In Mike’s most recent Nota Bene, he points us to a disturbing, if not altogether surprising little vignette from Capitol Hill.
When House Democrats gathered on Friday for their end-of-the week caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol, caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told the group he wanted them to hear first from Rep. Michael Capuano, who’d just returned from a primary campaign for the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.
Larson asked Capuano, who finished in second place, to share the wisdom he learned on the campaign trail.
Capuano took to the microphone, looked out at his colleagues and condensed what he’d learned into two words. “You’re screwed,” he told his friends in the House, according to one attendee. The room’s silence was broken only by soft, nervous laughter.
Indeed, although I suspect there’s a word that comes closer to conveying the full measure of the predicament better than “screwed.”
Over the last few years of the Bush presidency I feared that the Republicans had a strategy in place, a clever and cynical strategy to loot and pillage everything in sight, leaving a smoldering and irreparable waste to the Dems (since the strategy took a long view, the plan was to trot out the reserves and forfeit in 2008). Then, since the public is dog-butt stupid and incapable of remembering who made the mess in the first place, and since the Democrats can be counted on to fuck up even the obvious stuff, the GOP would then be positioned to march triumphantly back into DC as the responsible, competent saviors in the mid-terms and 2012. “See,” they could say, “that silly librul socialist Democrat Party doesn’t know anything about the hard word and smarts that goes into actually governing. They’re good at sitting on the sidelines and bitching, but you can’t put them in charge of anything. Now look at the mess they made. Remember this the next time things look bad and you’re thinking about ‘change,’ all right?”
So far it looks like the plan is right on schedule, huh?
I won’t disagree that the public is dog-butt stupid, there’s too much evidence for it. But that’s not as important as, “…since the Democrats can be counted on to fuck up even the obvious stuff”.
So if the Republicans have this plan (and seems both cynical and logical enough to be true), then the lynchpin holding it together is the incompetency and corruption of the Democrats. I’m not sure it matters, though, because the Dems are just as incompetent in the minority as they are in the majority. And in terms of policy implementation there’s little to no difference between them anymore: they’re both neo-liberal fascists. (note, that word used to indicate the wedding of state and corporate power rather than a Hitler mustache)
And the Dems are only screwed because the party is so willing to throw its own base under the bus.
As I’ve noted in the past – and I think it’s truer today than it ever was – the biggest problem with the Dems (from the public’s perspective) is that it’s not a party. It’s TWO parties masquerading as one, and the Blue Dog wing has a LOT more in common with the GOP than it does with the Dem progressive wing. So in a sense, it’s probably more accurate to describe Congress in terms of three factions: progressive caucus, far right (some blend of teabaggers and religious nuts) and a massive corporate center.
Unfortunately, the progressive wing refuses to stand up to the massive corporate center, too often opting for a sickly version of party discipline. Which would be one thing if the corporate center of the Democratic Party believed in that same party discipline.
The progressives do get pimped a lot. Obama/Rahm will pander to the Blue Dogs but they’ll throw their weight around with the progs. Defer to Lieberman, which makes me sick. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if the progressives had played the game on health care like Nelson did. Dig in their heels and say no, bitch, if there’s not a public option we WILL blow it up.
Until they’re willing to play that way, they’re going to continue to get punked at every turn. This is DC here – nobody is going to give you power. You have to take it.
And that’s the thing…the progressives could wield a fair amount of power. Ian Welsh has consistently pointed out that the progressives are terribly negotiators, and it’s true. (And Obama, if he really is a progressive, is the most terrible of all.) You don’t start a negotiation by offering a conciliatory position. You start by demanding more than you’re willing to accept in the end.
I’ve started to wonder if Democratic politicians walk into a car dealership and offer more than the sticker price and then help the salesman bargain down the value of their trade-in.
They’re also unwilling to call a bluff. I’m so sick of hearing about the filibuster; just once i’d like to see Reid say, “Well then, go right the fuck ahead and filibuster.” Somewhere along the line the threat of a filibuster became the same thing as an actual filibuster, because for all the times i’ve heard that it’s been invoked, i’ve seen very little C-Span footage of Republican Senators wearing diapers so they can read the phonebook for three straight days.
…very little C-Span footage of Republican Senators wearing diapers so they can read the phonebook for three straight days.
Which is odd – that’s the sort of thing you’d think would appeal to Vitter, at least….