Matt Stoller,The Progressive Case Against Obama

We are back live everyone! On today’s show, Roosevelt Institute Fellow,  Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) joins Sam to discuss his new piece The Progressive Case Against Obama. Tune in at noon!

And vote for Best of the Left for the Stitcher Awards!

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53 Responses to Matt Stoller,The Progressive Case Against Obama

  1. Dr Radmanthys says:

    Welcome back!

  2. HolyCity2012 says:

    Top Obama Strategist Advises Major Corporations

  3. Tom Kludt ‏@TomKludt

    Attention everyone who can’t seem to figure out how Romney could be winning handily among inds. but losing overall:

  4. Jonathan Cohn ‏@CitizenCohn

    Romney won’t say how he’ll pay for his tax cut, so try yourself! Online calculator from @EzraKlein @DylanMatt

  5. Kaylakaze says:

    Matt Stoller doesn’t seem capable of critical thinking.

  6. juliet bravo says:

    Obama is a centrist, which more or less means someone who wants to maintain the status quo – which was set during the eight years of the Bush administration. So the criticisms are correct, but this whole conversation should have taken place back when we could have primaried Obama – even a not especially viable Democratic competitor could have at least articulated the progressive agenda and gotten that into the media and public conversation.

    But now that we have a radically conservative GOP candidate, who would take all the policies being criticized as adopted by Obama and magnify them exponentially, it doesn’t make any sense to not vote for Obama, if only as a vote against Romney. Not voting out of a sense of purity will just allow Romney to get elected. And I disagree, we have plenty of evidence of what Romney will do based on his record as MA governor and his actions in the private sector.

    Voting for a third party candidate is delusional under the current circumstances. Make no mistake, I have no illusions about Obama, and will vote with at least half a clothespin on my nose. But if the answer is organizing and pressuring whoever is in power, and I agree it is, who is going to be more responsive to that pressure, President Obama or President Romney? It’s not even close.

  7. This is why I don’t like Matt Stoller.

    I don’t disagree with him on Obama, however, I am more afraid of what will happen if Romney is elected.

    We’ve been down this road before. The lesser of 2 evils.

    This is why the down ballot is so important. We need people in Congress that are progressives or nothing will change.

    • al AirAn says:

      i don’t like him either

      • juliet bravo says:

        I am hearing a lot of arguendo ad hominem and dodging when Sam pushes him on questions. And it’s hard to characterize Supreme Court appointments as trivial if you’ve actually read history, as in the Supreme Court’s striking down all New Deal legislation during the Depression. That was resolved only by the Supreme Court backing down in the face of FDR’s threat to pack the court by increasing the number of judges, not by any judicial benevolence on the Court’s part.

        • al AirAn says:

          Stoller seemed only capable of self promotion not the case for liberalism: cannot protect liberal causes without POWER

      • digitalcyclist says:

        It is sad when we progressives only vote for the lesser of two evils – when will we ever get excited about a candidate that stands by his convictions and stops moving to the center Reich?

    • Agreed ToniD, this is just need-to-feel-superior wheel spinning on Stoller’s part. ,

      Peter Coyote pretty well shut this guy down on the same site earlier:

      I’d be a hell of a lot more impressed with Stoller if he announced some kind of “Beginning Novemeber 7th, we push PBO to the left” effort.

  8. Matt Stoller did disregard our Financial Crisis! Sam is right.

    • juliet bravo says:

      Agreed – Bush inherited Clinton’s surplus, Obama inherited Bush’s maxed-out credit cards. Plus there is always a lag between the President’s actions and its effects on the economy.

    • Everythings Jake says:

      Hogwash. This is disingenuous obamabotting.

      Matt made explicitly clear that there were signigicants measures Obama had control over in response to the crisis where he invariably chose to support the corrupted decaying corpse of American finance, and that as effective head of the Democratic pary, he was able to exercise power to that effect before he was actually elected in 2009. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism, among others, have amply documented the evidence for that case if you scroll through the past several years of postings. A lazier but equally effective and worthwhile in its own right approach would be read Neil Barofsky’s and Sheila Bair’s new books.

  9. juliet bravo says:

    Bush’s Medicare Part D “helped” seniors by eliminating the government’s right to negotiate wholesale drug prices. Unsurprisingly, the cost of drugs has increased dramatically.

