Friday, January 16, 2009

Hair of the Dog, Take Two: Let's Watch Who We're Being Bipartisan With


Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover-- problem makers, not problem solvers

Yesterday I tried getting across the idea that it makes no sense turning to the ideas-- and the people who promulgate those ideas-- that have driven our country to its knees. Republican ideology is failed ideology. Even as he prepares to finally leave the office he first stole in 2000, Bush is loathed by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Even a third of confessed Republicans think he did a lousy job. The Republicans in Congress are held in even greater contempt. Greed and selfishness is not a valid philosophy of governance. The precise economic policies espoused by the Republican Party that drove this country into Depression with the consecutive terms of three clueless Republican hacks-- Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover (1921-1933)-- are a mirror image of what has been served up by Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and, worst of all, by far, Bush II.

To turn to those ideas now, or to treat their partisans as though they men and women of good faith and have something worthwhile to offer to the rescue effort may be called "bipartisan" Inside-the-Beltway, but looks like political game playing to the rest of us. I'm eager to give Obama the benefit of all doubts-- on his crappy middle of the road retread cabinet picks, on his less than bold political decisions, even on the footsie he's playing with those whose ideology are so damaging to our nation. I keep telling myself that he's very smart and knows how to play the game and in the end will beat back the reactionary forces both inside the Democratic Party and in the party that is the mortal enemy of working families.

And, remember, as Sean Paul pointed out today, you find bad faith, greed and selfishness not only on the Republican side of the aisle but among the putative Democrats calling themselves DLC, New Dems and Blue Dogs as well. Grover Norquist-- and if anyone knows a fellow douche bag when he sees one, it is Norquist-- rued how shabbily the Blue Dogs are being treated by real Democrats.
“Ironically, some of the biggest losers from the Pelosi rules changes will be fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats. The ‘pay-go’ rules they fought so hard for two years ago-- to require new spending proposals be balanced with additional revenue or cuts elsewhere-- have been gutted. And no term limits will mean they will have to stand in line for a taste of real power. ‘All of those nice pro-life, gun-owning young Democrats recruited by Rahm Emanuel will never have any real influence now,’ says Grover Norquist.”

Today's news about Obama's backpedaling on the Employee Free Choice Act is not encouraging. During his 70 minute interview with Washington Post editors and reports, Obama "gave his support for legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize, but he said there may be other ways to achieve the same goal without angering businesses. And while many Democrats on Capitol Hill are eager to see a quick vote on that bill, he indicated no desire to rush into the contentious issue.
"If we're losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize, so my focus first is on those key economic priority items I just mentioned," he said. "Let's see what the legislative docket looks like."

Reaching that goal without angering businesses-- who simply hate unions and have always and will always oppose the aspirations of working men and women-- is like making an omelet without breaking an egg. This is just plain silly-talk. Like Thomas Frank opined in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, in the heart of the beast, Obama should act as though he won, not kowtow to the enemies who are just waiting for him to slip up so they can do him in and cripple his ability to do any good whatsoever for the people who elected him.

Watching Dick Lugar (R-IN) toss those softballs to fellow Senator Hillary Clinton should have warmed the heart of anyone and everyone who's ever thought that the Inside-the-Beltway crew have more in common with each other than they do with the people whose interests they claim to represent around election time. I'm sure Dick Lugar is a decent enough man-- I once sat next to him at a White House state dinner and he rocked out to Lou Reed just like a real person-- and I'm sure he really does feel some affection for his old travelin' bud Barack. But Dick Lugar, and even the most decent Republicans, owe their fealty to a political party that in now thoroughly controlled by men and women who are as viscerally opposed to American values as are Osama bin-Laden and fundamentalist religionist fanatics, whether from Iran or Virginia. Meanwhile, the members of unions-- as Marcy points out so eloquently at Emptywheel today, have helped build America into the best place on earth, despite the concerted efforts of the greed and selfish and their elected representatives. In great contrast, I was reading some more of Arianna's Right Is Wrong this morning and I thought today would be a good time to point out this passage that starts on page 251.
Even in the unlikely event that the Right would admit that their selfishness, arrogance and stupidity contributed to the current recession (and they won't), it would still not temper their instinctive pursuit of misery dollars. The perverted form of capitalism at the core of the Right's philosophy dictates that when others are suffering there is money to be made.

For the Right, crisis begets opportunity, not to solve problems but to profit from their perpetuation. Just think of Halliburton and Blackwater sopping up juicy profits from the bloodshed in Iraq, a market closed to them while Saddam was still calling the shots.

To see how even the worst disasters can make the Right's eyes gleam with the prospect of pushing their agenda past the complacent Democrats, take a look at Hurricane Katrina, where disaster relief instantly became a policy and patronage boondoggle-- and a profit engine.

After the disaster, Tony Snowe, the soon-to-be White House Press Secretary, crowed: "This would be a marvelous time to push in a serious way for school choice, dramatic regulatory reform... even more thoroughgoing tort reform, privatization of everything from the Department of Commerce to many FEMA duties, and so on."

Political journalist David Sirota spotlighted a few of the top opportunities the GOP saw arising from Katrina, including the suspension of the seventy-six-year-old Davis-Bacon Act requiring federal contractors to pay workers "prevailing wages," the chance to offer more giveaways (and fewer regulations) to oil companies, and-- proving that no issue was too tangential to link to Katrina-- the chance to try to get the president's derailed attempt to privatize Social Security back on track.

That's who Obama seems willing to sell out the people who elected him for. Katon Dawson (R-SC), in his quest to become the head of the RNC, articulated exactly what the Republicans' version of bipartisanship is-- the bipartisanship for which Obama is willing to sell out working families so fast. I hope I'm wrong but I see no reason to believe I am.

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At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why people don't realize this -- the only Republican we have to worry about is Olympia Snowe. Get her on board and fake moderate Susan Collins is soon to you said before Collins' strategy is to usually follow what Olympia Snowe does.

And Snarlin' Arlen Specter wouldn't dare vote like a right-winger too much unless he wants to lose in Nov. 2010.


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