Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obamacare Is A Go

While much has been made of Obama's selections for AG and SecState, possibly the most telling and potentially important cabinet appointment was leaked today, that of Health and Human Services Secretary: Tom Daschle.

As Ezra Klein points out, this means Obama is dead serious about getting Obamacare signed into law.
CNN is reporting that Tom Daschle will not only be Health and Human Services Secretary, but also health reform czar under the Obama administration. This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don't tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That's not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress. You tap him because he understands the parliamentary tricks and has a deep knowledge of the ideologies and incentives of the relevant players. You tap him because you understand that health care reform runs through the Senate. And he accepts because he has been assured that you mean to attempt health care reform.
And I agree with his analysis 100%. Obama may be playing politics with Clinton and State, but he's playing politics to win with HHS.

Considering the seriousness he's taking this with, new tag: Obamacare.

The Whole Hillary Thing

There's two schools of thought on Hillary Clinton as SecState:

1) The Sopranos Theory -- Much like Tony Soprano did with his the relatives he had to keep an eye on, Barack Obama is wisely putting Hillary Clinton in the post where Obama appears to be the most magnanimous and the Clintons end up causing the least actual damage. If she accepts, it means:
  • her fate is now tied to Obama's success,
  • she can't turn around and run against him in 2012,
  • Bill's legacy is on the line as much as hers is,
  • she's duty-bound to implement Obama's foreign policy, not her own,
  • the most popular US Presidential couple living is America's new face abroad,
  • the Clintons are a lightning rod taking needed pressure off Obama,
  • and Hillary really does want this job, and wants to do well internationally.
Obama's got her right where he wants her, and he knows this is the best way to neutralize Hillary Plan 2012. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies in your cabinet.

2) The Sandbag Theory -- Obama's telling the netroots on the left to go screw off just two weeks into his transition, he's going straight down the middle with this Village centrist stuff and the reason Clinton is his SecState is because his foreign policy isn't going to be different from hers. Obama's just hung a huge "Open For Business, Neocons Wanted" sign up on Foggy Bottom and his policy on Iraq is to reduce troops there so they can be deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and eventually Iran. Progressives has served their purpose and now will be abandoned as Obama and the Democrats angle towards the center-right. They find out the hard way Obama's foreign policy is the same as Dubya's only with the competence and slickness of the Clintons behind it. The Left has been totally had and Obama will now be operating to stay in power and pleasing the GOP, having learned the Power of Triangulation from the master himself. The key to winning GOP support will be his Neocon foreign policy, and in the end it's Clinton's third term and Obama's going to throw the Left under the bus.

Which theory is true? I don't know, it's only been two weeks. But the arguments are there, the appointment of Clinton means "No Drama Obama" either is brilliantly tapping the Clintons, or he's already turned on the netroots.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Cartoon by Pat Bagley at Cagle Cartoons.

Let's not forget both sides are using the auto companies to advance their political agendas.

The GOP wants to protect auto executives and CEOs, while busting the last remnants of the UAW and ignoring global warming. The Dems want to protect the UAW while stopping global warming and attacking excessive CEO pay.

The GOP position is like the airlines, the Big 3 will emerge leaner, meaner, and stronger (never mind the airlines had to then turn to consolidation, massive layoffs, and union busting to do so.) The Dems position is that the government has to step in (never mind the Dems screamed that the auto industry was a dinosaur that deserves to die.)

The compromise will most likely save the industry...just not the union jobs. Dems will get a much greener industry, GOP will get the UAW all but decimated, and they'll each call it a win.

Unless, you know, you're an auto worker in a plant town.

Obama's AG

Many news outlets are saying this morning that Obama has picked former Clinton Justice Department #2 man Eric Holder as his choice for Attorney General, but there's one rather big blemish on his record:

Holder, 57, has a rich background within the criminal justice system as a former judge and top federal prosecutor in Washington. He is widely known within the city's legal community and for his philanthropic work on behalf of troubled juveniles detained at Washington's Oak Hill facility. If he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Holder will be the first African American attorney general.

For the past several years, Holder has defended private corporations as a partner at the law firm Covington and Burling. But he took on an active role in the Obama campaign as a friend and adviser to the senator from Illinois after meeting him at a Washington dinner party, and over the summer served on his vice presidential vetting team.

Holder has won praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, although his selection is likely to revive questions about his failure to act forcefully to prevent a last-minute pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, who won clemency from President Bill Clinton during his last days in office in early 2001.

The Republicans are already attacking Holder on this, and the wingnuts are gleefully pointing to this as proof that "Clinton's third term" is underway and that Holder is somehow worse than disgraced Bush AG Alberto Gonzales. I leave with you with part of a speech given by Holder in 2004, courtesy of Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:
At the beginning of the 21st century, this nation faces problems that are old and that are new: racial, sexual orientation, and gender inequality all remain. … The solutions are contained within a new, dynamic, progressive movement that has the ability to inspire and motivate the people of this nation in the way that progressives have in the past. That ability exists in this room, and in the law schools, and in the courtrooms, and in the law offices around this country. It is our task to unlock, to unleash the creative energy needed to give life to this renewed movement. It is not enough for us to gather at annual meetings, to participate in panels, and to return to our communities, and be content to observe, or to passively criticize, the now dominant governing philosophy.

Quite simply, it is time to act. It is time to organize. It is time to retake the levers of government and to use them for the common good. It is time, finally, to be true to our ideological heritage. And so my challenge to you tonight is to leave this convention renewed in your convictions, and committed to using your abundant talents for the good of the citizens of this country.
So...yeah. This is one of the guys who will help Obama put the country back together, I hope. I'm far less worried about Eric Holder and Marc Rich than I am his views on the Constitution, torture, executive power and the "plenary executive", the legality and scope of how much power the Warren Terrah grants President Obama, enforcement of civil rights and voting laws, and the politicization of the Justice Department.

Even more than SecState, Obama's appointment to AG is the most important appointment he can make after the "above the law" presidency of Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzo, John Yoo, and Mike Mukasey. It was the Bush legal team (illegal team?) that gave him the cover to do all the horrendous things that he did to America like torture, like suspension of habeas corpus, like wiretapping American citizens, and it was specifically Gonzales who turned Justice into the Cover Preznitman's Ass Department.

Only after Gonzo went too far and fired career US Attorneys based on political reasons was he forced to resign. Meanwhile, current Chief Ass-Coverer Mike Mukasey has done exactly nothing to clean up Justice.

I understand that "Better than Gonzo" is about the lowest bar in the history of Presidential cabinet appointments, but Eric Holder seems like somebody actually dedicated to Rule Of Law and not Rule By President. More than any other cabinet position, it's the AG that has the most work ahead of him, and it's good to see former Consitutional Law professor Barack Obama take this seriously.


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