  10. This idiot is worse than most of the Libertarians you’ve interviewed. I can’t believe you guys braved going to the office under current conditions just to feature this self important gasbag. PLEASE, you owe us an excellent better half.

    • juliet bravo says:

      He just sounds like someone who at one time believed in Obama’s promises and now feels betrayed and angry. He’s got plenty of company. But the rational response is to vote for and pressure Obama, because he at least wants progressive to vote for him, and Romney is catering to a completely different base.

      Will Obama deliver? Probably something, likely not much. But I’m pretty sure Romney will give the country the Bain treatment, and that will be light-years away from any progressive goals.

      Voting for a non-viable third party candidate is holding your breath until you pass out like a 4-year-old. The message the grown-ups get is that you’re a chump.

      • Well stated Juliet. He does come across as infantile, just like many on the right.

        • Just a follow up: I should have said ‘this guy’ instead of ‘this idiot.’
          He was hitting a nerve with me too.

    • Dude, you guys are too harsh. This guy was clearly sincere and well-intentioned.

  11. I don’t trust Romney at all

    Bam Obama to the left if he wins

  12. Stoller is just a traumatic brain injury away from a Dennis Miller style ideological switch to the other side.
    He would then make an great Fox News pundit. He reminds me of them.

  13. juliet bravo says:

    I actually wondered if Matt hadn’t fully considered Sam’s question as to who did he think was reading the article, wasn’t it only aimed at progressives wavering about voting for Obama, and not at conservatives since it didn’t discuss conservative policies or third-party candidates, and the logical conclusion that this thinking could only peel off unsure Obama voters in a critical state like Ohio. His reaction was emotional and defensive and I think Sam hit a nerve. Just my thought.

    • I agree. I tweeted Stoller similar. He’s young and did not consider what this would do to the older people who think differently than he does. We’ve seen more, in our time, of what could happen when you take chances that people will change. Doesn’t happen.

  14. Eric D. says:

    Stoller’s article raises “Obama’s history of personal use of illegal narcotics…” Dude, you hurt your argument by mentioning this. Plus cocaine is not a narcotic.

    • i think the strongest part of the argument. the hypocrisy is stunning and it does revolve around believing that you are better than others…..sure I was allowed to smoke mad weed when I was a kid in Hawaii, but when my kids get caught with some, they should be prosecuted…..WAIT a minute MRS LIPPY?!!@?! no idiot would say that because he knows his rich kids can get away with it, but the black kids from the real ghetto, fuck them. our some hippies who supply medical patients, fuck them. our system is corrupted with the yeast of hypocrisy…Obama needs a come to Jesus moment, real quick. I suggest he get high again.

  15. The rest of Obama’s policy framework looks very different when you wake up from the dream state pushed by cable news. Obama’s history of personal use of illegal narcotics, combined with his escalation of the war on medical marijuana (despite declining support for the drug war in the Democratic caucus), shows both a personal hypocrisy and destructive cynicism that we should decry in anyone, let alone an important policymaker who helps keep a half a million people in jail for participating in a legitimate economy outlawed by the drug warrior industry. But it makes sense once you realize that his policy architecture coheres with a Romney-like philosophy that there is one set of rules for the little people, and another for the important people. It’s why the administration quietly pushed Chinese investment in American infrastructure, seeks to privatize public education, removed labor protections from the FAA authorization bill, and inserted a provision into the stimulus bill ensuring AIG bonuses would be paid, and then lied about it to avoid blame. Wall Street speculator who rigged markets are simply smart and savvy businessmen, as Obama called Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, whereas the millions who fell prey to their predatory lending schemes are irresponsible borrowers. And it’s why Obama is explicitly targeting entitlements, insurance programs for which Americans paid. Obama wants to preserve these programs for the “most vulnerable,” but that’s still a taking. Did not every American pay into Social Security and Medicare? They did, but as with the foreclosure crisis, property rights (which are essential legal rights) of the rest of us are irrelevant. While Romney is explicit about 47 percent of the country being worthless, Obama just acts as if they are charity cases. In neither case does either candidate treat the mass of the public as fellow citizens.

