Sunday, September 23, 2012

In a second term, can we look for some "real toughness" from the president? Hmm, E.J., I'm not so sure


Yes, yes, but assuming Willard does go down
the tubes, what happens come 2013?

"If Obama wants to do more than survive, he thus has to fight a bigger and broader campaign that targets not only Romney but also a GOP congressional apparatus that has moved the party far to the right."
-- E. J. Dionne Jr., in his Monday WaPo column,
"Can this election settle anything?"

by Ken

Funny you should mention that, E.J. I'm guessing you're hearing the same things I am, which is that the White House wants nothing to do with the congressional elections. As I recall, the fear is that such involvement would make the president appear "too partisan." I guess 'cause his stalwart nonpartisanship has done him so much good. Maybe he's also afraid that if he gets involved in the congressional electoral battle front, Republicans who are elected to the new Congress will be mad and will be less inclined to cooperate with him. (Ba-du BUM! These are the jokes, folks.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This is said to be an election in which big ideas are at stake, and in a sense it's true. The Right has thrown out a whole bunch of ideas of unmitigated, possibly catastrophic terribleness, basically aimed at enslaving the rest of the country to the economic elites of the .1% with a cash-in for their zealous hangers-on and a special role as ideological terrormongers for its mental degenerates.

(I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a story about Ralph Reed trying to play a decisive role in lining up evanelical support for the Incorporated Willard. Ralph Reed is the Right's dream combination of ideological degenerate and flat-out criminal, the only glitch being that he kinda got caught. I'm assuming that there's some technical reason why he's not ending his days in prison, but that doesn't explain why he isn't greeted with hisses and boos and rotten eggs wherever he goes.)

The possibly terrifying outcomes hanging over this election are so, well, terrifying that it's easy to lose focus on how little hope there is of anything positive coming of it.

As usual when there's something important to be talked about, it's no surprise to find that E. J. Dionne Jr. is talking about it.
The most important issue in the 2012 campaign barely gets discussed: How will we govern ourselves after the election is over?

Elections are supposed to decide things. The voters render a verdict on what direction they want the country to take and set the framework within which both parties work.

President Obama’s time in office, however, has given rise to a new approach. Republicans decided to do all they could to make the president unsuccessful. Their not-so-subliminal message has been: We will make the country ungovernable unless you hand us every bit of legislative, executive and judicial power so we can do what we want.
Judging by the current polls, this approach hasn’t worked. Mitt Romney is suffering not only from his own mistakes but also because a fundamentally moderate country has come to realize that today’s GOP is far more extreme than Republicans were in the past.
E.J. calmly lays out the electoral possibilities:

* A surprise win by Willard, which will almost certainly bring with it GOP control of both house of Congress, and then something really will have been decided about how we're going to be governed. Run for the hills!

* A reelection win by the president accompanied by Democratic control of both houses of Congress, making for "unified Democratic government." I'm not sure that this answers many questions about how we'll be governed, except that it won't be that most extreme version sketched above.

* Or, most likely, a continued split government, in which case attention may focus on the emerging battle for the soul of the Republican Party,
a debate already going on inside the Republican Party and the conservative movement about why Romney is losing. It’s a precursor to what would be the post-election “why Romney lost” lollapalooza.

The right-wing contention is simple: Romney was a lousy candidate, a closet moderate who didn’t offer the detailed conservative program in all its splendor and who “muzzled” Paul Ryan, an idea some Ryan partisans are leaking. If this side wins, the GOP will stick with obstruction and wait for the next election.

But Romney’s 47 percent remarks finally unshackled the more moderate conservatives who know how destructive the Ayn Rand/tea party approach to politics has been. Some are talking about a Republican organization, similar to the old Democratic Leadership Council, to pull the party closer to the center.
However, as E.J. points out, "the more moderate view is unlikely to get any serious foothold among House Republicans and has only limited reach in the Senate GOP."That's why the future of governance hangs largely on how Obama chooses to run the rest of his campaign.

Brand Obama has always been resistant to partisanship. Yet the president’s current case against Romney is really a case against the entire right-wing approach. Obama’s ability to govern in a second term thus depends not simply on his own triumph but also on the decisive defeat of those who have been obstructing him. If he wins but they win, is there much chance that the obstruction will stop?

Obama hopes that if he earns reelection by defending tax increases on the wealthy, the current structure of Medicare and investments in education and infrastructure, he’ll have a mandate for a sensible budget compromise. The Medicare and tax arguments square with what Democratic congressional candidates are saying, and after a briefing of House Democrats Friday from David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters that she and her colleagues “have no complaint” about the president’s relationship to their campaigns.

Yet given the current views of most Congressional Republicans, few of them are likely to accept any claim of a mandate and would eagerly blame a Romney defeat on Romney himself.

If Obama wants to do more than survive, he thus has to fight a bigger and broader campaign that targets not only Romney but also a GOP congressional apparatus that has moved the party far to the right. Paradoxically, Republicans who want to bring their party to a more sensible place share an interest with Democrats in the president doing just this. It will take real toughness to produce more peaceable politics.
It will take "real toughness," eh? I think we may be looking at the wrong suspect.

The one thing I can think of that might produce positive change would be an infusion of Blue America-endorsed candidates into the Beltway Village. We've already seen what an impact Alan Grayson's powerful, fearless voice could make. Imagine Alan back in Congress, with a growing network of representatives prepared to make some productive noise of their own, and/or at least back him up.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home