The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 8th, 2012: “Political Capital”

George W. Bush appears to have had a long-term “thing” about “political capital. From Slate, November 2004:

“Bush has long been smitten with the notion of getting and spending “political capital.” In December 2000, Time asked him, “What did you learn about being president from watching your father?” Bush’s answer: “I learned how to earn political capital and how to spend it.” The interview continued:
TIME: You think he didn’t spend it well late in his term?
BUSH: I think he did not. History has shown that he had some capital in the bank that was not properly spent.”


“…during an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press in 1999. Bush told Russert he would spend “capital” on his plan for Social Security.”  [Yes, we remember his cross-country “Privatize Social Security Tour” (sigh)]

W’s first press conference after his re-election, on November 4, 2004, has a couple of gems when viewed an eternity later (2012):

On “political capital”:

I feel — I feel — I feel it is necessary to move an agenda that I told the American people I would move…you go out and you make your case and you tell the people, “This is what I intend to do.” And after hundreds of speeches and three debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when — when that — when you win, there is a — a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that’s what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let’s work — and the people made it clear what they wanted — now let’s work together. And it’s one of the wonderful — it’s one of the — it’s like earning capital. … I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That’s what happened in — after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election, and I’m going to spend it for — for what — what I told the people I’d spend it on…

On the supposedly all-important Deficit:

“Q Thank you, sir. Many within your own party are unhappy over the deficit, and they say keeping down discretional spending alone won’t help you reach your goal of halving the deficit in five years. What else do you plan to do to cut costs? [emphasis mine]
PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.) Well, I — I — you know, I would suggest they look at our budget that we’ve submitted to Congress, which does in fact get the deficit cut in half in five years. And it is a specific, line-by-line budget that we are required to submit, and have done so.

The key to making sure that the deficit is reduced is for there to be on the one hand spending discipline — and I — as you noticed in my opening remarks, I talked about these appropriations bills that are beginning to move. And I thought I was pretty clear about the need for those bills to be — to be fiscally responsible, and I meant it…

The revenues are exceeding projections, and as a result the projected deficit is less. But my point there is is that — so with — with good economic policy that encourages economic growth, the revenue streams begin to increase. And as the revenue streams increase coupled with fiscal discipline, you’ll see the deficit shrinking, and we’re focused on that.”

Now, I have been puzzled about this whole “political capital” idea since I originally saw George W. Bush swagger and leer about it. Back then, the other election buzzword was “mandate”, as in “the re-election of GWB proved that he has a ‘mandate’ from the American people,” even though only a little more than half of the American people had actually voted for him. I’ve never seen Democratic Presidents utilize this reasoning; nor would I actually expect them to do so, for the same reason why I would never use the term “landslide” to describe a win of only a few percentage points.

Three questions:

-Using Bush’s “political capital” logic, shouldn’t President Obama have now earned some of his own, to spend on doing what he promised America he would do?
-Would Republicans and the TV cheerleaders at Faux News admit that President Obama had earned “political capital” to spend, since he had won a “mandate” from the people? …and…
-Will President Obama and the Democrats ignore the Republican obstructionists and actually try to spend that “political capital”?

This is our daily open thread–what do you think?

174 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 8th, 2012: “Political Capital”

  1. Bush had the House and Senate, his ‘rubber stamp Congress’ to enable him. Obama has ‘Boehner’s Bullies’ in the House to thwart him.
    If Obama wants to accomplish anything, it will be through the Judiciary. That means the Senate has to scrap the filibuster, at least for appointments, so Obama can fill all the vacancies in the Federal bench with honest judges, instead of corporate sellouts. If any Supreme Court vacancies need filling, they must be chosen without interference from Mitch McConnell.

  2. Please permit me this one brief gloating moment. From WaPo:
    “Mitt Romney began his retreat from public life Wednesday at a private breakfast gathering with a couple hundred of his most loyal and affluent campaign benefactors. The former Massachusetts governor, humbled by the thumping that ended his six-year pursuit of the presidency, reminisced about the journey and tried not to cry.”
    “Late Wednesday afternoon, as sleet fell in Boston’s North End, Romney visited his campaign headquarters for one final staff meeting. He thanked his aides and said goodbye. His Secret Service detail gone — and with it his code name, Javelin, after a car once made by his father’s company — Romney was spotted driving off in the backseat of his son Tagg’s car. His wife, Ann, was riding shotgun.”

    • Priceless and precious. Calling it so like it is.
      The RoveBaboon flinging poo was excellent, she did, however not catch a glimpse of the venomous snake that is Ruprecht Murdoch, slithering in the background.

