What I Said About Lieberman

In my November 19 2008 entry on whether Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) should be punished for his opposition to Senator Obama’s presidential candidacy, I had this to say about what might happen if Lieberman was spared (as he eventually was):

There’s almost no way to hold him accountable.  A key Lieberman defender, the also dismayingly moderate Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), gamely tried to argue that if Lieberman steps over the line at any point in the next Congressional session, the Democrats can remove him.  Sounds good – too bad it’s not true.

[…]

So the next chance to punish Lieberman would be in the new organizing resolution in January 2011.  That could be up to two years after whatever Lieberman did, and Lieberman will be chairman the whole time.  That’s two years that Lieberman could obstruct the Democratic/Obama agenda.  That kind of obstruction may not only deny us from vital government oversight and homeland security investment efforts, but who knows, it may contribute to a bad first two years that will cost us seats in the Senate in the 2010 elections, at which point it’ll be even harder to remove Lieberman. [emphasis added]

Fast forward to late October 2009, and we get this:

 

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact filibuster any health care bill he doesn’t agree with–and right now, he doesn’t agree with the proposal making its way through the Senate.

 

“I told Senator Reid that I’m strongly inclined–i haven’t totally decided, but I’m strongly inclined–to vote to proceed to the health care debate, even though I don’t support the bill that he’s bringing together because it’s important that we start the debate on health care reform because I want to vote for health care reform this year. But I also told him that if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage. Therefore I will try to stop the passage of the bill.” [emphasis added]

 

Well, well.  Chicken, meet roost.

Election Day 2009

It’s a lower-key election day than those in even-numbered years but pundits are looking to it as some sort of “indicator” as to how things might go down next year. (Personally I think that the two gubernatorial elections are useless as indicators.) Here I’ll take a look at the five most prominent races, who/what I support and what the outcome will probably be.

 

California’s 10th Congressional District: U.S. Representative

 

This special election to replace annoying centrist Ellen Tauscher is between Democratic perennial candidate-for-anything and carpetbagger John Garamendi and Republican David Harmer.  My ribbing of Garamendi’s career politician-ist tendencies aside, he’s a staunch liberal who advocates Medicare for All, and he’d be a tremendous improvement over Tauscher.  I enthusiastically support John Garamendi.

 

While this is a heavily Democratic district that gave Barack Obama 64.7 percent of the vote last year, the latest (and only, apparently) poll shows Garamendi ahead of Harmer by only 10 points.  While this is worrying (and could potentially be a sign that the Democratic brand is damaged?) as long as the guy wins, I’m happy.  I predict a Garamendi victory larger than 10 points and I look forward to his impending service in the House of Representatives.

 

Virginia: Governor

 

As this is an election between conservative Republican Bob McDonnell and centrist Democrat who’s run a less-than-spectacular campaign Creigh Deeds, I have little enthusiasm and interest in this race.  I suppose I support Creigh Deeds, but really as a lesser of two evils.

 

Furthermore, this race is not competitive and has not been so for some time, as McDonnell is projected to crush Deeds by a double digit margin.  Well, whatever.

 

New Jersey: Governor

 

This is the race I’m most concerned about.  Jon Corzine, the incumbent Democratic Governor, is in the fight of his life against Republican Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett.  In fact, Christie led Corzine by huge margins in polling through most of the campaign, until a month or so ago when Corzine unleashed a torrent of mudslinging and negative ads (some of which even mocked Christie’s weight).  While I strongly disapprove of these kinds of personal attacks, I support Jon Corzine for reelection because he’s one of the few genuine liberals who is a Governor. (I use this careful wording in lieu of just saying he’s a “liberal Governor” because his record as Governor hasn’t been particularly liberal, or at least not as much as he and I would like, due to budget constraints.)

 

The polls right now are showing the race to be super tight: Corzine and Christie are essentially tied, with Daggett siphoning off 10-15 percent away from both candidates.  Just a few months ago, I would have been stunned to think Corzine could pull it off but now it’s really looking like he has a more-or-less even shot, and I really hope he does.

 

New York’s 23rd Congressional District: U.S. Representative

 

This is probably by far the wildest and most tumultuous race of the year (with New Jersey Governor being a distant second).  Before recently, it was a crazy three-way between centrist Democrat Bill Owens, centrist Republican Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava and conservative Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.  While the Republican establishment had been strongly behind their party’s semi-hand-picked nominee, of course, Hoffman was gaining steam among rank-and-file conservatives sick of the Republican Party’s perceived betrayal of conservative candidates.  The swelling of support allowed Hoffman to overtake Scozzafava in the polls and, in a true October surprise, Scozzafava suspended her campaign on October 31 and endorsed Democrat Owens the next day.  Read excellent analyses by Nate Silver here and here, and on Politico here.

