The news media and the blogosphere are together reporting that although the President has 50% approval, nobody is happy with anything being proposed by Obama. That 50% favorable, by the way, is about 15% higher than anything George W. Bush could manage in his last three years.
And although the recession looks to have come to a dead-stop end sometime in the last two months, people are still debating whether the February stimulus was a waste of money. That is, those people who don’t confuse the February stimulus with the bank bailout package last September—the one pushed through Congress by the Bush administration.
The main themes of this late summer discontent at Obama seem to go to these main points:
1. Congress sucks
2. Lobbyists suck
3. Taxes suck–unless it’s all coming back to “me”
4. Any kind of change of anything means Hitler is on his way.
5. Don’t touch my anything.
6. Because of the above 5, Obama, you’re a big, big disappointment!
I’m one of these Obama supporters who must be missing something. I click on the national news sites, and it’s about how the dream world of the Obama election is falling apart.
I click on Huffington Post, and it’s about how Congress sold the Democratic voters out to big corporate money.
I click on FireDogLake, and it’s about how everything is Rahm Emanuel’s fault. Plus, now, even, that any additional support from the Democratic Party must be met with some kind of response just slightly, maybe one-or-two removed from the finger.
If I even bother to hit anything that is regarded as a right-wing Republican site, well, they act like this “chaos” was foreseeable all along. Which makes you wonder what they were hatching back on November 5 last year.
This is what it boils down to:
Today’s Republican Party never had any intention of working with the Barack Obama Administration. Isn’t that obvious? From the obnoxious ranters who hold Congressional seats, to the “reasonable” seasoned party statesman, none of these people were willing to concede any dignity to Barack Obama except refer to him as “Mr. President” in his presence. And even then, question his birth certificate the next time they were on Fox Channel.
That’s been the goal of the Republicans from Day One (the day after the election). In whatever way possible, be it screaming, or exaggeration, or rumor mongering—-however the way—-the goal has been to seed this subtle message out in America to get the voters thinking to themselves. To fuel a lot of doubt.
It won’t be the Town Hall Nuts or the Cable Cronies or the Wild Eyed Conspiracy Theorists to make the sale. They are simply being employed to set the tone. The real message the Republicans want people to think is this:
We went with the hot-shot (black) guy last year, and maybe we just didn’t know enough about him.
In short, maybe we made a mistake.
Sophisticated manipulators never use overt force—that’s for military victories. Instead, they get you to come to the decision they want by creating the environment to get you to conclude what they want you to.
Whoever the health care industry hired, they’re masters at it. They feign cooperation with the White House, and then put enough pressure on the pivot point in the Senate–which looks to be that group of small state senators who have disproportionate say because of how the Senate is designed. (Each state gets two Senators regardless.)
In some of these states, the voters didn’t even go for the hot shot black guy. They went for the old-timer blowhard, the military codger.
So these pivot point Senators (who aren’t exactly the middle of the chamber, mind you, but would fit over on the minority side) have been slow walking any key reforms that are out there. The 20% of the 80-20 David Axerod in the White House keeps mentioning.
This is royally pissing off the left-side blogosphere, which is now similarly mumbling to itself: we elected this hot shot black guy last year, and maybe we just didn’t know enough about him. Maybe we made a mistake.
Many of these folks are focusing their anger on Rahm Emanuel. But in the end, he wasn’t the man on the ballot. And the political activists on the blogs, these are people who had known about Barack Obama for several years longer than the general public, so it particularly has to hurt when they start thinking this.
So I think this shot at the President was well planned by the Republicans. Just because they have no talent bench of any appeal right now, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to hit back—there is a lot of money buying high priced persuaders and manipulators. They sell you products you don’t need all the time. They will sell you the GOP, too, even though you don’t need it.
The Republicans are playing by Parliament System rules. The Democrats are playing by Marquis deQueensbury rules.
People equate Queensbury with sissy fighting, but more aptly Queensbury had a detailed set of rules for boxing. As opposed to the American rules, and as opposed to “anything goes”.
For the last several decades, Republicans have gone with “anything goes”. And they’re just very careful about where the think the ultimate line for the punch is. And even when they miss, they make a big argument about the line or they change the subject.
Right now, the Republicans have decided that their best strategy to defeat Obama and the Democrats is to stick together and not give an inch.
Ones that couldn’t go with that, like Pennsylvania Arlen Specter, found a new home.
Most democracies in the world are run on a Parliament System. The majority party gets its way, or else. Often, the else is to call a new election and find out what the voters want.
In this system, party adhesion is critical. Party loyalty, eh, it’s simply that when the votes are counted you better vote your party! Of course, no badmouthing the party outside of Parliament.
The opposition gets to show up and make its noise during the session debates. But there is no chance of the majority trying to “win over a few votes from the other side” in the name of bipartisanship. Outside of Parliament, the opposition does its best to bring the government down in any respectable way. Since the voters know that this is what they are up to, it puts strict limits as a matter of practice on what the opposition can do. (This sort of thing was missing in Germany’s Weimar Republic, by the way.)
Back home, the Republicans implicit strategy is to play Parliament. They have no votes (not enough to pass legislation, which might as well be zero). And so they have to spend their time bringing the governing party down.
And in most places, that is the standard order. Except America does not run by Parliament. And except the Democrats aren’t playing the Parliament system, and so they keep losing these news cycle battles. The Democrats are doing politics like it’s still the America of the mid 20th century, when the two parties were these broad national groups. You had liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans. You had liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats.
Now, you don’t have that. You have a national Democratic Party, strong everywhere but the deep South. And you basically have a regional Republican Party, strong in the South and western square states, but with remnants of what was a national party in the other corners of the nation.
If the Democrats also decided to play by Parliament System rules, they would be lining up their 51 Senators, 218 House Reps and reading the rules to the excess votes above that about sticking with Party above all else.
And as long as the Democrats make the Republicans feel like they’re not being shut out of the final voting, that they have a say in the outcome other than to show up and vote “no”, then they will continue to get this adult-version of sassing day after day.
When the Republicans are made to feel shut out, and particularly when that message is sent to the regions they come from—no more from Washington!—-then you will see the tune change. Then, they will become bipartisan again, becuase their constituents get a lot of tax money from Washington! (More on another post.)
So I know the world is not as easy as that. But clearly the route the Democrats are taking is not the one to lead them to a kumbaya moment at the end of the process. If anything, yeah, it will be a big setback for 2010, and make the President’s first term a hell.
What a waste.