What Digby/Michael Hirsh said

I’m not in full-on OBAMA IS TEH FAIL mode yet. Far from it. And I believe that a stimulus package not too different from the one he proposed will pass the Senate next week. Not bad for three weeks work. But I think that Michael Hirsh’s take (via Digby) on what’s going on is very smart:

Barack Obama began making his comeback on Wednesday, apparently aware that he has all but lost control of the agenda in Washington at a time when he simply can’t afford to do so. Obama’s biggest problem isn’t Taxgate—which resulted in the Terrible Tuesday departure of his trusted friend, Tom Daschle, and the defanging of his Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. Nor is the No. 1 problem that the president can’t seem to win a single Republican vote for his stimulus package. That’s a symptom, not a cause. The reason Obama is getting so few votes is that he is no longer setting the terms of the debate over how to save the economy. Instead the Republican Party—the one we thought lost the election—is doing that. And the confusion and delay this is causing could realize Obama’s worst fears, turning “crisis into a catastrophe,” as the president said Wednesday.

Obama’s desire to begin a “post-partisan” era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that’s supposed to be “temporary” and “targeted”—among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts requiring immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There’s no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.

I don’t blame Obama for not realizing what douchebags the Villagers and Congressional Republicans were going to be. Someone who had as low an opinion of human nature as is realistic (and as I personally have) never would have run for president in the first place.

But I think that at some point he has to come to grips with the fact that a good proportion of the Villagers and Congressional Republicans (and probably more than one or two Congressional Democrats) would happily shove the entire country into one of Bob’s brick ovens if they thought that would get them a book deal or a better committee appointment or more face time on Morning Joe or what have you.

Let’s take a step back. There’s essentially a “best practices” approach to dealing with financial calamity: you max out your monetary policy, which we’ve already done, and then you spend as much money as you possibly can without actually setting the stuff on fire (I’m exaggerating, but you get the point). That’s not Obama’s plan or Democrats’ plan, that’s the mainstream economic plan. Not everyone agrees with it, but not everyone agrees that you should take antibiotics if you’ve got pneumonia or that you should stop smoking if you’re coughing all the time.

So let’s admit that what we have here is a media and Congressional Republican assault on economic common sense. No one expects an assault on common sense. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition either (link added). But when either comes, you’d better react.






98 replies
  1. 1
    Laertes says:

    The only thing angrier than Digby before Obama was elected is Digby since Obama was elected.

    And I get where she’s coming from. I hate Republicans too. I wish Obama hated their guts the way I do, but sooner or later people are going to have to realize not only that he doesn’t, but that he’s playing a deep game here.

    Those of us who think "bipartisanship" means Republicans getting their way on everything are naturally going to be frustrated right now as they pull their stale old bullshit and appear to get results.

    But to lose confidence now is to imagine that Obama is some naif who either expected to change Washington in a month or didn’t realize that Republicans were pricks. I’m having a hard time convincing myself of either. The idea that a man who spent four years in the Senate doesn’t know Republicans as well as I do doesn’t pass the horse-laugh test. A naif? This man’s leaves a trail of political corpses behind him. And while he seems to always be above the fray, at some point you have to accept that his knife hand is just moving too subtly for you to see it.

    Watch: The stimulus will pass. And while it might not look much like what Obama started with, in the end it’s going to be a pretty good bill that, in hindsight, looks very like something he probably meant to end up with. He had to load it up with some stuff he didn’t really want that the Republicans would bitch about, so that dropping that stuff counts as a "compromise."

    If he starts off with a bill on which he’s not willing to compromise, that means he didn’t have the foresight to bring some bargaining chips to the table. In that case we’d be justified in worrying that he’s not playing it smart.

  2. 2
    Joshua Norton says:

    "Predicting a president’s doom is a high-risk game. Or it would be, if pundits were held as accountable as, say, cabinet nominees."

    I luv The Economist.

  3. 3
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    If Obama had just steamrolled them, the public would have been subjected to four years of whining about it, and it might effect the next election.

    People are basically idiots. They had to be shown, in a crystal-clear manner, that these assholes would throw the country in the dumpster for political gain, and now they have been.

    I’m enough of a believer in Obama’s political savvy to think that this was exactly the plan all along. Of course, I could be deluded as well.

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    @Laertes

    Fine words coming from someone who warned “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

    Fuck, I mixed you up with Polonius.

  5. 5
    Fencedude says:

    You know, I look forward to 50 years from now, when I look in my grandkids (ok, grand nieces and nephews, I have no desire to ever have kids of my own) History book, and see the chapter labeled "Neo-Hooverism and the fall of the Republican party, 2000~2016"

  6. 6
    DougJ says:

    “Neo-Hooverism and the fall of the Republican party”

    Let’s hope it’s not titled “neo-Hooverism and the fall of the American republic”.

  7. 7
    Church Lady says:

    I agree with your analysis to a certain point, but you’re leaving out the complicity of Congressional Dems in this whole mess. Rather than Obama and his economic team sitting down with Obey and Pelosi and telling them what they would like to see in the stimulus package, thereby taking responsibility for it’s shape and size, they sat back and let Congressional Dems go nuts, throwing in some true stimulis but also including a backlog of Dem wish list items. It was like turning a bunch of kids loose in a candy store, telling them to grab whatever they wanted and it would all be free, free free. While many of the wish list items are good things, and should be acted on in the future, they need to be included in regular appropriations bills, rather than in an emergency stimulus package, with emergency being the operative word. Obama’s words "temporary and targeted" mean don’t include things that require permanant funding, no matter how tempting.

