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Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda


There are a lot of low-information Creative Class Opolgists out there offering rationalizations why the Republicans drank the Democrats’ milkshakes last Tuesday. Here at TC and at blogs like Corrente, Alegre’s Corner, Ian Welsh and Anglachel’s Journal (among many others) there are numerous posts explaining why the Opologists are full of shit.

 

This isn’t one of those posts. Nor is this a post about how in 2008 the Democratic leadership betrayed their base (with the help of the Creative Class) in order to put an DINOcratic empty suit in the White House.

Rather than focus on what the Democrats did wrong, I want to look at what they could have done instead.

Let’s join Sherman and Mr. Peabody in the Wayback machine and travel back to November 8, 2006.

An electoral tidal wave had just swept through Congress, returning both the House and the Senate to the Democrats. Harry Reid was expected to become the Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi was going to become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. George W. Bush still sits in the Oval Office, however, and will stay there for two more years.

If you were advising Harry and Nancy, what would you tell them?

The first thing I would tell them is to understand why they won. They didn’t win because of the stategeries of Howard Dean or Rahm Emanuel, nor was it because of the Netroots. The Democrats won in 2006 mainly because the voters were fed up with George Bush and the Republicans.

Reasons for the Democratic party takeover include the decline of the public image of George W. Bush, the dissatisfaction of the handling of both Hurricane Katrina and the War in Iraq, Bush’s legislative defeat regarding Social Security Reform, and the culture of corruption, which were the series of scandals in 2006 involving Republican politicians.

Anybody who have ever raised a puppy knows that if you want to housebreak them then when they crap on the rug you rub their nose in it and then swat their butt while telling them “NO! Bad dog!

If you declare “Impeachment is off the table” then you better be prepared to clean your rug a lot.

What the Democrats should have done was exercise their Congressional oversight power:

Congressional oversight refers to oversight by the United States Congress of the Executive Branch, including the numerous U.S. federal agencies. Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation.[1] Congress exercises this power largely through its congressional committee system. However, oversight, which dates to the earliest days of the Republic, also occurs in a wide variety of congressional activities and contexts. These include authorization, appropriations, investigative, and legislative hearings by standing committees; specialized investigations by select committees; and reviews and studies by congressional support agencies and staff.

Congress’s oversight authority derives from its “implied” powers in the Constitution, public laws, and House and Senate rules. It is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.

They would use it, but not nearly enough:


 


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The Knitting Diaries: Learning to Pick

[I know the content of this post isn’t for everyone …. So, if you want you can use it as an Open Thread]

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a correspondence course in knitting — Basics, Basics, Basics.  I have a sort of caveman-crude way of knitting continental style, but I think that if I’m going to stick with knitting, I should learn how to do it right. I learned a lot just doing the homework — knitting 5 swatches according to instructions. And then answering questions about the assignment. And (for most of them) knitting the swatches again after researching the answers to the questions.

It was a lot of fun.

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Sunday Morning: D’oh! Sooooo close.

The fallout from the midterm election is still being analyzed by the blogosphere and the mainstream media.  Some of the best analysis can once again be found at Anglachel’s Journal.  Her latest, The Failure of Team Obama , gets almost to the heart of the matter:

Political choices have political outcomes. Failure to act in the long-term interest of the party – which is just another way of saying failure to enact policies and engineer outcomes that will build mass support for continued electoral success – and subsuming party interests to that of elite factions within a party (and even more those elite groups spanning parties) will erode institutional strength:

[…]

This simple fact – that Obama chose the team he wanted, with full knowledge of who they were and where their loyalties lay – undermines the Obamacan apologists like WKJM who whine on about how we have to give The Precious more time and we aren’t being fair and times are tough and any way Clinton lost big at the midterms too and blah blah fucking blah.

This is also why the growing meme of “This is Bill Clinton’s old financial team, so really it’s all his fault because he started it, and Obama inherited his problems from Clinton, and it’s all due to the evil Clinton cabal!” can’t hold water. If the economic choices of the Clinton administration were wrong, then Obama should have had the wisdom to chose different advisers. There was time enough to see the long-term effects of those past political choices, with special emphasis on how the loopholes of the legislation (loopholes demanded by both Republicans and Democrats, each in turn guided by that cross-party interest group, Wall Street) were exploited under an out-of-control Republican regime.

[…]

The biggest problem here is not that Obama pulled the wool over anyone’s eyes. He was this way all along and has performed exactly as he said he would – center-right, non-confrontational, go with the status quo, listen to all the Very Serious People, and earnestly pursue bi-partisan capitulation.

The failure lies with those who believed his bullshit in the first place.

There’s more where that came from.  Go read the whole thing.

Add to that two small posts at Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix.  The first was about how the Democrats lost significant support in the states where Hillary Clinton had won the 2008 primaries by landslides.  In Dems Lose Clinton Country, Crawford writes:

Forty of 63 House turnovers to GOP were in states Obama lost to Hillary in 2008 primaries. Just something for the President’s camp to think about as they ponder a more daunting reelection map than they had faced before Tuesday.

Had Hillary been available to campaign – her position as secretary of state doesn’t allow it – could she have made a difference? Bill Clinton was more than available, barnstorming everywhere she might have helped, but Democrats still lost much ground in HRC 2008 states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana (12 House turnovers).

Although Obama won those states in the general election, Tuesday’s drubbing suggests he’ll be spending a lot of time there over the next two years.

The other post, Was 2008 an Outlier?, comes closer than a gnat’s wing to the truth but doesn’t quite connect:

How can elections two years apart look so different? But Tuesday’s vote seems to be the norm. Its center-right results fit into the main stream of the last 30 years far more than 2008’s assumed lunge to the left.

Even the Democratic congressional sweep of 2006 was actually more in keeping with tradition. Democrats won Congress largely by recruiting centrist candidates – which created a time bomb that exploded in their faces this week, as voters in those right-leaning districts and states switched back to the Republican column.

This has me wondering if Barack Obama’s election was merely an exception made possible by the alluring uniqueness of his personal history and appeal. If so, the biggest mistake Democrats made was in assuming that their recent successes were transformational, instead of merely temporary.

Let’s clear this up right now.  I don’t think that the Democratic party in 2008 really believed that Obama’s candidacy was transformational.  Obama was a franchise, complete with two autobiographies of a man who didn’t have a history, and a slick brand marketing campaign.  The Democrats sold the Transformation brand to win but forgot to include the crucial ingredient- actual transformation.  And the voters called them on it.

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Turn back time open thread


This is an open thread for insomniacs and people who work nights.

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour.



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