ATTN: White House

This is a real opportunity:

Leading House Republicans raised the prospect Monday night that they might refuse to participate in President Obama’s proposed health care summit if the White House chooses not to scrap the existing reform bills and start over.

In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) expressed frustration at reports that Obama intends to put the Democratic bills on the table for discussion at the Feb. 25 summit.

“If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate,” Boehner and Cantor wrote.

I know you all won’t do it, but this really is a gimme. Set up the room with a side for the Democrats, including nameplates, one for the Republicans, including nameplates, and hold the summit no matter what. If they come, you can have the summit. If they don’t, then you can have the summit without them, and can use the time (as the camera pans over their empty seats) to promote the positive aspects of the current bill all while discussing the only GOP plan out there- the Paul Ryan bill. I’d suggest panning the room a good bit.

And if the Republicans don’t take a hit in the polls for refusing to show up, and if the media does not rip the Republicans apart, then you all can take out a shovel, beat bipartisanship in the back of the damned head until dead, and bury it in the WH yard, and start acting like you have large majorities.






91 replies
  1. 1
    Rick Taylor says:

    I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

  2. 2
    clone12 says:

    ….If the Democrats are smart…

    Sigh.

  3. 3
    Chyron HR says:

    “If the starting point for this meeting is the job grandma-killing bills…”

    Try to remember your own party platform, guys.

  4. 4
    Chat Noir says:

    The Republicans really are shameless. I agree with you, John Cole. Hold the meeting as scheduled. Maybe more than a few people will realize the “opposition” party in this country is all about theatrics and has absolutely no intention of helping govern. Plain and simple, they want President Obama to fail.

    Buncha friggin’ babies. Abraham Lincoln is rolling over in his grave at what his party has become.

  5. 5
    Libertini says:

    I second the motion, and I hear a large chorus of “ayes” coming from the internets!

  6. 6

    Obama’s fetish for bipartisanship is going to sink his Presidency and ensure continued and unnecessary hardship for millions of middle and lower class Americans.

    He’s the wife of an abusive husband who refuses to help her victimized children because of her sacred vow of bipartisanship. She’s just as guilty. It’s almost worse because she is supposed to know better.

  7. 7
    El Cid says:

    Make sure and invite Michael Steele too.

  8. 8
    mr. whipple says:

    @Libertini:

    Thirded!

  9. 9
    Scott says:

    Yeah, it’ll never happen. They’ll cancel ’cause they can’t do anything without the nation’s beloved Republican Bastards on hand…

  10. 10

    I’m not all that sure holding the summit without Republicans would really work very well in a theatrical sense, but obviously if Republicans refuse to come Democrats should relentlessly drive that point home for months.

  11. 11
    jibeaux says:

    Dear John Boehner and Eric Cantor,

    I know you’re a little bit upset about the sudden loss of your delicious milkshake from a week or so ago. You’re feeling a bit trapped, because this is a no-win situation for you. If you don’t show, you look like petulant tea partiers not actually committed to working out solutions. (I know, but apparently there are actually people who don’t know this about you yet. Go figure.) If you do show, well, you’ve just walked into a room with Obama carrying another milkshake.
    But I feel obligated to remind you that the legislation in question which you would like to scrap has actually passed both houses of Congress. As the old joke goes, now we’re just haggling over price.

  12. 12
    NickM says:

    That’ll never work. It would be too smart.

  13. 13

    Also, doing that makes it a airly transparent PR stunt, which may work, but may backfire.

  14. 14
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Hank Thompson:
    __

    Obama’s fetish for bipartisanship is going to sink his Presidency and ensure continued and unnecessary hardship for millions of middle and lower class Americans.

    What’s going to ensure continuing hardship for millions of blah blah is the continuation of partisan politics, particularly the toxic variety that we have now. If the Reps won’t come to the table, then by all means shame them, goad them, get their supporters to vote in a new crop—but insisting that the very idea of bipartisanship must/should be trashed is just the continuation of Bush era politics into the foreseeable future. Granted that the current crop of obstructionists must go, that’s different from saying “bipartisanship bad”. If we ever get a crop of Republicans in office who are willing to come to the table, then we have to negotiate in good faith—and holding that door open is one way to encourage voters to get rid of the Cantors and the Boners.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    If there actually were two political parties, then a word like “bipartisanship” might have meaning. One of the things currently thought of as a “political party” is an anti-Constitutional gang of thieves who simply want power in order to engage in maximum pillage for their ultra-rich backers and launching as many aggressive wars as they and their contracting friends can get away with.

  16. 16
    TR says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    Also, doing that makes it a airly transparent PR stunt, which may work, but may backfire.

