Posts Tagged ‘bipartisanship’

The inside story of why not a single House Republican supported the president’s stimulus package; and other related news.

February 1, 2009

This may be the only post for the day (I have GOT to focus on LSAT stuff till the test next Sat.; and, there’s a big bowl people are passing around tonight or something), save for a possible later post about incredibly silly (and perhaps cruel) pet gadgets.  The articles in TheDailyBeast and Nate Silver’s 538.com are really worth your attention, partic. Silver’s.

The Daily Beast explores some inside baseball on why the stimulus bill drew not a single GOP vote in the House:

It turned out that this estimate was 1,000 percent too high, because Emanuel’s go-for-the-big-win style, even when mixed with the president’s earnest charm, did not gain even one vote from the House GOP. The caucus held together like a stone wall when it came time to vote on the Democratic-authored $825 billion stimulus package—all 177 members joined 11 “Blue Dog” Democrats for the 244-188 final tally. How this was done explains the sudden and surprising new discipline of the Republican Party.

Joe Klein defends the spirit of bipartisanship:

Obama’s almost fetishistic pursuit of Republicans — two hours spent with the crabby minority at the Capitol! — is another attempt to deprive his enemies of a Great Satan. The President will make some Republican-oriented concessions, dropping some of the cheesier spending from the stimulus plan. He will get some GOP votes for his stimulus package, but more important, he is establishing himself as a relentlessly reasonable and polite presence in town — and his comity is making it all the more difficult for buffoons like Rush Limbaugh to influence the tone of the Republican opposition.

Time explains the spending from a Keynesian perspective:

— we all really do seem to be Keynesians now. Just about every expert agrees that pumping $1 trillion into a moribund economy will rev up the ethereal goods-and-services engine that Keynes called “aggregate demand” and stimulate at least some short-term activity, even if it is all wasted on money pits.

Political pollster and presidential campaign guru whizkid wunderkind Nate Silver offers some bleak prognostications for the future of the GOP.  Here he explains The Republican Death Spiral:

Most fundamentally of all, the McCain campaign radically overestimated the importance of appealing to the base. House Republicans may be replicating their mistake. Self-described conservative Republicans represent only about 20 percent of the population. This base is not necessarily becoming smaller; it’s still alive and kicking. What is true, however, is that the (1) base has never been sufficient to form a winning electoral coalition, and (2) that there are fewer and fewer non-base (e.g. moderates, libertarian Republicans, Republican leaning-independents). As these moderates have fled the GOP, the party’s electoral fortunes have tanked. But simultaneously, they have had less and less influence on the Republican message.
Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base — but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.

not much more

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How Obama is changing the Democrats

January 17, 2009

This is a cool article I read from New York Magazine about how Obama is very much an Independent, both impressive and alarming to different groups on both the right and the left.  Due to his renown use of the Internet to create a grass-roots following of his own, Obama is the rare president who can slightly circumvent Congress and get his supporters, who are also someone’s Congressional constituent, to apply pressure on Capital Hill to support Obama’s proposals.

The article explains it pretty well, but it is going to be exciting to see how Obama’s operation meshes with the DNC and whether there’ll be friction.  Or, my hope, that the DNC will be defined by Obama’s new style and this will serve as a general realignment or redefinition of the Democratic party—-into something far more pragmatic (while still progressive) and contemporary.  ♦Here are some excerpts♦

With the selection last week of Obama’s friend, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, to chair the party, the question has more or less been answered: Much of the campaign’s grassroots operation, I’m told, will reside at the DNC. What Obama is wagering is that, with some clever branding (read camouflage), the fealty of his non-Democratic followers to him personally will overcome whatever nausea they experience owing to the partisan affiliation. And though the move has been interpreted as a sign of Obama’s empowering the DNC by having it absorb the network, I suspect that the opposite may happen. The Obama network—with its greater resources and zeal—may effectively absorb the party.

In the shorter term, it’s clear what Obama intends to do with his new machine: put it to work lobbying on behalf of his legislative agenda. Around the country, countless Obamaphiles are itching to pummel Capitol Hill with e-mail or show up at congressional town meetings. Presidents often attempt to go over the heads of Congress to the voters, but never before has one directly enlisted them to pressure their elected representatives, especially those of his own party. “Obama and his political operation have assets that no president has ever had before,” says Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum. “We have no previous model for this—it’s completely new.”

(sorry this is post is turning into a long one…I just couldn’t bring myself scrap this last excerpt.  get your scroll on)

For Obama, the implications of this extraordinary degree of political security are enormous. It frees him from kowtowing to either the left or the right, to set about redefining the party in his own terms. Hardly anyone doubts that the moment for such a recasting is at hand—though they tend to imagine the future simply as an updated version of the past….“It’s 2009, and what Obama has done is create a redirect of the entire political culture—new media, new demographics, new electoral map, a whole new set of governing challenges that will be the basis of the next 20 or 30 years. He’s gonna be a critical piece of that arc. And it’s not a restoration. It’s a period of reinvention.”

Unless, of course, it isn’t. No great feat of imagination is needed to see how the whole project could end in tears. The stimulus fails. Things continue to fall apart. A new Great Depression ensues. And Obama is blamed and soon enough finds himself out on the speaking circuit with pal (ahem) Bill Clinton.

Update: NYT examines some poll results that suggest optimism and good news for Obama: Americans are “prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday”