Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Call

Nooners has a truly bizarre column in the WSJ today (it drifts into MoDo the Red territory of weirdness) as she feels she must defend Barack Obama, because gosh, nobody else will and it's cool to hate the guy.
Cannon to the left of him, cannon to the right of him, cannon in front of him volley and thunder. That's our president's position on the political battlefield now, taking it from all sides. And the odd thing, the unique thing in terms of modern political history, is that no one really defends him, no one holds high his flag. When was the last time you put on the radio or TV and heard someone say "Open line Friday—we're talking about what it is we like best about Barack Obama!" When did you last see a cable talking head say, "The greatness of this man is as obvious as it is unnoticed"?

Is the left out there on the Internet and the airwaves talking about him? Oh, yes. They're calling him a disappointment, a sellout, a DINO—Democratic in name only. He sold out on single-payer health insurance, and then the public option. He'll sell you out on your issue too.

The pundits and columnists, dreadful people that they are, call him cold, weak, aloof, arrogant, entitled.
So let's denounce him again.

Wait—it's Christmas. Let's not. There are people who deeply admire the president, who work with him and believe he's doing right. This week, this column is their forum. They speak not for attribution to avoid the charge of suckupism.
It gets truly odd from there.  What Nooners just doesn't understand is that it's precisely because of the Village Idiocy that's so pervasive in Washington that it has become the in-thing to bash the President, one who has largely had a fantastic and productive first year in office.  It's precisely because the Village pushed two incompatible Obama memes:  the Messianic agent of change that would finally fix all of America's problems after Bush (not to mention absolve White America of racial guilt) and at the same time, the Village was fascinated with the Birther/Muslim/Manchurian Candidate angle.  It played up both of them.

The result was that the bar was set so high for Obama that even his amazing year was deemed an utter failure, and Village scolds like Nooners pushed him off the cliff.

Now they need to build him back up again...or at least they have to appear human enough to forgive and forget for a couple weeks.

In addition to a better Senate political system, we need a better fourth estate, too.

History Of The Filibuster

Ezra has a pretty informative interview with UCLA poly sci prof and Congress expert Barbara Sinclair.
And is there a particular moment where the filibusters accelerate? Or is the rise gradual?
It's gradual, to some extent. But in terms of its impact on legislation, it really has a big impact from the first Clinton Congress on. If one can say there's a break point, that's where filibusters become a regularly used partisan tool.

Previously, the filibuster frequently had some partisan element, but you'd have a lot of cases where individuals or small groups would hold them. But now it's much more a tool of the minority party. And the minority party is organized and relatively large, even when it's small by our standards. Forty Republicans is as small as it's been in a long, long time. That still means if you really get the minority to hang together, everyone on the other side becomes key.

Which is how you get the process we just saw, where Lieberman and Nelson and others become absolutely must-have, can't-lose votes.

And that means it's an invitation to extortion.

What's the story that you tell your students, or that political scientists tell their students, about the rise of the filibuster? Why did it happen?

It's not a simple story. in the more recent period in the 90s and on, it does have to do with partisan polarization. You have two fairly distinct and ideologically distinct parties. For example, one could make the argument that the first time it became official policy on the part of the minority party to use extended debate to deprive the majority of real victories was that first Clinton Congress.And then the Senate Republicans not only didn't pay a price, but they ended up gaining control. Then combine that with the fact that in a more polarized country, is harder to come up with deals that both the majority and minority think is better than the status quo.

So part of it is polarization, but part of it, you're saying, was a strategic realization that the American people do not reward the majority if it fails to deliver on its promises, and the minority recognized it had the power to keep the majority from delivering on its promises.

That's right, and we're seeing the result. It seems pretty clear that at some point early in this Congress, the Republicans really did decide their best approach was to bring Obama and the Democrats down. It is hard to make yourself popular, but to make the other guys look incompetent is not that difficult, and it worked for the Republicans in the first Clinton Congress, and the Republicans would argue the Democrats used these techniques as well.
As  you can see, the Republicans used the filibuster because it worked so well for them in 1993-4.  It got them the House and Senate back.  They then blew it because Newt decided Clinton was now irrelevant and shut the government down, which was too much even for the Clinton-hating Village.  The GOP then returned the favor by impeaching the guy.

Things will never improve on this front unless we demand it.

Ace Decade

Well, time to get to the end of the year/end of the decade stuff this week, so I suggest starting off with Daryl Cagle's decade in political cartoons review.  My fav:

Come to think of it, that "Unfinished Bush Business" tag pretty much sums up the entire friggin' decade, doesn't it?

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

John Cole asks:
It never stops:
Landrieu said she would not support the final legislation if negotiators tinkered with the Senate proposal for taxing high-cost insurance plans.
“I can only support a bill if the Cadillac plans are taxed at the level they are in the Senate [bill,]” said Landrieu. “It’s not because I’m thrilled about taxing those plans, which I’m not, but it is the No. 1 cost-containment measure in the bill. It’s what is going to drive costs down over time.”
Nelson said he would not support the final bill if it included the House proposal to impose a tax surcharge on individuals earning more than $500,000 and families earning more than $1 million.
“I’ve already said that would be a deal-breaker,” said Nelson.
Lincoln also said she has great concern. “If it moves very much at all from where we are, it’s going to be hard,” she said.
Shorter blue dogs- it is imperative we tax union workers and others making 60k a year with good benefits, but leave Paris Hilton alone. I’m sure Broder and Hiatt will love this definition of “sacrifice.”

Why do we even have a House?  They simply are not co-equal branches.
The real question is "Why do we have a filibuster in the Senate where sixty votes are required simply because an aggrieved minority party wants to and can stop all legislation?"

Seems to me the Senate is broken because the GOP is broken.

Never Waste A Opportunity To Blame The Kenyan Other

GOP crisis management 101, as demonstrated by GOP Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra.
"It's not surprising," U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Holland Republican, said of the alleged terrorist attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit. ... "People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration," Hoekstra said.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that if this had happened in 2008 instead of 2009, Bush would be getting lambasted here, not Obama.  The differences are Bush deserves the scorn, where as Steve Benen points out, Pete Hoekstra should really be keeping his mouth shut on things he has no credibility on.

There are a couple of angles to this to keep in mind. First, Hoekstra would like people to believe the Obama administration isn't taking the terrorist threat seriously enough. The evidence to the contrary -- a.k.a. "reality" -- is overwhelming.

Second, when it comes to national security issues, Hoekstra has one of the more transparently ridiculous track records of any member of Congress in recent memory. We are, after all, talking about a partisan clown who held a press conference in 2006 to announce, "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

And third, yesterday's pettiness probably has something to do with Hoekstra's gubernatorial campaign -- he needs to impress the GOP base to win his primary, and he likely assumes cheap shots at the president in light of attempted terrorism is the way to get a bump in the polls.
You play Peoria to Peoria, and you play Stupid to Teabaggers.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Related Posts with Thumbnails