Thursday, February 3, 2011

Test Article

Obama and his backers counted on having a decisive majority on their side in order to ram through their agenda. Now they will have to rely on bipartisanship, on building coalitions with Republicans to get the legislation he wants through. And while the Republican party lacks a Newt Gingrich to negotiate terms as it did in 1994, it does have the Tea Party movement looking over the shoulders of Republican representatives and senators who might be tempted to jump on the bandwagon. When the Dems can't even get a Maine Republican Senator to help them with repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, even the most optimistic of them has to get a sinking feeling about what the next two years are going to be like.

The national mood in general, combined with insurgent populism has rattled politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republicans are afraid, but so are many Democrats who have to run in actual elections, rather than farcical gerrymandered districts where elections are decided by community leaders, democratic clubs or union bosses. So while Charlie Rangel isn't going anywhere no matter what he does or who runs against him, parts of the West and Midwest, areas that helped give the Democrats control of congress have turned into hostile territory.

After making a last stand on ObamaCare, a defiant middle finger to Middle America, their courage has failed because it is clear to them that trying to fight this, the way the Japanese fought WW2 will just end in disaster. The DREAM Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell show how the same politicians who had been determined to ram through ObamaCare at any cost, don't have the stomach for it anymore. Instead they threw them up as political gestures to elements of their base, before running for cover. And no one is fooled by it at all. But once the lame duck sessions are gone, it will be time to talk turkey.

The Democrats faced this same dilemma in 1994. And the show remains the same. So do the talking points. Declaring the recession over, over and over again. Blaming the Republicans for legislative gridlock. Calling the voters spoiled children. We're seeing it all come back again. But this time it's a slipperier problem. Because the most recognizable Republican in the opposition is Sarah Palin, who doesn't hold any elected office. Clinton was able to successfully turn Gingrich into the face of Republican stonewalling. But it's hard to assign blame to Palin for anything that happens in congress. And trying to turn John Boehner into the next Gingrich is a losing proposition. Palin has become associated with the insurgent populism of the Tea Party, and while she may well have plans to run for President, that just gives her a lock on the "Change" brand, without any of the responsibility.

Obama's people know that without an actual economic recovery that they can experience as fact, rather than take on faith, he is almost certainly doomed. And his own visibility, combined with the viability of a populist opposition, will make it hard to shift the blame. Democrats are still stuck on labeling their opponents as extremists, but that's just another way of giving up the "Change" brand. The new Democratic slogan, "The Change that Matters" tries to fix their brand as that of moderate and reasonable change. Which is exactly the wrong slogan when the public is angry and frustrated with the arrogance blowing out of Capitol Hill.

Soros and his ilk could buy Obama the election, but all the liberal billionaires in the world can't buy him every election. Just like we couldn't refight WW2 every decade. Especially when Obama and his supermajority didn't have much to show for it. That means Obama has to switch gears or resign himself to one long vacation while he prepares for 2012. The latter is not an impossibility. Obama's egoism and childishness are difficult to underestimate. He has very little patience for people who don't agree with him. And unlike LBJ or Clinton, he lacks the wheeling and dealing skills of a good horse trader. With Reid out, and Pelosi cracking up, and no one all that eager to take their place as the public face of failure, it's possible that we will have real gridlock.


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