Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Did I compare the Democrats to Clive Wearing a couple of days ago? Well, if Talking Points Memo is right, the Dems and their allies still have a Wearingesque lack of short-, medium- and long-term memory, utterly forgetting that you need an actual strategy to defeat Republicans because, y'know, they fight back:

Do Dems Have A Unified Message To Counter GOP Filibuster Of Fin Reform? Not Yet

Democrats probably didn't expect to find themselves in this position: On the cusp of moving a big Wall Street reform bill to the Senate floor, with Republicans, as if immune from political pressure, banding together to block them....

So surely Democrats and their allies in key pressure groups have rehearsed a bold, unified response.... Right?

The answer to the question is: yes and no. Democrats and outside groups have some contingency plans in place, if the GOP carries out a filibuster. But those efforts aren't being tightly coordinated, and with a key test vote coming as early as Monday, there's precious little time left for Dems and their allies to get their ducks in a row....

I just want to hop a plane to D.C. and throttle every Democratic officeholder, operative, and ally I see. "Democrats probably didn't expect to find themselves in this position"? What??? How could they not expect this? How could they not at least realize that unified obstructionism is the Republicans' default position?

Wait, it gets worse:

... "When Republicans pulled their obstructionist tricks during healthcare, there was an immediate response from every pro-reform group," says a concerned source working in messaging at one of the largest Dem-aligned financial reform pressure groups in the country. "Now that the GOP is using the same stalling and backroom meetings for Wall Street, that response just doesn't exist."

So they're not even prepared to achieve the lofty standard of their pathetic, months-late response to GOP messaging on health care? Yeah, I know, they got the bill passed -- but they did so by the skin of their teeth, after losing the propaganda wars so decisively that it may be a generation before progressivism and the Democratic Party recover.

There are some plans in the works:

... "We'll be doing events targeting them, phone calls, letters," says AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale. "The full range of things that we've got in our toolkit will switch from pushing for the bill to pushing for them to stop filibustering it."


The groups AARP and Americans United for Change both say they'll cross that bridge when they get to it.

"We hope it doesn't get to that point," says Lauren Wiener, spokesperson for AUC. "I think it's clear that they've aligned themselves with the big banks."

I just want to cry. "I think it's clear that they've aligned themselves with the big banks"? NO, IT ISN'T. Nothing is ever clear when you're dealing with the GOP noise machine and a low-information public. If the "endless bailouts" talking point doesn't fly, the Republicans and their allies will just try something else -- like the totalitarian-executive-branch talking point that was being shamelessly and hyperbolically road-tested on Fox News this past Sunday:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think what is so interesting about the bill that is now proposed is that it is Congress once again voluntarily emasculating itself.

The bailout as proposed in the bill would allow the executive branch on its own, without appropriation from Congress, any approval from Congress, to seize, essentially seize a firm it designates again unilaterally as systematically risky, take it over, have the treasury back all of the bad loans, and then have the Fed print the money to pay them off.

... That means you get a few powerful people in Washington, secretary of the treasury, head of the FDIC. You walk into a large institution and say we might designate you systematically risky. We want you to do "x," "y" and "z." I can assure you they will do "x," "y" and "z."

And that's what happens in Putin's Russia when he takes over oil....

BAIER: Bill, what about this question -- is the American public more skeptical of Wall Street banks or the federal government now?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": They are skeptical of both, and they think, I think, and I think that one can curb Wall Street banks without giving unlimited authority to the executive branch of the federal government....

Or as this Fox News opinion piece puts it, ever so subtly:

(Also see the Obama's sleazy because Goldman's being indicted now and Obama's sleazy because he took lots of money from Goldman arguments, which you'd think would be mutually exclusive, but which will probably be poorly rebutted and get traction.)

The TPM article concludes:

...thus far, the response isn't shaping up to be the full frontal assault you might have been expecting.

To which I say: Me? I never expect anything from our side that passes for political competence.

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