    It seems like Obama and his team are now trying to take control of the situation and hopefully, with their input, a bill can be packaged that most can live with. Will it please everyone? No, but something can be put together that can please the majority and give them faith that it will work and that the money isn’t just being thrown down a hole.

  8. 8
    tim says:

    How could Obama not know what douchebags the media and congressional republicans were going to be…about everything?

    Where the hell has he been the last oh, twenty years?

    There comes a time we have to stop assuming naivete as an explanation for O’s behaviors…and consider the possibility that we, the public, are being played by both sides.

  9. 9
    Phaedrus says:

    Come on, Obama spent time in the Senate with these people who were talking about the "Nuclear Option". If the lesson he learned was that bi-partisanship was the way forward then he’s dumber than I thought.
    It does seem he’s been caught with his pants down, but he’s savvy (and I’m no Obama lover). If he pulls this off I’ll be impressed, and I still have hopes of being impressed – but I remember the FISA debacle and am reminded that Obama is only progressive as he feels he needs to be.

  10. 10
    ronathan richardson says:

    A media narrative will emerge after friday’s jobs report along the lines of "Something must be done", and we’ll have our stimulus package.

  11. 11
    Politically Lost says:

    Remember:

    Everyone just chill the fuck out. I got this.

    Give him just a little time before we grab the pitchforkks.

  12. 12
    Stuck says:

    “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

    Polonius didn’t know about George Bush when he said that.

  13. 13
    northstar says:

    Flashbacks to the primary again. Obambi doesn’t know what he’s doing and will never beat the Clintons. Wrong. Obama simply won’t win against war hero McCain. Wrong. Obama is naive in thinking bipartisanship can work, and now he’s failed! Forgive me if I don’t think Obama is sitting in the White House crying into Michelle’s pearls and asking why people don’t like him.

  14. 14
    Johnny Pez says:

    Tim pretty much sums up my response. Obama’s been a United States Senator for four frickin years. How could he not know what was going to happen?

  15. 15
    TenguPhule says:

    I don’t blame Obama for not realizing what douchebags the Villagers and Congressional Republicans were going to be.

    He had plenty of warning from the election.

    I’m just waiting for his quiet shiv in the dark to their throats.

  16. 16
    John Cole says:

    I’m curious. Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

  17. 17
    Buck B. says:

    @Johnny Pez and tim

    I think he honestly believed they would get the message after back-to-back electoral ass whoopings and start behaving a little more responsibly.

    Whoops.

  18. 18
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s shiv time, for sure.

    Smart politics for shivving would involve high-profile Republican governors Crist, Pawlenty and possibly even Palin. All up for re-election in 2010. With oil prices whacked by the recession, Alaska’s cupboard is bare, and they’ll be eating one another (or worse, paying state taxes) if they don’t get federal moolah. Having The Future Of The GOP on stage saying "vote for the damn bill" might put the congressional GOP and wingnut pundits in a jam.

    (I have loads of respect for Digby, but her Cassandra impersonation has been honed into a Tony-winning performance over the past year by overdosing on cablenews.)

  19. 19
    Fencedude says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Don’t forget the GOVERNATOR as well.

  20. 20
    matt says:

    I’m with Obama on this one. How many times during the dem primaries, and then again during the general, did everyone think OMG OBAMA’S BLOWING IT#@!#!@, only to have him pull some jujitsu shit and come out on top?

    If this package is succseful, there will be millions upon millions of ad dollars dupmed into every congressional district of every Republican who voted against it, which is, you know, every republican.

    If the stimuls package fails to do its job, and the country falls apart, Obama would be screwed anyway.

    I believe he does indeed have this.

  21. 21
    Arachnae says:

    It has occurred to me to wonder if the GOP wouldn’t mind too much if civilization actually, you know, fell. I mean, they’ve already got their fortifiable compounds and plenty of guns…

    Just throwing that out there.

  22. 22
    Arachnae says:

    I’m curious. Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

    Yes.

  23. 23
    Stuck says:

    I’m curious. Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

    Probably, But they didn’t have Cable News to keep them informed.

  24. 24
    randiego says:

    John, seriously – thanks for being in charge of common sense around this place (by ‘place’, I mean the ‘reality-based community’).
    .
    Perspective, people. It’s been TWO WEEKS.
    .
    I don’t give a rats ass about Daschle. The double-standard is infuriating, but that’s the price of being the good guys. There’s someone else who is qualified for the job, they will find them and vet them properly, and we’ll have someone. As a friend said to me the other day, Janet Reno was Clinton’s THIRD choice for AG, and she worked out pretty well.
    .
    Obama has shown some serious chops. He deserves, and the country needs, everyone to have his back right now.
    .
    I love Digby, but haven’t been able to read her for a while now – it’s not that she’s wrong, but I’m all out of despair and outrage after the last 8 years.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m curious. Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

    I think a lot of them were running around thinking that only other people were going to be caught up in the witch trials, not them, because they were clearly superior to those people who were getting arrested.

    IOW, I associate them more with the Republicans who are all convinced, to a man, that when the Apocalypse comes, they’ll naturally be on top. Suckers.

  26. 26
    Tax Analyst says:

    John Cole
    I’m curious. Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

    Not that many, John. I think it was more like, "Aaiieeehh! Gawd…being burned to death sure sux!"

  27. 27
    Laertes says:

    @randiego:

    I love Digby, but haven’t been able to read her for a while now – it’s not that she’s wrong, but I’m all out of despair and outrage after the last 8 years.

    That’s kind of a relief. I thought I was the only one.

