Friday, September 28, 2007

Why It's So Important that Hillary be Defeated

I have refrained so far from explicitly coming out in favor of any Democratic presidential candidate, or of explicitly bashing any of our presidentials. In fact, many may remember my post I would work hard for a Hillary/Lieberman ticket, in which I took the position that getting Republicans out of the White House was too imperative to allow intra-party fights to sour our work ethic and enthusiasm.

But now I must insist on the importance of explicitly coming out against the Hillary juggernaut. As is obvious from observing the recommended list on any given day, many here are already boosting their own preferred candidates in a hope of defeatign Hillary for the Democratic nomination. But the majority of progressive bloggers here and elsewhere are taking more of a wait-and-see approach to this primary--partially, I am sure, in a desire to avoid the sorts of meltdowns that took place in the wake of Howard Dean's narrow loss in the 2004 primaries.

The first reason for my change in attitude about this election can be found in my post from yesterday titled The Time for Radical Change is NOW. As much as America cannot afford 4 to 8 more years of Republican leadership, America cannot much better stand 4 to 8 years of middling lack of leadership on ticking time-bomb issues that require immediate, radical attention: reversing the income inequality gap, significantly curbing carbon emissions, and defunding the military-industrial complex (which includes, of course, withdrawing troops from Iraq.)

But the second reason is one that strikes close to home for the netroots: if Hillary wins, it will not be seen as a victory for both progressives and Democrats, or a mandate for progressive values. No matter how far to the left Hillary tacks in the primary to make herself seen as a viable agent of change (laughable as that may seem to us), her eventual victory will be seen as nothing less than a huge slap in the face to the netroots progressive movement, and a vindication of DLC ideology.

If you doubt this, look no further than today's preening and repulsive column by Washington darling David Brooks in the New York Times. In the tauntingly titled "The Center Holds", Brooks takes the opportunity to disparage the entire progressive movement and the netroots by using a single cudgel: Hillary's increasing lead in national Democratic Party polls.

In the beginning of August, liberal bloggers met at the YearlyKos convention while centrist Democrats met at the Democratic Leadership Council’s National Conversation. Almost every Democratic presidential candidate attended YearlyKos, and none visited the D.L.C.

At the time, that seemed a sign that the left was gaining the upper hand in its perpetual struggle with the center over the soul of the Democratic Party. But now it’s clear that was only cosmetic.

Now it’s evident that if you want to understand the future of the Democratic Party you can learn almost nothing from the bloggers, billionaires and activists on the left who make up the “netroots.” You can learn most of what you need to know by paying attention to two different groups — high school educated women in the Midwest, and the old Clinton establishment in Washington.

The reason, says Brooks, is Hillary's lead in the national polls--which stands in opposition to the prevailing preference of the progressive blogosphere and many of the educated activists in Hollywood and elsewhere. Meanwhile, says Brooks, the DLC is still firmly in the driver's seat when it comes to making policy in the Democratic Party:

Clinton has established this lead by repudiating the netroots theory of politics. As the journalist Matt Bai makes clear in his superb book, “The Argument,” the netroots emerged in part in rebellion against Clintonian politics. They wanted bold colors and slashing attacks. They didn’t want their politicians catering to what Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos calls “the mythical middle.”

But Clinton has relied on Mark Penn, the epitome of the sort of consultant the netroots reject, and Penn’s approach has been entirely vindicated by the results so far.

In a series of D.L.C. memos with titles like “The Decisive Center,” Penn has preached that while Republicans can win by appealing only to conservatives, Democrats must appeal to centrists as well as liberals. In his new book, “Microtrends,” he casts a caustic eye on the elites and mega-donors of both parties who are out of touch with average voter concerns.

Fourth, the netroots are losing the policy battles. As Matt Bai’s reporting also suggests, the netroots have not been able to turn their passion and animus into a positive policy agenda. Democratic domestic policy is now being driven by old Clinton hands like Gene Sperling and Bruce Reed.

Moreover, Brooks argues that in spite of the lip-service Democratic politicians may offer the netroots, the kowtowing and cowardly votes that the Congressional Dems make are reflective not of fear of Republican retaliation, but rather of their own (outdated) views of the electorate.

The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.