  16. Pingback: 10/31 Matt Stoller, Debates the Progressive Case Against Obama With Sam | The Majority Report with Sam Seder

  17. Virginia Bledsoe says:

    The same argument that Mat Stoller makes now was made about Al Gore and that brought us George Bush! Please…
    Does he not remember that?

  18. Eric D. says:

    I’ve now listened to the interview. That’s the first time I’ve heard someone respond to good points by Sam with a simple, “ok.” Then the finale, “why are you so emotional about this?” Um, what?
    I think Stoller loathes Obamabots, who love Obama with full blinders on. I get it, I get it.
    On a different note, I don’t know how workers can repair the old, trashed circuitry in the NYC subway. It’s so old I doubt the requisite spare parts exist. Who knows, perhaps scrappy types will get it running again. It is a perfect opportunity to modernize the system, but as Atrios says,

  19. Sam, I don’t quite agree with you that there’s no downside to progressives voting third party in a solidly blue (or red) state.
    1) In terms of the media narrative several callers brought up today, increasing the Democratic candidate’s popular vote margin certainly seems to be a better strategy for fighting the idea that this is a center-right country than higher (but still extremely low) tallies for, say, the Green party.
    2) Frankly, I don’t want to encourage third party momentum – until there are the types of structural reforms (preferential voting, for instance) that could make them anything more than spoilers in the foreseeable future.

  20. Steven says:

    Just listened to this. I kept waiting for Sam to go back to Stoller’s “there are good reasons to vote for Romney, too,” comment but Stoller kept pushing his “Democratic presidents are worse for labor unions” point and it got lost.

  21. says:

    I agree with Matt’s assessment : You hyper-enlightened liberals are over-thinking this stupid election, and investing your one silly vote with a lot more drama than it deserves.
    A simple person like me will vote for the candidate who BEST represents his overall social philosophy – Period.!
    If you reject 3rd party as “delusional” and you vote for Obama under protest, no-one will ever know you were unhappy. And if you fall for the BS that paints Romney as a monster that will end America – then YOU are delusional, or a coward, or a comfortable contributor to the status quo.
    A Progressive who remains loyal to the modern Democratic Party is like a single mother remaining in an abusive relationship. Of course I cannot personally tell her when it is time to leave, but I would not call her delusional for running.

    • For one thing, a reason we talk about this – and those with a substantial audience write or broadcast their thoughts to make their case – is an attempt to leverage our ideas beyond our “one silly vote”.

      You can get into collective action paradoxes and the statistical insignificance of any one vote, even in a swing state. But ultimately it’s nothing more than all those “silly little” votes that determines these outcomes, so it isn’t something to blow off.

      • says:

        No. You are a very smart person who is stuck in a very stupid system. But you will not ‘think’ your way out of this shit spiral by collectively and gently leveraging more brilliant ideas.

        Your true job as a voter is not to send a message, or to endlessly analyze externalities until you arrive at a compromise – THAT, is the politician’s job, not yours.

        Don’t allow yourself to be shamed into helping Obama NOT lose this election. If he loses, it’s not because of you, or Jill Stein – it’s because he’s a schmuck, and does not naturally DESERVE to win. And if a Romney win happens to bring unbearable calamity to our nation then that is because a full half of your countrymen need the political education that cannot be taught by enlightened liberals, and can only be learned by historical suffering.

  22. As a transgender American I have never felt more represented by the office of president. I understand and I am chagrined by the negative policy of Obama but laying all the problems at his feet seems supercilious and against me. I have to keep my cool not to take it personally when the strides by this incumbent for transgender rights ,greater than any other president, aren’t given credence.

  23. I wanted to hear what Matt Stoller had to say, not what Sam had to say for the umpteenth time. Please don’t talk over your guests.

    • Read what Matt wrote. He laid it out with no one interrupting him there.

      After is when people commented and Sam was asking him why he wrote what he did and why he felt the way he did.

  24. Daphna says:

    Saying the system stinks still doesn’t excuse you from having to work within it to make changes. Obama himself said in his DNC speech that the people can put political pressure on Washington. The most interesting thing that Matt said was that liberals don’t have an organized response to crisis to move the politi to more progressive values. So it would make sense to foster those kinds of movements. Voting as a means to get more progressive policy would then not be the first step but one that might be better to consider further down the line of other things we should do first because like it or not, the system we have is the one we have to work with. Voting for a third party candidate is useless without laying out the groundwork first. It’s the same thing as using the act of voting for Obama and then expecting the whe sytem to suddey be different. its naive and lazy.