  28. 28
    Tax Analyst says:

    Seriously, although Obama’s Presidential run was certainly a masterpiece this is a bit of a different game. The thrust of his campaign was to convince the middle that he was reasonable, responsible, pragmatic and, perhaps most importantly, just not a scary, radical black guy. This dove-tailed nicely with the fact that Barack Obama IS a reasonable, responsible, pragmatic and one of the most unscary people that have ever run for President in my lifetime, at least for either of the major parties. But this is not the same game – not even close. I think he was on the right track when he reminded some of the Republicans a week or so ago that, "I won". I was hoping that he would use the momentum from that pointed rejoinder and push back with some force against the Republican’s obstructionism. He needs to ignore all the media pearl-clutching and firmly make his damned case – make it a point to remind the Republicans of the mess were are in and call them out on their negativism. How about, "The American people are looking to us for leadership. I am prepared to give it to them, but it seems the Republican Party would rather posture with their noses in the air while American workers lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirements. Perhaps they are satisfied with the status quo. Perhaps they feel that sitting on their hands and watching our economy fail will serve them well in the next election. I do not believe that the American people will rally around or towards such a stance. I had hoped that we would be able to work together in a serious, determined, bipartisan manner to solve our nation’s ills, but it appears the Republican Party is just simply not willing to join with me towards that goal. That being the case, I will no longer entertain their whims or attempt to bring them onboard, and instead will push forward my preferred agenda with the numbers I currently have in Congress. When all is said and done the American people will decide who they will support, and I will take my chances on their judgment."

    Yeah, it’s long winded. He probably would say it much better. But the gist of it is what I would like to hear…and the sooner the better. I tire of being pushed around by the guys who just got their asses trounced rather solidly less than 3 months ago. I really think the public would solidly side with Obama if he stood up and pushed right now. To hold back is to invite creeping despair and the loss of the spirit that built so dramatically to November 4th…and that would be a damn crying shame.

  29. 29
    eyeball says:

    too much obsession with 24-second news cycles here. don’t let the people selling fleece blankets and the clapper run your brain. Obama gives the GOP the rope it needs to hang itself. The jobs report this week will be astoundingly scary. The Obama-ites will be ready to launch a ‘GOP hates jobs’ blitz. the whole dynamic will turn. this is three-dimensional chess. The Republicans have no supply lines – they are on an unsustainable offensive. let them be the Gang of Zero. If the dem-centrist majority is to hold for a generation, it has to willing to fight an enemy that is fundamentally wrong head-on. hell, force them to filibuster the old-fashioned way. jobs jobs jobs. rail, bridges, broadband. Obama can hit the hustings for a week on this message.
    g’night.

  30. 30
    KG says:

    Here’s how bipartisanship works:

    1. the party that wins listens to the party that loses
    2. the party that wins gives a little bit to the party who lost
    3. the party that lost bitches and moans, and votes against it
    4. the party that won says, "hey, we tried, they wouldn’t work with us"
    5. the voters turn to the party that lost and say, "srly, wtf?"
    6. the party that lost caves on the next issue
    7. when the shit hits the fan (and it always does), both parties blame the other guy
    8. and the voters still don’t decide to go with alternatives

    Right now, we are at step 3. Steps 4-6 will be a junk punch to the GOP. The GOP is playing right into the pattern, confirming, once again, that they are the stupid party.

    @21: that’s probably one of the main reasons that I’m a libertarian rather than a conservative. I’ve been to too many Federalist Society meetings where people actually buy the Slouching Towards Gomorra bullshit. How anyone would prefer to live in a time other than now, I can’t even fucking begin to imagine.

  31. 31
    Tim in SF says:

    DougJ: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition either.

    No, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  32. 32
    myiq2xu says:

    Obama is some naif who either expected to change Washington in a month or didn’t realize that Republicans were pricks.

    That pretty much describes it.

  33. 33
    Jim says:

    I’m also not going to jump on the ZOMG Obama Not 100% Successful Immediately bandwagon. Right now I can’t distinguish between two cases.

    Case 1: Obama actually doesn’t realize that–
    a) Republicans will be as stupid as humanly possible
    b) Republicans would rather Obama look bad than the country improve
    c) The media will provoke hysterical controversy rather than provide sensible analysis

    Case 2: Obama realizes all the above, but thinks if he turns the other cheek and acts sensible long enough, that fact will eventually make it into the narrative and work for him

    If it’s case 1, Obama will probably realize pretty quickly what’s going on and adapt, if it’s case 2, I hope it works. Since Obama’s a lot smarter than I am, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer.

  34. 34
    Larime the Gimp says:

    @myiq2xu:

    Slurp slurp slurp

    …Anyone else hear the sound of goats being blown?

  35. 35
    slightly_peeved says:

    The reason Obama is getting so few votes is that he is no longer setting the terms of the debate over how to save the economy. Instead the Republican Party—the one we thought lost the election—is doing that. And the confusion and delay this is causing could realize Obama’s worst fears

    Yeah – he’s going to do really badly in the election next week.

    What – the next one is four years away?

    I’d wait to judge Obama’s approach after we see what happens in the Senate. What the pundits and Republicans say now won’t matter shit come election time provided some sort of reasonable stimulus bill gets passed. And considering Obama’s already turned another senate seat into a good bet for the Democrats come 2010, I’m prepared to assume for the moment that he has some idea what he’s doing.

  36. 36
    pattonbt says:

    11 days and I still do not have my unicorn!!!!!

    Jeez, I think its about time Pelosi finally put impeachment back on the table.

    The media will never be Obama’s friend, until of course it is in their interest to be Obama’s friend. The media wants conflict or a missing, blonde, pretty white girl or a mass shooting or some other spectacle. They do not want BORING policy discussions on the merits of economic policy or thruthful long winded explanations of the faults of the last 8 years and benefits of a progressive agenda. Truth is boooooring. Fight! Fight! Fight!

