The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Republicans pull nearly even on Congressional vote numbers


A compilation of major polling resources shows that republicans have nearly closed the gap with democrats in a generic congressional vote. This is a poll where voters are asked, without naming any specific names, if they are likely to republicans or democrats in the upcoming 2010 midterm elections. Democrats now lead by only 1.5% after the gap had been well into double digits at the time President Obama took office.

The village consensus on this is going to be that if only Democrats had been more bipartisan that the numbers would be better.  Debunking such nonsense is a waste of my time and your brain cells.  There are two main reasons why these numbers are where they are:

Republicans understand opposition politics: when you’re in the opposition, you don’t smile bipartisanly, you gnaw at the ankles of the ruling party.  Nothing they do is right, everything they do is wrong.  You talk about how their policies are going to fail, so that if they do, you are the opposition (Democrats did not understand this when in opposition).

Continuation of ineffective Bush policies.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in too many cases Obama and the new Congress are pursuing Bush lite policies.

  • Escalate in Afghanistan
  • Spend more money on the military
  • Get out of Iraq around about the time Bush wanted to anyway
  • Continue the Bush/Paulson financial policies
  • A stimulus bill which was 40% tax cuts (granted, not tax cuts for the rich, but still tax cuts)

Americans voted for Democrats because they were sick of Bush and Bush era policies.  And here Congress is repeatedly voting for Bush era policies.  Congressional numbers are melting down faster than presidential ones because people know that Obama’s their only hope. It may not be much of a hope, but if he can’t fix things, they’ve got to wait most of 4 years for a chance at someone who does.

Proper governance liberal style works like this.  Pass effective bills even if it requires not being bipartisan.  When those effective bills create good effects (a good economy, everyone having good health care) reap the benefits of voters being happy with good jobs and not going bankrupt over health care.

Congress’s stimulus bill was crap.  Congress’s cap and trade bill is crap.  Every indication is that the health care bill is likely to be… crap.

Why would people be happy with this?

It’s the economy stupid.  By choosing to bail out financial companies instead of the real economy Obama and Congress cast their die.  It has not lead to a recovery in the real economy, and by the time the next recession happens my prediction and that of many others is that jobs will still not have recovered to pre-recession levels.  This is not something unknown to the Obama administration, they are well aware of it.  Their hopes of winning the next election are based on two things: Republican disarray, and the financial sector continuing to give much more money to Democrats.  Neither is a sure thing.

Good policy creates a country in which people are doing better than in the past.  People who feel they are doing better vote for the incumbent more than not.  Congress and Obama seem to have forgotten this basic electoral reality. The will reap as they have sowed.


What’s More Important Than Saving American Lives? Almost Everything


Off To Victoria, BC


  1. And if they had gone the opposite way, the crushing avalanche of lobbyists and media would have destroyed them anyway.

    It may turn out to be the case that no progressive politics are possible at a large scale in the USA until the “financial” “industry” finally completely pwns itself. And that’s not yet.

  2. And not just in the U.S.A., Mandos.

  3. senecal

    “pwns itself?” That sounds interesting!

    And yes, we’ll all be ashes, or hunting through the ashes, before the financial industry gives up. It’s not an industry, it’s Capital — primitive, omnivorous, faceless, ready to eat its own if necessary. (See Goya’s giant ogre paintings, for a visual image.)

    Expecting Congress to oppose its master is like expecting a prison psychiatrist to help with a jail-break. They’re just not on our side!

  4. You don’t know about pwnage? You are clearly not aware of all internet traditions.

  5. Why do you hate ponies, Ian?

  6. By the way and OT, Ian, I notice that now goes to you. This is an improvement from the Russian hacker page it went to. But is there any chance of recovering our quixotic archives? There’s a few posts in there be each of us that I keep wanting to link to, like my post on the Danish cartoons and all the Canadian election peregrinations.

    Or do I still have to ask Kevin?

  7. Greg, oh totally. But I currently live in the USA. Nevertheless I’m totally convinced that us Canadians should wipe off our smug little smirks.

  8. Just about any progressive blogger who has more than two brain cells to rub together has been warning about this [note to speed readers, that’s from July of last year] for some time. In both 2006 and 2008 we sent more Democrats to Congress to:

    * Get us out of Iraq

    * Restore some semblance of respect for the Constitution

    * Fix health care

    In 2008, we also sent them there to fix the economy, or at least make things better.

    I think it’s fair to say that they’ve failed miserably at all those things, although it’s still possible they’ll fix health care. And guess what, the ride doesn’t last forever.

  9. Ian Welsh


    you still need to ask Kevin. It’s just a redirect. I don’t care about the redirect, I want access to the articles, since some of them are perennial and others are are close enough to be reused with just a little tweaking. (If I had access to one of BOP or TAW, that would be awesome, in fact, having them both disappear off the web is why I created this site).

    However, I understand the back end was destroyed in some sort of hacking incident.

  10. Ian Welsh


    I love ponies. I just want to know why I never get one. 🙂

  11. jawbone

    Mandos, I read the piece you link to and smiled at your noting there was an abundance of political riches eveident in the Dem presidential primary.

    Now, given what’s happening and the way the Democratic brand is being, imho, tarnished, at best, no longer acting as the fighter for the little people but giving succor and assistance to the most powerful and wealthy, what do you think of the Dem field? Who is there who could be a candidate of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party (as Paul Wellstone put it)? Or just the Dem Party of yesteryear?