    If conservatives were able to insidiously and incrementally pull the country to the right why can’t the left attempt the same thing, and crying about how it’s too slow and we don’t have time for games, is just being whinny. Grow up and realize that it takes a lot of hard work and long term, big picture thinking to move a huge country and a vote in protest us not really the way to get it done. We’ve been down that road before. Just my opinion. I do want to say however that it is important to listen and consider views like Matt’s because most people don’t delve that deeply into how all the pieces fit together and if we really do want make changes these kinds of discussion are important to have if we are to come up with solutions. But they should be done years before the election, on on the eve of the election.
    We should at least now use Hurricane Sandy to continue to put climate change into the face of the deniers. Use their own arguments against them. It’s becoming a huge e inimical issue, in terms of insurance costs, forced infrastructure spending etc. if you can’t appeal to the moral cost appeal to their pocketbook. Then maybe in 2014 we can get some climate change deniers out of congress and push for better environmental policy because I can pretty much guarantee that voting for the green candidate for president will do exactly nothing to affect policy changes at the national level.

    • I agree with you. I also liked what Matt said about needing to get in place a more organized and developed progressive movement to agitate for change and be ready with “disaster progressivism” (not Matt’s words) when we see an opening for implementing more fundamental change.

      But I didn’t understand at all what he wrote in his piece about how voting third party would be “practice” for that.

  25. I agree with you. I also liked what Matt said about needing to get in place a more organized and developed progressive movement to agitate for change and be ready with “disaster progressivism” when we get an opening for fundamental change.

    But I didn’t understand at all what he wrote in his piece about how voting third party would be “practice” for that.

    • Whoops, how do I delete that? I thought the first post hadn’t worked so hit “Post Comment” again and it went up twice, the second time in the wrong place.

  26. I enjoyed hearing Sam beat-up on Stoller. He’s a petulant, fragile little thing, isn’t he?

    • Everythings Jake says:

      Not at all. He’s not as well seasoned as some on the left. And if he lets his frustration escape, it’s largely a process of having to grasp with how bad the reality is and the letting go of idealism. I notice that Sam moderating a panel where Chris Hedges was contributor, was far more deferent. Chris makes essentially the same points, the only real difference being that Chris presents better, hard to take on that level of world weariness and gravitas.

      Also Sam, to his discredit (and I like Sam) really took no pains to respond to Matt’s facts, even when pressed to do so.

      • madchen vapid says:

        Agreed. Stoller is a well-credentialed politico with a fine written record besides. His political arguments parallel consistently with his economic ones — heterodoxy and orthodoxy in university economic departments — for example. Anyone who has read his work on NakedCapitalism should be familiar with his perspective. It only seems unconventional against the tired backdrop of majoritarian, U.S. politics, policy and unfortunately — elections. How many more “lesser of two evils” arguments will Americans have to listen to before we realize that our polity is dying from the incrementalism of politicians like Barry and Mitt? Death by a thousand dipshits! Chris Hedges, Sheldon Wolin, John Ralston Saul, and Matt Stoller know the score. It’s too late to keep fucking around.

  27. madchen vapid says:

    Stoller killed! Loved it!

  28. Eric D. says:

    Stoller doesn’t mention one major casualty of Obama’s presidency. Obama’s central vision is bipartisanship, it’s being civil, it’s compromise. Obama never mentions the moving goalpost on the right, he never points out the motion of the so-called center. Instead he’s sold false equivalency — the notion that both sides have their extremes, so reasonable people should give ground and agree on the middle. This vision has de-activated many, many DEMOCRATS. It’s left them muddled. It’s left the media muddled too.
    I’m still voting for Obama, even though he’s been an awesome Manchurian president.

  29. Kim Kaufman says:

    I’ll put in my 2 cents here. I thought this was one of Sam’s worst interviews. Sam couldn’t keep it on track… and Stoller seemed sort of petulant and didn’t want to engage at all. But at the end of the day… this generated a lot of comments and controversy over the interview and the article. Probably a good thing! And I thought Stoller calling Sam “emotional” was a totally cheap and stupid shot.

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