President Obama often seems to suggest that his administration is facing challenges more difficult than others did. He might look back on the first words of President Bush’s first State of the Union address: “As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.”
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Brown's victory is also a rebuke to a United States Senate that acted as if it had unlimited time to pass health care legislation and ignored how foolish its listless ways appear to normal human beings. Like a bottle of milk kept out of the refrigerator too long, the health bill came to look curdled and sour to a public that felt it never heard an adequate explanation of what was in it.
In the short term, Democrats have to make a quick decision on health care. The obvious path is for the House to pass the Senate's bill and send it to Obama's desk, while reaching agreement on certain changes that, under existing practices, can get through the Senate with fewer than 60 votes. It would be the equivalent of a political crime for Democrats to have invested so much in health reform only to let it die because of one election in one state.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
There’s a scenario, believe it or not, in which Scott Brown’s stunning win last night could actually end up forestalling a massive G.O.P. sweep next November. It involves Barack Obama swallowing his pride, behaving like a President who’s just been thumped, and making a very public show of internalizing the lessons of last night in Massachusetts. And it involves dismissing, immediately and with prejudice, the liberal fantasy that Rahm Emanuel should spend the next few weeks “knocking heads together” in the House, in the hopes of pushing the Senate bill through Congress.Obama ought to closet himself with every potential swing-vote Senator and congressman, hat in hand, to figure out if there’s some kind of Plan B on health care that could get passed in the next six months. There are plenty of ideas that the White House could draw on in this quest (risk pools, Medicaid expansions, anything from this Tyler Cowen list, etc.), and the final result could be sold, accurately, as an incremental alternative to the bloat of the current legislation. Then Obama could spend next year saying “message received, America” on health care, even as he picks fights with the G.O.P. on financial reform and a few other issues and waits for the economy to start adding jobs again. The goal would be to reassure a public that still likes him and still distrusts Republicans, but that clearly wants the Democrats to slow down, spend less, and face a few more curbs on their authority.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
By showing Brown endorsing a fringe right-wing pet theory (explanation here), it's more evidence of the fact that Brown is anything but the good government, uniter-not-a-divider moderate he pretends to be. That's the fundamental lie of his campaign that Coakley has been seeking (unsuccessfully, thus far) to expose. And on a visceral level, to watch him chortling as he calls Obama illegitimate is just gross and offensive.