Posted by: Rick | Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama’s Wasted Year

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain decended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain decended, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.  — Matthew 7.24-27

That’s (undoubtedly!) rhetorical overkill, but the irresistable King James prose happens to perfectly describe the foundational state of the Democratic Party vis-a-vis its Republican opposition.

Pundits love to bemoan the dearth of “new” Republican ideas, but — in truth — the GOP’s very “brain-deadness” is the source of its political strength.  Economic winds may be howling, and Republican approval ratings may be tanking, but fear not!  Republican champions stand ready to solve the nation’s problems with yet another round of tax cuts and calls for more “spending restraint”.  Their party offers simple-minded solutions (“tax relief)” tailor-made for its simple-minded politicians (Michele Bachmann) and perfectly suited to its even simpler-minded propagandists (Sean Hannity).   And while Republicans won’t win every election, voters will always know where they stand.  (The modern GOP never has to reinvent itself.  Its policy proposals can be concocted solely for short-term political expediency, since its ideology dictates that government can’t do a damn thing anyway.)

And what of Barack Obama’s party?  Although Congressional Democrats have helped the Administration achieve some legislative successes, the President hasn’t explained why voters shouldn’t turn them out next year.  I’m not saying Republicans are going to make huge gains in 2010.  I’m just saying that Obama’s focus on process and bipartisanship has been a political dud.  He passed a weak stimulus package, and still the Republicans and the media are going Chicken Little on the deficit.  His historically important health care initiative is at the mercy of the Snowe-Lieberman gang of political hacks.  And his progressive base is wondering what’s going on.  (Remember how excited we all were at Obama’s kick-ass health care address to Congress in September?  Well, that’s the last we saw of that guy.)

I like Barack Obama, and I have no desire to re-fight the Democratic nomination wars of 2008, but there’s a reason (aside from her manifest qualifications) that many of us supported Hillary Clinton.  There was no way she would have been able to conduct a “post-partisan” presidency.  And we didn’t want one!  Barack Obama is now right where Hillary would have been all along — a Democrat under fire — and he has nothing to show for it but an even fuzzier identity than he had during his campaign of hope.

The Republicans cannot be co-opted.  Ever.  Their “ideas” must be countered so the voters can hear it.  By a Democratic White House.  Every day.

(Happy Thanksgiving!)

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