Monday, February 16, 2009

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Less than a month into Obama's term, we don’t (and can't) know how he'll fare as president. The compromised stimulus package, while hardly garbage, may well be inadequate. Timothy Geithner's uninspiring and opaque stab at a bank rescue is at best a place holder and at worst a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the TARP-Titanic, where he served as Hank Paulson's first mate.

But we do know this much. Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.


The GOP has declared war on Obama. This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.

Over three weeks into the Obama administration, we're still waiting for change to come to Washington.

All in all, I find it astounding that some still point the finger at the President's "bipartisan" tone as somehow having been a bad thing. To the contrary, it was key to bring along the few Republican votes necessary in the Senate to go for this massive public works program. But there's a silver lining for those of us that appreciate irony: Now that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has thrown a bone to the anti-bipartisanship factions, I wonder if any of the heads of those who portrayed him an enemy to progressives will now commence to explode.

In Washington, coverage of politics is dominated by politics rather than the policy consequences of politics. Thus, because of the outcome of the 1994 elections, Gingrich’s 93-94 tactics are held to have been a great success. But it’s important to be clear—those tactics included lockstep opposition to a Clinton economic program whose opponents set it would wreck the economy, but in fact laid the groundwork for years of prosperity. Gingrich’s success in blocking health care reform has been a small but persistent drag on the economy whose negative impact has compounded each and every year for the past fifteen years and has led to the preventable deaths of thousands and thousands of people at a minimum. Politics is politics and I understand that, but anyone who looks to that era as something to be emulated is dangerously indifferent to the real-world implications of congressional behavior.

The thing about the stimulus measure was that it would always pass. New president, Democratic Congress, popular measure, and recession. There was never any serious hope of killing it. Republicans opposed it, in part, to show they could. It was sort of like why man climbs mountains. And they succeeded. Obama saw. And that may prove to have been a great mistake

[Rush] Limbaugh is, without ambiguity, rooting for failure. In the midst of an economic crisis, Limbaugh quite openly admitted that if Obama's economic policies are successful, it would undermine the talk-show host's worldview. As such, Limbaugh wants desperately to see more Americans suffer, more workers unemployed, more businesses close up shop. The key here is philosophy -- if government spending can stimulate the economy, as it always does, then the right is wrong. Limbaugh would much prefer a suffering nation than a reevaluation of conservative ideas.

With zero House Republicans voting for the stimulus -- and with just three Senate Republicans [voting] for it -- it's worth noting that 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats voted for the final passage of Bush's big tax cut in 2001. (And remember, too, that Bush had barely won the presidential election the year before.) The size of that 2001 tax-cut package? $1.35 trillion.

I honestly have never seen a party go so far out of their way to marginalize themselves, and folks who study groupthink are going to look at the last few months as a veritable gold mine. Why the Republicans have decided to, in the middle of numerous crises, ignore the outcome of an election and run headlong against a popular new President into opposition for opposition sake is beyond me.

The huge social changes that accompanied the Great Society and subsequent agitation for the rights of women, gays, and Hispanics have required a reordering of society that some found frightening while others resented the intrusiveness of federal measures to right past wrongs. Playing to those fears and resentments became a staple of Republican party electoral operations and has led the GOP to its current status where the majority of people have accepted the changes and wish to move on, leaving many in the GOP base behind.

So in the end, modern conservatism has turned inward rather than facing the reasons for its falling back. I don't know if conservatism has been discredited but I know that what people believe conservatism to be is in very bad odor right now. And until we can show we are making a serious effort to examine where we went wrong and embrace the world as it is and not as we wish it to be in some alternate reality, then it won’t matter what people believe about conservatism because we will have rejoined the national political conversation and our ideas are successfully competing.

No comments: