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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:


Rather than use this power in the hyper-partisan manner in which it was used against Bill Clinton, the Democrats should have avoided grandstanding and speechifying and just let the witnesses provide the entertainment.


I was thirteen years old when the Watergate Committee began holding televised hearings:

The hearings held by the Senate Committee, in which Dean and other former administration officials delivered testimony, were broadcast from May 17 to August 7, 1973, causing political damage to the President. After the three major networks of the time agreed to take turns covering the hearings live (the first 24-hour news channel was not introduced until 1980), each network thus maintained coverage of the hearings every third day, starting with ABC on May 17 and ending with NBC on August 7. An estimated 85% of Americans with television sets tuned in to at least one portion of the hearings.

Almost every weekday for three months the Watergate Committee dragged in Nixon henchmen and questioned them. Every weeknight the evening news showed the highlights. The effect was powerful. Nixon wasn’t impeached only because he resigned first.

After Nixon left office Senator Frank Church (D-ID) chaired a committee that investigated illegal activities by the FBI and CIA. The Church Committee Report was even more shocking than the corruption revealed by the Watergate Committee. The report disclosed that the United States government had engaged in assassination and domestic spying and it revealed the existence of something called COINTELPRO:

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

As the U.S. Attorney firing scandal showed there were lots of rich veins of corruption to be mined in the Bush administration. One major area that is still virtually untouched is the false information put out by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Imagine one after another of Bush’s henchmen sitting in front of a Congressional committee, pleading the Fifth, claiming memory loss or admitting to criminal acts. Imagine dozens of Bush administration officials doing perp walks.

But the Democrats didn’t do much investigating and let themselves be stonewalled when they did. The conventional wisdom amongst the media was that the voters didn’t want any such investigations.

I say the media is full of shit. I believe the reason the Democrats refused to exercise their oversight power is that they were involved in the same corruption right up to their eyeballs.

But exercising Congressional oversight powers wasn’t the only thing the Democrats should have done.


Ever week that Congress was in session from January 2007 (when the 11th Congress began) until Bush left office the Democrats should have been introducing politically popular legislation on everything from ending the war in Iraq to health care reform.

I’m talking good, clean bills, not toothless reforms-in-name-only and corporate giveaways like TARP and CYA bills like the FISA revision with retroactive immunity.

Force the Republicans to block the bills or make G-Dubya veto them. If the bills passed the Democrats could take credit, if they didn’t the Republicans would get the blame.

Beginning on January 20, 2009 when there was an alleged Democrat in the White House and Democratic super-majorities in Congress they should have been focused on enacting a stimulus package big enough to jump start the flatlining economy and on passing real health care reform, strict new financial regulations and campaign finance reform.

Instead of passing meaningless crap or bills unwanted by the voters, they could have tried to enact a new New Deal. Then they would have either had a list of real accomplishments to run on or at least a better argument than “the Republicans are worse.”

Maybe it would have worked and maybe it wouldn’t, but the Democrats could hardly have done any worse than then did last Tuesday.

But if they were gonna lose anyway why not go down in flames fighting the good fight?

COMING SOON: How to sell policy




85 Responses

  1. A deal was made then. When Nancy was asked about impeachment she once answered: It would be a distraction. We must put all our energy into recapturing the White House”. Which pretty much revealed the quid pro quo. To me at least.

    • The Democrats could have investigated Bushco without using the word “impeachment.”

      They could have started digging in January 2009 too, but Obama wanted to “move on.”

      • They always want to “move on.” In other words, they want to keep doing the same things Bushco was doing. That is what “moving on” is in Obamaland.


  3. Well said, myiq. And that’s also why Nancy “Impeachment is off the table” Pelosi should not be elected House Minority Leader.

  4. Excellent post. I think the Democratic Congress could have started to investigate something really easy, like the Scooter Libby. After Libby was pardoned, the WH should have been served with a subpoena.

    • the Scooter Libby affair.

    • When did Bush pardon Libby? According to Newsweek there was no pardon for Scooter.

      In a move that has keenly disappointed some of his strongest conservative allies, President Bush has decided not to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for his 2007 conviction in the CIA leak case, two White House officials said Monday.


      • Bush commuted Libby’s sentence so Scooter didn’t serve a single day behind bars.

        • On the plus side, Libby will always be guilty, since communtation requires conviction.

          • Of course justice would have been better served if Libby (and others) had been frog marched directly to jail after conviction. At least because his sentence was commuted and he was not pardoned, Libby is suspended from practicing law in PA and disbarred in DC. He can apply for reinstatement in DC in 1012.

            I wonder, as a convicted felon is he prohibited from voting?

  5. The “50 State Strategy” Howard Dean and the Netroots were all part of the plan to “reform” the Democratic Party and purge the women and working class voters, imo. How’s that working out for them?
    This is what happens when you put corporatism above what the voters want. YOU LOSE.

    • What is the point of electing more DINOcrat blue dogs? What good is being the majority party if you can’t get your own people to support your policies?

      • It all goes back to going further to the right. By electing DINOs and blue dogs they were trying to move the party to the right and expected voters to go for it when it was conservative policies and republicans that got us into the sh*t hole in the first place.

