Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is it bedtime yet?

Ezra Klein compares Democrats' and Republican's governing philosophies.

Republicans and Democrats, it seems, govern rather differently. Republicans are proving themselves willing to do what liberals long wanted the Obama administration to do: Play hardball. Refuse compromise. Risk severe consequences that they'll attempt to blame on their opponent. The Obama administration's answer to this was always that it was important to be seen as the reasonable actor in the drama, to occupy some space known as the middle, and to avoid, so much as possible, the appearance of dramatic overreach. This is as close as we're likely to come to a test of that theory. In two cases, Republicans have chosen a hardline and are refusing significant compromise, even at the risk of terrible consequences. Will the public turn on them for overreach? Applaud their strength and conviction? Or not really care one way or the other, at least by the time the next election rolls around?

The 1995 shutdown comparison might give us hope that Republicans' overreach on this will turn the public on them. In fact, the public is already turned against them, according to most polls. Obama is more popular now than Clinton was in 1994. So, when grandma's Social Security check doesn't arrive, if Obama and his political team "message" correctly, you'd think that the public would side with "No Drama Obama."

But none of that will matter if jobs don't materialize, and Republicans at the state and federal level, seem determined by evidence of their policies to do their damnedest to make sure those jobs don't come. Killing federally funded intrastate high speed rail lines and and interstate tunnels don't exactly help the economy. Neither does shutting down the federal government.

The pundits drone on that Republicans won the midterms because Obama "overreached" on stimulus and healthcare, and that Republicans "overreach" will result in a similar reaction with voters.

I don't know about the latter. I do know that Obama didn't overreach on healthcare reform. He campaigned on it. Relentlessly. As for the stimulus "overreach," it wouldn't have been perceived as overreach if it had not just stopped the bleeding of jobs that it did, but had actually delivered on creating more jobs.

It wasn't overreach. It was the fucking economy last year. The same dynamics will be in play in 2012.

But perhaps Chris Rock is correct in his optimism.

You got kids? Kids always act up the most before they go to sleep. And when I see the Tea Party and all this stuff, it actually feels like racism’s almost over. Because this is the last — this is the act up before the sleep. They’re going crazy. They’re insane. You want to get rid of them — and the next thing you know, they’re fucking knocked out. And that’s what’s going on in the country right now.

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