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Monday, August 23, 2010

No One Could've Predicted

Posted by on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 10:53 AM

The Democrats—once they took control of the House, the Senate, and the White House—said they couldn't move more aggressively on the Democratic agenda that they campaigned on and that won them three national elections in a row because, my goodness, that might cost them control of the House and the Senate. And now they're in danger of losing control of the House and the Senate anyway... and we don't have a public option or ENDA or closed Gitmo or a repealed DADT to show for it.

Good work, gang.

UPDATE: From comments...

The Dems are in danger of losing the Congress because the economy sucks, not because we don't have a public option—which was never explicitly promised by Obama.

The commenter has it right: the Dems wouldn't be in danger if the economy didn't suck so hard. But that's also irrelevant to my point. Yes, events beyond the control of the party in power can result in that party losing control. I learned this lesson as a wee child when a snowstorm undid the mayor of Chicago, a career politician with the backing of the city's all-powerful machine. Since everyone knows, or should know, that something beyond the control of the party in power—a tanking economy, a snowstorm, a sex scandal—can result in that party losing control, the party in power has to move on its stated, winning agenda. You push through your agenda while you're in charge because there's no guarantee that you'll be in charge after the next election. Majorities are fleeting. Use it because you're going to lose it.

And since everyone knows a political party is eventually going to lose its majority—there's no such thing as a permanent majority, however cautiously you govern, however much fun it is to fantasize about one—a party that jettisons its agenda to preserve its majority is guilty of political malpractice and deserves to lose.

As for Obama not making any explicit promises about the public option: bullshit.


Comments (44) RSS

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Vince 1
But, Dan, you're the "professional left". That maks it o.k. to just ignore you.
Posted by Vince on August 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Mind you, part of why the polling shows the vote in Seattle and King County is way less D than usual might have something to do with a very unpopular Billionaires Tunnel we never voted for, voted against once, and that the Governor insists on shoving down our throats.

Without Seattle, any statewide or countywide seat just lost it's margin of victory.

It's time to bring the troops home, stop paying mercenaries, trust bust the Too Big To Fail banks, and end the failed War on Drugs, while not giving corporations tax exemptions or deductions for exporting US jobs overseas or hiring H1-B visa employees when American citizens are out of work.

But, hey, you knew that, right?
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM · Report this
Thomas Guy 3
The Dems are in danger of losing the Congress because the economy sucks, not because we don't have a public option--which was never explicitly promised by Obama.
Posted by Thomas Guy on August 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Geocrackr 4
And now they're in danger of losing control of the House and the Senate anyway...

Not "anyway" - as a result!
Posted by Geocrackr on August 23, 2010 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 5
@2: please stop flogging that tunnel-kills-enthusiasm horse.
Posted by Max Solomon on August 23, 2010 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
@5 and yet, it is very true. As anyone doorbelling voters knows.

But, hey, live in your fantasy world if you must.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Fenrox 7
@4 Yeah! They did this! Oh and the huge republican machine that has destroyed News and facts in our country making it impossible to play the game that up until Obama got in, was a pretty consistent "If you lie and we catch you you lose credibility" to a new game of say whatever you want to incite crowds.

This is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. The only way out would require all the dems to be smart too.
Posted by Fenrox on August 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM · Report this
treacle 8
I await the day we have 7 or 9 functional political parties in this country. Two is just not cutting it.
Posted by treacle on August 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM · Report this
venomlash 9
@6: Lord knows you're posting on SLOG from your smartphone while making your eternal rounds to poll the public. Right? How else would you understand public opinion so well?
Posted by venomlash on August 23, 2010 at 11:22 AM · Report this
JamieD 10
Again Dan, you're always welcome to move up here to Vancouver.
Posted by JamieD on August 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM · Report this
@8-absolutely. Two parties gives us no options. Vote for the Green party next time Savage.
Posted by chica on August 23, 2010 at 11:25 AM · Report this
It's funny, because sometimes even intelligent progressives like Dan (and not just Dan, but liberal think tank fellows with eight bajillion advanced degrees) lose sight of the fact that even their perspective is being moved by the conservative talking heads (CTHs).

Case in point: the public option isn't even the Democratic/ liberal agenda! Single-payer is! The public option WAS the compromise! Unfortunately, Obama came out offering the compromise from the beginning (his first big lesson learned, I think), which made the public-option compromise immediately become the lefty wingnut option according to the CTHs, meaning the the final actual compromise then had to be to the right of the already compromising compromise.

Right? Right.

My point is, somehow, everybody bought into this. The pubic option became universally accepted as the lefty notion by pretty much everybody everywhere. Sigh.
Posted by lopes on August 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 13
@11 - He said functional parties.
Posted by MacCrocodile on August 23, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Report this
The Dems are in danger of losing the Congress because the economy sucks, not because we don't have a public option--which was never explicitly promised by Obama.

So if they were gonna lose anyway because of the economy, why not lose big and get all the legislation they would also lose on through fast?