 

Now, with it essentially being a two-person race (though Scozzafava is still on the ballot), it’s looking like Conservative Hoffman will most likely win, and probably by double digits.  The district voted for Obama 52-47 but is still mostly Republicans, albeit moderate ones.  The polling done before Scozzafava’s exit had Owens in the lead with low 30s, Hoffman close behind with high 20s to low 30s and Scozzafava trailing with low 20s.  In the short time since Scozzafava’s departure, the few polls available have been all over the map and incredibly unreliable, but have shown Hoffman ahead by a reasonably comfortable margin.

 

As for my support?  It’s difficult to pick my poison in an election between a centrist and a conservative. (This is much like the Virginia gubernatorial race, but unlike that race the victor of this race will have direct influence over me.) Back when it was a three-way race between two centrists, and a conservative, I actually bought the reasoning put forward by Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, who wanted Scozzafava to win because she could be a thorn in the House Republicans’ side, whereas if Owens won, he would be another Blue Dog thorn in OUR side.  Made sense, right?

 

But then, at the end of October but just before Scozzafava dropped out (but well into the period when it was clear that conservatives were having a strong influence on the race and Hoffman could really beat her), Kos retracted his “rooting” for Scozzafava, on the grounds that with conservatives so powerful, Scozzafava would have to turn hard right to survive next year’s primary election, and thus she would not be able to act as a centrist thorn in the Republicans’ side.  Kos weighed the pros and cons of Hoffman and Owens victories and found plenty of both in both.  So he ended up not endorsing anyone in the race. (His exact words, so appropriate for this situation: “I wish nothing but ill will for all candidates in this race.”) Considering the drawbacks of all three, I can’t blame him.

 

For me though, I have to consider what the pros and cons are.  If Owens wins, we’ll get a much more liberal vote than we would out of Hoffman, but not liberal enough to really be worth it.  Remember, we already have a whole crop of centrist Blue Dog Democrats who have caused nearly as much harm as they have good.  If Owens went to the House they’d be that much stronger.  And his victory would strengthen the nattering of those who say that Democrats have to move to the center to win elections (though I don’t know how much of a difference it’d make, since said nattering happens a lot regardless of what actually happens in elections).

 

If Hoffman wins, he gives the Republicans a very conservative vote, more so than the one they got from the seat’s previous occupant, Republican John McHugh.  But with a 170-something minority in a 435-seat House, one vote isn’t a big deal at all.

 

Also, he would bolster conservative candidates running in Republican primaries.  Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate – while this may mean some moderate-ish districts may get conservatives representing them, it could also mean that conservatives could be nominated but defeated in general elections in districts that are too liberal for them, giving us a chance where we might not have had one if Republicans nominated a moderate instead.  Besides, I prefer elections where both parties nominate staunch ideologues rather than squishy moderates, and give voters a real choice and clash of ideas.

 

The beauty of Scozzafava, even if Kos has abandoned that line of reasoning, is that she stops both another damn Blue Dog Democrat and a hard right crazy conservative.  Even if she becomes a hard right crazy herself to win primaries, that’s not really a concern to us.  But without her, it’s either another party-weakening centrist Democrat, or a hard-right conservative who can’t harm our party and can do little damage outside of it in the House.

 

Given that grim choice, I would pick Hoffman.  But if Scozzafava were still running, I’d be supporting her.  Actually, technically she still is on the ballot, so yeah, I support Dede Scozzafava for this seat.  As my second choice, I support Doug Hoffman.  Note that this is purely based on political tactics, and has nothing to do with whom I actually favor as a Representative (which would be none of them).  If I had to pick based purely on political positions and such, I would pick Bill Owens or write someone in.

 

This support is based on my status as a non-NY-23 voter.  While I normally consider all races (including all the other ones discussed here) as if I were a voter who had to make a decision at the polling place, I am clearly not doing that in the case of the NY-23 race.  A separate question, then, is which candidate I would choose if I were an actual voter in NY-23.  I don’t have an answer for that question right now.

