Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Politico's Ben Smith:

Greg Sargent notes a new poll today indicating that liberal voters are totally unified behind passing the health care plan. A mere three percent oppose it....

But if the bill passes with unified, if grumbly, support on the left, it would seem to vindicate the White House's fundamental approach, which was to take the left for granted as much as possible and focus on courting marginal members of the Senate. The strategy has turned Rahm Emanuel's name into a curse word among some on the left....

... if Rahm was right all along that progressives, essentially, could be taken for granted, he's about to go from punching bag to hero in the eyes of many Democrats.

I don't think so.

In terms of living up to its potential, the Democratic Party, which scored a resounding presidential victory and huge majorities in both houses of Congress, then squandered it on more than a year of failure, is like an apparently brilliant, high-achieving kid who gets into Harvard, then never cracks a book or takes a test, fails every course, drops out, and moves back home to live in his parents' basement, where he does nothing but play video games. After a long period of failing at every job he applies for, he finally winds up as a management trainee -- at McDonald's. And by this point the parents are happy. It looks as if he'll stick this out. He may even manage to move out and be self-sufficient. After squandering all his talent and all his opportunities, at least he's doing this.

The Rahm-is-vindicated argument is essentially saying that the brainy, competent kid just should have been a screw-up from the git-go and never even should have tried to accomplish anything, even in high school, because his parents would have loved him anyway, and there was never any reason even to try to do better than Mickey D's.

After a while last year I started to wonder whether comprehensive health care reform would have been a poltical third rail for even a competent party -- but I wanted to see more accomplishments than this. I wanted some sort of real jobs legislation and some sort of real financial reform. I at least wanted Democrats to fight for bills in those areas that had teeth. I'm not on board with HCR now because the Democrats have followed a brilliant strategy. I'm on board with HCR as it is because achieving it might mean my party isn't completely hapless.

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