Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Timid Triangulators

So the first order of the day is to lower expectations: Obama Aides Tamp Down Expectations. Uh, no, I've been waiting for some real Democratic action for 8 years now. The economic downturn is an opportunity to try new things and take some risks.

And then we get Pelosi fighting against her own party people who are trying to jump-start the necessary work the damage of the Movement Conservatives: Democrats Vow to Pursue an Aggressive Agenda. No UHC, just a little nod to SCHIP. Maybe. I particularly like this little bit of revisionist lying:
House and Senate Democrats said they believed the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats could mesh in a way that Capitol Hill Democrats and the Carter and Clinton administrations could not. As senators, Mr. Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., built strong relationships on Capitol Hill.

President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, as former governors, were outsiders to Congress.
Riiiight. Carter and Clinton were "outsiders" who couldn't get things done. But The Precious is going to come in and change the tone in Washington? Using Clinton insiders? And that Congress will "mesh" with a Democratic White House this time? What the hell was wrong with them last time? Why couldn't they work with the leaders of their own party? Isn't this just an admission that the power brokers of the Democratic Party purposefully sabotaged their own presidents?

This is just more of the The Village tailoring a narrative to fit their own ass-covering agenda. The inside the beltway crowd decided they didn't like these "hicks" trashing their place and moved heaven and earth to prevent them from being effective.

But what we're left with are the Timid Triangulators - The Precious, The Pugilist and Pelosi - frantically trying to figure out how they can avoid actually acting on any of their implied campaign promises. This group is more afraid of being seen to fail than they are of failing to do enough. They are worried about expectations being set too high instead of failing to act boldly enough. They don't want to be losers like Carter and Clinton, who tried and fell short. They want to be the winners of itty-bitty, narrowly circumscribed and vaguely defined bits of policy ornamentation:

Democratic leaders are tamping down on expectations for rapid change and trying to signal they will place a calm hand on the nation’s tiller.

“The country must be governed from the middle,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. Repeating themes from election night, she said she plans to emphasize “civility” and “fiscal responsibility.”

Yet, they face massive expectations for change and deep-seated fears of overreaching. But senior aides say they’ve learned from the mistakes of the past. Nearly every member of the current Democratic leadership in the House served through the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton was elected president. Two years later, the GOP gained control of Congress.

More recently, they’ve watched Republicans go from complete dominance to minority status in the space of two elections.

“The difference is we have the benefit of experience in seeing what happens when you gain control,” said a senior Democratic aide. “I do not envision a scenario where we’d go off on an ideological mission in an undisciplined way.”

There are similar sentiments in the Senate.

“There is a wave of hope that swept the country ... not a mandate for any hope or ideology, but a mandate to get things done,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday morning on National Public Radio.

Dems lower expectations

This is so wrong I don't know where to start. They point to the Congressional losses of 1994 as due to failing to meet campaign promises instead of as a result on long term political realignments. They refuse to embrace Bill Clinton's dead-on argument that the Democrats need to run on their ideology as the party that stands for something clearly superior to the failed policies of the Republicans. They refuse to create a brand that can be promoted and defended. It's all mealy-mouthed bi/post/anti-partisan bullshit. It's High Broderism.

We can expect the newest crop of The Village's idiots, our own Blogger Boyz, to try to hold on to the campaign magic for as long as they can, but the truth is that the Timid Triangulators are already claiming that their cozy mutual backscratching is an acceptable replacement for real politics.




Robert Stanley Martin said...

The Democrats sustained big losses in 1994 because of Congressional corruption, the anger of the firearm aficionados over the passage of the Brady bill, and the various smears directed against Clinton by the press and the GOP. A brilliant (though odious) marketing campaign that Gingrich, Limbaugh, and others put together to recapture Congress wove it all together.

Clinton pursued his tax plan and the Brady bill to success. Things like the BTU tax and UHC went down because of the lobbyist campaigns against them. The goal of open enlistment of gays in the military ended in compromise. That was all in the first two years.

Bill broke no promises, and he did what a conscientous politician always does--do the best you can within the parameters you find yourself with. He saw campaigns being perpetually directed against every proposal he made and every person he nominated for federal office. What was shameful was the degree to which the Dems participated. Guys like Sam Nunn and Bob Kerrey acted like they couldn't wait to put the upstart President in his place.

I have no doubt some of the current crop are just aching to see how they can push Obama around next year.

Koshem Bos said...

The Democratic brand doesn't exist anymore. It was destroyed somewhere during the Reagan era. On its ruins, Democratic structures have implicitly decided to abandon FDR and join the right wingers.

Clinton, in his own way, tried the good FDR fight on gays in the military and pass universal health care.

Now we are left with nothing. Pelosi and Reid, and at times Obama, showed that they will bow to the Republicans without problems.

In 2008, to reconstruct the Democratic party from it ruins takes leadership that is not available to us now.

Dhyana said...

The country will spin out of control without immediate and major changes in economic polices (including major tax reduction for lower and middle income people), reorganizing government agencies (e.g. FEMA) and foreign policy. We need a president who understands in depth our problems, and with vision and imagination to make the solutions come together. If Obama and his allies in the Democratic Party believe a middle of the road path is what the country needs, we're in deeper trouble than I thought. When an individual is in a coma, aspirins and a get-well message won't do.

YAB said...

And what would be so funny if it weren't so appalling is the way the Conservatives are pretending to be oh, so fearful of the awful left, liberal Congress and the terrible things they will do. (I've been watching Fox for the first time in my life these last two weeks & it has been an eye-opening experience.)

Their mantra, picked up already by Obama's many shills in the so-called "liberal" media, is that Obama's biggest problem will be resisting the pull of Democrats to move to the left which will, of course, destroy his Administration.

Everybody is in on this: go slow, stay in the middle, the country is still center-right, etc., etc.

Bush & Rove governed from the far right in 2000 as if they'd won a Reagan-type landslide instead of squeaking in to the White House thanks to the SCOTUS.

Obama gets 52% of the vote (admittedly not what I would call a mandate but certainly better than what the Shrub got) and an overwhelming Electoral College victory which, for the past 8 years at least, has been deemed to be the only thing that matters. But he isn't supposed to assume that the voters want Democratic policies.

Much as I hate to say it, Ralph Nader is right. Our Party system has completely broken down.

Is there nothing we true Democrats can do to send a message?

And, I know it's off-topic, but everybody, including Rachel Madow whom I made the mistake of giving another chance, is still trashing the Clintons!