A move on moment from House Dems
Any semblance of sanity on the Dem side is now officially history, which means, for all intents and purposes, there isn’t any semblance of sanity in D.C. anymore. Not that there was much even in semblance before House Democrats jumped the shark.
Their reaction to President Obama’s reachout to Republicans to offer support for a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the superwealthy in exchange for GOP support for an extension in benefits for the long-term unemployed is beyond the pale. The message sent to the American people: As a matter of principle we’re going to raise your taxes and cut off the long-term unemployed, the meager job market be damned.
The principle they’re trying to advance doesn’t make much sense. OK, so Republicans have for the past two years been the “just say no” party on the Hill, got it. But they weren’t successful in the midterms just because they always say no. How about – they were successful because the voters gave Democrats the White House and big majorities in the House and the Senate, and Democrats couldn’t get anything done?
I’m not even sure that i count health-care reform as something done, if only because what finally passed was so pedestrian, and pushed down the road key provisions from taking effect. Meanwhile, nothing gets done on climate change, nothing substantive is done to public education, nothing is done on the tax cuts until the lame-duck session, et cetera.
The president has been shouldering the blame for what hasn’t happened, but I think we’re starting to see what’s been gumming up the gears. It wasn’t so much Republicans as it was Democrats who worked themselves up to a point of giddiness over what they’d do once they got big majorities back in Congress and subsequently imploded in in-fighting that put the in-fighting that had crippled Republicans in the Bush years to shame. I say that because it took into the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term before we saw the ideological purging that led to the loss of Karl Rove’s permanent majority in 2006 and solidified itself with the election of Obama and the big wins by House and Senate Democrats in ’08.
Democrats, for their part, began bringing out the sharp knives and aiming them at each other even before they’d won that November. The so-called Blue Dogs, the fiscally moderate Democrats whose victories in a number of swing districts fueled the House majority, were never Democratic enough, and to them the liberal stalwarts might as well have been space aliens than members of their own party.
The internecine battles that ensued amplified the Republican “just say no” approach – in line with the old axiom about how when your opponent is going down in flames you should get out of the way and let him roast.
Me, I give President Obama credit, much like I gave credit to Bill Clinton in 1995 for pivoting after the GOP won the House and the Senate in the ’94 midterms. Clinton, unlike Obama, couldn’t even get a milquetoast health-care reform passed, so Obama has already done the Democratic legend one better in that respect. He still has a ways to go to match what Clinton was able to do in the wake of his midterm losses.
The reachout on taxes and unemployment benefits is a huge step in that direction. You ask me, the best thing House Democrats could have done for Obama heading into the 2012 election cycle is what they’ve been doing this week. By “just say(ing) no,” they’re giving the president the break from their failure to get anything of substance done that he will need to recast his image.
Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at email@example.com.