sudden drastic shift to the left.  It didn’t mean that members of Congress suddenly decided that they could ignore their constituents’ wishes  – you know, the people who actually voted for them – to follow the programs promulgated by a small group of “true progressives.”   Particularly in light of that group’s demonstrated inability to actually do anything useful or effective.

Those of us who live in reality understand that not all Democrats are going to be in line with whatever our current belief is.  That the area they’re from has very different needs and beliefs than where we’re from.  We understand that compromise is not a dirty word.  We understand that sometimes “perfect” isn’t achievable, but we can get “good.”   We know that if we want to influence policy, to set the party’s platforms, it means we have to do all the unglamorous work at the local level, and work our way up.   It means we understand the difficulties in getting things done, particularly in Washington.  But we live in the real world, not in the world of fantasy like the frustrati.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “The Frustrati: Lost in a World of Fantasy

  1. Eric

    Seems as if Henrik Hertzberg shares your distain for the frustrati:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2011/04/obama-cuts-his-rhetorical-deficit.html#entry-more

    love this bit:
    “And I don’t mean the disillusioned left, which is easily, almost perpetually disillusioned because it has such an ample supply of illusions.” One of the phrases that completely chaps my hide, is this notion that ‘he needs to fight’ to get X done'(X representing some pipe dream of the moment that these folks have that does not have a snowball’s chance of hell of passing congress) or the other nugget, “he doesn’t stand for anything”, a typical Republican talking point, one of a few that these so-called ‘progressives’ have adopted in their repetroire. In my estimation, they are enemies to progress and the president, and don’t want to have anything to do with them.

    • I saw that, and it really slotted nicely into what I’ve been thinking as well. I think what you’re seeing is the start of the major pushback against these idiots by the real progressives. My opinion is that for a long time the attitude was “let them rant,” that they’d eventually quiet down, or go after Republicans. When that hasn’t happened, even when faced with what the Republicans in the House and in several States are doing, it started waking up a lot of people. We’re working to regain control of the House, and keep the Presidency. These idiots are not only not helping, they’re actively hindering.

      I think Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, Adam Green, and Cenk Ugyar are going to find that they’re not going to be unchallenged anymore, and the frustrati are going to start finding out just how small a group they are.

      • Eric

        Over this past week, I have seen pieces by the guy from Forbes, as well as Frank /Schaeffer, so I believe we are having some significant effect. Operation Push Back is in full effect, we will NOT be ignored!

    • majii

      I said almost the same thing on TPV on yesterday, Eric: “In my estimation, they are enemies to progress and the president, and don’t want to have anything to do with them.” They know very little about the history of progressivism in America, don’t know the purpose(s) of progressivism, behave like teabaggers, are afraid to challenge the republicans on their flawed policies, and haven’t lifted one finger to help accomplish any of the “progressive” goals they purport to endorse.

      • Heck, back when I was still on Daily Kos, I spent some time writing diaries on the history of progressive legislation. Which they tried to say that I didn’t get it. 🙄 They had an absolute conniption fit when I asked them during the “kill the bill” chanting to tell me their plan for getting an alternative passed in that eventuality. It came to to “Plans? We don’t need plans!”

        When I looked at what they’ve actually accomplished, it turned out to be nothing. But if you ask them, they’ll gladly tell you how important they are. 😆

        • majii

          I remember loving your diaries on the history of progressive legislation! Of course, I’m a history geek and would find anything having to do with history enjoyable. It’s my belief that if one doesn’t know what has gone on before, one is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I’ve never seen so many conditioned to failure before in my life as the progressive purity squad. If they can’t make progress in great strides, they easily get disappointed and are ready to take their ball and go home. Thank goodness they aren’t the base of the Democratic Party like they think they are. If they were, none of the legislation passed under President Obama these past two years would have happened, and they’d still be b*t*hing about the way forward. You’re right, Norbrook, they do live in an alternate reality where they believe if they think it, it will magically happen just as they dreamed it would. Alas, the real world doesn’t work this way, and negotiation and compromise are not signs of weakness as they are wont to employ them.

          • Nathan Katungi

            Very well said majii! The “frustrati,” as Norbrook calls them, really do not understand the nature of American politics. The American political system was designed to make it difficult to enact revolutionary changes. No President, not even the mythical hero FDR, could get away with revolutionary changes, such as nationalizing banks and abolishing corporations. These are some the things the “frustrati” demanded President Obama to do.

          • they do live in an alternate reality where they believe if they think it, it will magically happen just as they dreamed it would.

            And they also believe that everyone who’s a progressive or a liberal anywhere in the country is going to agree with them on what constitutes “perfect.” I’ve often thought that most of them live in reliably blue urban centers (or near them), and as a consequence, don’t grasp that their ideal is not necessarily an ideal – or even a good thing – for someone who doesn’t live in that area.

          • “Alas, the real world doesn’t work this way, and negotiation and compromise are not signs of weakness as they are wont to employ them.”

            Yep…sad, but so very, very true.

  2. Nathan Katungi

    Thanks for another great piece that most sane people, who understand what it takes to achieve political results, should relate to. I especially liked your conclusion: “We know that if we want to influence policy, to set the party’s platforms, it means we have to do all the unglamorous work at the local level, and work our way up. It means we understand the difficulties in getting things done, particularly in Washington. But we live in the real world, not in the world of fantasy like the frustrati.”

    This why I was so overwhelmed by the naivety of people who urged people not vote in the congressional elections last year because they wanted to punish the President and Democrats. They never explained how defeating the Democrats would get them their pony.

    • They never explained how defeating the Democrats would get them their pony.

      It was very much a “I’m taking my ball and going home!” attitude, which ignored that it wasn’t their ball in the first place.

      • All of this reminds me of a quote I heard once:

        “They just don’t get it, do they? They just don’t get it.”

        “Those of us who live in reality understand that not all Democrats are going to be in line with whatever our current belief is. That the area they’re from has very different needs and beliefs than where we’re from. We understand that compromise is not a dirty word. We understand that sometimes “perfect” isn’t achievable, but we can get “good.””

        Certainly! And even when we get the “good”, the Greenwalds and Uygars and Hamshers keep whining that it isn’t good enough! They always want the perfect.

        “But we live in the real world, not in the world of fantasy like the frustrati.”

        Indeed. And in the real world, “sitting this election out” has had devastating consequences.

        • One of the jaw-dropping moments (from a pragmatic’s standpoint) was their reaction to the repeal of DADT. From an objective standpoint, it was a major progressive victory. From their standpoint, it was an opportunity to bitch about how long it had taken, and then to attack because it wasn’t being implemented “yesterday.”

  3. Fonsia

    For a scientific explanation of the Frustrati’s inability to see facts glaring them in the face, see this article by Chris Mooney in Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney?page=1

    Mooney uses winger examples, but his arguments apply just as much to the Frustrati.

    They can’t be reached. Really. Not until their emotional reaction to Obama has waned, which won’t happen until several years after he’s out of office.

    As I’m sure you know, the professional left of the 30s despised FDR while he was in office too, and for the same reasons (sellout! compromiser!). Once FDR was firmly in the rear-view mirror, however, and his accomplishments were impossible to ignore, they adopted him as their favorite son.

    They’ll do the same with Obama. Watch.

    • I don’t even have to go back to the 50’s or the 30’s for examples. 😀 Just look at how the frustrati now idolize Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately for them, I remember that they absolutely hated him when he was in office, and were all behind Ted Kennedy.

      Which is why any threats of primarying the President in 2012 is a joke. No one is going to take them seriously, because unlike them, people remember what happened the last time that happened.

      • True enough.

        What is even more galling is that even with the Republicans’ misbehavior on full display, the Frustrati still open fire on….the Democrats.

        Witness this pearl of wisdom from TPM Cafe–even after David Schorr writes a darned good article on the madness of Trump’s foreign policy, the first comment reads as such:

        “I’m not nearly as bothered by the Repubs moving so far to the right as I am to the Democrats following their lead, and moving in their shadow. This leaves us with a right wing government even when we elect a Democrat, like Obama. Somebody needs to move left, and it should be the Democratic Party.”

        See? It’s not the Repubs who are bad, it’s the Democrats!

        (Somebody could say something about a forest and its trees, but I think this comment speaks for itself.)

        • Eric

          See, craptacular commentary such as the one you referenced proves to me that these idiots are not progressive, nor Democrats, but puritanical dogmatists -for the Democratic Party to ‘move left’ these folks need to get real about where ‘the left’ is politically in this country: concentrated amongst blue urban areas. Go out into rural areas and try to sell that bullshit and see how far you get!

          • Heck, they can’t even sell it all that much blue urban areas, since few – if any- of them are going to do the work to be in a position to get their local party to listen to them.

  4. intp

    Another excellent post. Thank you for this site and for your regular posts. Your blog is a welcome oasis in the desert of the current media.

    Imagine how shrill these so called “progressive” voices will become when they are finally recognized by the main stream media not as the base but the extreme fringes of the Democratic party.

  5. Hey Norbrook

    This was an awesome post. I decided to post this at Jack and Jill Politics.

    You got a response from someone you tangled with before.

    http://www.jackandjillpolitics.com/2011/04/thursday-open-thread-143/#comment-188845310

    I though you may want to respond yourself.

    • Thanks. I did respond to him. Typical of him. I always get a hoot out of these idiots who bitch about what I said somewhere else. Don’t have the guts to show up here, where I’m not going to be nice about it.

  6. Bobfr

    GG and the rest of them are finding that their fantasy(ies) are being increasingly called out in a variety of venues and their duplicitous behavior is not going unnoticed. They are not and have never been grass roots, roll-up their sleeves and do the work of democracy kind of folk.

    Please continue providing your clear-eyed, pragmatic insights and thank you for yet another fine essay.

    • Personally, I’d rather use my blog space for what idiocy the Republicans are currently perpetrating, or something else that interests me. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to ignore the idiots of the “left,” particularly Glenn Greenwald, they keep popping up.