    Yeah, I think the beauty of this idea is the subtle nature of it. The media will label the Republicans as “no shows” if they skip out on the invitation. We don’t need explicit shots of the president staring wistfully out of the Oval Office waiting for the date that jilted him.

  17. 17
    BR says:

    Some days I wish Cole et al. were in charge of Dem strategy. Actually, almost every day.

  18. 18
    flounder says:

    I wonder if Rich Little is available to show up as a Boner impersonator?

  19. 19
    mr. whipple says:

    Obama’s fetish for bipartisanship is going to sink his Presidency and ensure continued and unnecessary hardship for millions of middle and lower class Americans

    Is Obama is really so naive and stupid that he believes that one day Republicans will wake up and engage constructively?

  20. 20
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @El Cid: Which doesn’t make them not a political party, unless and until the GOP is outlawed. An unsavory bunch of fucking thieves, sure, but they are fucking thieves who manage to get enough votes to get into political office—hence, political party.

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    Did you see the State of the Union a few weeks back? The Republicans think they’re running a shadow government here. They’ve got no respect for the current elected majority.

    I’ve got no doubt that Rove and Friends are planning their own counter-summit, and I’ll leave it to you to guess which one will garner more media attention.

    I mean, time will tell how this plays out, but it’s all political opera to me. Until Obama gets a bill passed, people simply won’t care about the theatrics come voting day.

  22. 22
    dr. bloor says:

    Obama won’t do anything that splashy.

    The meeting with the House Republicans last week was most effective because it was simply an illustration of Obama being Obama and the Republicans being the Republicans, and I’d expect them to continue along that line, strategerically speaking. The “Republicans are Obstructionist” meme will have better legs with the talking heads if they think they thought up the idea themselves.

  23. 23
    Jamey says:

    It’s time we stopped calling him Cantor and started calling him,
    “Won’t-or.”

    Amirite?

  24. 24
    AhabTRuler says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Is Obama is really so naive and stupid that he believes that one day Republicans will wake up and engage constructively?

    No, but the squishy middle of uncommitted voters (y’know, morons) do maintain such illusions.

  25. 25
    Woodbuster says:

    I know it’ll never happen, but I did just get a little thrill running up my leg!

  26. 26
    Malron says:

    Works for me, John. We need to be manning the phones demanding Obama and the Democrats hold the summit whether the GOP shows or not.

  27. 27
    John S. says:

    Is Obama is really so naive and stupid that he believes that one day Republicans will wake up and engage constructively?

    No, but I think Obama is smart enough to know that if he gives these clowns enough rope, they will eventually hang themselves.

  28. 28
    Scott says:

    @BR:

    Some days I wish Cole et al. were in charge of Dem strategy. Actually, almost every day.

    And Athenae from First Draft. Give her an advertising budget, and the Democrats would have a 75% majority in both houses of Congress…

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Jonah says:

    There’s a whole media apparatus that will claim, with a straight face, that the Republican no-shows reflect a courageous stand against a tyrannical majority. It sounds absurd, but I’m seeing Karl Rove & co. do a complete 180 on appropriate political behavior.

    Not that a little theatrics will make people on our side feel a little satisfied.

    It would do slightly more good than harm.

  31. 31
    jibeaux says:

    @El Cid:

    Yeah, I think of it as we actually have three de facto political parties. We have Democrats; we have the Blue Dogs who are basically what Republicans used to be; and we have a group of people who in a saner country would be involuntarily committed. The bills that have resulted are ALREADY bipartisan, in that the Democrats have already negotiated with the only people who want something different but yet remain open to discussion if they’ll strip out some of the nicer, shinier goals. It just sucks that those people are in our own damn party.
    The whole thing reminds me of a James Carville parody that was on SNL one time (that one guy they have is a great impersonator and they should do more with that), who was comparing Republicans to the homeless guys on the street who are ranting about demons. “You’re not gonna ENGAGE with those guys…”

  32. 32
    El Cid says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: I understand that they’re legally a political party. The point is that until and unless they’re actually a functional political party in the sense that they’re committed to something other than national destruction via pillage, then at best “bipartisanship” is theater and at worst simply assists a destructive force in either perpetrating crazy ideology or actually harmful policies.

    Also, frankly I hate that a lot of my fellow Americans are completely stupid and uninformed and that an empty, meaningless phrase such as “bipartisanship” means something valuable to them, as does ultra-meaningless fantasy solutions to the nation’s problems as “stop all the spending”.

  33. 33
    jrg says:

    If the Reps won’t come to the table, then by all means shame them, goad them, get their supporters to vote in a new crop—-but insisting that the very idea of bipartisanship must/should be trashed is just the continuation of Bush era politics into the foreseeable future.