  3. I think the notion of ‘political capital’ is a mechanism for dealing with insecurity and tiny manhoodness in the case of GW.
    Obama needs to deal with the R’s and the R’s know they need to deal with THIS president for the next four years. The road to a resolution on the tax issues/debt ceiling/fiscal cliff involves trade offs and compromise. Obama can’t come out and begin the negotiation by starting at the fifty yard line. He needs to bring Harry and Mitchie in, and make it clear as day that the fillibuster cannot be used as a mechanism for blocking progress. He needs to bring Boehner in and tell him to get his troops in line, now that the T-potty extremists have been somewhat culled. Then hammer out the compromises, keep the bastards chained to their seats until it’s done.

  4. Yesterday I chanced upon a small group of women as they were walking on their way to work, griping about having to live with 4 years of ObamaCare. I had to interrupt. I told them my wife has MS and is glad to have ObamaCare – that lifting the lifetime medical will help our family. The lady who was griping the most could only grumble, “well, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

    I do believe this was their first encounter with someone outside their clique who had a personal, positive thing to say about ObamaCare. Hopefully I was able to get through their bubble – even if only a little.

  5. Many of the lightning bolts were aimed at none other than Karl Rove, the former Bush administration political genius who oversaw the deployment of nearly $400 million in campaign spending through outside groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS toward the presidential race and toward numerous Senate and House races.

    “The billionaire donors I hear are livid,” one Republican operative told The Huffington Post. “There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do … I don’t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing.”

    Looks like “Bush’s Brain” has suffered an infarct.

    • There were plenty of attacks on Romney himself, as well, with Erickson saying that he “stood for nothing and everything at the same time,” and that his advisers were ” outside charlatans, many of whom will now go work for Republican Super PACs making six-figure salaries, further draining the pockets of rich Republicans when not on television explaining how awesome and expert they are.”

      “Draining the pockets of rich Republicans…” It can’t get much better than that.

    • ” I don’t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing”
      Ah, but they spent $390 million and got a spanking. They should be saying, “Thank you, Karl, may I have another?”

    • Yo! Billionaire donors! FUCK YOU!
      Your sad devotion to that ancient Religion (Republicanism) hasn’t conjured up the White House or Senate!

    • “Looks like “Bush’s Brain” has suffered an infarct.”

      when I first read that, I missed the “c” in the last word.


    • David Koch: What did you do with the money Karl, where is it?

      Turd Blossom: Well… we had a plan and …. we..

      Charles Koch: WHAT did you DO with all the money?

      Sheldon: The concrete foundations of my new casino need pouring Karl…

      Turd: What?

      David Koch: Sounds like Mr Adelson has a little job for you, Karl…

      Turd: No….I can explain…

      Charles: Ted? Meatloaf? Please escort Karl to his new job, and make sure he takes the safety training, pouring concrete can be a dangerous occupation.

  6. Here in PA, we didn’t experience any snow or sleet or freezing rain from the Nor’easter. From what I can read, this was mostly a coastal storm. We are use to these. It’s hurricanes that present problems.

  7. Six figures = ‘trickle down’ to those billionaires. They won’t miss it, any more than they would miss the taxes they would pay by not fighting so hard.

    • Instructions given to SammytheTurtle yesterday…

      TtT: “So it looks like you *will* be able to have a bong at your gay wedding”

      SammytheTurtle: “I’m not gay dad, I don’t think so anyway”

      TtT: “Well ok, as long as whoever it is is not a Manchester United fan”

      StT: “He likes Chelsea and Man U, dad”

        • Actually on Monday evening, StT was insistent that the vote be cast for the gay marriage amendment in WA. She did not hold and opinion on marajuana. I don;t know if she is a Rep or a Dem, but she forms her own opinions and has an open mind …. the ManU/Chelsea fan thing *is* a problem – she’d better not bring him home.

          • See that’s where we differ TtT. She’s a White Sox fan, I like the cubs. First thing we discuss when she has a new “boyfriend” is his political leaning.

      • Chelsea AND ManU that sounds like an opportunistic choice. Celtics Glasgow, that would be something…but only if he said it before yesterday.


  8. Freepers is funny…not “funny haha,” that other kind of funny.

    Your Majesty,

    We, the people of the former American colonies, would like to offer our most sincere apology over that little misunderstanding we had 236 years ago. Had we known that we were going to be subjects anyway, we could have saved a lot of trouble and hard feelings.

