Monday, October 10, 2011

How to deal with non-negotiable opposition

The Obama administration, based on hope and naivete, neither of which constitutes a plan, missed its chance to make the great recession milder and shorter. Ezra Klein tiptoes right up to the argument that missing the chance is politically inevitable:

The tendency thus far has been to look at these crises in terms of the identifiable economic factors that make them different from typical recessions. But perhaps the better approach is to look at the political factors that make them turn out the same, that stop governments from doing enough even when they have sworn to err on the side of doing too much.

These crises have a sort of immune system. It is never possible for the political system to do enough to stop them at the outset, as it is never quite clear how bad they are. Even if it were, the system is ill-equipped to take action at that scale. The actors comfort themselves with the thought that if they need to do more, they can do it later. And, for now, the fact that this is the largest rescue package anyone has ever seen has to be worth something.
Paul Krugman, commenting on Klein's insightful piece, wants President Obama to start even now to make the case for more stimulus, for his jobs bill, for muscular intervention in the economy:
[T]he White House was weak and confused in the face of a political and economic debacle, when it should have gone all out.

And you know what? It should still go all out.
I think the chance has been missed. Permanently. I think Klein is right:
With something extraordinary that is nevertheless not enough, the economy deteriorates, and the government sees its solutions discredited and its political standing weakened by the worsening economic storm. That keeps it from doing more.
Any use Obama can make of the bully pulpit now would be welcome but would be strictly political. The Republican plan - starting November 5, 2008 - was massive resistance.

There was only one way to deal with that, since the Democrat's nominal 60-vote majority in the Senate was a castle built on sand. That was for Obama to call up Harry Reid and to tell him to tell Joe Lieberman to fuck off, to kill the filibuster, and to ram his program through.

That's what Republicans would have done. No quarter.

Then the President would have needed to stay on the campaign trail to fulfill his ambition to be President of all Americans. He needed to appeal directly, not through the GOP, whose leadership only cared about destroying the Obama Presidency, like the Clinton Presidency before it.

The failure of the Obama administration was not inevitable. It was not doctrinal. They just weren't ruthless enough in the politics of governance. They thought governing would be about rational compromise with loyal but tractable opponents. It wasn't, as they should have been able to see from the start.


flymorgue2 said...

"I won" was his attitude. After the shellacking, and drooping poll numbers, he ain't ramming anything through. Reality bites.

lovable liberal said...

Oh, bullshit. Obama was conciliatory. The Republicans immediately started on the attack.

Their attitude was, "You got the most reported votes, though we're bad losers and think that should be impossible, but even if you won, we're going to pretend we should run the government by exercising veto power over everything."

flymorgue2 said...

Until Scott Brown was sworn in, they had it all. Even after he joined the Senate, they rammed stuff through via budget reconciliation. two dems did not vote to consider son of stimulus and gobs more up for reelection would have voted it down. Republicans stand by a laugh. In 2010 the people cleared their throats and in 2012, it will be deafening.

flymorgue2 said...

Here another group Obama can't reconcile with:

lovable liberal said...

We got waaay less done than we should have. But we had Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson as moles in the team. We should have cut them off at the knees by neutering the filibuster. Can you imagine how the world would have been without the pious self-fluffing whines of Lieberman on all the TV news shows?

We'll see about 2012, could go either way. We could win the House back, which would be sweet.

flymorgue2 said...

You are looking to just keep the White House. Here is a more lovable liberal:

lovable liberal said...

The best you can come up with is some bullshit WSJ claim that Obama doesn't like people? You probably voted for Duhbya because the conservative narrative told you he'd be great to have a beer with - even though he wouldn't have had the slightest interest in you if he could have a beer in public. It's amazing how easily the cons con you.