    Yeah, because the GOP was so co-operative and constructive before the Bush years. I cannot wait until we get another GOP congress like we had in ’94, so we can get back to the brass tacks of who got a BJ from who, and when.

  34. 34
    Brian J says:

    Oh, please, Republicans, be as stupid and immature as I know you are.

    Oh, please, Democrats, do what John Cole suggested–except, I’d act like you have large majorities regardless, because you do! If you guys pass up this opportunity that the Republicans might present, you might as well just quit.

  35. 35
    demo woman says:

    There were several caveats. They want to bring health care providers who disagree with the bill. Do you suppose they will bring the doctor who sent around the picture of the President as a voodoo warrior? They also want to invite governors who oppose health care. In short they want to fill the audience with protesters.

  36. 36
    Gregory says:

    I know you all won’t do it, but this really is a gimme. Set up the room with a side for the Democrats, including nameplates, one for the Republicans, including nameplates, and hold the summit no matter what. If they come, you can have the summit. If they don’t, then you can have the summit without them, and can use the time (as the camera pans over their empty seats) to promote the positive aspects of the current bill all while discussing the only GOP plan out there- the Paul Ryan bill. I’d suggest panning the room a good bit.

    Word.

    And someone should ask Broder, on camera, why he thinks the summit represents a lack of bipartisanship on the Democrats’ part.

  37. 37
    Brian J says:

    @John S.:

    This.

  38. 38

    For a political party that is often accused of being beholden to the Hollywood liberal elite, the Democrats are pure Fail at theatrics. Could Clooney or someone give them some performance lessons?

  39. 39
    Brian J says:

    @El Cid:

    Not only that, give him a prime opportunity to speak. Be sure to include questions about abortion.

  40. 40
    Seanly says:

    John – you’re such a dreamer.

    Whatever happens, it will be good news for Republicans.

    (to be truthful, I do like your idea, but I doubt the Democrats would play it that way.)

  41. 41
    John PM says:

    I do not think Obama has a fetish for bipartisanship. His experience in Illinois was that Democrats and Republicans could work together. Also, while he was in the Senate, he was able to work with a few Republicans. He also ran on a platform of getting rid of partisan divisions. He is now faced with 41 dead-enders in the Senate who have no intention of compromising.

    Starting with the SOTU, he has started taking a more forceful hand against them, and I expect him to continue. The Senate Democrats are the battered spouse, Obama is the nice new boyfriend who treats the battered spouse well, and the Senate Republicans (I’m looking at you, McCain) is the homicidal husband who wants to kill the wife and kids (ie, the American people) because he can’t live without them. In other words, this entire thing is a classic Lifetime movie. Let’s hope it ends with the wife kicking the crap out of the husband.

  42. 42

    @Comrade Scrutinizer:

    I agree. Context matters. If the Republicans negotiated in good faith, accepted empirical principles of reality but disagreed about tactics, respected the operating principles of effective government and majority rule, didn’t view every policy as another battle in the permanent campaign, and weren’t espousing more of the very same ideas that brought our economy to the brink of collapse, then yes, they would make good negotiating partners. And bipartisanship would be appropriate.

    The current crop of republicans have proven they are not serious about solving problems in America. Reversing this course seems unlikely because their 50 year war against education is paying dividends. Ignorance begets ignorance and their base not only wallows in it, they insist on it! So there is no reason to change their behavior.

    I didn’t say “bipartisanship bad.” I said Obama is making a moral and tactical error in always insisting on it, given the CURRENT CONTEXT. He doesn’t realize that the right policy is also the best politics. He (and pelosi and reid) need to ram their policies through. People respect leaders who lead.

    There’s also the media’s role in this, which is another obstacle Dems must overcome, but that’s a whole ‘nuther issue.

    PS, I’m not saying Dems have all the answers or that there aren’t nefariously motivated Dems out there. This comment is about republicans and whether or not Obama should engage in bipartisanship. He’s tried. Now it’s time to lead.

  43. 43
    Andy says:

    “Ok, thanks, guys. Now, any questions from the GOP side of the room?”

    “Anyone?”

    “Anyone?”

    “Bueller?”

    “Bueller?”

  44. 44

    @TR:

    I don’t know how subtle it is, everyone seems to have noticed the Republicans are in a catch-22. But that said, if you’re looking to give the impression that you’re the adult and the other side is childish, well, you have to present yourself as an adult. I’d say go ahead and do the summit, make repeated references to how the GOP declined to participate, make fun of the Ryan budget, and then have Democratic communications teams hammer the point for weeks; but setting places for them and panning the camera over the empty seats gives the impression that it was a set-up all along. Or at least makes it easier for Republicans to spin it that way.

  45. 45
    Joey Maloney says:

    @El Cid: Yes, this, also, too.

  46. 46
    Punchy says:

    Y’all see this?

    How fucked up is THAT? If that isn’t used by Dems to justy this HCR bill, then they’re bigger idiodouchstains than I thought….

  47. 47
    jibeaux says:

    Vis a vis bipartisanship, I thought Ezra’s take on it was pretty perceptive:

    Bipartisanship isn’t impossible because people disagree on the finer points of American policy, though many of them certainly do. It’s impossible because the parties are locked in a zero-sum struggle for control, and you don’t gain an advantage if you give the other side a major accomplishment and then tell the American people they really did a good job reaching out to your and your colleagues.

    In looking for that quote, I also found his take on the R’s ransom note submitted in exchange for their attendance. Also interesting, he proposed that the president “agree to literally every one of the GOP’s demands — including the ones that don’t make any sense — in return for one, simple promise: The final legislation is guaranteed an up-or-down vote in the House and the Senate. No filibusters. No delays. No procedural tricks.” What I like about this idea is that I think the Democrats have got to be hammering away, like the Repubs did when the shoe was on the other foot, about an “up or down vote.” This is a phrase we need to start hearing a lot more often. Once, of course, we have figured out that we can get 50 of our own damn party members on board, useless bastards.

  48. 48

    @John PM:

    Starting with the SOTU, he has started taking a more forceful hand against them, and I expect him to continue. The Senate Democrats are the battered spouse, Obama is the nice new boyfriend who treats the battered spouse well, and the Senate Republicans (I’m looking at you, McCain) is the homicidal husband who wants to kill the wife and kids (ie, the American people) because he can’t live without them. In other words, this entire thing is a classic Lifetime movie. Let’s hope it ends with the wife kicking the crap out of the husband.

    Yes, it’s a Lifetime movie, but with uglier people.

    The media is the nosy neighbor who spreads gossip and rumors without fact-checking and is married to a big fat abusive oxy-contin addict who only smiles when he’s sucking on a cigar. The libertarians live across the street and have a bunch of old bicycles in their yard and don’t really talk to anybody but wishes more people were like them. Then comes the ice cream truck man selling sweets for profit who’s eyes linger on the children a little too long, lusting after the money in their wallets (hopefully, that’s all he’s lusting after). When a census worker comes by one of the children, the simple, ignorant, fearful one, kills him and writes the word “FED” on his body. There is more bare dirt than grass in the front lawn, due to changing weather confusing the flora, but those warm Decembers sure are nice.

    What’s on Discovery Channel? Ooh, sharks!

  49. 49
    zoe kentucky in pittsburgh says:

    If there is one thing the dems don’t do well (let’s pretend it’s just one thing for the sake of argument) it’s political theatre. It’s part of what makes them seem so damned weak and disorganzed all the time. (I know, I know, but they can at least fake it.) The GOP has the same 10 set of talking points, distributed widely, and the dems are all over the place.

    Is it just me or does it seem like the dems would benefit from a special PR team of advisors– a few theatre professors, some creative ad folks, but no political advisors– to help them actually get their message across in ways that people will actually hear and pay attention to. If that means they randomly break into song, so be it. But they need to find some ways to get the MSM limelight off of the GOP and Palins of the world.

  50. 50
    Brian J says:

    @John PM:

    His experience in Illinois was that Democrats and some non-batshit insane Republicans could work together.

    Fixed that for you.

  51. 51
    jenniebee says:

    I think it’s a little more subtle than that. Yes, Dems need to hold the summit anyway, and let it be televised, but they actually have no need to fear that Republicans won’t show up. There are individual Republicans who can’t afford not to show up – Scott Brown first and foremost among them – and their leadership can’t afford cracks in the dyke of party unity.

    Besides, after the House spanking the R’s all went into a conference with pollsters who told them that they don’t have to worry about their base, they have to court independents. This sort of nonsense does not appeal to those independents.

  52. 52
    Brian J says:

    @zoe kentucky in pittsburgh:

    I’d pay lots of money to see Obama do an interpretative dance number instead of a normal state of the union speech.

  53. 53
    GReynoldsCT00 says:

    Leading House Republicans raised the prospect Monday night that they might refuse to participate in President Obama’s proposed health care summit

    Probably because the got bitch-slapped the last time they had an open forum with him. Whiney little girls.

  54. 54
    MikeJ says:

    There are individual Republicans who can’t afford not to show up – Scott Brown first and foremost among them

    Which is why you have the name plates, to go in the tv ads to run back home. Scott Brown. Both of the Mainites. Probably one or two others.

  55. 55
    John Quixote says:

    @Hank Thompson:

    When a census worker comes by one of the children, the simple, ignorant, fearful one, kills him and writes the word “FED” on his body.

