Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Update: Even if Krugman is right that there is little chance of financial reform before November -- which seems entirely plausible -- that doesn't alter the political calculus. The main point, politically, is for Obama and the Dems to get out there and throw punch after punch. Frankly, I will be astonished if they don't. This isn't rocket science, it's sweet science.
Update 2: More grist. As His Shrillness's latest column suggests, it's now down to the politics. Shelby and others will attempt Orwellian FUD, so our president must get out on the stump and make it clear, forcefully, daily, unambiguously, that he and his administration regard banks as bad guys. As with the last month's push for the ersatz healthcare bill, the imperative is no longer to argue the fine points -- it's to clarify the sides in the battle.
Monday, March 22, 2010
David Sanger in tomorrow’s Times – with unintended irony – describes the moment thus: “After the bitterest of debates, Mr. Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core.” Of course, that “something” wasn’t a serious healthcare bill. Rather, it was his own political future. Not very inspiring for the rest of us, to be sure – but it’s a start. His lizard brain, at least, has awakened. He has grokked that he had to do more than float like a butterfly if he wanted to avoid becoming a lame duck by this November – or by tomorrow morning.
So, for the past month, he actually fought, actually (yes) demonized somebody, actually defined the terms of a debate. In other words, he actually engaged as a political actor. And the very salutary results of that engagement were evident on the floor of the House tonight. His enemy – our enemies – were forced to react, and their reactions committed them in public to a stance that will further marginalize them, will accelerate their collapse into white dwarf stardom. Republican after Republican rose to utter patently incoherent, untruthful and amoral nonsense. They voted as a bloc against their own type of plan (Romneycare writ larger). And the coup de grace came when Bart Stupak, of all people, rose to denounce their last-ditch obstructionist bid.
(It’s enough to make one speculate that the whole Stupak Amendment dance was pure kabuki from the get-go – a way to establish this no-name as the face of anti-choice, so he could, in the end, provide his blessing to Obama’s plan. Or not.)
Contra the Times editorialists, Barack Obama did not "put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions." His presidency was already on the line. He merely woke up to that fact. And the proportions here aren't anything like historic. It remains the thinnest of gruel, at best. At worst, it’s a betrayal of women, and a massively missed opportunity. Nonetheless, I’m pleased our president has taken this initial step. Maybe it’ll lead to another. In politics, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first punch.