Friday, February 6, 2009


There's a lot of criticism of Obama's attempt to fashion a politics by consensus, emphasizing compromise, bi-partisanship and a featured role for the centrists.

The bipartisanship is running up against the determined opposition of the most homogenous, thoroughly reactionary Republican Party since Alf Landon led the rump of the GOP into the catastrophic election of 1936. John Cole uses an apt analogy: "I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years."

And, then there's the "centrists". They're not exactly insane -- lacking, by definition, the radicalism -- but they are not exactly grounded in the moment either. Appeasing the centrists - Paul Krugman writes:
". . . centrism is a pose rather than a philosophy. And to support that pose, the centrists are demanding $100 billion in cuts in the economic stimulus plan — not because they have any coherent argument saying that the plan is $100 billion too big, not because they can identify $100 billion of stuff that should not be done, but in order to be able to say that they forced Obama to move to the center.

Which raises the obvious question: shouldn’t Obama have made a much bigger plan, say $1.3 trillion, his opening gambit? If he had, he could have conceded to the centrists by cutting it to $1.2 trillion, and still have had a plan with a good chance of really controlling this slump. Instead he made preemptive concessions, only to find the centrists demanding another pound of flesh as proof of their centrist power."

Somewhere out there, I would hope that progressives and liberals are rousing themselves to leadership. It is not going to be easy for them to seize the dominating frames, but it is necessary, if the country is not going to slide to disaster on the back of making a habit out of too little, too late.

1 comment:

  1. How could I even have imagined that Obama's election would allow me to end my outrage at Republicans or get away from being involved in politics?

    Sigh. Someday can we PLEASE just make all the insane Republicans go away, and take Ben Nelson with them??