    We were under the mistaken belief that we would be free, sovereign citizens; we believed that our hard work would yield its own rewards without someone coming along and taking what we built in the name of “Fairness”. We thought our laws and Constitution would protect us from a foreign born dictator, and our freedom to worship would prevent us from becoming a corrupt, morally bankrupt society (silly us).

    Little did we know that our own free press would intentionally sabotage, deceive and withhold the truth from us in order to reelect a Socialist that still holds distain for our nation and contempt for its founding principles. Nor did we believe that there would be so many citizens dependent on government handouts that they would blindly elect an unqualified charlatan, let alone reelect him.

    Anyway, Your Grace, we are truly sorry and humbly sincerely beg your forgiveness. If you can find it in your heart to forgive us and take us back, we promise never to trade British oppression for Socialist tyranny again.

    Your most humble servants,

    The American People

    1) They must think Britain is all White.
    2) NHS is more Socialist than Obamacare.
    3) The Queen doesn’t run the country.
    4) Britain wouldn’t have the stupid fucks.

    • You mean the Queen who is the figurehead of a socialist country? Sort of stands for the other socialist countries like Canada and Australia? Countries that are smart enough to not allow entities like Fox News? Pathetic.

    • 6) Can we have the same tax rates as the Brits?
      7) More ‘dolchstosslegende’ …..
      8) Sovereign citizens – aren’t those the nutters who kill highway patrol cops for being pulled over …?
      9) ‘Socialist …handouts…. elect… charlatan’ – didn’t they see how hated Tony Blair was when he left office?

      Hey Freepers – the collectivization of the farms begins in 24 hours, report to your local Black Panther Chapter for your assignment, please leave your Bibles and crucifixes and guns at home where we can collect them. – All Hail Comrade Hussien Obama…

      • It’s after 2:00 and they still haven’t shown up to collectivize the farms. I hope they get here before feeding time, it’s cold out there.

        • Nah, not the hot one..The short ‘stachoed one. Rainier, the one with the balding son, whose bride tried to run away from the wedding, but couldn’t, cause they took away her passport or some such.

  9. So the news is filled with ‘working together’ ‘borrowing ideas from Mitt’ – blah-de-blah.

    How about Obama makes Mitt’s accountant his tax reform Czar? Dude knows where all the loopholes are – you know it makes sense!

  10. Just heard on Ed’s show that Romney’s campaign people were surprised to find that their campaign-issued credit cards no longer worked when they tried to pay for their cabs home on election night.

    Nice, huh? Don’t even let the people who worked so hard for you get home. I guess it’s their fault for being so stupid. Sheesh…

  11. Oh, so they knew they were going to lose all along, they just wanted to waste all that money and tell all those lies (about winning) just to make the race close.

    Karl Rove, American Crossroads Spin GOP Election Losses

    On MSNBC, American Crossroads Communications Director Jonathan Collegio made a similar argument, stating that Republicans were really the underdogs in the 2012 election. All that conservative money, in other words, was necessary just to make the election close.

  12. Another interesting take Fonzi vs Clint
    by Jim Cramer on M$N Money
    Key excerpt:
    So here’s what all of this comes down to. Does the GOP leadership realize that running on the principle that the rich should never have to pay more taxes is a LOSER? Does the leadership recognize that 90% of the country is being sacrificed for the right of the 10% to pay less?

    Forget ideology. Forget what the government does with the money. Forget the bloated budget. Accept that without compromise we will fall over the fiscal cliff and back into recession and it will be man-made because the losing party didn’t adjust.
    No one is going to blame the winning party for not adjusting. It won, for heaven’s sake.

    The losers have to adjust. If they cast out the Josey-Wales lost-causers and stop defending the 10%, particularly the 1% that funded so much of their campaigns, then we go higher, much higher.

  13. In other news… A Kenyan mother just had twin boys and named them Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Alas….Mitt is now black…

  14. Apparently, Thom Hartmann and his wife had dinner with some Washington insider (I don’t remember the name) who said that when Mitt was told he’d lost the election, he was totally in shock.

    First, let me say that I think it’s weird that he had to be told, which means he wasn’t glued to the teevee machine like the rest of America — cuz it fucking mattered to us.

    Which leads into the rest of the story: Mitt’s mom was supposedly infertile when she got pregnant with him — change of life baby, as if that’s never happened before — and he was told all of his life that his existence was a miracle; that he was destined for great things; and great things would just naturally happen to him, and he was entitled to all of it.