Posted by Sili on August 23, 2010 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 15
Eh. If you think this election's going to be bad, just wait two more years.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on August 23, 2010 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Um, no--they've been unable to achieve meaningful progressive reform on some issues primarily due to republican filibuster abuse.
Posted by Kevin Erickson on August 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM · Report this
schmacky 17
I wish Obama had lost. Then all this shit would be happening to Republicans right now (because the economy was going in the crapper regardless of which party was in charge), and on top of Bush's disastrous term, would guarantee a Democratic victory in 2014, and probably 2018, 2022, and 2026 also.

Of course, as Dan points out, Democrats are only marginally better than Republicans anyway, so I'm not sure how much we've lost, really.
Posted by schmacky on August 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM · Report this
I have to admit that the Dems have managed to really anger me over this. Only a few years ago they would tell me that they couldn't do anything until there were more Democrats in office. The Republicans were in power, the Democrats were helpless, everything was the Republicans' fault . . . I'm sure you all remember. And once they got a super-majority? Oh, then they can't do anything because then they wouldn't be in power anymore! No matter what, so many of the Democrats seem determined not to do anything that I wonder why we elected them.
Posted by Lorran on August 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
Did you know the Green party picked up another seat in Australia? hmm, maybe @11 has a point.

If he moves to Oz, that is.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Please read this excellent article by Matt Yglesias:…
Posted by Kevin Erickson on August 23, 2010 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Where were they supposed to pull the votes for a bill with a public option, out of Lieberman's ass?
Posted by Vadt on August 23, 2010 at 12:03 PM · Report this
@21-- They should have made those bastards ACTUALLY filibuster. Stand on the damn floor and read the phone book. Made the make a public spectacle of bringing one third of the federal government to a grinding halt until they had to relent from public pressure and put the bill up to a straight vote.

Then they could have passed the bill and shoved the damn thing up Lieberman's ass.
Posted by lopes on August 23, 2010 at 12:09 PM · Report this
@18 - really? Not to specifically pick on you, but you weren't pissed at the Dems for running two shitty races against Bush and then cowtowing to everything the Republicans did and said while in office? You weren't pissed at the Dems when they then voted in an inexperienced, flip-floppy egomaniac with zero country-running skills, instead of someone with balls and, I don't know, a record? Only now they've managed to anger you?

The Dems have managed to make me want to throw up since they caved and simpered their way through the Lewinsky trial. None of the failings Obama created and fostered has surprised me in the least.
Posted by mitten on August 23, 2010 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@22, well, that I would have liked to see (except for the actual shoving...eww.)
Posted by Vadt on August 23, 2010 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Obama's "public option" was minimal lip-service, such as subsidies for poor people to buy private insurance (cf. last item of your "bullshit" link).
Posted by RonK, Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 26
@22 - Amen. I will continue to wonder how a 60-40 majority could be so incredibly incapable of imposing the will of the vast fucking majority. The filibuster-that-never-really-was is the most frustrating aspect of the past two years. I've been hoping that the Dems have been saving the "fine, go ahead and filibuster you pricks" card on something huge, preferably right before the election. But that would indicate an actual strategy and a pair of balls.

No, they're just a bunch of empty sacks.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on August 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM · Report this
Actually, they DIDN'T say they couldn't move more aggressively on their agenda because they were in danger of losing control. They said they couldn't move more aggressively on their agenda because they didn't have the votes. And they didn't.

All the whining at Obama and the Democratic leadership won't make the votes materialize when they aren't there. They are not to blame for the cowardice of conservative Democrats, or the insanity of the Senate's procedural rules.
Posted by hwj on August 23, 2010 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 28
I'm done with voting for the Dems at the Federal level. Seriously, fuck. them. They've screwed over liberals at every opportunity. They can feel free to bitch and whine spew spittle contemptuously about the "professional left," but we're the ones who vote and donate our time and money, and we got paid back in puke.

This is no longer about right vs. left--this is a full-blown class war with the top 1% against everyone else, and we have two-right wing parties following the same corporate supremacist ideology.
Posted by Original Andrew on August 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM · Report this
balderdash 29
Politicians of any stripe would sooner stab themselves in the balls than risk changing the status quo. They're fundamentally cowards, too risk-averse to do anything but try to stay on top where they already are.
Posted by balderdash on August 23, 2010 at 1:02 PM · Report this
I think a big problem is that the American electorate contains a great number of poorly-informed, highly gullible people with very, very short memories. Obama hadn't even been sworn in yet when the phrase "Obama's economy" began being played on a loop on Fox. Two years later people seem to have forgotten that our current recession can trace its origins to an eight year period of the very same policies that the GOP are again touting as the only solution to our recession. If not for this collective, readily-exploitable amnesia, the "hair of the dog" prescription of more high-end tax cuts and deregulation would be laughed off the stage, and rightly so.