    The stimulus will pass. No one will like it 100%. I mean I know I wont. I dont want any tax cuts and I want more spending on energy, mass transit, electrical grids and similar projects. People will bitch. It probably wont work too well but as per Ash Can (I think) on another thread pointed out, other real important stuff is getting done.

    Obama loses nothing by playing the straight guy on this. It will pass, and within days no one will remember anything about it and the media will be blaming Obama for something else – probably a missing young, pretty, blonde girl.

    OT – I just saw on the news here (SBS Australia) that Goldman Sachs has decided not to take stimulus aid (I assume from TARP) amounting to $10 Billion because of the new executive compensation limits Obama put in. Me likes. Makes Obama look good and makes Goldman look like douchebags for taking money in the first place.

  37. 37
    pattonbt says:

    Another quick note, Obama does not care about ‘winning the day’ in the media. Its worked well for him so far and it will continue to work.

  38. 38
    mistermix says:

    Perhaps I’m just behind in processing my grief over Obama’s obvious failure, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    Didn’t Obama do a little better than OK in yesterday’s media cycle with the announcement about the $500K salary cap? Even a proven idiot like Jeb Hensarling was unable to say anything but attaboy on that one. Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan/Chase) was crying over it.

  39. 39
    cmorenc says:

    If Obama had just steamrolled them, the public would have been subjected to four years of whining about it, and it might effect the next election. People are basically idiots. They had to be shown, in a crystal-clear manner, that these assholes would throw the country in the dumpster for political gain, and now they have been. I’m enough of a believer in Obama’s political savvy to think that this was exactly the plan all along. Of course, I could be deluded as well.

    …to lose confidence now is to imagine that Obama is some naif who either expected to change Washington in a month or didn’t realize that Republicans were pricks. I’m having a hard time convincing myself of either. The idea that a man who spent four years in the Senate doesn’t know Republicans as well as I do doesn’t pass the horse-laugh test. A naif? This man’s leaves a trail of political corpses behind him. And while he seems to always be above the fray, at some point you have to accept that his knife hand is just moving too subtly for you to see it.

    These two passages from earlier posters sum up my own view exactly.

    Obama is hardly immune from making mistaken decisions caused mainly by unexpected foibles by up-to-that-moment seemingly rock-solid people around him (Geithner, Daschle, Richardson). IMHO he’d have been wiser to have dumped Geithner. However, in the main, his judgment and shrewdness and demeanor under tough pressure have proven to be not only first-class so far, but several levels above his opponents, especially when viewed over time rather than the ephemeral moment.

  40. 40
    Ash Can says:

    @ronathan richardson:

    A media narrative will emerge after friday’s jobs report along the lines of "Something must be done", and we’ll have our stimulus package.

    I was thinking the same thing last night as I listened to the husband speculate that when the January unemployment number is announced tomorrow, the market won’t bat an eye, because everyone’s so shell-shocked. According to ADP, the number won’t be anywhere near seven figures, but it still won’t be pretty, and it’ll provide impetus for getting something passed.

    And along these lines, even as we gripe about Obama losing control of the debate, among this morning’s op-eds in the Washington Post is one written by, whaddya know, Barack Obama, on the subject of the stimulus bill (h/t GOS).

  41. 41

    @[delurk]…[/delurk]: Well, that saves me the trouble of typing anything except "What he said."

  42. 42
    headpan says:

    No one expects an assault on common sense

    Shit.fuck – no, really? Repubes have been insulting and assaulting common sense ideas about the economy, national security, trade policy for fucking YEARS. But nobody saw it coming. Yep. Progressive yelled their heads off and "yawn" – teh media just made fun of them. They are still being ignored by Dem leadership but by God you get someone like Dean or a Jane Hamsher or a Kucinich (ok, they’re too, too liburrul and scary, scary so they cannot be taken seriously – so conventional Dem leadership needs to get with the program and perhaps learn how to ARTICULATE intelligently defenses against repube attacks, just as the progressive movement has done for the last several years.)

    I LIKE to believe that Obama is just setting the repubes up to look like assholes. I mean, what must their suffering constituents be thinking? I guess they’re trying to convince them they will DIE a sudden, violent death instead of eek out an existence in failing health and non-existent resources for a few years before the expire, IF the stimulus goes through.

    HO-LEE FUCK.

    But the problem with this sneaky plan is just as John has observed, Dems are sitting on their heels and not taking these fuckers on and defending Obama with fire in their bellies. Dems, LEARN from progressive who helped you win elections!! If you don’t want to give them any creds on teevee, they’ll be okay with that – jeebus, don’t feel threatened by them – they just don’t want to see America burn and they will gladly help you LEARN how to articulate concise defenses against repube assaults that average people can understand – but you must be as proactive as they have been — get ALL OVER THE FUCKING TEEVEES NOW!!

    Or not. Lose the debate and we all are fucked and I’m going online for cyanide ampules, you stupid, stupid dickheads.

  43. 43
    ChrisNBama says:

    OT – I just saw on the news here (SBS Australia) that Goldman Sachs has decided not to take stimulus aid (I assume from TARP) amounting to $10 Billion because of the new executive compensation limits Obama put in. Me likes. Makes Obama look good and makes Goldman look like douchebags for taking money in the first place.

    I was thinking about this yesterday: that the practical effect of Obama’s edict is that it would dissuade banks from taking the money unless they truly need it. It’s a shame that Bush hadn’t considered such a tact initially. I wonder how many banks opted for the funds but could have done without them?

