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Sunday, September 25, 2016

MORELAND HILLS, Ohio — If anyone can testify to the problem of giving really rich people a chance to tilt the political playing field, it’s Sen. Sherrod Brown.

A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him went somewhere over $20 million this week.

Brown can live with that. His uncompromising advocacy on behalf of workers, toughness on trade, and progressive policies on a broad range of other issues have allowed Brown to build a formidable organization across Ohio, and a large cadre of small donors.

“That organization is there,” he said in an interview before he spoke at a fundraiser in this Cleveland suburb, “because they have a candidate who stands for something and fights for something.” Brown has stayed ahead in his race against Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel so far, although the polls tightened this week.

I spoke with Brown a few days after President Obama’s unfortunate first debate, and the contrast between Brown’s approach and the president’s was striking — even though Brown, a loyal Obama supporter, did not bring it up himself. Letting down his guard just wouldn’t occur to Brown.

Indeed, his analysis of why Democrats were routed in 2010 combines a clear-eyed view of the condition of the country at the time — “There was no evidence by the 2010 elections that things were getting better” — with a belief that his party must always be prepared to make its case. Leading into 2010, he said, “we let them get away with too much.”

That’s not a bad description of how Democrats felt about Obama’s first debate with Mitt Romney. It’s also why their expectations of Vice President Biden in Thursday’s encounter with Rep. Paul Ryan are so high. Democrats want Biden to put their side back on offense, and Brown’s view of the argument Biden has to make was characteristic.

Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.

Democrats, including Obama, have to get over that first debate, but it does contain useful lessons that the president learned once and cannot forget again.

  • MRD1056

    Great article!!! Brown is the most targeted Senator in the nation by the Koch Brothers. He has never came off his message or stoped fighting for what he believes in. Obama could learn a great lesson from Brown. Start fighting and don’t give an inch to the extreme republican agenda. When he does this the democratic base will be energized agian like we were in 2008, if he fails to do this he will lose. Then God help us all!!!!!

  • In the next debate, President Obama needs to forget about being nice and respectful to Romney, also forget about acting presidential. This is warfare. The president needs to go in fully armed with all of the facts and call Romney out on all of his flip-flops and lies. The President needs to be on the offense and display some indignation and firmness without apologizing for anything. President Obama, when he first entered office, tried to compromise and work the Republicans. They totally rejected anything resembling compromise and pledged their allegiance to Norquist instead of the Constitution. Republicans declared war against the president yet they are trying to label the president as a divider and partisan hack. These debates are like boxing matches. The president needs to go there with his gloves on and ready to throw some hard punches!!!

    • sigrid28

      Dear Friends,
      You’ve heard about “The Longest Day”? Well, this is “The Longest Post”!

      My model for the Vice Presidential and Presidential debates coming up is a movie I watched again for the first time in many years, late at night, so I’m sure I was vulnerable to its charms. Be that as it may, “The Longest Day” (1962) holds up remarkably well fifty years later, in terms of acting (by scores of famous actors), dialogue (in three languages, with subtitles), and amazing black-and-white cinematography. In a self-reflexive way, the choice of black and white bespoke the clear-cut but formidable boundaries that had to be surmounted throughout this 24-hour “window,” as it was so often called in the film. The Germans thought the Allies could not possibly attack, because the weather was dismal for June 6th, 1944, and Allies had always attacked at daybreak in clear weather.

      Once the German officers stationed on the coast began to get some inkling of what was happening, their communications were disrupted by the French Resistance who destroyed cables, electrical facilities, and phone lines, and who also signaled to indicate landing areas manually for Allied planes and gliders delivering paratroopers and supplies behind enemy lines. Though the Germans expected an air attack, they were distracted, to their disgust, by a bevy of what they call (hilariously, in the film) “Gummi Puppen,” in English “Rupert paradummies,” which were dropped by loud airplanes and exploded upon landing. Meanwhile, live paratroopers arrived quietly, farther to the interior, under cover of darkness, and located each other using toy clickers so as not the disclose their position with flashlights, or “torches,” as the English call them. Even with these distractions and protections, one group of paratroopers landed on a town occupied by Germans and where picked off one-by-one.

      The choice of black-and-white cinematography is emblematic here as well: had their purpose been nuanced in any way, decision-making would have put the Allies into a state of chaos while attacking on so many fronts at one time. By D-Day the identity and the character of the Axis had been so clearly defined that all means of conquering it–and many sacrifices–were justified. It was no longer, if it had ever been, the difference between lies and truth. It had become the choice between one way of life or another. This was no more apparent than in the push to secure German fortifications along the coast through sheer numbers, which called for unrelenting and therefore horrifying, straight-on assaults that either routed the Germans or wore them out through attrition, accounting for the terrible loss of life for both sides during attacks on the beaches of Normandy.

      So what have we learned? As far as the debates are concerned, President Obama and Vice President Biden should not underestimate the effectiveness of surprise (7.8% unemployment after falling polls, the bad weather factor); humor (Moderate Mitt, our very own Gummi Puppen); secrecy (the 47% video, our version of glider attacks behind enemy lines ); toys (Big Bird, our answer to the paratroopers’ toy clickers that saved lives in the dark, which Big Bird–by the way–hates); sheer numbers (the minority populations growing in the U.S., like hube numbers of Allies invading while half the German troops on the coast had been reassigned); unrelenting attacks on weak points (Romney and Ryan should have to defend their myriad positions on Pro-Life and other women’s health issues); and the sheer determination not to give up the fight until capture and total defeat (for example, President Obama calling his first debate, “A bad night”).

