But here’s what Obama and Democrats ended up with: the appearance (and reality) of crumbling on a matter of core principle. That is far more damaging in the long run than any marginal benefits of the deal. It further weakens Democrats and undermines the progressive cause. And that hurts America.
Obama and his advisers are in the habit of looking to past presidents for guidance. The days of Lincoln and FDR are long gone, but recent presidents like Reagan, Carter, Clinton and Bush still offer a roadmap of what – and what not – to do.
One admonition from President Clinton seems particularly apt for Obama’s predicament:
“When people are insecure, they’d rather have someone strong and wrong, rather than weak and right.”
This is a truism and George W. Bush banked it for six years until New Orleans drowned and the reality of his policies finally collided with his studiously cultivated image of strength and resolve.
Amazingly, Obama and Democrats have the opportunity to be strong and right, yet refuse to do so.
This is a time of great insecurity and fear, a time of confusion where millionaire media moguls feed think-tank crafted soundbites to a believing public. In this atmosphere, a premium is placed on strength and principle, not on faux-compromise.
It matters very little whether Barack Obama is a pragmatist, a multi-dimensional chess player, an inept Democrat, a Blue Dog, a centrist Lieberman protege, or a closet Republican. Good luck trying to read his mind.
All that matters from a political perspective is that he and his once-vaunted team have misread the public mood for two demoralizing years and hobbled the progressive cause in the process. They are clearly misreading it again.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it: If you stand up for your principles, you may lose an election but keep your principles; if you ditch your principles, you’ll lose both.
I don’t agree with everything Bill Maher says here, but his take is instructive:
The White House’s baffling message in recent days that if Republicans gain seats they’ll be more cooperative, is emblematic of that divide.
The reality is this: impeachment, not cooperation, is on the table if the GOP takes the House. I’ve been arguing for months that the level of anger on the right, stoked by millionaire radio talkers and fueled by a well-oiled attack machine, has created a fertile atmosphere to move impeachment from the fringes to the mainstream.
Democrats are constantly flabbergasted by Republican audacity. Republicans will say and do what Democrats won’t; they’ll endure the initial outcry over inflammatory comments to move the national discourse to the right, a process I described in a recent post:
There is a simple formula for rightwing dominance of our national debate, even when Democrats are in charge: move the conversation as extreme right as possible, then compromise toward the far right. Negotiation 101. And it’s completely lost on Democrats.
Another chronic problem for Democrats is that they underestimate the American public’s responsiveness to rightwing talking points. Take this poll for example: “Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP.”
In a word, the environment is ripe for impeachment. William Wolfrum elaborates:
A while back, my friend Sam Antar – a former key player in the infamous and egregious “Crazy Eddie’s” fraud – told me that it was just a matter of time before Barack Obama faced impeachment charges. “With all the stimulus money going out, the Republicans will eventually find some corruption charge they think will stick,” said Antar, now a corporate whistle-blower who tends to view things from a non-partisan prism. “It’s just a matter of time.”
In a purely Machiavellian sense, Republicans have always seemed to understand the game in ways Democrats don’t. Because while American Conservatism is an ideology with few new ideas or plans, it is also an ideology that understands that power is the only thing that really matters. And they have proven extremely adept at regaining power, regardless of past performances in governing.
Republicans can not beat Obama at the ballot box. But you can be assured that they will do all they can so that his legacy is terribly tainted in scandal. There is just no way the GOP will allow Obama to serve out eight years and leave office with a strong record of liberal accomplishment that he can hand over to a Democratic successor. Simply put, for Republicans, Barack Obama must be destroyed and completely invalidated before his term or terms are over.
Republicans will attempt to impeach Barack Obama. The “why” of the matter is completely insignificant. They’ll find something and work overtime to make it appear to be the Greatest Scandal Ever. It’s just a matter of time. Provided, of course, that they have the numbers.
Kevin Drum hypothesizes:
The topic here is, “What excuse will some insane tea party faction in the House use to bring impeachment charges against Barack Obama?”
Since we’re going for style points here, I’m putting my money on a scenario in which South Carolina decides to nullify the healthcare reform law and prohibit its enforcement. Obama nevertheless directs the IRS office in Charleston to dispatch tax delinquency notices to uninsured residents. Governor Nikki Haley instructs the state police to barricade the IRS in order to prevent it from delivering outgoing mail, at which point Obama sends in Army troops to reopen the office. This is taken as a tyrannical abuse of federal power, and Rep. Joe Wilson files immediate impeachment charges. The impeachment bill passes with 220 votes — 201 from the Tea Party, 18 from the rump Republican Party, plus Bobby Bright — and is sent to the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts presides, wearing robes decorated with the scales of justice stitched in gold lame, but Tea Partiers and Republicans eventually rally only eight Democratic supporters and the charges fail by a single vote.
A touch of satire, but not out of the realm of possibility. Or probability.