Monday, March 22, 2010

Have I Added Frum and Friedersdorf to My Links Over On The Side?

I've been trying this year - an unwritten new year's resolution - to get my dad weaned off of Glenn Beck and onto more, well, coherent conservative commentators.  Like Marc Ambinder on the Atlantic or even David FrumConor Friedersdorf was recommended to me by people on Ambinder's site.  Sadly, dad's not much of a blog follower and I don't have the parental locks for his FiOS channels to block FOX Not-News.

Still and all, I keep up with them, and for what won't be my last entry about the whole Health Care Reform headache, I found this by Frum about how the Far Right in the Republican leadership (Sen. DeMint's phrasing) declared this would be Obama's Waterloo (bold highlights are mine, some clippage of the original post may occur):

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.
It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:
(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.
(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.
So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson:
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.
Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. (NOTE: People seem to forget Perot pulled a lot of votes away from Bush the Elder.  Clinton didn't have a true mandate in 1993, although he did well enough in the 1996 election to earn a second term.  Only a GOP-held Congress by then blocked Clinton from re-attempting any left-leaning programs).  The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.
Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.
...No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November (NOTE: unlikely.  Democrats would have to lose more than 55 House seats, when you consider incumbents have a huge advantage even in anti-incumbent public moods.  That's not even considering how the Senate will shake out this midterm), how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? (Answer: none)  How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? (Answer: that would definitely bring on rioters)  How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage?  (Answer: depends on how the parents are getting along with their slacker kids)  And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal? (Answer: surprisingly yes.  But only after he pulls off that rubber mask and reveal he's a lizard alien from Reticula Beta.)

...There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible... I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.

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