 

Maine: Question 1

 

This is Maine’s version of California’s Proposition 8.  Yes means that same-sex marriages is no longer legal; No means that it remains legal.  Obviously, I support marriage equality, so I support No.

 

The Yes on 1 campaign has been more bumbling and less coordinated than the Yes on 8 campaign was in California.  Moreover, it seems like enthusiasm and motivation for banning same-sex marriage in general is starting to fall behind that for preserving/expanding it.  Fortunately, Question 1 will probably be voted down.

NOVEMBER 3 2009 1125 PM UPDATE: Results are in.  I’ll post them when they’re finalized, but the outcomes are mostly clear at this point.

 

CA-10 Representative: Garamendi’s comfortably in.  We’ll see how big his margin was (it’ll be at least mid-50s, probably). FEBRUARY 11 2010 UPDATE: Garamendi won 53-43.

 

VA Governor: McDonnell won, in high 50s.

 

NJ Governor: Christie won, unfortunately.  This race was always his to lose and he didn’t.  Corzine did manage to make a comeback and came very close, but not enough.  With 99% of precincts reporting Christie leads Corzine 49-44; Daggett, surprisingly, only pulled in about 5.7%, despite having hit 15% in several polls.

 

NY-23 Representative: This race has offered the most twists and turns of any this year, and on Election Night it kept it going with another surprise: Hoffman, the supposed frontrunner, lost to Owens.  Look for Hoffman to run as a Republican next year, and Owens to face a tough reelection race.

 

ME Question 1: In probably the biggest shocker of the night, it looks like Yes on 1 is winning, though it’s still close and there’s an outside chance absentee ballots could change the outcome.  In all likelihood, though, Yes on 1 has handed us yet another defeat for same-sex marriage at the ballot box.  This is very much unexpected – Yes on 1 ran a lousy, disorganized campaign fueled by the same tired lies about same-sex marriage being “taught” in classrooms, and you think that people living in one of the least religious states in the country wouldn’t give a shit about same-sex marriage at a time of economic woe.  Wow, this really sucks.

My Thoughts on Health Care, Part II

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What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses

  • Conservatives are able to attack government in general and health care reform in particular with glee, and liberals can never respond with their own ideological arguments.  Thus, we liberals lost momentum and control of the debate.
  • The conservative domination of our country has led to a legislative process that excludes the best, most liberal ideas like single-payer Medicare for All, and instead forces us to fight our hearts out for the public option while conservative ideas like the individual mandate slip through with little resistance.
  • Bipartisanship has poisoned this entire process, and for what?  Nothing.
  • President Obama’s role has been less than helpful, as his lack of assertiveness on the public option and open support and comfort for the enemies of reform have worked against health care reform.
  • The health care reform process has been rather badly bungled and compromised this year.  Democrats have to not only rethink the way they sell and pass legislation; they really have to reclaim ideological ground and push for the idea of active government before they can get transformative progressive legislation through with ease.

 

In Part I of this series I discussed the policy side of health care legislation.  Here I will discuss the political side.

 

Selling Health Care Reform

 

As I’ve said before many times, as long as there remains a prevailing ideological hostility towards larger and more active federal government, we liberals who are pushing for larger and more active government – and make no mistake, that’s what our idea of health care reform essentially is – will always be fighting an uphill battle.  And that’s precisely what’s been happening this year with health care reform.

 

As usual, rhetorically speaking it’s been a lopsided battle.  The conservatives vociferously denounce and attack the very idea of government doing more to better people’s lives. (No, they’re only allowed to serve big corporations and unwanted fetuses.) The liberals barely utter a peep in defense of government.  Sure, President Obama defended it to some degree in his September 9 health care address, but one night of measured defense does not hold up to thirty years of ideological assault.  And as a result, even if we get our way this year, which we will, we will have still lost the larger battle over the role of government, just as we always do.  Which means that the next fights will be a whole lot harder than they have to be.

 

Liberals who frightfully wonder why we can’t seem to ever get anything done and make progress in this country need to look no further than this anti-government bias in our politics.  Sure, we have to deal with other important factors like corporations buying politicians, two-party system-dominated electoral politics and the disconnect between ordinary voters and their representatives in Congress.  But the difference of our country being overall pro-government instead of anti-government, as it is now, is really like the difference between downhill and uphill.