    • speaking as a supporter of Dean in 2008 and later for Dean as DNC Chair, I can assure you that purging women and working class was NOT part of our aggenda.
      Lots of his creative class supporters went bonkers for Obama, but not all and DFA, though heavy on ivy league types, was a very populist movement.

  6. The decision to take impeachment off the table was a fatal mistake. If Rule of Law is thrown to the wind then who are we? But the Dems had obviously made a pact with the Devil. And we all know where that ultimately leads. So, I guess we should not be surprised at the fix we find ourselves in now.

    I guess my question to Madam Speaker would be:

    Was it worth it? Was it really worth it?

  7. Dana Milbank on why Obama should try to be Hillary:

    [S]he would have maintained a laser focus on the economy; after all, she did that during the 2008 campaign, when it wasn’t as central an issue. She got little credit, for example, when she gave a speech in Iowa in November 2007 warning about the dangers of new financial instruments. Now, it seems prescient; then, it sounded boring.

    Why does the media find good policy boring? I guess competence doesn’t make their legs tingle.

    • They find it boring because it doesn’t benefit them.

    • Ani, at NQ had a withering essay that cited Tom Junod’s article in Esquire. Junod referred to Hillary’s:

      “unforgivable competence and tireless work ethic.”

      If that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does.

      Junod goes on to say:

      “Of course, Obama has never turned his back on us, but so many Americans have turned their backs on him that it amounts to The Anointed One, as he is sometimes referred, being stripped of something that can never return: his anointment. And without it — without his air of destiny, without the idea of Obama augmenting his actuality — the rooms he used to occupy so effortlessly have changed dimensions on him, until at times he might as well be speaking from the bottom of a well. ”

      The Fourth Estate is trying mightily to wiggle off the hook, still defending the indefensible.

      Too little, too late, IMHO.

      Full Esquire article here:


      Oh, how the worms wiggle. They can’t bring themselves to say: we really f**cked up. But this is pretty close. When you lead a section with: You don’t know how she does what she does–

      You’re almost there.

      Makes me shake my head. How could you [the press, the so-called “creative class] have been so-o-o incredibly wrong???

      You were wrong, dead wrong. We were right. But we all get to suffer, equally. There’s no great satisfaction on being on the right side. Not when the country is so compromised.

      • Obama augmenting his actuality

        WTF does that mean? Blithering idiot.

        • It means as much as any of the excuses do, Ralph. The so-called “creative class,” which is a true misnomer and a great insult to those of us who consider ourselves “creative” [excuse me, we don’t need group think and, in fact, reject herd mentality with an absolute passion].

          It is the gobbety-gook, the dreck that has taken the place of anything truly creative, clear and honest. It’s double-speak posing as something articulate and intelligent. In fact, these weasels would tell you that the above phrase is “profound.”

          It’s not. It never has been.

      • The Esquire article speaks of a woman who should be president:

        One result of her loyalty is that she’s made him look good. It’s right there in the polls: Americans approve of Obama’s foreign policy far more than they approve of his domestic agenda. Which means that she’s also made him look bad.

        and close to the end (my emphasis)

        She is not soft. She simply hardens herself through her own rituals of endurance, and that makes her harder than her boss could ever be. The problem Barack Obama has faced abroad is the same one he has faced at home: For some reason, people have no qualms about telling him no. He has used salesmanship as a substitute for statesmanship, and he has often been unable to close. In its first year, the Obama administration was able to live up to its goal of reengaging the world; in its second, “engagement has to be linked to outcomes,” she says. “We’re going to demonstrate clearly that we don’t engage for the sake of engaging. It’s not something we do because we’re enamored of the process of talking. We do it because we are trying to advance American interests and values and to protect the security of our country and that of our friends and allies.”

        • The paragraph that begins begins with: “One result of her loyalty…” should also be in quote, but I messed up.

  8. I am cross-posting this, b/c it is soooooooooo delicious!

    Poll: Hillary Would Defeat Obama by 20 Points

    Hillary Clinton would trounce fellow Democrat President Barack Obama by a 20-percentage-point margin in a head-to-head race for the presidency, according to a Newsmax/SurveyUSA poll conducted after Tuesday’s midterm elections. ….

    The poll found that overall, 60 percent of respondents chose Secretary of State Clinton, while 40 percent chose Obama.

    There was virtually no difference between male and female respondents in the poll — 60 percent of women and 59 percent of men chose Clinton over Obama.

    Older voters were more likely to vote for Clinton — 67 percent of respondents aged 65 and older and 60 percent of those aged 50 to 64 chose Clinton. But even among the youngest age group that was considered solid Obama territory, 18- to 34-year-olds, a majority of 54 percent opted for Clinton.

    Clinton also polled strongly among Hispanic voters (55 percent), independents (60 percent), Republicans (74 percent) and conservatives (82 percent).

    Obama polled most strongly among blacks (65 percent) and liberals (55 percent).

    • Hillary has spent the last two years being quietly excellent as SofS while Obama has been proving us right.

      • Incorrect.

        About Obama at least.