My point here is not to argue with Brooks' self-satisfied pompous idiocy. It would be too easy to point to polls showing that voters prefer Democrats to Republicans on handling terrorism. It would be too obvious to point out that the electorate can no longer be described as conservative, or that the views of the public do not reside in vaccuum, untouched by recent events and experiences. It would be too simple to point out the victories of self-described progressives and the losses of DLC dems in 2006, or to indicate that Clinton's strong name recognition among those who barely pay attention to politics may be helping her significantly--especially since the attack ads haven't yet begun. It would be too facile to demonstrate that preference for presidential candidates is dependent on a variety of factors, arguably the least important of which is specific policy views.

None of that is the point. The point is that in the noxious air of Washington, D.C., in which the major decisions are made, people like Brooks will misguidedly see a Hillary victory as a reason to breathe a sigh of relief and remain comfortable with a lack of serious change in the way business is done in American government. Regardless of the reality of the situation, Hillary's inauguration will be nothing less than confirmation of the prevailing wisdom of the status quo--just with a little less swagger and explicit giveaways to Wall Street, the oil industry, and military contractors.

Hillary, unfortunately, has made her stance clear--and that tiger isn't going to change its stripes. She is the DLC candidate, and she is intending on staying that way. And as far as she has swung left in order to capture the Democratic primary, she'll swing just that far back to the center in the general election, working under the misguided theory that she must do so in order to appeal to "moderate" voters (who, by and large, actually stand to the left of the Party overall on most issues).

And because she has chosen that strategy, the actual repercussions of her hypothetical victory are beyond the control of us, the Congress, or even Hillary herself. The message that will be sent to America at large is that while Bush's excesses will be gone, nothing major will actually change--and "the adults" like Broder will still be firmly in charge.

For that reason, if for no other, there can no longer be any ambivalence about Hillary's candidacy among the netroots. This is not an issue of some better and some worse candidates from among a good field. The battle has been pitched by the Beltway class: either she wins, they get vindicated, and we lose--or we win, she loses, and people like David Broder are forced to explain just what happened to their precious conventional wisdom.

There's just no other way.

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The Time for Radical Change is NOW

I want to make a frank admission today: I'm beginning to lose faith in the power of political change. I'm beginning to lose faith in the power of activism. I don't feel like blogging, or supporting candidates, or uncovering the latest Republican scandal (though there seems to be a new one every day.) Attempting to shame the media once again into reporting some real news with regard for the actual truth, instead of serving yet again as a corporate infotainment venue, seems a notion so futile at this point it's almost quaint. I certainly don't see why I should bang my head against a wall hounding some braindead Democratic politician to support the most obvious, politically popular and strategically astute pieces of legislation.

I'm losing faith because the timelines even of progressive bloggers are too damn slow to make a difference. I'm losing faith because the minor changes being proposed to the way we do business as a nation are going to be utterly overpowered by the radical changes that will be forced upon us by external necessity. The time for demanding radical change, in short, is now--or there's little point in being politically engaged.

The principal reason for this goes to the very heart of why we have a government. The government exists for the purpose of long-term planning: primarily to protect its people from the byproducts of their own shortsighted ignorance, greed and stupidity, and to provide services that the people could never provide of their own accord without the benefit of long-term planning. Left alone and unregulated, the "free market" will accrue wealth and influence among the very few, whose shortsighted greed eventually causes a democratic system to collapse into oligarchy and tyranny--just as surely as the lack of an urban police force will cause the rise to power of criminal gangs and mafias. Without the influence reality-based, far-sighted thinkers, society is doomed to lurch from crisis to crisis, and entire civilizations to the cyclical rise and collapse that seems depressingly endemic to the human condition.

Today, any intelligent attempt at long-term planning for America and the world literally cries out for radical change. By any objective measure, the time for drastically changing the way we do business in this country is already well past due--and the gulf between what is seen as politically feasible, and what we need to do to save our skins, is simply enormous. Let's look at the issues, shall we?

The Climate Crisis

With every new emerging report, our deadline for acting to mitigate the climate crisis draws shorter and shorter--and the effects of failure to act become more and more severe. With every new report, the predictions of temperature increases and ice melts predicted for years or even decades from now are proving to be happening already. The latest report, published in the British paper The Independent (h/t to dkos diarist Barcelona for bringing this to our attention yesterday), put it in starkest terms yet:
A rise of two degrees centigrade in global temperatures – the point considered to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change which will expose millions to drought, hunger and flooding – is now "very unlikely" to be avoided, the world's leading climate scientists said yesterday...

Two years ago, an authoritative study predicted there could be as little as 10 years before this "tipping point" for global warming was reached ...

"Even if we achieve a cap at two degrees, there is a stock of major impacts out there already and that means adaptation. You cannot mitigate your way out of this problem... The choice (now)is between a damaged world or a future with a severely damaged world."

