Will Obama Sleep Through His Remaining Three Years?
I don't know much about Martha Coakley. I doubt she's any more crappy than the rest of our nation's embarrassingly horrible political class-- although she did seem to want to break the world-record for conceding defeat last night. (Boneheaded? Sure, though not nearly as boneheaded as Virginia ConservaDem Jim Webb's declaration that there should be no votes in the Senate until Brown is seated, a bizarre approach considering that the other 99 senators were also elected by citizens of this country.) I don't want to blame Coakley for what happened, although I'm sure 52-47% vote could have been turned around with a better candidate. I thought Rep. Mike Capuano was a way better candidate, but Democrats in Massachusetts lightly attended primary picked Coakley and she... promptly went on a vacation and gave the Republicans all the time they needed to define Scott Brown and to define her. And that was that.
The media had their narrative in the can and ready to break out: "Democrats are too liberal." And you get a couple of bad faith reactionaries like Evan Bayh and Holy Joe Lieberman to repeat it on TV a couple of times and a chorus of other Republican-like Democrats to do the same and the Village will have it playing from every jukebox in the joint.
I know this sounds crass and worse but Obama's place in the history books is already assured. Aside from having been elected president-- almost always a big deal-- he's the first Black president. The "Hope and Change" thing was like a slogan, not a program and by the time he announced appointments like Rahm Emanuel and Lawrence Summers and his appendage Tim G, only the hopelessly naive could still persuade themselves that there was any hope for change. I hate to say "I told you so"-- worse is telling myself I told me so-- but Obama's Senate voting record (kind of an unattractive cross between his ConservaDem colleagues Joe Lieberman and Max Baucus) predicted it all. Agent of change? Well... symbolic change. And that's a biggie. But beyond that? Don't count on it. If you see Rahm move off to his destiny as heir to the legacy of Richard J. Daley, the next Capo di tutti capi of the Chicago Democratic Machine, maybe Obama is deciding to reach for the sky. But that's really unlikely. Turning the health care travesty into a straight-out expansion of Medicare-- the nightmare of the predatory, bribe-dispensing Insurance Industry and Medical-Industrial Complex-- is as unlikely as Obama actually turning on his-- and the political class'-- financiers on Wall Street or ending Bush's War, now his own, against Afghanistan. Last night Andy Stern, president of the SEIU said, "The reason Ted Kennedy's seat is no longer controlled by a Democrat is clear: Washington's inability to deliver the change voters demanded in November 2008. Make no mistake, political paralysis resulted in electoral failure."
What a hassle that would be for Obama to try to deliver! And who knows if he could accomplish anything! Doing nothing much... well, like I said, his place in history is set. Last night Peter Daou, a longtime respected blogger and former Hillary Clinton advisor, pointed out on HuffPo that liberal bloggers had indeed told Obama so. He points out that Obama "hasn't been true enough to fundamental Democratic principles, has embraced some of Bush's worst excesses on civil liberties, and has ditched popular ideas (like the public option) in favor of watered down centrist policies, thus looking weak and ineffectual."
[W]hen you fail to govern based on a morally sound, well-articulated, solidly-grounded set of ideals, you look weak. All the legislative wins in the world won't change that. People gravitate to people who exude moral authority. The vast majority of voters lack the detailed policy knowledge that would enable them to make an accurate assessment of policy differences, but they do have a visceral sense of when a candidate or an elected official believes in something and fights for it. It's why campaigns are laden with moral arguments; politicians ask to be elected because they'll "do the right thing." The right thing in the current administration's case was to be the anti-Bush, nothing more, nothing less. The ethical antidote to a radical administration. It was both politically smart and morally right. And it worked wonders for Democrats as the entire subtext of the 2008 campaign.
The problem was that immediately after the election, like one nano-second after, Obama and his centrist, defensive team Democrats began "undermining themselves with faux-bipartisanship and tepid policies."
Is there a message here? Sure-- Better Democrats, that's the message Democrats, the Village and the whole political class will understand... if we can deliver it. Wanna help? Hit that link on "Better Democrats."