  44. 44
    ChrisNBama says:

    But the problem with this sneaky plan is just as John has observed, Dems are sitting on their heels and not taking these fuckers on and defending Obama with fire in their bellies. Dems, LEARN from progressive who helped you win elections!! If you don’t want to give them any creds on teevee, they’ll be okay with that – jeebus, don’t feel threatened by them – they just don’t want to see America burn and they will gladly help you LEARN how to articulate concise defenses against repube assaults that average people can understand – but you must be as proactive as they have been—get ALL OVER THE FUCKING TEEVEES NOW!!

    On a related note, Obama has written an op-ed in the WaPo reframing the Stimulus debate. It’s about time that Obama went on the offense!

  45. 45
    headpan says:

    When you think about it, Dems are like Monty Python in the sketch, poking the repubes with comfy cushions and thinking somehow they’ll get something out of it.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    I’m amazed at the extent to which, that after the last dozen years of Republican Congressional and Senate behavior, the Republican Congressmembers and Senators are treated like a legitimate opposition party rather than a deranged bag of criminals, anti-Constitutionalists, traitors, Neo-Confederates, and right wing loons.

    In my opinion the Republican Party merits the media access currently given to Gitmo detainees.

  48. 48

    It has occurred to me to wonder if the GOP wouldn’t mind too much if civilization actually, you know, fell. I mean, they’ve already got their fortifiable compounds and plenty of guns…

    Yeah, this is how they would think. But liberals are creative…

    For example, we have plenty of quick-drying cement. Oh, I’m sorry, was that the only exit from your fortified compound that just got blocked? So sorry…

  49. 49
    JL says:

    @sgwhiteinfla: Thanks! I especially like the last line..

    The writer is president of the United States.

  50. 50
    Zzyzx says:

    In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

    I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.

    He’s attacking alright. In the words of faux-President Bartlett, "Break’s over!"

    (I don’t remember either Bush or Clinton writing editorials in the Post so this feels pretty cool to me. Am I just forgetting that?)

  51. 51
    J Royce says:

    We are not in a bad recession, we are entering a game-changing catastrophe. The George Bush Conservatives put over 10 Trillion on the national credit card before the TARP and ongoing backdoor machinations such as backstopping bad debt. At some point, maybe very soon, America is not going to be able to sell its T-bills to the world to finance any more debt.

    Obama is trying to borrow money to save the Middle Class before the national credit card gets shut off. Without that we will have a hard time re-booting the country.

    In other words, the Conservative shovel is coming toward nation’s face and the Rightwing-owned Corporate Media is trying to make sure that we don’t duck.

  52. 52
    headpan says:

    Chris, thanks for sharing. But for completely selfish reasons, I wish he had emphasized health care more. I neeeeed it so much more than upgraded classrooms. And how are kids even gonna go to school if they or their parents are dying from untreated injuries and disease b/c they have no health care? I don’t believe everybody that needs it qualifies for SCHIP. And I don’t believe all of us will benefit from the stimulus, many of us will still be frightened every day of losing our jobs because the economy just does not support what we do and our customers are filing bankruptcy (and our governers suck – Mark Sanford is mine, nuff said) – this thing is so much bigger than the prospect of a "lingering recession" – it’s an emergency – I’m losing the big picture here, I know. I just want a few crumbs, pleeeez. At least the much pandered-to families have emotional support. I realize I sound like a totally selfish fuck, I’m alone & scared. Please fix healthcare after this stimulus thing passes, please.

  53. 53
    headpan says:

    I want to say that this site helps keep me sane – the writers AND the commenters – thank you for being so damned entertaining and making me laugh at the absurdity with your dark wit or else I would cry. Again, it helps me cope because I am surrounded by clueless, ignorant fucks everyday and I’m not just talking about uneducated people, I’m talking people with advanced degrees who should know better.

  54. 54
    Xenos says:

    The Obama-ites will be ready to launch a ‘GOP hates jobs’ blitz. the whole dynamic will turn. this is three-dimensional chess.

    I can see it. You have Demint declaring that infrastructure spending is not stimulative, others declaring that helping that states, which are all in financial crisis, pay for education does not help keep teachers employed and children in functioning schools, and so on.

    The GOP talking points have saturated the public airways, and given the silence of the Dems the Reps have been emboldened to trumpet absolute nonsense. All we need is the decisive response, and the decisive action.

    I don’t know how he is timing it though. My prediction is that a 100% Obama approved bill comes out of conference, and it gets shoved through the Senate will all the brutality, humiliation, and deftness that the occasion calls for. Obama then appears dynamic and effective, if ruthless when needed. That is to say, the leader the masses thought they wanted.

    /Pollyanna

  55. 55
    kay says:

    He did great in his first trumped-up political crisis.

    He has Congressional Democrats who have (now) decided to assert some independence, an opposition Party that are desperate to regain relevance, and an addled, childish media who have been looking for a chance since Super Tuesday to bring him down a peg. Americans are mad as hell and (again, only now) indulging in some generalized, ineffective populist rage.

    He inherited a mess. He’s dealing with it.

    I’m giving him more than 2 weeks. Really. 2 weeks is insane.

  56. 56
    kay says:

    @Church Lady:

    While many of the wish list items are good things, and should be acted on in the future, they need to be included in regular appropriations bills, rather than in an emergency stimulus package, with emergency being the operative word. Obama’s words "temporary and targeted" mean don’t include things that require permanant funding, no matter how tempting.

    The reality is, though, they aren’t going to be "acted on in the future". House Democrats know that. They aren’t going to be acted on in the future because there’s not going to be any money to pay for them. That’s why they put them in.