It's not just that the climate is changing increasingly for the worse: the rate of detrimental change is rapidly increasing. Even if we made major legislative changes today, it is unclear just how much effect we would be able to have on the problem by the time those changes in the law resulted in changes to corporate and popular behavior.

Certainly, if we wait until the expiry of George Bush's term in office, the effect will be that much more muted, and the problem that much more severe. If we wait over a decade until we have courageous progressives in office (and presuming that cyclical political winds haven't shifted back in conservative directions by then), the train will have already left the station with no hope of recall. And none of this even gets into the problem that controlling our own behavior is only the first step: putting pressure on China and other nations in Asia to do their part is also necessary to deal with the crisis--something that can only be done once we have the credibility and moral high ground on the issue to make any demands.

Meanwhile, our Democrats can't even put increased CAFE standards or a decent feebate system into their latest energy bill. Unbelievable.

The Economy

The Republican Party has so screwed over the American People that it is difficult to know where to begin, or even what measures to take in attempting to mitigate the problem. The upward redistribution of wealth in the United States has occurred at such a rapid pace over the last 25 years that it is genuinely surprising that there is a middle class left. Certainly, Bill Clinton was no economic saint, as he did less than nothing to stem the collapse of the American manufacturing sector or to close the increasing gap between rich and poor. Even so, he left us with a balanced budget and huge economic surpluses--in spite of the landmines and booby traps left for him by the Republican Congress.

Meanwhile, the economic surpluses and strengthened middle class left to us by Bill Clinton have been transformed by Reverse Midas Bush into massive deficits, a huge national debt, and an American Dollar now being sunk into an inflationary spiral in a vain attempt to mitigate the housing and liquidity crisis caused by (surprise!) a shortsighted and greedy lending, banking and finance industry. Not, of course, that America has an exporting sector left to take advantage of a weak Dollar. And, of course, the Republican Party, aided and abetted by spineless Democrats, have ensured that declaring bankruptcy is now next to impossible.

The only real economy left now is that of the Plutonomy: as long as the rich spend money like water and the American middle class goes deeper and deeper into debt, the GDP continues to hum along nicely even as the system itself hollows out like a rotted tree. As I stated in my post The Economy of the Rich, by the Rich and For the Rich, all the industries that cater to the wealthy are performing beautifully, even as the rest of us take the dregs of what they provide and struggle (usually underemployed) in recessionary conditions. It was difficult to know whether to laugh or the cry as I watched CNBC yesterday, and the commentators were expressing shock that rising energy prices didn't seem to be having a dampening effect on economic growth: the idiots who currently run the system don't seem to understand the economics of a Plutonomy--if only the rich are driving economic growth, little things like rising energy costs that don't affect them, won't affect economic growth.

What is required to even attempt to fix this situation is a far-sighted plan to reward work instead of wealth, to reverse the trend of income inequality, and to invest in the sorts of biological and energy technology fields that will provide the good jobs of the future.

Obama and Edwards have each come out with some good-looking plans to accomplish some of these things. The problem (beyond the fact that neither of them, unfortunately, looks set to win the Democratic nomination) is that by the time they take office and fight to pass some of these programs through Congress, it will already be late 2009 or 2010: far too late to undo the damage occurring to the American Economy at incraesingly rapid pace.

The War

It is obviously important to stand and fight to end the Occupation of Iraq as soon as possible. And yet, while the Senate and the President bicker over just how many American troops stay in Iraq and for how long, the bigger and much more important picture is going completely unaddressed. While progressives fight to end this war/occuaption, we are leaving ourselves completely vulnerable to going into the next war on the slightest pretext or excuse.

Progressives are failing to address how we got dragged into Iraq in the first place. Anyone who has read American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips and Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson knows that we are in Iraq for two reasons: 1) to protect oil resources, and 2) to help perpetuate the military-industrial complex.

As long as America continues to be hopelessly dependent on oil, and as long as America continues to increase the amount of money and the size of its economy dependent on warmaking (the film Why We Fight is a must-see on this topic), America will continue to wage oil wars overseas. It might be Iraq today, but it will be Iran tomorrow. Or maybe Venezuela. Or maybe a Caspian nation. Or perhaps an oil-rich nation in Africa. Heck, maybe even China a decade from now.