    Anyone have ideas, been seeing people who might bring Democratic values back to the Democratic Party?

  12. jawbone

    Oops! Messed up–link was from Cujo359. Double checking is a good thing.

  13. jbaspen

    Jawbone, keep your eye on Jim Webb, the Democratic Senator from Virginia. Vietnam War Hero. Former Reagan Sect. of the Navy. Had the cojones to take on Bush on Iraq, and together with Bernie Sanders, confronted Obama regarding his choice of economic advisors. Could be for better or worse, and Andy Jackson style populist.

  14. jawbone, I really haven’t thought about this question much. For the time being, Barack Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party. It’s possible that someone will run against him in the primary in 2012, but I doubt that will be successful. Don’t forget that Obama outmaneuvered the Clintons to get the nomination last year, and that was without the advantage of being in the White House. There won’t be another leader of the party until at least 2013.

    What I think progressives should be doing in the meantime is concentrating on electing more progressives to Congress, particularly the Senate. That’s a tough thing to do, but until we have enough true progressives to influence how things go in Congress, we won’t have a counterbalance to the Republican Lite caucus there and in the White House.

  15. BDBlue

    I don’t think there’s any big named Dem who would be willing to challenge Obama in 2012. Maybe an outsider, but given Obama’s money advantage (Wall Street and Health Insurance Industry pay pretty good), not to mention that James Clyburn is “fixing” the nominating system for the Democraic Party, would make it pretty difficult for any primary challenger.

    However, I do think it’s possible give the way the economy is going and the current bad policy being pursued by the President and Congress that Obama will be toxic in 2012. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. Not because I like Obama, I can’t stand him, but because that would mean really bad things for the country. Still, watching the current train wreck, I do think it’s possible. I agree with Ian that bad policy makes bad politics and on the big things, Obama has instituted an awful lot of bad policy (or more accurately continued an awful lot of bad policy).

    I dunno. I just feel like something has got to give. That as weak as Americans have become, that they’re not going to sit quietly by with official unemployment edging closer to 10% and unofficial over 15%. That kind of economic disruption has a tendency to disrupt other things – like electoral politics (to say the least).

  16. jbaspen:
    I’d take an Andrew Jackson populist. With out the racism and Indian hating, of course. Webb hasn’t really lived up to that Jacksonian populist image though(meaning domestic affairs). It’s been a disappointment.

  17. Anyone have ideas, been seeing people who might bring Democratic values back to the Democratic Party?

    Bernie Sanders, but he’s a little old. The only one I can think of now that has youth on his side is Alan Grayson of Florida.

  18. BDBlue

    Bernie Sanders is a socialist, presumably for a reason (he doesn’t want to be a Democrat, hey I know exactly how he feels).

    In addition to Grayson, Anthony Weiner is showing some spunk on healthcare. And the six folks who introduced the Profit Act includes five newbies.

    There are good Democrats, there just aren’t nearly enough of them and none of them run the party (which is not, IMO, a coincidence).

  19. jbaspen

    Calvin – Over the 4th of July, I queried ol’ Joe Bageant, the Appalachian Writer& often exuberant “Philosopher”, on what his feelings were torwards his fellow Virginian, Jim Webb.
    Joe certainly prefers Webb to “the bloodless slimeball” (i.e., George Allen, Jr.) Webb edged out in 06′; but like you, Joe thinks that Webb is now “chickenshitting out” on a host of domestic issues, such as Labor Law Reform (i.e., Card Check).

    Joe didn’t think that my Andy Jackson comparison was too shabby though, given that the General was a “walking bundle of contradictions”: Man of the People vs. Indian Killer. Joe left it with the observation that Webb is “extremely ambitious” and, is not a person to let principles stand in his way. If the economy continues to swoon, keep an eye on Webb.

  20. jawbone

    Cujo and BDBlue, I have a strong feeling that if health care is messed up and comes out as Obama’s Profitability Protection Plan for Parasites that Dems in general will feel the wrath of the public (2013 before any relief? Sheesh!) in the 2010 elections, and even Obama might realize he needs to spend more time with his family before 2012 rolls around.

    Yes, he’s the shiny new politician, but some of the lustre seems to be dimming with each dose of reality and realizations of what he’s doing. Much will depend on the economy, obviously.

  21. jbaspen:
    Are you saying Webb is eyeing 2016? He’d be just about hitting the upper age limit when ’16 roles around. So it is possible.

  22. jbaspen

    Calvin, when the likes of Standard and Poor’s downgrades a brace of 2007 CMBS to BBB-minus (7/14) and THEN (7/21) upgrades the same mystery meat back to “AAA” status, you know that the lies have never stopped coming, and that almost anything is possible. (“AAA”ratings , of course, make the holders of these meth bars eligible for the Fed’s secret TALF program). My biggest fear, Calvin, is that the likes of Bernanke, Geithner & Summers don’t have an economic plan at all; and they just are hoping that time and positive jaw-boning from Obama will bear fruit. Speaking of positive spin, I wouldn’t put it past Obama’s Gang of Merry Men to further manipulate statistical models (e.g., Growth, Unemployment, Inflation) in a desperate effort to report “progress”!
    On the surface, running against Wall St. is compelling, even obvious, but where oh where does one get the money??

  23. S Brennan

    Not Change, but change you can believe in “…no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable.”

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