Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Smell of Blood

Here's another guy who's wondering what the hell happened to the Obama agenda when the Democrats had a so-called super majority in the U.S. Senate and an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives. I think he gets it right. He blames Harry Reid, Rahm Emmanuel, and Joe Biden. This putting blame where it belongs: on the Democratic party leadership. Let's face it, Obama's strategy to have Congress be a partner with the White House in implementing the administration's legislative agenda has been a dismal failure. Aside from the stimulus bill, which was not part of the agenda, what has Obama managed to pass? Virtually nothing. And why? Because Obama let everything get caught up in the congressional meat grinder. Bob Burnett, a "Smirking Chimp" contributor, argues that the administration should have come out of the chute in January 2009 proclaiming a national crisis, which of course, it was. And in that crisis atmosphere he could have gotten things passed.

But Reid has been a pussyfooting majority leader, letting the healthcare reform bill lag in the supposedly bi-partisan Baucus committee until October. Can you think of time he ever gave the impression of being a forceful leader? I can't. Delay, as it usually does, doomed the White House effort. Rahm and Biden, of course, in the White House failed in their jobs to impress upon Obama the urgency of swift action, and further, did not really ramrod the White House's bills through Congress. Joe Biden was essentially a non-person during the healthcare debate.

The president himself is hardly blameless:
 Obama should have been quicker to recognize that bi-partisanship is hopeless in the current Washington environment. He should have dispatched his lieutenants to Capitol Hill with orders to do whatever was necessary to move his agenda along; he should have forced Rahm Emanuel to be his Dick Cheney. Finally, the President should have sharpened his message; he left too many details of healthcare reform to be worked out by Congress.
All true. Where I differ with the writer of this piece is, unlike him, I don't think the White House working smarter is going to suffice at this point. The Republicans have the smell of blood in their nostrils, and they're not going to be satisfied till they have Obama's throat in their jowls. so they can shake him to death.  I could hardly describe myself as a great friend of the president's since he's been in office. But he's infinitely preferable to the government we would get under the Republican party.
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