Until and unless we make the major structural changes and bold moves necessary to decrease military spending, create an Apollo Program for new energy, and devolve the military-industrial complex, Iraq will be just one in a long series of expensive and crippling oil wars that bring our nation to its knees just as surely as the overreaches of the Roman and British Empires destroyed their ability to thrive and function.

And yet, as things stand politically today, the popular move of withdrawing forces from Iraq is seen as too radical a goal to achieve, while reducing military spending is seen as political suicide. If that is truly the case, then there is little point in political advocacy on foreign policy: by the time we wait the decade or two we need for real progressive leadership, Americans will already have endured two or three more destructive oil wars. By then, it will be too late.


In short, the stepping-stone changes we as progressives are attempting to make in American politics are too little, too late. We don't have five, ten, twenty years to do something about global warming, about the hollow economy, about the oil-military-industrial complex.

The time for demanding radical change and serious guts from our politicians is now. Small-scale gains and trading out Republicans for Democrats on a case-by-case basis, election by election, isn't even close to enough. We need major, serious change--and quickly. We need the current crop of Democrats to stand up and fight; we can't wait another ten years.

Otherwise, the long-term planning required of government will be superfluous: the painful changes that are demanded of us now, will be forced upon us tomorrow or else we, as a democratic nation, will fall into the dustbin of history. Either way, it won't be pretty.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Economy of the Rich, by the Rich, and for the Rich

As anyone closely following economic news knows, the American economy lost 4,000 jobs in August, even as analysts had expected job gains of over 100,000--a fact that caused tremors in the markets, even as fed bank presidents played down the results as a temporary aberration from a strong economy.

These assertions of a strong economy are based on a variety of misleading indicators, but principally rest on retail sales and consumer spending. As Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank president Dennis Lockhart said today, the recent bad news

should be evaluated with recently positive reports in retail sales...readings from July show that consumer spending remained strong.

Ignoring for a moment that heavy retail spending by the American consumer is only made possible by increases in consumer debt, it is important to note that consumer spending accounts for 70% of U.S. GDP; if Americans slow their spending significantly, the consequences for the global economy would range from harsh to dire.

The only problem is, consumer spending is propped up almost enitrely by the rich, while the middle class and certainly the impoverished struggle on valiantly in conditions that are little different from those of a recession. This disturbing but unsurpising phenomenon was reported on this Friday in a fantastic article by Daniel Gross in Slate, titled Will the Rich Save the Economy? The full article is fairly short and well worth the read--it's dificult to pull the juiciest parts and still fall within fair use. As Gross says, the incomes of the wealthy have increased dramatically; with those increases have come a concomitant rise in spending at the shopping venues they frequent.

First, the incomes:

And how are the rich doing? Quite well, thank you. Median income has been stagnant lo these many years, as the Census Bureau reported last month, and it is still below the level of 1999. But as David Cay Johnston reported (article purchase required) in the New York Times last month, people making more than $1 million "reaped almost 47 percent of the total income gains in 2005, compared with 2000" and "received 62 percent of the savings from the reduced tax rates on long-term capital gains and dividends that President Bush signed into law in 2003." Jonathan Chait's excellent new book, The Big Con, smartly argues that such outcomes are the intentional results of economic policies designed to redistribute income upward. (Few members of the Bush economic team will cop to the intent.)

Actually, I can verify this intent with more than just numbers. I had the personal opportunity to hear Commerce Secretary Gutierrez tell an audience of CEOs and CFOs in Washington D.C. (more on this to come in future posts, I promise) last month that he viewed it as the federal government's job to allocate as much capital as possible in their hands in order, ostensibly, to spur investment and growth in the global economy. Most progressives would argue that this upward redistribution of wealth is pure theft by Republicans to reward themselves and their wealthy donors. I am convinced, however, that it goes beyond even that: Republicans, by hollowing out the middle class economy, have created a situation wherein the rich must continue getting richer, or else the entire economic house of cards will collapse on their heads. Consumer spending is the most prominent example of how the rich are the only ones keeping the American economy from sputtering into the ground. After all, even as sales figures from mainstream retailers such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Sears have faltered, retailers catering to the wealthy are booming:

At Saks, same-store sales in August were up a stunning 18.2 percent; at Tiffany, same-store U.S. sales rose 17 percent in the second quarter. Indeed, luxury retailers are in an expansive mood. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week (subscription required) that "this year, some 30 high-end retailers have opened boutiques in Austin [Texas], including Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, David Yurman, Louis Vuitton and Burberry." These stores are located in a new mall anchored by Neiman Marcus, where same-store sales rose a healthy 4.6 percent in August. Among the strongest performers: "designer handbags, shoes, designer jewelry, women's fine apparel, and men's."

