Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thought For The Morning

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall pointed out something that's been bothering me about the politics of this stimulus bill:
The reader's point about the long view is well-taken. Obama's mix of steel and patience are two of his key virtues.

But I have been surprised that he has not chosen yet to play more to, and get out among, his real constituency -- particularly on this bill -- the people. This is about them. 10 or 15 thousand people are losing their jobs every day at the moment. Half a million people a month. It would not be hard to find -- and I can't believe they're not thinking about it already -- lots of communities around the country where some version of this bill would provide critical, immediate and sustained relief to lots of people. In fact, you'd likely find one almost anywhere you put your finger down on the map.

When political battles are entirely bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, back and forths between the White House and the Hill, presidents can become just one player among many, cut off from their real source of power. And the whole nature of the debates can get rapidly disconnected from the realities actually people are experiencing in the country. Presidents are powerful when they have a national constituency behind them. Washington is a dark place, eager to trip all this up.

His Real Constituency

Apologies to TPM for the long quote, but this thought is a good one and I think it's best appreciated in its entirety. (Click on the link to see the thoughts of the reader's he was reacting to.)

If Obama took his case to the people, it would help make Congress amenable to a better stimulus package. There have been no equivalent of FDR's fireside chats. There need to be, because the news business in DC is a player, too. They aren't neutral, and it's clear they're going to try to make sure this bill doesn't work.

I'm not sure this is the best stimulus bill we could get, but if we're going to get one in the next month, this is it. So Obama and the Democrats had better either push for what they really want, or pull the bill back and blame it on the Republicans. Either way, they're going to have to sell what they're doing to America, or they'll find that their popularity will disappear like the soap bubble it's made of.

UPDATE: (Moved the previous update to where it belonged.)


4 comments:

pissed off patricia said...

Don't know if it's true, but I was hearing yesterday the Dems don't have the votes either. What a mess at a time when need a clear path.

One Fly said...

My brother and I thought when the right playe the stalwmate game that he would take his case to the people. So far-wrong.

Pamela D. Hart said...

He doesn't care about the people now that he's in the White House. He thinks he's big man and can do it with his left-winged congress.

Cujo359 said...

PoP and One Fly, it really is a mess, isn't it? It's humiliating how dysfunctional this government is, but I'm afraid we don't have nearly enough good people in Congress to make this work.

Pamela D., the Congress is Democratic, but it's a long way from being left wing or liberal. If it were liberal, we'd have a real stimulus bill. What we have instead is a Congress that's taking care of its own needs, and the needs of its rich supporters. Sorry that's not clear yet, but maybe eventually it will.