  57. 57
    Fencedude says:

    From the WaPo editorial:

    and to computerize the health-care records of every American within five years, saving billions of dollars and countless lives in the process.

    THIS.

    Have any of you ever been in the medical records room of a decent sized clinic? Its the most gigantic clusterfuck ever.

    Also, LOTS AND LOTS OF JOBS IN THIS. Not long term ones, but scanning all that crap will take several people a good long time.

  58. 58
    Napoleon says:

    Do you think during the Spanish Inquisition, a lot of folks were running around saying “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

    Of course not, they speak Spanish in Spain, not English.

  59. 59
    DougJ says:

    @ChrisNBama

    Yeah, but does he have the policy chops to stand up to giants like Amity Shlaes?

  60. 60
    Napoleon says:

    @Fencedude:

    Also, LOTS AND LOTS OF JOBS IN THIS. Not long term ones, but scanning all that crap will take several people a good long time.

    Also by the way, it is a precursor to a better national healthcare program, and IMO that is the real reason the Republicans have it in their sites (and Obama brings it up).

    I have to admit I have become very discuraged in the last 24 hours. It seems like Obama and the Dems just don’t know how to play offense, and some Dems (Sen Nelson I am looking at you) are now actively assisting the Republicans in their BS.

  61. 61
    Bootlegger says:

    I agree with the BO’s got serious game sentiment. The subtle proof was him admitting to a mistake. You don’t do that unless you believe you have the juice to keep moving forward. Bush would never admit to any mistakes, and it was obvious how feckless he was.

  62. 62
    Cyrus says:

    @Zzyzx:

    (I don’t remember either Bush or Clinton writing editorials in the Post so this feels pretty cool to me. Am I just forgetting that?)

    I know that one Republican ex-president, either Reagan or Bush – Reagan is the name I remember, but now that I think of it it seems unlikely – wrote an editorial criticizing Clinton early in Clinton’s term, but whether any of them did it while in office, I have no idea.

  63. 63

    .
    Reagan started drooling openly before he even left office. Prob’ly one of his puppeteers wrote it. And put it in his mouth. To moisten it.

    Update & background on the military coup right here in the good old USofA.
    .

  64. 64
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    So let’s admit that what we have here is a media and Congressional Republican assault on economic common sense. No one expects an assault on common sense. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition either. But when either comes, you’d better react.

    Comparing this political dustup to the Spanish Inquisition? Hmm, I think you are losing control of the debate.

    But anyway, the thing that counts is the nature of the reaction. Do we react by barking like dogs and blowing our car horns? Or by countering an assault on economic common sense with a defense of economic common sense?

    Okay, that rhetoric is a little too trite, but even bloggers can probably get it. It seems to me that acting as if we are thrown off our game by some opposition, or reacting as if the voters are not up to understanding the problem, is giving up on democracy. Why not stay with the game plan, sell the better ideas, and not get thrown into a tizzy?

    Do we really think that the guys who brought us a 10m vote national election victory 90 days ago are not up to handling the mighty Mitch McConnell and that only hysterical blogging can save them?

  65. 65
    Lola says:

    Obama hasn’t handled this the best, but this is a good lesson for him and his team. God knows the Republicans have only one trick and they will be pulling this out for each major piece of legislation he passes. Obama needs to learn how to win this fight so we can pass something really big, like healthcare.

  66. 66
    Original Lee says:

    I just read the Washington Post op-ed. It’s pretty much what Obama’s been saying at and since the Inauguration, and that’s a good thing. What made me giggle, though, is the little line of italics at the bottom: "The author is president of the United States." Who knew?

    As I said yesterday on another thread, I think Obama gave the Democratic leadership too much credit for being grownups, and now he’s having to do a lot of their work for them. The op-ed is a good follow-up to the interviews he gave on Tuesday, but I’m wondering when he’s going to ask the White House staff to open the crate containing The Gold-Plated Giant Lead Pipe of Cluefulness and invite Reid and Pelosi over for Happy Hour.

  67. 67
    Rome Again says:

    @ChrisNBama:

    From your link:

    Thursday, February 5, 2009; Page A17

    Why does this garner a space on page A17? WTF?

  68. 68
    Rome Again says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat:

    GM 56837

    This needs to be said again:

    Why not stay with the game plan, sell the better ideas, and not get thrown into a tizzy?

    I like it. ;)

  69. 69
    ksmiami says:

    Do any of you guys remember the scene in Pulp fiction after Willis kills the tormentors and his ex boss says: "I’m gonna send guys back here with pliers and blowtorches."? That is the kind of ass-kicking he needs to give the house and senate Republicans like NOW. And the media… Be devastatingly ruthless, but quiet at the same time. Also, dems should get on the airways and rightly say that it has been years of Republican failed policies that have lead us to where we are. In debt with broken bridges and too much toxic plastic shit.

  70. 70
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    This needs to be said again:

    Yes, maybe DougJ was happier when the White House was run by the likes of Dick Cheney and we didn’t have to worry about whether the big bad Senators were going to mess up their mojo?

    This is what change looks like in 2009: A steady hand, a cool head, a sensible message. I don’t know what kind of change the Hyenabloggers thought they were getting last year? Cage matches between the White House and congressional Republicans?

    How simple do we have to make this? Our opposition is a NOISE MACHINE. Maybe banging on pots and pans and making a lot of NOISE is not the most effective way to prevail over them?

  71. 71
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    But I think that at some point he has to come to grips with the fact that a good proportion of the Villagers and Congressional Republicans (and probably more than one or two Congressional Democrats) would happily shove the entire country into one of Bob’s brick ovens if they thought that would get them a book deal or a better committee appointment or more face time on Morning Joe or what have you.