Any Democrat who inherits the office after a long Republican reign spends all their time doing damage control. And they have to work overtime to avoid being blamed for the situation they inherited.
Posted by Proteus on August 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM · Report this
@30 - It was obvious during the health care debate that the Dems are incapable of governing. The whole "Cornhusker kickback" and "Louisiana purchase" along with the inability to reduce costs shows they are no better than the Republicans. The only solution is a split government
Posted by j_smith89 on August 23, 2010 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 32
Did you know that Obama was born in Keynsia on an ice floe where he was raised by seals, @30?
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 1:21 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 33

That worked great for progressives in 2000!

Thank God Al Gore never became president. He probably would have done something stupid like invade and occupy a Middle East Country.
Posted by passionate_jus on August 23, 2010 at 1:26 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 34

We will never have that because we do not have a parliamentarian form of government.
Posted by passionate_jus on August 23, 2010 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 35
@34 no, we used to have more than two functioning parties up until just before WW II. What happened was they changed the electoral laws to lock in the two party system - but it could easily be changed back.

But it won't be before 2040.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 1:50 PM · Report this
@31: Nobody would be happier than me to seem some kind of parliamentary system that allowed more than two parties and required coalition building to achieve majorities. But even if someone waved a magic wand and that came true tomorrow, we'd still have the Libertarians and Tea Party people balancing out the Green Party vote. The problem of ignorance and gullibility doesn't go away in any democratic system.
Posted by Proteus on August 23, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
When the GOP held all the power in DC, they treated social conservative causes pretty much the same way Democrats have treated progressive causes.
Posted by midwaypete on August 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM · Report this
AustinCynic 38
As Jim Hightower--the only living Texas politician I still respect after Ann Richards' death--titled one if his books: the only thing in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos.

Since the inmates were given the keys to the asylum in 1994, the Democrats have not learned that there is no compromising with the Republicans. They offer none when they're in power, they accept none when they're out. And yet, in 16 years and counting, the leaders of the Democratic Party have yet to learn this lesson. You can't treat people like adults when they insist on acting like toddlers!

(My apologies to toddlers everywhere for comparing them to Republicans)
Posted by AustinCynic on August 23, 2010 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 39
Dan, yer talkin about da mayor, dere!!
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on August 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 40
@37 true dat. Other than tax cuts for the ultra-rich at the expense of small business entrepreneurs.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 23, 2010 at 3:45 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 41
@38: You forgot the jackrabbits. :-)
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on August 23, 2010 at 3:53 PM · Report this
@38- I love Jim Hightower and also question why the Republicans seem to push far more of their agendas through when they are in power than the Dems.

Here's an interesting blog post from Joe King, a former Speaker in WA state, about sneaky methods of working with Republicans to get things done.…
Posted by becksta on August 23, 2010 at 3:57 PM · Report this
@42: The reason Republicans are able to push their agenda further than Democrats is because the agenda of the GOP is more or less identical with the agenda of corporate America. When Democrats adopt party planks that are in step with what corporate America wants, they frequently enjoy similar success.
Posted by Proteus on August 23, 2010 at 4:11 PM · Report this
@17, you may be on to something there. Bush I inherited the shitty Reagan economy, and couldn't sustain pretty much so the same policies that Bush II put into place, and it cost him dearly. However, I believe that McCain would have viewed himself as a one-termer (he's old, and the tax of the office would have put him in a very bad state), so he would have jammed through even more harmful legislation than we already have. So the Democrats would have still been doing cleanup, probably much worse cleanup, and would have still been screwed.

Here's why (::puts economist hat on, bear with me::). The early 1980's into the mid-1990's were a time of tremendous change in our economy. The taxes that Reagan cut for the wealthy and mega-corporations were actually pretty high, and so there was some additional spending to be eeked out of these "citizens." Additionally, this time was a time of emerging economies and great trade liberalization. Meaning that the average person got lots more for lots less. Was the "recovery" spurred by all of this healthy? No, it was completely unsustainable, but Clinton benefited from it. However, what Bush II put into place was totally unhelpful, and whoever was tasked with dismantling this damage was going to look like a bafoon. (I seriously don't have time to explain all of this now but think about rising standards of living/wage rates in the developing world and the marginal propensity to consume (google it) and it'll make sense) I'm just sad that it had to be Obama, who I think did represent a radical rethinking of how American government works, if only he had the means to make it happen. Unfortunately, given the circumstances, nothing is going to get better any time soon, some idiot is going to get elected in 2012, and things are only going to get worse as they roll back what little good we've managed to shove through.

I suppose it's time for me to start looking for employment elsewhere, except that the U.S. mega-consumerist economy is going to drag down the entire world (which makes it a little hard for an Asian trade specialist, since they supply the consumerist economies, but I suppose I also know how protection works?). And I LIKE the U.S. on a fundamental level. It makes me very sad to think that I might have to use a passport to stroll the National Mall in October or enjoy the pier of San Francisco in July. Sigh, cry.
Posted by Ms. D on August 23, 2010 at 7:48 PM · Report this

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