Monday, November 15, 2010

Will A Foolish And Unattainable Quest For Bipartisanship Be An Even Worse Disaster For Obama Next Year Than It Was This Year?


His hopes of becoming Senate Majority Leader crushed by Harry Reid's victory over Sharron Angle, Chuck Schumer appeared on CBS' Face The Nation yesterday, announcing that Obama will surprise us and rise again. If he does, it would surprise me. But it doesn't surprise me that Schumer said it on national TV. I think Obama's vision for a second term-- once he realized that he'd never get elected homecoming queen-- has been that the Republicans will nominate someone even worse than he is. But try running that strategy by Democrats like Ron Klein, Paul Kanjorski, Walt Minnick, Alan Grayson, Ike Skelton. Travis Childers and Suzanne Kosmas, all of whom lost to bizarre sociopaths considerably and demonstrably more insane and less mainstream than an amalgam of the worst of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Haley Babour, Mike Pence and Mike Huckabee!

Beyond babbling empty platitudes about Obama restoring the American Dream for the middle class and focusing on said middle class like a laser, Schumer-- whose $17,720,436 haul from the Finance Sector is more than what Wall Street bestowed on any other member of Congress short of former presidential candidates John McCain and John Kerry-- babbled even more... empty platitudes about kissing up to the middle class. And he said he believes Democrats and Republicans can still work together despite the divide between the left and the right.
"Middle class incomes this decade are shrinking. … So the middle class is not content. They are up for grabs.

"This talk that some Democrats on the far left will huddle and say 'We won't do anything and do no compromises,' and some Republicans on the far right will huddle and say 'We won't make any compromises' - they'll lose if they do that.

"I think there are a number of areas where we can come together and benefit average families. I think we can on education. I think we can on immigration. I think we can on energy policy. [These are] major policies that affect this country where there are grounds for compromise.

"Any leader, any party, that just says 'We're going to block everything' as middle class incomes are declining is going to lose in 2012."

He thinks Democrats can get the Republicans to compromise on a tax cut solution that raises the $250,000 cap to a million dollars. He must have been drinking. It may sound like a good idea but, like McConnell said, the number one priority of the Republicans in Congress is to make sure Obama is a one-term president, not to work out the solutions to any problems that will make it easier for him to win reelection. Schumer said the tax cuts will be addressed in the lame duck session because Republicans will "not hold middle class tax cuts hostage" for high-end tax cuts. If he wasn't drunk, he was delusional.

The left-right/conservative-liberal political split seems to be about over, at least for now. Aside from Big Business now owning all of one party and a big enough chunk of the other one to call the shots, the political conflict in the country is coming down to a fight between conservatives (like Obama) and reactionaries (most Republicans). In a little noticed NY Times pickup from Ross Ramsey, managing editor of the Texas Tribune on Saturday, that dark vision can be seen where it has already become manifest: Texas.
Texas has two Republican Parties.

After the general election in 2008, Republicans and Democrats were almost equals in the Texas House, with 76 of the former and 74 of the latter sitting at the chamber’s oak desks.
Now, that two-vote Republican advantage has exploded into a 48-vote difference in a 99-51 House. Republicans don’t have to share power with Democrats-- they have to share it with Republicans.

Democrats had the same challenge in the days when they were in power and Republicans met in phone booths. Back then, the factions were the conservatives and the liberals. Now it’s a G.O.P. thing. Pick your own taxonomy: moderate and conservative, country and country club, mainline and evangelical, establishment and insurgent, social and financial, old and new, Bush and Perry. However you characterize it, it’s bumpy.

...In 1994, the Texas Republican Party debated whether to seat a particular delegate to the national Republican convention, wondering publicly whether she was conservative enough. The delegate was Ms. Hutchison, already a United States senator.