    It’s the Iron Law of Institutions: most people will act to increase their power within the institution even it it harms the institution.

  72. 72
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    most people will act to increase their power within the institution even it it harms the institution.

    Institutions will try to increase their power over people, even if it harms the people, in order to protect the institution.

    Institutional thinking is a known problem. Strong individual thinking within institutions is not widely recognized as a great threat to institutions.

    And to tie it back to your point, the people you refer to will use the institution’s lust for power over people to advance their own interests and retard the interests of their adversaries.

    The name for all this is "Republicanism."

  73. 73
    JenJen says:

    …the Villagers and Congressional Republicans (and probably more than one or two Congressional Democrats) would happily shove the entire country into one of Bob’s brick ovens…

    So much win in that sentence.

  74. 74
    burnspbesq says:

    No one expected an assault on common sense? Rilly?

    I thought we knew the Republicans better than that.

  75. 75
    Shade Tail says:

    I don’t blame Obama for not realizing what douchebags the Villagers and Congressional Republicans were going to be.

    I do. He went through an entire Presidential election, including the primary, in which they were –nothing but– douchebags. Even after the economy started truly melting down in mid-September, they continued being douchebags. I find it hard to believe that, after he won, he really thought that was going to change. After all, his campaign certainly made him look like a smart and sensible guy.

    Did he just completely forget the 90’s, or something like that?

  76. 76
    les says:

    I was thinking about this yesterday: that the practical effect of Obama’s edict is that it would dissuade banks from taking the money unless they truly need it. It’s a shame that Bush hadn’t considered such a tact initially.

    Have you considered a career in comedy? That’s funny as hell.

    Question: Is Church Lady a garden variety concern troll, or is this some kind of new Compassionate Stupid?

  77. 77
    DougJ says:

    Comparing this political dustup to the Spanish Inquisition?

    You’ve never heard the joke about "no one expects the Spanish Inquisition"? It’s a Monty Python classic. I thought everyone knew it.

    I’ll put a up a link.

  78. 78
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    After all, his campaign certainly made him look like a smart and sensible guy.

    Yeah, but that was before he went up against the all-powerful and infinitely evil Mitch and the murderous DeMint. That powerful duo has already eaten all the brains in the White House and controls the output of the Fearsome Pundits.

  79. 79
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    I thought everyone knew it.

    Epic weak.

  80. 80
    Mike in NC says:

    is this some kind of new Compassionate Stupid?

    I believe it was Karen Hughes who came up with the "Compassionate Conservative" tag for Dubya during the 2000 campaign. Such a clever phrase, and much better than "asshole".

  81. 81
    kormgar says:

    I’m sticking with the ole rope-a-dope theory. This is Obama’s style. So far he’s shown himself to be a master when it comes to giving his opponents just enough rope to hang themselves, and I’ve seen nothing so far which changes that assessment.

    It’s maddening, particularly at moments when the Republican obsession with tactics to the exclusion of strategy is winning the news cycle and blipping the polls, but I predict that in two weeks (or two months) we’ll be praising his foresight and strategy once again.

    Just like the campaign.

    And if I’m wrong…well crap.

  82. 82
    Ash Can says:

    @Rome Again:

    Why does this garner a space on page A17? WTF?

    I’m assuming you mean, why A17 and not the first page. I’ll bet the ranch that A17 is the first page — of the 2-page op-ed spread in this morning’s hard-copy WaPo.

    @TheHatOnMyCat:

    Epic weak.

    No, just epic, period.

  83. 83
    Rick Taylor says:

    As usual, Atrios puts it succinctly:

    For over a year the one point that I and others have been trying make is that the polite fiction that masters of the universe of Wall Street and their defenders in the media and Congress have been trying maintain, that this is liquidity crisis not an insolvency crisis, is utter horseshit. They made bad leveraged bets and lost immense amounts of money, and now they, and their buddies Geithner and Summers, want taxpayers to bail them out so they can go on living their opulent life styles while some of my neighbors wonder if their next food stamp check is going to show up.

  84. 84
    Rome Again says:

    @Ash Can:

    I did not realize it was an editorial. The link calls it a story.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    SnarkIntern says:

    No, just epic, period.

    No, just weak, period. It’s 2009. Surely an obscure 40-year-old Monty Python reference is not the best we can do on these hallowed pages?

    Why Monty Python? Why not Groucho Marx, or WC Fields, or Mortimer Snerd?

    Come on. Somebody needs to elevate his game.

  87. 87
    Shade Tail says:

    @kormgar:

    I’m sticking with the ole rope-a-dope theory. This is Obama’s style. So far he’s shown himself to be a master when it comes to giving his opponents just enough rope to hang themselves, and I’ve seen nothing so far which changes that assessment.

    That’s the best-case scenario, in my opinion, and I hope it is what Obama has been aiming for. The problem is that, as Obama has _quite accurately_ noted, we are in a real crisis and can’t afford to wait very long. That kind of political game is all fine and well while dealing with an election, which can’t be rushed because it has a fixed voting day. It is not so good when dealing with a serious issue where the entire nation may well be hanging in the balance.

    Rather than playing silly little games with the GOP obstructionists, Obama should have been beating the drum with the public in order to win _our_ support. The GOP was going to obstruct in either case. Obama didn’t need to give them the rope, they already had it and were tying the noose all by themselves.

    But Obama took the longer route to this point. Now, not only did he spend all that extra time, but the GOP used that time to solidify their position, forcing Obama to spend even more time to retake the ground he lost to GOP obstructionism.