 

A symptom of this anti-government ideological climate is the blatant difference in rhetoric between the two sides.  Conservatives have no problem expressing their ideological opposition to government action – quite the opposite, in fact; it seems to give them immense pleasure.  Liberals, on the other hand, generally avoid ideological defenses, and instead recite a bunch of facts and figures on how great health care reform would be, and how many lives and money we would save.  Jesus Christ – if convincing people was that rational and simple do you think our health care system would still be in the fucked up state it’s in?

 

Conservatives are able to attack health care reform as “socialist” and what not, and liberals never seem to be able to respond forcefully with a simple “government is good!”  Obama tried, kind of (his rhetoric was not as clear-cut and explicit as I would’ve liked) but c’mon, one night of it isn’t enough; he should be doing this thing every day.  And not just him, every liberal should be joining in, from our members of Congress down to the stoned hippies on Telegraph.

 

But instead, liberals responded to conservative attacks with all the coherence and strength of a stunned deer.  And thus, we completely lost momentum and control of the debate.

 

Because conservatives control the debate, with our permission, they get to choose which parts of health care reform we focus on.  It’s no surprise they chose the most government-intensive, pro-working people provision in there – the public option.

 

The defenders of Obama always wonder in despair why the public option is such a big deal when there are “so many other more important” parts of health care reform.  And then, amazingly, they often blame liberals for the misdirected focus.  Hey look, we liberals weren’t the ones asking for this fight.  We’re just stepping up to it because you Obama defenders won’t.

 

I wish the public option could’ve made it through the legislative process quietly, as a “default” part of the legislation (the same way that the individual mandate is).  Yet, I somehow knew that a fight over the public option was inevitable.  Why?  Because our politics is still wrapped around the conservative idea that government can’t and shouldn’t do more.  That’s why I’ve argued incessantly that liberals need to take control of the debate, loudly and explicitly proclaim that government has, can and will do good, and defeat Reaganist anti-government ideology once and for all.  Until we do that, every time we want to pass reforms – whether it be health care, job stimulus, education, climate change, banking – we’re always gonna face this kind of uphill slog and the nonstop “government sucks!” yammering from not only the Right but from conservative Democrats like Kent Conrad.

Legislating Health Care Reform

 

The conservative dominance of our prevailing ideology not only controls the terms of our political debate but, even more importantly, it controls our entire legislative process.  It means that the best liberal ideas are quietly smothered, never to see the light of day.  Instead, we have to fight and fuss over a menu of crappy, pro-corporate choices written by big businesses, their lobbyists and their pet members of Congress.

 

Let’s not forget that the simplest and best idea we know of is expanding Medicare to cover everyone, as I discussed in Part I.  And you don’t have to be an ideological leftist like me to think that.  On every objective measure – cost, reliability, quality of service – Medicare for All is best.  But because of conservative dominance, that idea was taken off the table entirely.  It’s a lot like how many Chinese restaurants in the United States leave their really good authentic dishes off the menu; their menus instead present an array of crap designed for Western palates.  In the same way, single-payer Medicare for All was too liberal and has to be taken off the menu of legislative choices, which has to be tailored for more conservative tastes.  And by “conservative” I mean not just Republicans, but most Democrats too, besides the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a few other good liberals.

 

Beyond this phenomenon I don’t understand why we couldn’t start with Medicare for All and work our way down to the public option from there, instead of starting from the public option and working our way to something even weaker and more ineffective, as we have done.  Some have argued that putting Medicare for All on the table would’ve been a “non-starter” and would’ve turned off most Democrats.  Okay, but how is that really any different from what we got with the public option?  I certainly think it wouldn’t have hurt.  On the contrary, had we used the uber-liberal Medicare for All as our starting point, it would’ve frightened the conservative Neanderthals like Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Kent Conrad into accepting a public option.

 

Instead, we offered up the weaker public option as a sort of sacrificial lamb for the ConservaDem bastards to beat into a weakened, bloody pulp.  As of this writing, the public options in both the House and Senate are both of the weaker, negotiated rates variety instead of the “robust” one that bases its reimbursement rates on those of Medicare.

 

The conservative dominance also means that while we have to fight tooth and nail for the pro-consumer public option, the most anti-consumer, pro-insurance corporations provision, the individual mandate, slides through the legislative sausage-making like butter on grease.  The individual mandate means that the government is saying to every citizen, “you are required by law to feed the profits of greedy insurance companies who don’t give a rat’s ass about you, or else you’re breaking the law and you have to pay a fine”.  Wow!  If this isn’t a naked sell-out of the people’s interest to the rapacious, profit-obsessed insurance industry, I don’t know what is.