      As they contemplate these debates, President Obama and Vice President Biden have to feel certain that they can depend on the unconditional loyalty of their troops, like Allied soldiers in transports bobbing up and down, just a mile off the shore of Normandy–Democrats who are prepared and willing to storm whatever obstacles are thrown their way at the polls, ready and eager to do whatever it takes to make their votes count in this historic election. That’s where we come in.

      • MethMouthMary

        Great post and a great movie too. I always enjoy watching it. I also like to read the stories of the many Congressional Medal of Honor winners that earned their awards on that fateful day.

        I don’t care if people think this is extreme, I really do think the current crop of Republicans really are as bad as the Nazis.

        • ralphkr

          Well, MethMouthMary, I would not go so far as to call them Nazis but there is no question that they are definitely following the Fascist clarion call. As you probably know, the Fascists believe that a nation exists to serve big business to the extent of finding slave labor to increase business profits, Socialism believes that a nation exists for the betterment of the citizens which may even entail nationalizing big business (so you can see that the word “Socialist” in the full name of the Nazi party is just as much a misnomer as “Democratic” in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea). Another common factor adopted by Fascist countries was the U.S. policy of eugenics (1920s on & adopted by 30 states) with the aim of breeding a master race.

    • MethMouthMary

      “The president needs to go there with his gloves on and ready to throw some hard punches!!!”

      You mean “gloves off”. Nail that @#st&rd Romney hard!

  • dljones

    OK for Brown to be rich but not Romney. The Democrats have a prefered rich list?

    • How old are you? Where is it stated the Democrats don’t think it’s okay for Romney to be rich. He is and that’s not going to change but you right wingers love to made unfounded, simplistic and unproveable statements. Where’s the beef dljones

    • Replying to dljones –

      Senator Brown is crystal clear to the public on every issue he discusses. He has never sent jobs overseas in order to increase his wealth. He has never wavered about the causes he backs.

      CONTRAST THAT TO THE “ETCH-A-SKETCH-MAN.” ROMNEY HAS A HARD TIME REMEMBERING WHAT HE PROMISES, BECAUSE HE CHANGES HIS POSITION EVERY TIME HIS AUDIENCE CHANGES.

      WITH ONE AUDIENCE HE BEMOANS THE FACT THAT 47% WILL NEVER VOTE FOR HIM, AND HE CAN’T WASTE TIME TRYING TO APPEASE THEM. THEN HE GETS IN FRONT OF THE NATION AND INDICATES THAT HE WILL DO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE.

      So, which statement are we supposed to accept as the truth?

      The same goes for nearly every issue he discusses.

      When Romney talks about the failures of the Green Projects that President Obama pushed, he laments that over half of them went belly up. In fact, only about 10% failed.

      HOWEVER, WHEN THE RECORD FOR FAILED BUSINESSES AT BAIN CAPITAL ARE BROUGHT UP, HE STATES THAT NOT EVERY BUSINESS CAN BE SAVED. FAILURES ARE INEVITABLE. AND THE FAILED BUSINESSES AT BAIN IS CONSIDERABLY HIGHER THAN 10%.

      THE NUMBER OF “ETCH-A-SKETCH” ITEMS IS SO VAST, NO ONE CAN KEEP TRACK OF THEM.

      So, yes, it is fine for Senator Brown to be wealthy. It is also fine for Governor Romney to be wealthy.

      I JUST DON’T LIKE THE WAY ROMNEY BECAME WEALTHY!!!

      AND I DON’T LIKE THE “ETCH-A-SKETCH” POSITIONS ROMNEY TAKES.

      • dljones

        Jim Myers:: Name me one thing Obama promised thats come to furition. His hope and change left America no hope and little change in their pockets. The mean green man is about to hit the door.

      • dljones

        You have no idea what capital growth, reconfiguration of distressed companies, and start up companies are.

    • Yep! We prefer honest humans over lying takers.

  • tokoloshi27

    Unusually Dionne has made a cogent point (albeit below the fold) when he quotes Schumer, “It would be a huge mistake,” Schumer said in a speech laying down a policy marker, “to take the dollars we gain from closing loopholes and put them into reducing rates for the highest income brackets, rather than into reducing the deficit.” It should also be noted that the true moral middle-ground would be to reduce the rates in legislation but defer implementation until the ruinous deficit has been addressed.

    However Dionne still will enjoy his fantasy life; “Obama began his political recovery after the 2011 debt-ceiling fiasco only when he acknowledged the need to confront the radicalism of the new Republican agenda. He put forward a clear alternative philosophy rooted in government’s obligation to check the abuses of the market, to invest in public goods the market won’t finance, and to offset growing inequalities.” I’m not sure Obama has experienced any political recovery after his dearth of leadership on the ‘debt-ceiling fiasco’. It certainly gnaws at me that the man we elected to provide leadership is so lacking in it. Nor has any “clear alternative philosophy” been promulgated beyond a playground whine for ‘fairness’.

    I do have to question Dionne’s statements like; investments (that presumably didn’t happen) in “public goods that the market won’t finance”. Sounds bad! Obviously he has something in mind, but as vague (and damning) as the statement is – it can only be a judgement call. How does a free market access “public good”, unless someone decides to make it unfree?

  • And GOD said, the meek shall inherit the earth!!!!. Why are billionaires putting so much money into buying an election, so they can rob from the poor. Not build roads, bridges, infrastructure, add security to our emabssies, let wall street run wild again, the list goes on and on and on!!!!!

  • MethMouthMary

    Go Senator Brown, you have exactly the right idea!!!

    All is fair in love and war. And this is a war for the future of our country. President Obama, please put all the effort you can into defeating Romney. Pretend he is Osama bin Laden. You got him, didn’t you? Well, you were the Commander in Chief and that is were the buck stops.