Friday, February 13, 2009

In this Winning of Our Discontent

Why is the winter of our winning becoming the winter of our discontent?

The media narrative has President Obama denied bipartisan support and schooled in the harsh realities of Washington politics, failing his core constituencies and settling for a plan that is not "stimulative" enough (which "spellcheck" agrees is not a word).

"New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman says "Mr. Obama's victory feels more than a bit like defeat."

Except that it's a victory.

Joan Walsh at "Salon" says Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) "humiliated" the President by accepting and then rejecting his offer to head the Department of Commerce.

Except that he'll go back to being one of a minority in the Senate and the President will still be the President with large majorities in both houses.

"The compromise stimulus is probably better than nothing," she writes. "With its expansion of food stamps and unemployment benefits, its tax rebates for low-income workers, aid to states and cities and billions for infrastructure projects."

Sounds good right?

"BUT," Walsh continues, "it won't be as effective as a bigger spending bill would have been, and let's hope Obama doesn't come to regret how much he gave Republicans to get so little."

and later:

"He better have learned that Washington bipartisanship is dead."

It has been dead and not fixing it on the first go-round is hardly a failure. Lacking a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama got the support of three senators who do not occupy red meat conservative seats. And they delivered him a stimulus package.

Glenn Greenwald, also of "Salon," accuses liberal groups of precipitating this non-debacle by, "subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the party and its leading politician."

That leading politician, of course, being the guy we all broke our asses and wallets to get elected: Barack Obama, the man who renovated the Democratic Party and won states south and west long-treasured by rank-and-filers.

"During the 2008 election," he noted, "Obama co-opted huge portions of the Left and its infrastructure so that their allegiance became devoted to him and not to any ideas."

That's because his Ideas where their/our ideas.

Krugman is a brilliant, Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Walsh a darling and charming soldier of progressive forces, and Greenwald a hard-boiled walking left-litmus test who keeps his eye on the issue rather than the personality.

But they are not helping things.

Each, as a loyal member of the anointed commentariat, is allowing the mass media's narrative focus on stimulus to block out their own sun and bum the rest of us out.

Day in day out, the Obama administration is doing what progressives, liberals, leftists, or whatever flag you fly under, had prayed for, but feared never would happen.

Every place in government, in ways big and small, whether it's admitting the Earth is getting warmer, cancelling energy industry fire sales offshore and on treasured Western lands, undoing a conservative Supreme Court's ruling by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Law, forestalling foreclosures, or appointing a pro-union Latina to the Labor Department, we see change we dared not dream of in the darkest days of the Bush era.

But romps in the House of Representatives are tainted by the fact Obama "failed to garner a single vote," from the GOP, when the failure, of course, is their own.

Victories in the Senate are deemed "razor-thin" when 61-37 is something of a trouncing. Or should the scribe remind you of how votes went, say, three years ago under guys with names like Delay, Frist, and Bush?

It's razor-thin because the Republican filibuster is an unchallenged daily blessing to a struggling minority, when it should be subject to national derision.

The way the Senate operates now, all you have to do is inform the leadership of your plan to filibuster and the altered, more difficult, voting math kicks-in.

highwayscribery's suggestion is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) drop the courtesy and force Republicans to sustain their filibuster for real.

Reid should obligate them to wear catheters so they can pee while reading from newspapers, and do midnight relays to fresh senators making a spectacle of themselves while delaying the nation's business.

(Just a thought).

If the Republicans' desire is that they should glue themselves to one another while walking over a cliff, than liberals should be glad of it.

They are not insulting Obama or the Democrats. Rather they are flipping a middle-finger at the American people, who are suffering and currently of a unified mind regarding the man and party they want running things.

Those senators and representatives of the GOP, in herding together like hunted buffaloes (which they are), will have a hard time separating themselves out should the public render a negative verdict on their obstinate groupthink, which is very likely.

Paul Krugman is much smarter than the highway scribe, who agrees with him and would like to see more money spent on good things for a beleaguered people.

But there are doubts and they are legitimate.

The package is enormous and backed by the questionable force of an already overheated U.S. Mint. As most Americans are now painfully aware, spending with one hand while borrowing with the other usually triggers a law of diminishing returns.

There needs to be a balance and to the extent the opposition party used a scalpel to trim things and orient some of the package toward their own constituents, the system is working the way it was designed to.

The stimulus bill represents the largest nonmilitary expenditure since the Great Depression and deals a telling blow to Republican dreams of burying forever the New Deal and the idea of government activism.

No wonder they are of one mind. What's perplexing, and the reason for this post, is that our joy doesn't match their despair.

The president compromised and got nothing for it.

But he remembers -- where Walsh, Krugman, and Greenwald don't -- that the idea is to look beyond the other party to the people they represent...and govern for the entire country.

We just got through with a guy who governed for one half of the populace simply because he had the votes.

His gang's gone. Obama would like a more enduring coalition like the one that lasted for some 40 years after Franklin Delano Roosevelt assembled it.

You win big by being big, not petty.

This stimulus debate, which has consumed our media's narrow bandwith of attention, at the expense of many other issues, is naught but an opening night performance.

As the day-in-day-out business of legislating the country's future unfolds, a filibuster will not serve at every turn nor will its giddy impact on a dwindling Republican base resonate quite so strongly as in the first round.

Because the reality will set in on both sides of this national debate.


Unknown said...

Thank you. It's not the Republicans but the liberal media (the conservative media goes w/o saying) who seem bent on doing Obama in. I hate the 24-hour news cycle. it demands drama. And negative is more dramatic than positive. Nothing is about facts; just the story around the facts. Nancy Linehan Charles

highwayscribery said...


I hate it, too. They've got to cook up a narrative and the less sophisticated the better.

Thanks for coming by.

the scribe