    If you are referring to the census worker found in Kentucky, the Feds say that is was suicide.

  56. 56
    danimal says:

    @jibeaux:

    …about an “up or down vote.” This is a phrase we need to start hearing a lot more often. Once, of course, we have figured out that we can get 50 of our own damn party members on board, useless bastards.

    I basically agree with your point, but you illustrate the liberal fallacy that has been so destructive lately. We don’t always have 50 votes.

    Just because we have a lot of folks with D at the end of their nameplate does not mean we have 50 liberal votes. This assumption has led way too much of the liberal blogosphere to believe that the Dems can govern from the left, but there aren’t always 50 votes from the left.

    PR stunts like filming empty conference tables may be effective theater, but there is a place for genuine bipartisanship, and Obama is right to make the effort.

    Once the GOP is convinced that they can’t win their game of chicken, they will come to the table. The way to convince them is to develop a left-center policy program that can consistently draw 50 votes and is popular with the general population.

  57. 57
    Violet says:

    Please let them do this. Please! Democrats please listen to John Cole.

    While I agree that it could backfire as a PR stunt, the Republicans refusing to show up could also make the President look wimpy. Remember how ineffectual he looked when the CEOs of the banks couldn’t be bothered to come down to the WH to meet with him (excuse: fog stopped flights, but why couldn’t they come the day before?)? If he doesn’t take advantage of the Republicans refusing to come to the table, then he’s not playing hardball.

    Why isn’t there a concerted effort to tie healthcare reform to job creation? This boggles the mind. Show how people will be free to start their own businesses because they can afford healthcare. Show how it controls costs and thus businesses can afford to hire workers rather than just pay more for healthcare coverage. There is a massive win in here for the Democrats to tie the messages together, and yet they seem incapable of even grasping the concept. I have heard very few people make this connection. Fixing healthcare = more job creation! Say it over and over again. Why don’t they do this?

  58. 58
    Chat Noir says:

    OT. For unknown reasons (and much to my consternation), I got on an NRCC mailing list and have been receiving their shitty mailings for a few months now. Got a “survey” last week from them so I filled it out but gave them the answers a good little Dem like myself would give. I also edited the questions for maximum effect.

    It was sort of immature on my part, but I couldn’t help myself. Just getting mailings from the Republicans makes me feel dirty. Needless to say, I didn’t write them a check.

  59. 59
    Paris says:

    If the Repugs don’t show up, then hire an actor to stand in and read their plan off their website, at which point it can be shown how all of their talking points are included in the current plan ala Ezra Klein.

  60. 60
    Andy says:

    @zoe kentucky in pittsburgh:

    And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. . . .

  61. 61
    Violet says:

    @Chat Noir:
    I think there’s a lot of that going on. I know someone who got a money request from the DNC. Wrote on it with red marker: “Not a penny until you pass health care reform!” Sent it back in their pre-paid envelope.

  62. 62
    aimai says:

    I’m with Zoe Kentucky. Politics isn’t all theater–but in a democracy a hell of a lot of it is. I was thinking today that I wish the Democrats as a party, and the Obama administration as an administration, had some kind of–oh, call it a “war room” where plans were drawn up for every contingency. And where a team of messengers a la frank luntz worked overtime to construct a message that various audiences could hear, understand, and support.

    For the war room I would want a county by county polling review of issues, history, and representation. I’d want someone keeping an eye on all seats that might flip, recruiting strong candidates with area specific promises of help and targeting weak candidates with area specific attacks. This would have helped us with MA’s lost Senate seat, and might do the trick with Murtha’s open seat. As it is, I expect we’ll lose that.

    I’d also want a separate group to focus just on the seats that are currently occupied. We all saw that there were problems with Nelson, Lincoln, Landrieu et al long ago. Also, clearly, problems with Shelby. I don’t get the sense that the White House, or the party, has the slightest ability, let alone intention, of getting out ahead of these problems. Landrieu’s a local aristocrat–she’s untouchable. But Nelson and Lincoln were allowed to make their own decision about what would make them re-electable and now look like they are on the verge of having sold out the Democrats on major issues at a crucial time *and also* losing their seats. Tell me we wouldn’t have been better off as a party with a plan to force them to make all the hard votes as straight democrats and buying them off with post senatorial goodies?