        And I assume that you agreed with Hillary about expanding our presence in Afghanistan?

        Now back to The Land of Deletion and Arguments to Strong for TC I go!!!!!!

        • Yes you are incorrect.

          I have a question though – How come when I cut and past your comments at TGW there is hidden text that pops up saying “This user is an administrator?”

    • Not very surprising, most of the men and women that I speak with, democrats, republicans, independents or none of the above, all seem to agree on one thing: whether they like her or not, she would have been a better president than Obama and odds are our country would not be in as bad a state as it currently is. And even if the economy was still in the gutter, we would probably, as a country, still be able to hold on to that thing called HOPE for the future.

    • Wait a minute, Obama only got 65% of the black voters and 55% of liberal voters? That seems a bit off to me, although I would like to believe it was true. Do you know how many people were polled?

      • oh, I didn’t read closely, it’s a newsmax survey. Ah well.

        • But conducted by SurveyUSA, which I think has a decent reputation.

          But I agree with your surprise regarding AA vote. I was too.

          1000 people were polled.

        • Survey USA was involved. They are a very reliable pollster. Who knows what numbers would really be at this time?

      • 1,000 and that gives it around 3 – 3.5 confidence level, I think. SUSA is very good.

      • it doesn’t seem off to me, even black people and liberals can change their minds in the face of incompetence

    • Obama polled most strongly among blacks (65 percent) and liberals (55 percent).

      But how will the AA voter respond to the raycist attack that’s sure to come? An energized AA voter needs to be in Hillary’s corner to win against the GOP.

  9. There is a State Department special featuring Hillary Clinton on tomorrow night on the National Geographic Channel. Not sure what channel as there are too many channels to remember!!

    • The worst part about insomnia is that in the middle of the night there ain’t nothing worth watching on any of them.

    • I saw a commercial for that special on the State department. Luckily we are getting NatGeo for free for the month with our dish network

  10. He’s not known as Dirty Harry for nothing.

    Most observers attributed the phenomenal success of Reid’s last-ditch comeback to the Nevada Democratic Party’s highly polished get-out-the-vote “ground game.” But an internal e-mail from a Reid campaign operative to a Harrah’s executive strongly suggests the Reid ground game depended at least in part on breaking the law.


    Because intimidation and coercion were apparently involved, this matter requires the attention of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section. Attorney General Eric Holder can be sure that the House Judiciary Committee will be closely watching his actions on this matter.

    Washington Examiner but, if they have emails, it passes smell test number one.

  11. Holy Jeebus! I agree with Frank Rich!

    AFTER his “shellacking,” President Obama had to do something. But who had the bright idea of scheduling his visit to India for right after this election? The Democrats’ failure to create jobs was at the heart of the shellacking. Nothing says “outsourcing” to the American public more succinctly than India. But the White House didn’t figure this out until the eve of Obama’s Friday departure, when it hastily rebranded his trip as a jobs mission. Perhaps the president should visit one of the Indian call centers policing Americans’ credit-card debts to feel our pain.

    I need some booze. And a shower.

  12. AMC is showing “The Walking Dead” which is an infotainment series about the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

  13. Myiq,
    another nail hit…on head.
    Let’s do look at what needed to be done.

    Besides holding the bush admin accountable, I wanted to see spine on ending Iraq and getting a
    better war philosophy.
    That was a good time to re-think the whole war thing.
    But, NO…
    The spineless kept funding and funding.
    Allowing the excess of war. Bu$h’s war to spawn.
    Nancy and Harry needed to put a foot down.
    What did we see?
    Nothing even close.
    Cowards and Liars.
    They could have stopped funding. Congress (HOUSE) holds the purse strings.

  14. Perhaps the president should visit one of the Indian call centers policing Americans’ credit-card debts to feel our pain.
    That is no shit!!! I don’t carry a balance on my cards but while traveling, I get a notice from Amex that I was late on $16,500 on my card. It took a week to straighten it out and by accents at “help” centers, I talked to 1/2 the UN.

  15. The Cowboys got beat like they stole something. 45-7 Green Bay

  16. Here’s one more excellent coverage of Hillary in Australia, via Stacy of Secretary Clinton blog:

    “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Gets Major Props From Australians: A Woman For All Seasons”


  17. It seems to me there’s a push for Hillary 2012. Polls are used to till the soil. Someone or a group is pushing for Hillary to be the Democratic nominee.

    • I think so too, don’t know if it’s a good idea, but will trust Hillary to decide yeah or nay.

  18. Honk, honk.

    Rocken out with David Gilmour (Floyd). Having some popcorn. Just wondering how on earth can there still be any Obots left. I mean, seriously, what else does the moron in the white house have to do.

  19. Change of pace:

  20. If it doesn’t hurt when you sing, you’re not trying hard enough:

  21. Here’s a song dedication:

  22. I see Joan Walsh is walking back some of her creative class snobbery with her latest post. Says maybe Democrats shouldn’t be supporting the wealthy establishment elite in this country. Brilliant Joan. What an epiphany. Now if she could just learn to stop generalizing about all those ignorant racists outside her version of the Progressive movement.

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