Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Innocent country mouse that he is, Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic thinks the right-wingers have overplayed their hand on health care:

Remember, the target audience for Republicans is Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. They won't panic unless they perceive organic anxiety. The White House's goal was to prevent the Blue Dogs from panicking. The swing constituents in these congressional districts aren't angry Republicans, and the Blue Dogs know this. They're political independents for whom the sanctity of the process is important. These are the type of voters who like President Obama because he appears willing to bring people together even though they don't agree with their policies.

First of all, it's utterly ridiculous to say that Blue Dog Democrats "won't panic unless they perceive organic anxiety." They're Democrats, for Pete's sake. They'll panic at the sight of their own shadow.

And as for "the sanctity of the process," what Ambinder seems to be forgetting is that "the process," as we've all known it for a couple of decades now, is this:

* On major issues, Republican presidents get pretty much everything they want (see: Reagan's tax cuts, Bush's tax cuts, Bush's wars) while left-wing opponents (elected Democratic progressives, liberal protesters and interest groups) are marginalized.

* On major issues, Democratic presidents get scolded for what they want by members of both parties, as well as by pundits and other bloviators, and either don't get what they want (see: health care and gays in the military under Clinton), get a watered-down version of what they want (see: Obama's stimulus package), or get punished if they force what they want through the process (see: the Clinton tax increase).

So even swing voters expect "the process" to include elected Republicans (and Blue Dog enablers) rebuffing Democrats no matter which party is in power. Even swing voters expect right-wing pundits and interest groups to be angry and nasty, and to win by being angry and nasty. We've had years and years of that sort of thing -- Willie Horton, Rush Limbaugh, right-wing militias, Fox News, Tim McVeigh, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- and we've had a GOP president, a GOP Congress, or both for all but 2 1/2 of the past 28 1/2 years. Right-wing anger is a given. It's background noise. And most of the time Republicans still win, at the ballot box and in the legislative process.

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