 

The Huffington Post’s Bob Cesca brilliantly wrote:

 

Without a public plan, mandates would transform what would otherwise be a landmark reform bill into a massive and perpetual handout to the healthcare industry. You and I would have no choice but to pay a monthly tribute to the worthless bastards at UnitedHealth, CIGNA, Aetna and Blue Cross every month until we died, went broke or reached the age of 65.

 

 

Put another way: either we’re forced to financially support an industry that has knowingly allowed thousands of Americans to die by denying them healthcare when they need it most, or we operate without a safety net while also paying a hefty annual penalty to the federal government. Nice. I’m not sure which is more punitive. A solid public option, on the other hand, solves this wicked catch-22. It will allow many of us to both purchase affordable, portable and reliable health insurance, while also serving as an expression of our disgust with the Mafioso-style business practices of the private insurers.

 

[…]

 

In a political sense, the president and the Democratic Party will have succeeded in authoring and passing a bill that would boil down to nothing less than a massive, almost unprecedented subsidy to the private health insurance oligarchy.

 

And we’d have no way out. In fact, you and I would’ve spent years of our lives mobilizing and activating for healthcare reform only to wind up with a bill that sanctions us to subsidize the very enemy we’ve been fighting all this time. Senator Kennedy would’ve spent his career fighting for what will have devolved into an enormous corporate giveaway disguised as “universal healthcare.”

 

That’s what a sucky bill looks like.

 

And that’s increasingly looking like what we’ll end up with.  Congress will likely pass a public option, but it’ll be incredibly watered down.  At the same time, the individual mandate is still there.  It’s also been watered down somewhat – the penalty has been reduced, and may actually be diverted into a health care fund for the penalized – but it’s still there, no problem. (Btw, I think the idea of taking money away from people with no health insurance is the stupidest idea ever.  Yeah, way to let people know government’s on their side – add to their lack of insurance by taking away their money.)

 

Bipartisanship-ping Health Care Reform

 

The conservative dominance in our politics has produced more disgusting spawn: the bipartisanship rage going on in D.C.  It started with President Obama’s stupid campaign promise to end partisan bickering, and it’s spread to conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman for whom bipartisanship is really just an excuse to vote with the other side like they want to, but might not otherwise get away with.

 

This strategy of pursuing Republican votes is so stupid, futile, and ultimately harmful to the future of our country.  We desperately chase Republicans, whose inclusion in the process allows them to water down our bills to the point of guaranteeing them to be failures.  Those same Republicans who work on the bills with us will then turn around and vote against their own creation – I’m pretty sure that even if the final health care bill was whatever piece of crap that would’ve come out of the so-called Gang of Six, the Republicans in that Gang – Senators Enzi, Grassley and Snowe – would still vote against it, and then laugh all the way out of the Senate chamber.  Then they go home and campaign against the bills, which because of their machinations is doomed to fail.  And when they fail the American people punish Democrats at the ballot box.

 

To sum it up, in the name of sacred bipartisanship, we pursue Republican cooperation and allow them to water down our bills, in exchange for:

 

1. No Republican votes

2. Crappy bills

3. Failures of said bills and potentially devastating consequences for the American people

4. Loss of political capital and Democratic seats in Congress

 

The worst part is that we’re made to believe this is some kind of genius 11-dimensional chess strategy devised by President Obama, when it’s really just being stupid.  Which, incidentally, seems to be the MO of the White House this year.

Change We Can Crap On

I want to finish by touching on President Obama’s role in all this.  A good deal of the blame for health care reform’s difficult passage has to placed on the ConservaDem fucks like Senators Baucus, Conrad, Nelson, etc.  And believe me, you will not find anyone who hates those bastards and wants them out of office more than me.  But let’s not forget that liberals across the country worked their asses off for Obama for a reason: as President, Obama controls a hefty chunk of political viability himself.  Hell, that’s why he’s the fucking President!  In fact, by virtue of the fact that he can singlehandedly kill anything that Congress toils to produce, he is – or should be – in control of the terms of debate.  Now, I’m not saying he should be issuing veto threats.  But his opinion matters, and what I’m saying is that Obama has not been utilizing his position to the maximum extent, the way I and many others would like him to.

