Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nancy Pelosi, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you

TBA lacks words to express its contempt for Democrats in the Congress who evidently want to roll over and die on health care because an arrogant, complacent Massachusetts Democratic Party put up a sorry-ass Senate candidate and lost, leaving the Democrats with "only" a majority of FIFTY-NINE.

But we can find words on the internet. Jonathan Chait:
....[House Democrats are] angry, they're tired, they've lost interest in weighing the merits of a decent compromise option versus a catastrophic failure, and most of all they want somebody else to deal with it. If they fail to pull themselves together, future generations will look back at them, note that Congress had passed comprehensive reform in both chambers, had the backing of an eager Democratic president, and could finish the deal by getting 218 of their 256 Democratic members to sign on, and somehow refused. I still find the idea that they'll allow this to happen unfathomable. If they do succumb, it will be because some deep and recurrent character flaw rose to the surface at the worst time, once again.
Kevin Drum:
It's beyond belief that we could get this close to a century-old goal of liberalism — we are, literally, just a hair's breadth from the finish line — and then allow the most significant social legislation of the past 40 years to slip from our grasp just because we're tired and pissed. All we need is one roll call vote in the House. That's how close we are to passing this genuinely historic bill. One vote. Then the next day we can start in on the next 20 years work of improving and finishing what we've begun.
Matt Yglesias:
Two weeks ago health reform looked to be completely on track. Today the only impediment to it passing is that House Democrats who already voted in favor of health reform need to vote in favor of health reform a second time. Had Martha Coakley won the election in Massachusetts, House Democrats who already voted in favor of health reform would need to vote in favor of it a second time. What’s more, given that House Democrats have already voted in favor of health reform it’s already inevitable that they will be attacked for having voted in favor of health reform. It makes no sense substantively and no sense politically for anyone who was prepared to vote for health reform two weeks ago to not vote for it now.

Explaining the October Revolution, Trotsky said “power was lying in the streets--we picked it up.” Now I’m not one of those guys who gets sentimental about Trotsky; notwithstanding his falling out with Stalin they were both bad guys. But you’re talking about someone who had an understanding of political action.

Ever since November of 2008, power has been lying not in the street but in the halls of Congress. And it seems to me that many members of Congress have been simply unwilling to accept that fact. They want to evade responsibility. They want to talk about Chuck Grassley or Olympia Snowe or now Scott Brown. They want to talk about polls. They want to talk about tea parties. They want to talk about cable news. They want to talk about process. But they have to recognize what’s happening. The power is there. Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank and Evan Bayh are all autonomous human beings. If they choose not to pass health care, then they have the right to do so. But it’s up to them and they just need to decide. The way things happen in politics is that people put themselves in a position to do certain things, and then they do them. House Democrats are in a position to enact a sweeping reform of America’s health care system. Will they do it, or are there two parties that support the status quo?
This is, essentially, Nancy Pelosi's moment. Is she going to be content with a footnote as the first female Speaker, but a weak one who punted on the most important social legislation since LBJ? Or is she going to be remembered as the Speaker who made health care reform happen?

TBA is not sure what the answer will prove to be, but we know this much: voting against the Republicans is not enough to keep us supporting the Democrats. We have to be voting for something as well. And if the Democrats funk on this ridiculously hard-won legislation, then there's really not much reason to vote Democratic, let alone send these fools any money.

... More shame & loathing via Drum, here. My favorite:
The worst is that I can't help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They're afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That's the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

This was all signalled by the Democrats' refusal to repeal the filibuster. It's damn absurd that in an institution ALREADY as minoritarian as the Senate, the opposition party should be able to impose a de facto supermajority requirement to pass anything. But the Democrats would not do this, because they think in terms of becoming the minority again. A party that *thinks* like a minority will *become* a minority. Ask the Mensheviks.

... And now we hear from Pelosi:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the Senate will have to amend its version of a health care reform bill before the House can pass it, the Washington Post reports.

Said Pelosi: "I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House. I don't see the votes for it at this time."
Oh yes, because that's what the Speaker of the House does by way of leadership: counts votes.

1 comment:

  1. Extra points for the great title.

    As for the two-ring circus of our national politics, I hear it's just as bad in other countries, but I've reached the point where I'm willing to pack my bags and go find out before I actually need better health care.