This phenomenon has been written about extensively, of course. My favorite term for it is Plutonomy: an economy that is driven by and/or that disproportionately benefits wealthy people. In a plutonomy, energy prices or unemployment numbers have muted impact on overall consumer spending, since they don't significantly affect the wealthy. In a plutonomy, retail sales in mainstream stores fall, but consumer spending remains "strong" due to heavy spending on ultra-expensive items and niche investments. In a plutonomy, asset bubbles that fall in the general market continue to rise in the tony markets. Another such example of this plutonomy, as Gross says, is in real estate:

Nationwide, the housing sales market may be a bust. But the Journal reports (subscription required) Friday morning that while many California housing markets suffer, "[e]ye-popping sales are spreading along a 40-mile stretch of southern Santa Barbara County." In July, sales in the area, "the only region of California where the median sales prices surpassed $1 million," rose nearly 28 percent. Publicly held home builders that cater to middle-class buyers are faring poorly. But the very wealthy are still building. This 50,000-square-foot home under construction in West Hartford, Ct., is worth 20 starter homes—and probably more, given the amenities. Or take personal transport. While auto sales are down, "the market for private jets is stronger than it has ever been," said Richard Aboulafia, analyst at the Teal Group. Economically speaking, a Gulfstream G550, which is made in the United States and goes for $48 million, is worth the equivalent of 3,200 Ford Focus coupes, which go for about $15,000 each.

This is the product, of course, of a redistribution of income and economic power from the middle class to the wealthy--a redistribution that has been taking place on massive scales virtually unabated since Reagan, and accelerated under George W. Bush. This trend has been partly due to the pressures of global trade, but mostly due to an intentional scheme of income displacement fostered and brought about by hyper-conservative and corporate ideology. Reagan, Bushes I and II, Norquist, Gringrich, Rove and corporate K-street have conspired each in their own way to create an economy in which Main Street is no longer connected to Wall Street--unless, of course, Wall Street suffers major losses. In that case, Main Street becomes a Brazilified place of increasingly disquiet desperation.

And that is exactly what we are in danger of today. While the American middle class suffers in a recessionary environment, the only things that continue to prop up the house-of-cards economy are the stock market and real estate gains of the wealthy. The stupidity, greed and sheer incompetence of the uber-rich and their Republican allies, however, has resulted in exploitation of the middle class through the very credit and mortgage ponzi schemes that are now causing such fear and even panic in the financial markets. Add poor employment numbers, a declining dollar, an unpopular, expensive and disastrous foreign occuption, huge trade and national deficients, and slow mainstream retail sales to the list of economic downward pressures on the investment markets, and the situation becomes even more precarious.

In the old days, if stocks lost significant value, the country could count on the resilience of the American middle class to absorb Wall Street's shock and excess, take cuts, send more family members into the labor force and rely on savings during periods of income instability. No longer. Now that the entire economy, such as it is, depends on the spending of the very wealthy, it is almost unthinkable to imagine what will take place once the trust find kiddies lose their trust funds and the rich get spooked by evaporating paper wealth. And yet here we are.

But that's what you get when you create an economy of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hear me on Meet the Bloggers

Just got off a great Meet the Bloggers show hosted by Joh Padgett, where we discussed Iraq, the presidential candidates, and the shaky state of American Democracy. Give it a listen!


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hear nyceve LIVE @ 8pmEST talking healthcare w/ me & clammyc!

You've read her magnificent diaries time and again on the rec list over at Daily Kos--now hear nyceve in her own voice talking about this all-important issue with me and clammyc tonight at 5pmPST/8pmEST on BlogTalkRadio!

As many here may already be aware, clammyc and I have regular internet radio shows every week on BlogTalkRadio which we also post to our radio blog Political Nexus. In addition to our regular shows Framework and Don't Hijack My Thread, we also do hour-long interviews with netroots candidates and bloggers: click the links for our interviews with Digby on Impeachment, Armando on the first Iraq Supplemental this year and MSOC on abortion.

Tonight will be nyceve's turn in the spotlight to talk about the failed American for-profit healthcare system. Among the issues we will be touching on include:

  • Personal stories from nyceve's professional experiences in medicine
  • nyceve's panel at YearlyKos 2007 in Chicago
  • Michael Moore's Sicko
  • recent actions by the American Cancer Society
  • the benefits and drawbacks of various solutions to the growing healthcare crisis in America
  • and much more

Again, don't miss this opportunity to hear nyceve in her own voice live on Blogtalkradio. Click here tonight at 5pmPST/8pmEST to listen to the show, or you can come back later and get the interview off our blog at Political Nexus.

