Lawrence O'Donnell and hosted a panel segment with Rep. Alan Grayson, the rabbi Michael Lerner, Jane Hamsher and Ralph Nader discussing the merits of a primary challenger to Barack Obama in 2012. Alan Grayson resisted answering whether he'd be willing to challenge the president, even though his name is one that comes up often in liberal circles with potential candidates to challenge Obama.
The panel agreed that they didn't think that the Democratic party needs a spoiler this time around and didn't think that anyone who might challenge the president would have much of a chance of winning, but they all agreed that there had better be some push back from the left to pull the president back to the middle after his hard tack to the right and his willingness to coddle up to Mitch McConnell and the Republicans and their tax cuts for the rich.
Lawrence O'Donnell also made up for his extremely rude behavior when Alan Grayson was on the show the previous night and apologized to him in the first part of this panel discussion which is not included here.
More on their discussion below the fold.
When asked if President Obama’s proposal had any hope of making it to the floor of the House or if we would just get more business as usual here, Grayson said he felt that the vote Democrats took was more than symbolic and that unless there were some major changes to the proposals, it would not come up for a vote on the floor of the House and that Nancy Pelosi would keep her promise to the caucus.
Michael Lerner explained why he thought President Obama should face a primary challenger. As Lerner noted, there’s a “massive disaffection among most Democrats” that’s been wildly underestimated by our media and by President Obama and how the president has abandoned liberals on one issue after another and refused to show any backbone.
As he pointed out if we want “to move Obama in any way, there has to be a serious political alternative” and the only way to do that is to run a “serious alternative” in the Democratic primary. Lerner talked about the amount of email he’s received and that most agree with him that this is the only way to push the president back in a progressive direction.
And I love this point that Lerner made about how most people don’t even realize what progressives or liberals stand for with allowing Obama to be painted as a liberal, or a progressive, or sadly a Socialist.
LERNER: And most Americans don’t even know what liberals and progressives are. They think Obama is the progressive. And if they think Obama is the progressive and the right wing calls him a Socialist, they have no idea that there are actually huge numbers of the people who really care for ordinary people, who care for the well being of each other, who don’t believe that the world can be made safe through domination and control, but recognize that the way to build homeland security is through generosity, through a global Marshall plan…
And then O’Donnell cut him off when he was on a roll and asked him who he might support as a primary challenger to Obama. Lerner named Russ Feingold and Jane Hamsher immediately shot down how that prospect was extremely unlikely.
Ralph Nader who is talking about running against President Obama in a primary talked about the need to pull Obama back to the left and how there might be quite a few very well qualified candidates that would be taken seriously if they ran against Obama. He also made some really great points on how we’re not spending enough time talking about what’s happened to the wages of the average worker and how we need to quit giving tax cuts to businesses when those cuts aren’t tied into them paying their work force more so they can earn a living wage as well.
And as I mentioned before, Grayson declined to say whether he’d challenge Obama or not in a primary race but did say he’d be a lot happier seeing Obama pushed back to the left and getting his base reignited to vote for him again and that he felt it wasn’t too late for Obama to still do that.
All in all I think it was a good discussion about what we're facing now and what we do to move Obama back to the left and at this point, I tend to agree with them that a primary challenge if it forces him to defend abandoning what he campaigned on or start governing in the manner he campaigned on might not be such a bad idea and might be our only hope of moving him.
He just took the hippie punching to a new level when he embraced these Bush tax cuts and setting up Social Security for bankruptcy with this latest deal with the Republicans. I think that's a line in the sand none of us should be willing to cross no matter how bad the threats from the hostage takers.
And I could go on from there with what I think about all of this and what we should do as liberals to solve our current dilemma, but I won't because frankly, I'm just exhausted and disgusted right now and I don't have any answers to how we deal with this and what's going to work to move our politicians to do what's right. I'm just another average person who works for a living and considers myself lucky to still have a job in this terrible economy and who is horrified by watching what's going on around me and to those who are not as fortunate as I am. I'm also fully aware that myself or anyone else who is still working is only one disaster away from finding ourselves in the same state as well, even if you have a job that most would consider secure, so none of us should be taking what we have for granted in this environment.
I find myself fearing that we're going to be seeing uprising like we're seeing in Europe now in America before anything gets any better and before our political class finally starts caring about the average working person instead of their wealthy campaign donors. It's a sad state of affairs that it might come to that to finally get our politicians, especially those on the right, to show any concern for the masses that are suffering before they change their ways. They've got those teabaggers sand bagged for now. They had better be worried about what happens when the suckers finally turn on them.