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S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Does it always have to be "winners" and "losers?"

[2/17/09 Image: Wordle.net]

The Scores: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - H.R.1. Conference committee votes: House final vote -- Democrats 246 yes, 0 Republicans ; 183 no, including 7 Democrats. Senate final vote -- Democrats 57 yes, 3 Republicans; 38 no, including 1 senator not voting. All throughout the process, the GOP was misinterpreting bipartisanship with "getting your way."

Winners -- According to the mainstream media, which also misinterpreted the results, congressional winners were the Republicans and Democrats were the losers, writes Kos. To quote:

. . . the lesson hasn't been learned, and we're once again seeing this huge divide between the out-of-touch DC chattering class and, well, everyone else.

It's as if the DC chattering class is going out of its way to prove that it has completely lost touch with the country it's supposedly trying to inform. It's as if they want everyone to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that their bubble is impenetrable to things such as "reality" and "facts" and "truth". It truly is bizarre.

Individual Players --

  • Former President Bill Clinton, who stands solidly behind Obama, had a similar experience with Congress back in 1993. Republicans predicted gloom and doom. David Waldman aka Kagro X at Daily Kos, gifted readers with a slew of wonderful quotes from the time, describing:

    . . . quotes predicting doom and disaster in the wake of the 1993 Clinton economic stimulus plan, and much of the rhetoric is eerily similar to today's. Of course, that should come as no surprise, since the point of the compilation was in fact to point out that the 1993 rhetoric -- particularly on health care, which was still a live proposition at that time -- was itself eerily similar to Republican doom and disaster rhetoric during the debate on the original Social Security and Medicare legislation.


  • Gingrich's obstructionism becomes role model for House GOP#" from (2/15/09) Think Progress:

    In 1993, former Speaker Newt Gingrich notoriously whipped the House GOP into opposing President Clinton’s major initiatives, ranging from the budget to health care reform. The New York Times reports that Gingrich has been advising the GOP leadership to follow the same path with President Obama’s agenda.
    [...]
    As ThinkProgress has noted, despite being out of office, Gingrich still has found a key role in current legislative debates. In September, he “was whipping against” the first TARP package “up until the last minute” and was said to have been largely responsible for the GOP voting against it.
  • Talk show host Rush Limbaugh -- Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish (1/16/09) -- "Malkin Award Nominee:"

    Rush Limbaugh says, "I want everything he does to fail...I want the stimulus package to fail...I do not want this to succeed."

  • Rep. Eric Cantor -- Josh Marshall at TPM reveals that Cantor is modeling himself after Winston Churchill as well as Newt Gingrich. Josh urges Cantor to "study harder." Matt Yglesias explains more (2/25/09) "The Gingrich Doctrine and the 21st Century" He concluded that, ". . . though Gingrichism was politically successful in the mid-1990s, the record of Cantorism in the 21st century has been much weaker." HT to Andrew Sullivan. To quote his thesis:

    My colleague Satyam Khanna notes some of the broader context for the revelation that Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) is explicitly modeling his tactics on Newt Gingrich’s obstructionism in 1993-94.
    [...]
    Meanwhile, the political contexts of the two eras strike me as different in a number of ways. Bill Clinton’s 43 percent share of the popular vote in the 1992 election made it plausible to believe that the center of public opinion was amenable to the idea that the President’s agenda needed curtailing. What’s more, the Democrats gained zero Senate seats and actually lost nine House seats. Under the circumstances, you can see why conservative felt emboldened. And their political strategy had a clear logic to it—a large number of Democrats in congress were representing constituencies that had pretty consistently been trending to the right in presidential politics since the 1960s. With a Democrat in the White House, the chance existed for a spirit of feisty opposition to force the voters in such constituencies to align their congressional preferences with their presidential ones.

    That’s simply not the case this year. Not only did Obama have a more decisive win (obviously the absence of a third-party candidate is important here) but the Democratic caucus is more compact and includes many fewer outlier members whose constituencies are dramatically more conservative than the national electorate that backed Obama in November.



  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) -- is urging Speaker Pelosi to stand up to the Senate, according to Memeorandum and Politico.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- "Did Reid roll Pelosi?" from Politico (2/11/09), or was it the other way around? Those from the House tell a different story than the one coming out of Senate sources, according to blogger Glenn Thrush:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played a little high-stakes chicken with each other at the tail end of Wednesday’s shotgun stimulus talks.

    It’s not clear who won – or who blinked.


  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi --"Late night talks yield a deal," by David Rogers from Politico.com (2/11/09) To quote:

    The compromise followed an intense 24 hours of Capitol negotiations which stretched through Tuesday night and left staff and members exhausted. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) first announced the deal, only to see continued skirmishing over school modernization funds. But with the blessing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—after a phone call to one of the Senate Republicans—the deal was back on track with the formal House-Senate negotiators meeting Wednesday evening.

The Players from my state of Texas -- In the Eric Holder confirmation hearing to be Attorney General, both Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn voted NO. Results: Confirming 75-21, 3 not voting. My Rep., Kay Granger voted NO against the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. The bill passed (290-135, 8 not voting). Granger also voted against the DTV Delay Act; the act passed (264-158, 10 not voting).

With a number of states, including California and Kansas, in fiscal crisis mode, Republican governors are much more supportive of the new stimulus package than were members of Congress. "Cleaning up the mess" after 8 years of Bush administration mismanagement and ineptitude will not be quick of easy. Upcoming issues include fleshing out the bank bailout plan for stabilization, housing mortgage legislation, and hearings about administration wrongdoing, to name just a few.

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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