    But given our current situation, where the iron fist we never used is not enough against a united republican front of 41 votes, we have to start using every theatrical trick and hail mary pass we can. But we can only do it successfully if we have everything lined up, from the sight/theatrical debut to the critics reviews afterwards. I don’t see how we do that if we leave it to chance that this will be covered appropriately. Sarah Palin can get her palm scribblings reviewed as a stroke of genius. Barack Obama could perform brain surgery while singing Opera, simultaneously direct traffic for a moon landing and still be accused of being a failure because Republicans were sitting outside holding up signs saying “he reads a teleprompter” and “he’s a kenyan.”

    aimai

  63. 63
    jibeaux says:

    @danimal:

    Right, and there is a sort of consistent undercurrent that we can do absolutely anything that we have 50 votes for, when we just can’t. There’s sometimes a complete failure to acknowledge that the current use of the filibuster, while we can rant about it as unfair and not in keeping with the intent with which those procedural rules were enacted and that’s all true, really does throw a huge monkey wrench into the gears and there isn’t an obvious way to remedy that. We need to simultaneously acknowledge the reality of that situation, while at the same time acting with the convictions that people really did vote in a huge Dem majority and that they did for a reason. It’s a hugely frustrating thing to take a firm stand for principles you believe in while frequently being unable to make those things happen for procedural reasons, but we need to do it and we need to make people aware that the obstruction is procedural.

  64. 64
    blackwaterdog says:

    It’ll never happen. I love Obama to pieces, but i don’t think he’s got this kind of subversion in him. He’s just way too mature (which should be consider as a good thing in a normal world, but this is anything but a normal world).

  65. 65
    Svensker says:

    @GReynoldsCT00:

    Probably because the got bitch-slapped the last time they had an open forum with him. Whiney little girls.

    As a former little girl I seriously resent my status quo ante cute self being compared to Republican douchebags. If you don’t mind.

  66. 66
    Keith G says:

    Meh. I don’t see this happening. That would be drama and it seems I/we voted against that in 08. I wish that this was a tool in the tool box but it appears that it aint. Aimai is correct:

    Politics isn’t all theater—but in a democracy a hell of a lot of it is.

    Washington, Lincoln, TR, and other successful presidents knew this. Carter, not so much. Clinton got some game back when he challenged Newt to shut down the government. Would Obama have played that card?

    I voted for O, I still support him, and I hope he gets a fucking clue.

  67. 67
    Ed in NJ says:

    @aimai:

    I’m with Zoe Kentucky. Politics isn’t all theater—but in a democracy a hell of a lot of it is. I was thinking today that I wish the Democrats as a party, and the Obama administration as an administration, had some kind of—oh, call it a “war room” where plans were drawn up for every contingency. And where a team of messengers a la frank luntz worked overtime to construct a message that various audiences could hear, understand, and support.

    Sorry, but I think if the Dems did this, it would be all over the cable news and right wing blogs (and some liberal blogs like Crooks and Liars that have recently jumped the shark), and just propel forward the notion that Obama is running the perpetual campaign and not governing.

    If you haven’t yet figured it out, the media does not allow the Democrats to strategize and display party discipline in any way. They will always have a double standard with this. Even if it means finding some insignificant state senator somewhere to represent the fracturing of the party.

  68. 68
    PTirebiter says:

    Has Lieberman r.s.v.p’d yet? Maybe we should wait until we hear from Joe.

  69. 69
    Chat Noir says:

    @Violet: I keep getting stuff from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, even though I’ve never donated to a Republican cause in my life. I gave the NRCC a piece of my mind in that mailing, not that it’ll do any good. It just felt a little cathartic to vent.

  70. 70
    Keith G says:

    @Ed in NJ:

    Most on-side kicks are not successful.

  71. 71

    @jibeaux:

    I know you’re a little bit upset about the sudden loss of your delicious milkshake from a week or so ago.

    That was a thing of beauty. I laughed. Out loud. I smile even now reading it again. Kudos.

  72. 72
    dww44 says:

    @BR:

    I second that and hope that someone will personally deliver this blog post to the White House? Surely someone at BJ has a connection inside the loop who can deliver to Obama’s desk and get around Rahm and whoever else may be cutting off access President Obama?

  73. 73
    Sasha says:

    I’m betting that’s exactly what Obama’s plan is. It’s a game of chicken: Will the White House cancel the summit if the GOP refuses to show, or will the GOP attend if the WH insists on holding it anyway?

    If it were up to the Dem Caucus I’d say the GOP wins, but Obama doesn’t strike me as someone who blinks first.

    And if the GOP insists on not showing up, at least Obama has his bipartisanship-attempt ass covered.

  74. 74
    Ash Can says:

    I think John PM raises some good points. Obama’s experience really does involve working with a number of reasonable Republicans on both the state and federal levels, and we’re all products of our own experience to a large extent. However, while he’s obviously not stupid, I’d be willing to bet that he’s had a good deal of naivete kicked out of him over the past year.

