Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lieberman FOIA Amendment:Gone. But the Problem Remains.

And that's what happens when progressives get their shit together.
I think there's a positive side to all this. Obama's honeymoon is over. Conservatives never gave him one, but progressives aren't pleased either. They're VERY concerned with how he seems to be either trying to bridge the gulf between Republican and sane positions, or is just plain-and-simple ignoring the progressives that handed him so many primaries and caucuses. (Especially caucuses.)

And if you look at Matt Bai's NYT Magazine piece on the weekend, you see an administration that's more concerned with keeping the Senate naysayers happy than getting anything done. Even the House appears to be getting lost in the shuffle:

Here again, the stimulus process is illustrative, specifically at the point when negotiators for the two chambers met to reconcile the differences in their bills. A bipartisan group of senators led by Nelson and Collins had secured enough votes to hold up final approval of the bill, and they wanted it scaled back to under $800 billion — a symbolic threshold, really, but one that would slash billions in school construction and other programs from the final package. It was at this point that the White House, in the person of Emanuel and Orszag, inserted itself as arbitrator and effectively took charge of the process. For several contentious days and late nights, a frenetic Emanuel personally shuttled between the offices of Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, bargaining and cajoling and bullying his way toward a compromise. At a typically chaotic point late one evening, as one participant described it to me, Emanuel was standing in Reid’s office shouting at Pelosi over the speakerphone, then dismissed her to take a call from the president on his cellphone. Ultimately, the marathon process yielded a deal more to the centrist senators’ liking than it was to Pelosi’s; the bill Obama signed came in at about $787 billion...

...Some House Democrats I talked to have already begun to wonder audibly why they’re the ones who always have to surrender in Emanuel’s middle-of-the-night negotiating sessions. They accuse Reid and his lieutenants of repeatedly placating Republicans to avoid a filibuster, rather than taking a stand on principle now and then. Why not force centrist Democrats to vote against their party and let Republicans filibuster the agenda on national television? What would the voters think then?
The bolding is mine: it's an illustrative moment. Throughout the piece Rahm was siding with Senatorial centrists (and Reid, who is their puppet) over and over again. While the piece makes a big deal about how Obama doesn't want to leave people hanging, both Rahm and Obama seem to have forgotten that House Members have to get re-elected too. The fact that they're in safely Democratic seats won't matter if they're facing a primary challenger from the left instead of a general election challenger from the right. It may even be worse: look at their Republican counterparts, and look at how vocal progressives have been and the expectations that they may have.

If Congressional representatives want to keep their jobs, they'll need real, progressive laws and policies that they can take to their primary voters. That's as important as keeping a barely-Democratic Senator happy, especially in an electoral environment where Democrats are expected to win seats, not lose them.

And rest assured, Mr. President, the "change" that the people elected you to enact wasn't a more harmonious, considerate relationship with Capitol Hill. Don't forget that.

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