Sunday, August 15, 2010

Look back in anger

I know I probably don't have to point this out to most of the dearly beloved readers of this humble blog, but if you find yourself feeling less than fired up about the upcoming midterm elections, then ponder this for awhile.

Except for a climate change bill, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have followed through on the agenda laid out at the beginning of the 111th Congress in January 2009 despite concerted Republican opposition. The victories were wrenching, partisan and procedurally ugly, but they were victories.

“He said what he was going to do, and he did it,” the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said about the president.

While Republicans consider much of the legislation flawed and even harmful, they grudgingly concede that Democrats compiled a record perhaps unrivaled since the Great Society programs of President Lyndon B. Johnson were passed during the 89th Congress or the New Deal programs were pushed through the 73rd Congress by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And though they had large majorities, Democrats did not have substantial opposition help or the cushion that Roosevelt had with 313 Democrats in the House from 1933 to 1935, or the 68 Senate seats that Democrats controlled during Johnson’s tenure in 1965.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said Democrats pushed through legislation that was breathtaking in size and scope, even though approval typically came on very thin margins and party-line votes in the Senate.

“This is big stuff,” Mr. Sessions said. “They would probably say it was great for America. I would say it was bad for America.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, is often assailed by Democrats for blocking the Democratic agenda. He said the results absolved him of that charge.

“I am amused with their comments about obstructionism,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview. “I wish we had been able to obstruct more. They were able to get the health care bill through. They were able to get the stimulus through. They were able to get the financial reform through. These were all major pieces of legislation, and if I would have had enough votes to stop them, I would have.”

Emphasis, of course, mine.

This should "fire up the base," if the base can be fired up for a midterm as they were four years ago. Translating it for those outside of that base but not part of the Republicans is proving to be very hard.

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