Sure, the President can twist arms and do all the usual persuasion stuff.  He controls party infrastructure and has considerable say in how it’s provided or denied.  And the President has been, as many have noted, more than willing to intervene in Senate races.  What if the President threatened to support a primary challenger to Baucus, Nelson, et al.?  Given that the public option commands considerable support in polls among all respondents, and is assuredly even higher among Democrats, such threats would not look ridiculous.  At the very least, that kind of leverage would be useful on Joe Lieberman and Tom Carper, the blue state opponents of the public option.

But even aside from all that, it feels to me like the President has, at every turn, consistently declined the opportunity to really push for the public option, opting instead to undermine its prospects for passage.  Sure, he says he supports it and he did a good job defending it on September 9, but his support for it is decidedly lukewarm, kind of like if a friend and I were at an ice cream store and I go “well I like cookies and cream, but ehhh… vanilla and cookie dough are good too… you pick!”  That’s not leadership.

Let’s face it, Obama’s continued openness and even advocacy of triggers/co-ops makes the public option harder to pass.  He shouldn’t have mentioned triggers/co-ops at all in his September 9 speech.  It wouldn’t be a veto threat, but it’d be a clear indicator to the Senate that those ideas are not worth wasting his breath on.  Instead, he called them “constructive ideas worth exploring”, when they’re not and I’m sure he knows it.  This kind of encouragement of triggers/co-ops breathes new life into those ideas, undermines the public option’s chances of passage, emboldens the Senate centrists, and depresses enthusiasm on the left.  No wonder why Obama’s approval ratings have been sinking among liberals.

At least one Senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, has said that Obama’s advocacy for co-ops in his September 9 speech has encouraged him to back co-ops over the public option.  Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what Nelson would do if Obama had omitted mention of support for co-ops and instead demanded (or only mentioned) a public option.  But the pressure on Nelson to support a bill with a public option instead of filibustering with the Republicans would’ve been enormous.  However, once Obama breathed new life into co-ops, it not only gave Nelson the green light on co-ops, but it legitimized Nelson’s objections to the public option.  Obama was essentially shifting the frame of debate to the right and further away from the public option. (Nelson, surprisingly enough, ended up backing the negotiated rates public option.)

If you ask me who has shown real leadership in this debate, the kind that I only dream of seeing out of President Obama, it’s Rep. Anthony Weiner.  He has argued for health insurance reform exactly as I have – start out from the left, Medicare for All (and he never fails to put in a good word about Medicare) and then say public option is the compromise.  Again, we have to start from the most liberal possible at the beginning, instead of starting out from the center or center-left and being dragged to the right by ConservaDems, as it happened on the stimulus and now on health care.

(I will add videos of Weiner in action later.)

 

If I’ve been too hard on Obama, it’s because I had such high hopes and expectations not only for him, but for our 257-seat House majority and 60-seat Senate majority.  This is our time to get as much liberal shit passed before we lose seats in 2010, 2012 and 2014 (which will probably be an especially shitty year for Obama and Democrats).  And yet I feel like we’re not maximizing our use of what we have, partly because of those damn ConservaDems but also because Obama has created a sort of culture of weakness through both what he campaigned on and his constant preaching of bipartisanship; the bipartisan aura that Obama has created actually serves to strengthen and embolden those centrists that have impeded Obama’s own agenda.  This seems like an odd time to talk about being bipartisan – we should be going for the kill now, and worry about bipartisanship when we’re back to 51-49 or back in the minority.  And I can’t help but be jealous that Republicans were able to accomplish a ton when they had at most 55 seats. (Yes I know there’s a difference between the parties, but I can’t help but think that there was a significant difference in Presidential leadership as well.)

And yeah, Obama needs to take advantage of his Presidential perch and use it to advocate for the idea of active government.  I know he did it somewhat in the campaign and he did a good job of it on September 9.  But he needs to use stronger language and do it more.  Like, every day maybe.  And not just Obama – every liberal Democrat needs to join in.  We need to talk about it nonstop if we’re gonna ever overcome small government conservatism.  I know Obama is not ideological – it’s probably the biggest reason why I didn’t vote for him in the primary.  But I think it’s becoming obvious that if he doesn’t work to defeat conservatives in the ideological battle he’s going to have a much harder time getting his agenda passed.

Democrats will pass health care reform, including at least a negotiated rates public option, this year.  But the truth is, we’ve worked 100 times harder than we should have for something 100 times worse than what we should get.  The whole thing could have done way better if for once Democrats just do as Republicans do and stand up for their beliefs, instead of always hoping to make nice by watering down their ideas and conceding to the other side.