  88. 88
    Church Lady says:

    @#76 les: Your attribution is incorrect. I didn’t write that, ChrisNBama did at #43. I get heaps of scorn over some things, but I refuse to accept it for things I didn’t write.

  89. 89
    CalD says:

    I’ve long said that one of the biggest problems we’ve got in the country is that Republicans simply do politics better than Democrats — at least at the national level. Candidate Obama was thought by many to be the exception to this rule, but for my money we never really got a chance to see what he’s got when it comes to facing down a hostile or even normally critical "news" media, and certainly never without overwhelmingly, adoringly mesmerized public at his back.

    You had to figure that we’d get that chance sooner or later with President Obama though, and probably sooner. One thing we do know about Barack Obama though, is that he learns fast and has some pretty sharp people working for him. So expect a few missteps as the pixie dust wears off and the playing field returns to its normal angle. At best it will take them some time to recalibrate. But I’m giving the Obama team the benefit of the doubt for now.

  90. 90
    kormgar says:

    @Shade Tail:

    I share your worry 100%. In truth, I suspect Obama also thought he was giving the Republicans just enough rope to climb on up to grown-up land and join him in some semblance of reality. Turns out they are happier in crazy-ville and don’t care if they drag the rest of the country down with them.

    The thing is, they really don’t need much from the Republicans to get this bill passed. Now, while I think it’s pretty damn silly to give the ugly ole pugs any concessions whatsoever if they are going to go ahead and vote against the bill en masse anyways, they don’t need much at all in the senate to break a filibuster.

    So two points…I don’t see how Obama refusing to play petty politics (he plays long term) slows anything down, and I don’t see how a Republican filibuster would be his fault…what, if he hit them harder they would back down? when have they done that in the past? The current crop of goofballs just get nuttier.

    Of course, with Harry Reid in charge over in the Senate it’s not clear that he’ll bother to force the issue if the Republicans do try and block the bill(why is he in charge again?)

  91. 91
    kormgar says:

    @CalD:

    True…the last ten years or so it’s seems as if the Republican party is focused on politics while the Democrats are focused on policy.

    Far too many Democratic politicians seem to think that they can win a political battle by talking about their policy positions…but most humans aren’t wired that way. Speak to our gut, our emotions, frame the arguments just right and you’re set.

    It’s a lessons the Republican party learned well. It’s a shame they neglected everything else though. Now they’re just a pack of crazy uncles who are great at getting the base riled up and just about nothing else. Of course, it wouldn’t work quite so well if the US press was worth a damn.

  92. 92
    Mar says:

    When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There’s no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.

    Erm, that’s the same argument that Bush made about torture in Guantanamo and invading Iraq without evidence. You don’t just say, "different rules apply." You need to point out why those different rules apply here, and that argument should withstand scrutiny. These talks about pork being in the stimulus bill are good, b/c we need to get rid as much pork as possible (and to do that, somebody’s going to really need to come up with a universal definition of pork). But this bill also needs to get passed, b/c we need to get this money into the system as fast as possible.

    I think the bigger problem is that nobody is arguing that the money needs to get into the system as fast as possible. We need Democrats pointing out why we haven’t seen any results from the last stimulus package, and why this package will work when the previous package didn’t seem to work so well. If we don’t have that discussion, then the media will continue to pummel the stimulus package in a decidedly one-sided debate.

    But that doesn’t give Democrats the right to say that "normal rules don’t apply" and avoid the debate altogether.

  93. 93
    Rome Again says:

    @Mar:

    Erm, that’s the same argument that Bush made about torture in Guantanamo and invading Iraq without evidence. You don’t just say, "different rules apply." You need to point out why those different rules apply here

    I guess the fact that it’s an emergency doesn’t mean anything? You’re one of those Repubs who is just cheer-leading for the death of America, eh?

  94. 94
    DougR says:

    DougJ
    You’re doing well. I’m glad you’ve joined BJ.

  95. 95
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    Why Monty Python? Why not Groucho Marx, or WC Fields, or Mortimer Snerd?

    Because life imitates Monty Python.

    Example: A block of flats "built" by hypnosis. A government official declared the flats were perfectly safe — as long as the residents believed in them.

  96. 96
    ThymeZone says:

    You need to point out why those different rules apply here

    It’s been pointed out, it’s just that some people aren’t listening.

    If we have a legislative process that is designed to pinch off loaves of, er, stuff, that contain enough goodness to get the job done … and we have a crisis that requires Great Googly Moogly amounts of stuff to head it off, and not much time to get it out there, then we need to allow for that process to pinch of some really big loads of stuff, some of which may be less than perfect, and get it out there and get the job done. And give people the idea that action is being taken and help is on the way.

    I tried to put this in terms even a Republican could understand. Hell, even an Alaskan Governor could get it.

    Pssh, even Joe the Wurlitzer can get it.

  97. 97
    ThymeZone says:

    You’re doing well

    You DougAlphabets all stick together, don’t you?

  98. 98
    CalD says:

    @ kormgar

    I think that’s a fair enough assessment. But to me, if someone believes their ideas are better than the other guys’ but find themselves unable to sell them because the other guys are better at politics, then they need to get better at politics.

    I think a big part of the Democrats’ problem is an insistence on believing that it’s enough to be "right." I’ll even stipulate that Democrats tend to be more right than wrong more often then not — and more right than the Republicans more often than that. But it’s not enough. Democracy isn’t about who’s right or wrong. It’s about who can talk a majority (or at least a plurality) of the citizenry into going any one direction long enough to get anything done. If you can’t do that, doesn’t matter how good your ideas are.

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