    His parents raised him as if he were a god-damn prince, which tends to make one believe they actually are a prince, making it okay to hold down a kid and cut off his hair, torment a blind teacher, trip his daughter-in-law (a recent mother) in a race so he could win, say filthy things about 47% of the people in this country, lie more than any other person in all humanity, take every position on every issue, and then claim to be a man of values and honesty.

    Of course he was shocked — America said NO to the prince.

    • Just another data point among many that the Reichwhiners are projecting when they whine about poor people feeling “entitled” to “things” and “stuff”. No sane person worrying about whether their children will eat tomorrow feels “entitled” to anything but worry.

  15. Hahahahahahahahahaha!

    Thom Hartmann had a 3:00 wingnut today. He obviously didn’t learn anything from recent political events but the funny part was his assertion that Windows was a great operating system before the government anti-trust suit.

    I’ve used every version of Windows and the last few versions of DOS and the only one I have found to be worth a sieve full of spit is Windows 7. Most of them were so bad that I used Linux distributions whenever possible and I still use Linux when I’m surfing unfamiliar sites due to its better security.

  16. Poseur/Putz Alert:

    “Alas, as always, the duty of the Right is to manfully endure, to survive the defeat and stubbornly oppose the vaunting foe, and so this brutal shock, this electoral catastrophe, must be absorbed and digested. At some point next week or next month or next year, then, we shall recover our morale and plot some new stratagem for the future. In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s debacle, however, it is difficult to see any glimmer of light amid the encroaching gloom. Surely, there are many Americans who now sympathize with that New York infantryman who, in the bleak winter of 1862, when the Union’s Army of the Potomac was under the incompetent command of Gen. Ambrose Burnside, wrote home in forlorn complaint: ‘Mother, do not wonder that my loyalty is growing weak.… I am sick and tired of the disaster and the fools that bring disaster upon us'” – Robert Stacy McCain, wingnut whackjob.

  17. Bunker Alert:

    “All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt. I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted ‘O’. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste. Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats,” – Eric Dondero,

    • Libertarianism – a handy-dandy moniker you gvie yourself in order to feel good about your sociopathic sefl-regard – (from a concept by Iain Banks)

    • Someone better keep an eye on this one; he’s obviously deranged and probably heavily armed.

      The LibertarianRepublican thing intrigues me, given that the GOP has always been statist to the core. I guess this is just TeaParty RINOs.

      • That is, of course, one of the biggest problems in trying to deal with right-wing authoritarians. They see language as a crutch, a shield, and a weapon but never learn to use it as a tool. This is mostly because they stubbornly refuse to actually learn the meaning of the words they try to use. It makes meaningful communication impossible. Remember; these are the same freaks who call the president a “communist fascist” and a “Muslim atheist”.

  18. One area of concern. I sincerely hope that President Obama doesn’t pick more prominent, progressive, office holders for his appointments during his second term. We need every strong voice in the House, Senate, and State Houses that we can get.

  19. Historically; a new president, sometime between his election and inauguration, has a meeting with “very powerful people” who tell him what he will be allowed to do. On winning a second term; said president holds a meeting with “very powerful people” and he tells them what he expects. Will President Obama get that second meeting?

  20. Sad news this afternoon. After a long and happy life, Mook passed away this afternoon. He went quietly lying on his outside bed, ending his long battle with degenerative myelopathy.

    Rest well, old friend.

  21. Bill0 still isn’t a racist and has never even seen a racist on FAUX”News”. He just can’t understand why blacks always vote for “the color-based candidate”.

  22. Last night’s cable news ratings
    25-54 demographic (x1000)

    O’Donnell also beat Greta 2176 – 2138 in Total Viewers!

      • When you compare their 25-54 demo, to their total viewers, it’s clear the bulk of the Faux audience is 55+. Although smaller in total viewers, MSNBC, and especially Rachel’s audience, has a larger percentage of younger viewers. We just need to bide our time as Faux’ main demo dies off.

  23. #DrunkNateSilver

    The best new meme this week:

  24. The fundies have it figured out. The black guy got reelected because half of Americans are lost in darkness and the other half aren’t doing “God’s work”. Those two little words, when joined, have always confused me. Why in Hell would God need puny humans to do His work? If God is pressed for time He can just hire a secretary and get back to doing His own smiting. I’ll take my chances that a life spent in kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, and generosity will serve me well on the very slim chance that I ever face some kind of spiritual Judgment. And I’ll beat the crap out of anyone I see persecuting another in service of a myth in the meantime.

  25. Edith Childs was just on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show. Humble, and a quiet dignity was obvious in her.
    Thank you Edith for being you.

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