    Now, whether or not he’d be willing to set up empty chairs and nameplates remains to be seen. I don’t see him having either the desire or the patience for political theater, for better or for worse. But he does have David Plouffe back on board. Plouffe may not be a stunt man, but he knows how to hit the opposition — and in fact bringing him back may be the clearest signal yet that the Admin is starting to see the GOP as the opposition rather than as colleagues. It may not involve empty chairs, but the congressional Republicans are clearly provoking Obama into some kind of reaction. I for one am looking forward to seeing what it is.

  75. 75
    Ash Can says:

    @Sasha: “And if the GOP insists on not showing up, at least Obama has his bipartisanship-attempt ass covered.”

    Yep. Let’s face it — bipartisanship may be long dead, but talk of “bipartisanship” is never going to go away, no matter how much we political junkies wish it would. The great unwashed are way too fond of the idea for the pols to stop paying it lip service. If we simply learn to ignore the noises about it, we’ll be all the happier for it.

  76. 76
    matoko_chan says:

    can Boehner be called Agent Orange or SprayTanMan in the BJ Lexicon?

  77. 77
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: it is more than that…the media does realize that “conservative leadership” is handicapped in the IQ department, but having a contest between two sides is only interesting and profitable if both sides are reguarded as somewhat peer.
    So conservative failmemes and populist stupidity gets equal time and less scrutiny in the name of “fairness”.
    Would you pay to watch a sporting event if the opposing team was all gimps and retards certain of Fail?

  78. 78
    danimal says:

    @matoko_chan: lol. I like Agent Orange. Wish I thought of it.

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    WaterGirl says:

    @Ash Can: I agree. In a game of chicken, my money is on Obama.

    Didn’t this already sort of happen during the primaries? Was McCain was going to show up to a debate during his “time out” to fix the economy? People talked about whether Obama would show up for the debate even if McCain didn’t and some put forward the idea of standing there on the stage for the debate, with the empty McCain podium beside him. Even through the day of the debate there was uncertainty about whether McCain would show, but McCain did show up and the debate went on as scheduled.

    Obama’s response if they don’t show up will surely be worth watching. The republicans will not get a free pass from Obama on this one. Especially not with Plouffe back at his side.

  80. 80
    Tonal Crow says:

    Yep, another bee-autiful slowball floating over the plate. Will the Democrats finally take a swing? Or strike out again in the spirit of “bipartisanship”? Call the WH comments line at 202-456-1111 to tell Obama what you think they should do.

  81. 81
    WaterGirl says:

    @Tonal Crow: Recording when I called just now: “Due to inclement weather the comments line is closed at this time.”

  82. 82
    Tonal Crow says:

    @WaterGirl:

    Recording when I called just now: “Due to inclement weather the comments line is closed at this time.”

    I got the same thing. I tried the switchboard at 202-456-1414, and was told that everything is shutdown (apparently due to the impending snow), so there’s no live people to talk with. I guess the next-best thing is to leave an e-message at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact , and to call the comment line tomorrow.

  83. 83

    Spot on, John. This is EXACTLY what he should do. It’s what the Republicans would do in that same situation.

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    Serenity Now says:

    I’m confused. I thought Obama wasn’t doing enough to change Washington? At least according to an article in The Nation (btw, why have 95% of “liberal” publications and blogs jumped the shark and so happily/willing bought into right wing framing/memes? And with the blogs, why are most of them that have jumped said sharked blogs that were founded by former Republicans turned Democrats? I know this blog was founded by a former Republican turned Democrat too, but it seems like more of sincere conversion than the others…time will tell though of course).

    But isn’t making a serious attempt at acting like a responsible adult as President of the United States inherently bringing change to Washington? I mean there hasn’t been a grown up in that position for a loooooong time (and that includes Clinton) which is why we’re so fucked now. Theoretically, isn’t bipartisanship and attempts at bipartisanship good for the country?

    It’s not President Obama’s fault that the Republicans are insane and are constantly rewarded or at least not punished by the public and/or media for their insanity.

    It’s not the President’s job to call an entire Party insane outright. Especially when a large number of the voting public follows that Party. All he can do is drop clues, and he’s dropped a heck of a lot of clues. The problem is that the left ain’t picking it up because they’re too focused on their ponies and the media is a corporation and it would go against the interests of said corporation to tell the truth about the Republican “party.”

  85. 85
    CalD says:

    I’d bet there’s no real chance of Republicans publicly chickening out on this. No way do Democrats get that lucky.

  86. 86
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Serenity Now: It is the President’s job (and that of congressional Democrats) to create and consistently push truthful rhetoric that helps their causes. Their inability or unwillingness to do so is probably the primary factor that got us a less-than-it-should-be healthcare bill and that has placed it in such deep trouble. Bad rhetoric is what made it so easy to demonize the mandate. Bad rhetoric is what’s made the “3000 page” meme so effective. Bad rhetoric is what emboldened Snowe to rope-a-dope the bill, and Lieberman to so easily kill the public option.