In Texas a conservative Democrat, Bill White, ran for governor against the reactionary-- even secessionist-leaning-- Perry. Where was there a voice for regular working families? Is the same thing happening in Washington? For 75 years the effective post-FDR ruling elite has been unable to achieve its most cherished dream-- to start the dismantling of Social Security. Most recently Bush fell flat when he tried it. And then, financed by that same elite, along came Barack Obama. I spoke with a progressive Member of Congress yesterday who told me there is no doubt that delivering a first blow against Social Security has been Obama's intention since before he even declared his candidacy for president. Maybe he still thinks it's the magic rabbit naive Democrats expect him to pull out of his hat to save them in 2012. What he'll do, however, is destroy the Democratic Party-- what's left of it after his first half term-- for generations to come. After my sobering talk with the Member I sat down and read Anne Kornblut's column in the company town paper about the White House's assessment of why the Democrats had their heads handed to them by the voters 2 weeks ago. They don't see it the way I do... not even a little tiny bit-- nor are they as perceptive as Amy Dean's blueprint for change which starts with the premise that "those who put a Democratic administration and congressional majority into office ended up seeing too little difference between the two major parties-- especially on core issues of economic justice."
Just as Clinton, once in office, proposed a failed, corporate-friendly healthcare plan, reneged on his vows that NAFTA would include serious protections for labor and the environment, and did not even consider labor’s demand for strikebreaker replacement legislation, Obama has too often embraced Washington horse-trading. Apparently believing that appeals to moderation and pre-compromised policy stances can substitute for political vision, he abandoned the public option in healthcare, made no moves to advance legislation that would expand the role of labor in the economy, and did not promote government spending significant enough to address the needs of people hit hard by the economic downturn.

Examining the county by county results in dozens of districts it is undeniable that Democrats just did not turn out to vote. The base didn't come out and left-leaning independents had no reason to show up either. California was an anomaly but even there Democratic turnout was depressed. Even Democrats who were reelected in solidly blue districts were reelected by closer margins than in 2006 or 2008. Mike Honda won reelection this year with a solid 68%-- but down from 72% in 2008 and 2006. In 2006 the California Democratic incumbents with the closest races were Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez (62%), ConservaDem Jane Harman (63%) and Blue Dog Adam Schiff (64%). In 2008, with Obama sweeping all 3 districts, Sanchez drew 70%, and Harman and Schiff got 69% each. They must have all felt very safe. This year, Democratic turnout in all 3 districts sank. Sanchez managed to eke out a win with 52%. Harman was down to 60% and Schiff came in at 65%. And California was the best performing state for Democrats!

The White House at least seems to be saying that the "shellacking... was caused in large part by their own failure to live up to expectations set during the 2008 campaign, not merely the typical political cycles and poor messaging they pointed to at first. They're focusing, though, not on the depressed Democratic base but on independents, "who supported Obama two years ago by an eight-point margin but backed Republicans for the House this year by 19 points. To do so, they think he must forge partnerships with Republicans on key issues and make noticeable progress on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to change the ways of Washington."

Even without Rahm around, these clowns insist "it will probably take months, if not longer, to develop a strategy for restoring some of the early promise of the Obama presidency, particularly the notion that he was a different kind of Democrat." I think selling out Social Security will would make that point, and would also make Obama an historic president for another reason besides his race. Obama will be all over the Republicans to work together and they will keep him at arm's length at all costs. They'll present him with a series of take-it-or-leave-it formulations, which he'll probably wind up taking. The Democrats who he won't take down with him are the ones who get further away from him than the Republicans do!
Over the next few days, White House officials said they will begin to gauge whether they can forge an alliance with any top Republicans, many of whom are scheduled to attend a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Thursday. Although Obama could benefit from a high-profile compromise-- perhaps on extending the Bush-era tax cuts or on other tax initiatives set to expire before the end of the year-- officials are also prepared to point out any Republican intransigence... Whether Obama will find a partner in Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), presumed to be the next House speaker, or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is an open question.

We'll discuss that by the end of the week.

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