See you there!

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Top 4 GOP Candidates Refuse "Moral Values" Debate

Much as tonight's laughable GOP debate has garnered media and blogosphere attention today, it may have been easy to overlook yet another telling GOP debate story: the snubbing of a social conservative so-called "values voter" debate. This debate, scheduled for September 17th and hosted by ultra wingnutty (I refuse to provide a link), will be attended by most of the 2nd-tier contenders for the GOP nod, but will be avoided by McCain (though he's pretty much 2nd-tier now), Romney, Giuliani and Freddy.

The Murdoch-infested New York Sun has the story:

If self-styled "values voters" have felt snubbed by the Republican presidential candidates this election season, that snubbing is now official.

Mayor Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Senator McCain are all declining to participate in a September 17 debate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that's being hosted by an umbrella social-conservative group called Social conservatives will be upset; other conservatives might well be heartened by the waning power of the religious right.

A number of second-tier Republican candidates have confirmed attendance at the event, according to the news site, whose editor, Joseph Farah, is slated to moderate the debate. They include Rep. Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Senator Brownback, Rep. Ron Paul, and John Cox.

Much as the top-tier GOP candidates scrambled tonight to please the Neanderthal Christianist mirror-image of the Taliban that comprises an increasingly large portion of the Republican base, their refusal to attend this event was extremely telling: several major players in the Christian Conservative movement including anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly will be asking questions, and the debate will be streamed over the Internet and on satellite television. In many ways--from media coverage to political environment (strong activist base), failure to attend this debate would be similar to a Democratic candidate refusing to attend YearlyKos. It's a duck of extremely significant proportions.

Not that Rudy McRomneyson aren't stuck between a rock and a hard place:
Without any of the top-tier candidates in attendance, the debate is unlikely to garner much attention from the mainstream press. The question is whether skipping the debate will hurt the Big Four more with the base than attending it might have hurt them with the rest of the country. Given the agenda of those who will be asking the questions-- anti-abortion, anti-stem-cell-research, anti-judicial-independence, anti-immigration, and pro-censorship--it's likely the Fantastic Four made the right decision.

While they may have saved themselves from the stinging questions from these nuts, they haven't escaped the wrath of the base for evading the forum. Just look at the thread over at FreeRepublic:

Freeper Sun:

What a bunch of chickens.

Now we know that Rudy McRomney are part of the RINO establishment.

Freeper puroresu:

If social conservatives are losing power in the GOP, then the GOP is history and we’ll be a full socialist nanny state in twenty years.

Freeper jsdude1:

Lets see the Republican Party (and their liberal donors) Win without Christians..I WILL ACTIVELY PORTRAY THEM AS TRAITORS/AND CAMPAIGN FOR THE CONSTITUTIONL/LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE-AGAINST THEM!! If they support a liberal RINO as Republican POTUS Standard Bearer-08.

Freeper Man50D:The Republican party has been incrementally replacing Conservative core values with Socialism for many decades. Conservatives are the minority RINOS because they have been pushed out of the party. Consequently the GOP and the Socialist Democrats are essentially one party. Conservatives only logical alternative is to leave the GOP and unite with the large number of unaffiliated Conservatives.

Freeper AD from Springbay:

If this: GOP Candidates Snub Social Conservatives is true in September of 2007 then this: GOP Candidates Fail to Win Election in December 2008. As a 'social conservative' I'm tired of being a Republican step-n-fetchit.

Of all the candidates to take heat from the Freepers, however, Freddy seems to have come off the worst, because he would have been expected to attend:

Freeper GhostofFreepersPast

That’s a deal breaker for me. Fred is on my won’t vote for list rigth along with Rudy McRomney. Game time is over. These are the issues I take most seriously.

Freeper puroresu:

Fred should participate. I don’t understand why he’d avoid this. The other three have good reason for being busy elsewhere that night.

Now, it is true that some have with some reason argued that the major candidates cannot attend every forum--but with base conservatives already worried that the probable do not respect them or their "values", every evasive move like this carries increased significance. Personally, I think it's extremely enjoyable to watch the "moral values" party of Vitter, Craig, and Mark Foley excoriate their head candidates as they attempt to dance on the head of a pin.

Pass the popcorn!

Also at MLW

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