    Democrats have good-to-reasonable policies on most things, and pretty much all their policies are better than pretty much all GOP policies. That’s not the question. The question is whether they’re able to sell their policies. And that’s where they’ve been consistently weak. That’s got to change. And I’d love to see Obama lead and inspire that change by doing exactly what John suggested above.

  87. 87
    IndieTarheel says:

    @matoko_chan:

    can Boehner be called Agent Orange or SprayTanMan in the BJ Lexicon?

    Bingo! He is Agent Orange to me now and forevermore. Well played, indeed.

  88. 88
    Serenity Now says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    The President has been consistently pushing truthful rhetoric (Congress maybe not so much). That’s part of what I mean by he’s been dropping clues. (Could he do better? Yes, but that’s because one can always do better in matters like this.)

    Part of the problem is, it isn’t being picked up and carried consistently by enough people on the left and/or the media (that uses crap framing like, it “appears” that McCain might maybe have altered his stand DADT, as opposed to just saying outright that McCain lied/flip flopped) for whatever reason(s).

    A major (for now?) news network blatantly cut away from the President when he was making excellent, truthful points because it was making the side that the media is rooting for look bad.

    Part of the reason the Republicans seem more organized is because they can say the craziest shit and it’s repeated enough by the media and Republicans in the general public everywhere on everything that even the other side starts to adopt their framing/language. It’s crazy.

    Republicans happily take the smallest victory and use it to flog us until we end up thinking that they’re succeeding at everything and we’re succeeding at nothing…which is so far from true it’s not even funny.

    You have people on the left willfully using right wing framing, language and outright lies to demonize the Senate version of the health care bill because it doesn’t have their respective lobbying point in it.

    You have people on the “left” joining in with Republicans to call this administration and Congress a failure, when facts and common sense show, that with the possible exception of health care reform (which I believe will pass). It is anything but…

    It’s like the left has been in an abusive relationship for so long that they can’t recognize when they’ve found a good husband/wife…not a perfect one but a good one.

    So yes, it’s the President’s job to create and consistently push truthful rhetoric that helps his cause…but at some point as members of the Democratic Party it would be nice if we realized he’s not an island (the slogan was “we” not “he” can), and we consistently helped him spread said truthful rhetoric without first expecting him to sign something in blood or give us our respective ponies.

    And if he fails, in whomever’s opinion to push said truthful rhetoric at some point for whatever reason, it would be nice if we had not his back, but our OWN, and picked up the ball and helped push said truthful rhetoric anyway since it can only result in good things for us if we did so.

  89. 89
    mai naem says:

    Hey, John you do know you are talking about the Democratic party? Not the Republican party? Ain’t gonna happen.

    And whoever said Obama worked with Repubs in Illinois. Well, Illinois Republicans aren’t way out wingnut southern Repubs. For the most part, they’re normal somewhat centrist Repubs. Hell, could you ever see Haley Barbour releasing death row prisoners in Mississippi? George Ryan did. Ray Lahood and Peter Fitzgerald aren’t wingnuts.
    Also too, we have 50 votes. You take out Landrieu,Nelson,Lieberhole,Lincoln, Bayh and Conrad you still have 53. That still gives you three to play with.

  90. 90
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Serenity Now: I should have been clearer. I mean to consistently push *good* truthful rhetoric, as opposed to relying upon the truth as the saleman. Truth, unfortunately, does *not* usually sell itself. It needs good salespeople, including a good salesperson-in-chief. Obama has not done well at that job (with a few exceptions, like some of his points at the GOP gathering last week), nor have congressional Democrats. If they had, you’d hear far more positive stuff on the blogs.

    Once more I have to point out that most people use emotion — not rational thought — to decide most things most of the time. You cannot reasonably expect rank-and-file Democrats, progressives, and the like to be foursquare behind policies that the President and congressional leaders have not sold to *them*. Most people don’t do much policy, and laying out policy for them isn’t going to convince them. They need platitudes, with a sprinkling of policy mixed in.

    The mandate is a perfect example of this. As a policy, it’s unavoidable if you’re going to have universal coverage. But without damned good rhetorical backing, it’s a hard sell, because most people hate to be required to do something. Obama and congressional Democrats didn’t do nearly enough to make that sale. So, when Lieberman killed the public option (which many progressives viewed as a critical safety-valve), their support for the mandate — and, to a significant extent, general public support, too — fell off a cliff.

    Rhetoric: it’s what Democrats need for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

  91. 91
    dmhlt says:

    You got an “AMEN!” from this corner!

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