Monthly Archives: November 2009

Introducing new book


HCR in da House: Step Forward; Step Backward

Last night I watched the electronic vote tally for health care reform in the House.  The vote was hailed as historic, and indeed as I watched the vote tally for the bill stall at about 196 and then again stall at about 215, knowing that 218 votes were needed, I felt the anxiety and excitement that I felt election night ’08 as Obama neared the 270 electoral vote count. The House let out a cheer as the 218th vote appeared, and then a gasp as a single republican vote registered as the 219th or 220th vote for the Bill.

Speaker Pelosi let out a giggle as she announced the vote tally and then banged the gavel.  And so it was. The House voted for health reform by a 220-215 count.

And then with a whoosh, the giddiness of learning that another 36 million Americans indeed might received health insurance, disappeared as I heard that the House’s passage of health reform came with a caveat, the Stupak Amendment, which goes out of its way to be punitive against women and marginalize their rights to reproductive freedom. And so it is another night in the discomforting journey of progressive reform in the Obama era.  In order to win passage of health reform, Speaker Pelosi and the Obama Administration horse traded away reproductive rights, moving the country ever closer to the dark pre Roe V Wade days of back ally abortions, needless health risks and overt discrimination against 51% of the population.

I am most intrigued by the horse trading of rights for reform, and the fact that Know Nothing conservatives continue to lead the country down the Bush Administration’s back ally days of rights retrenchment while lambasting Democrats for restricting basic freedom in America.

I’m amused and scared for the future especially considering that 2009 marks the likely high water mark of democratic control in the house and senate, at least for this era.  What other rights concessions might be embedded in the next progressive reforms for climate change, immigration and regulating wall street?

Post mortem ’09 (part 3)

a couple additional things to add, which suggests things not as bad for the Dems. as many are reporting.  The congressional special election victories for dems not only give Obama 2 more votes on health care reform. They also point to the effectiveness of the democratic party organization to win its 4th and 5th special election in its last 5 attempts. The win in the conservative NY 23rd is a neat pick-up for so many reasons.

And, aside from the Maine (yes) vote which defeated same sex marriage, most ballot issue results favored the dems. It is worth mentioning that voters did not turn away from “big government;” they did not defeat tax cutting measures (tho tax cuts was a big part of the Christie campaign platform).  This is another strike against the GOP Know Nothings and perhaps, along with the Hoffman defeat, will lessen the urgency of the Obama/socialism meme.

and what it all means for 2010?  Well, that’ll depend on what happens in 2010.

the morning after election ’09

with all the post-mortems let me just suggest that  the election was not so much about Obama, –tho it was a little– as it was about responsiveness. Chris Hayes is correct in saying that incumbents lose in bad economic times. (government–incumbents– seen as not being responsive to needs of every day voters) It is kind of that easy. In addition, Virginia rejected four years of weak democratic leadership– Tim Kaine– and in NJ, the disliked and ineffectual Jon Corzine lost.

It should be noted that in two congressional races, Obama gained two more votes for health care reform, that is unless the legislation is enacted before January.  This is good news for the Dems and for the President.

Further, while Michael Steele is gloating this morning about GOP victories in NJ and Virginia, he has got to be one of the least competent national party leaders in a long time (verdict still out on Kaine). The guy endorsed both losing candidates in NY’s 23rd district (Scozzafava and Hoffman). There is also a civil war going on in the GOP, tho it now remains to be seen whether the Now-Nothing Hoffman-Palin wing needs to regroup and come on stronger or whether their clout is now on the wane. A Hoffman win actually would have been better for the Dems because it would have increased the clout of the Know Nothings, which makes the GOP less credible as a national level. o well.

In my opinion the perception of Obama weakness at this early stage in his presidency owes to his unwillingness to follow his own better judgment  on issues from health care to afghanistan.  His better judgment as I see it tells him that Afghanistan is a no win quagmire and that health care needs a strong public option. His narrative has disappeared into his post partisanship narrative, which has him obsessing over token Republican support for his policy agenda. This obsession is delusional b/c it is never going to happen and only waters down Obama’s own agenda (making him less responsive).  (If the pres and his team cannot learn from this and if this obsession has psychological roots, i think we’re screwed.)

In sum, i think the election results come down to a case of (ir)responsiveness. Obama needs to be more responsive to the constituencies and messages that elected him. Dems need to be more responsive their progressive voices and to their campaign messages. VA. and NJ governors  (and in VA– the candidate Deeds) were not responsive. And just hoping the GOP will follow their KNow Nothing fringe.

election returns 2009. Nothing much to feel good about

it’s 10:30 election eve 2009. The networks just called NJ governor for the Republican Christie, and VA governor for Republican McDonnell. Commentators are already sounding Obama mojo demise.  Some say its turnout, others point to the independents. still to see how post mortums will shake out.

I’m personally disappointed by the NJ outcome. I expected Deeds to lose in Virgina. For weeks I have been saying the first verdict on the Obama presidency will be seen in NJ, not VA. Obama put skin into the NJ race, standing with Corzine on 3-4 occasions.  And as someone who came of age in NJ, I’m personally disappointed.

But I was raised an equal number of years in New York, and things there are somewhat different. Bill Thompson remains only a point behind Bloomberg for NYC mayor. The networks have called it for Bloomberg, but Thompson exceeded expectations.

The real issue, and the most telling in this election cycle falls to upstate NY’s 23rd district. Quite an obscene coup by the Tea Party faction of the GOP who put their bet behind Doug Hoffman, somone who knows nothing about local issues and, if elected would not be a responsive delegate to the 23rd’s interests.   Hoffman, who brags that he is a mentee of Glenn Beck, would be yet another uninformed voice of the Palin-Calhaun faction.

But, I’m looking to see how the dems might take some solace from this disappointing night. And in that regard, the hope sor even a hint of solace came down to  a Hoffman win.why?  A Hoffman win in the 23rd, would push the GOP further to the right. It would stoke right wing primary challenges in 2010, pushing the party further into their black hole of a core and oblivion. at least that’s how i see it.

Paradoxically, an Owens win in the 23rd sends a diferent message, will discourage the right wing to use Rubio to overtake Crist in Fla. and challenge other mainstream conservatives elsewhere.  If the extremist loses tonight, the GOP becomes more credible as a national party.  Neither Christie nor McDonnell are wingnuts.   If Owens wins the 23rd, other than his single victory, the Dems have very little be be happy about this off year election night.