Sunday, December 20, 2009

Followup to the last Krug-Post

Okay, now this is just becoming comedy:

Matthew Yglesias makes a good point: The health care bill

represents a return, after fifteen years, of the idea that congress should be trying to pass major legislation that tackles major national problems. And even beyond that, it restores an even longer-lost tradition of congress trying to pass major legislation on specifically progressive priorities.

More than that, it represents a rejection of the view that the solution for all problems is to cut some taxes and remove some regulations. In that sense, what’s happening now, for all the disappointment it represents for progressives, is a historic moment.

No, it really doesn't. It's corporatist as all hell; Republicans love that, they just don't want to wear it. That's why they trapped the Dems, remember? I dislike quoting myself, but it seems appropriate here:

They knew, beyond a doubt, that Obama and the Senate Dems were aching for "bipartisanship" on this. Both have made a point of fetishizing it in the past, and both were likely to keep on doing it. They had to look hostile and recalcitrant in public, because they still always have to consider their base. But, in private, a few of them kept on playing at being just reasonable enough that it was conceivable that the Dems could get a few "R" names on the "yea" list.

It worked. The Dems thought they had a partner. Baucus sacrificed his credibility and became a laughingstock because of it. They hacked and hacked and hacked again at anything approaching tolerable policymaking in their legislation to bring some Republicans on board.

The Republicans didn't get on board. The Republicans were never going to get on board. They were just there to ensure that, sooner or later, the Dems would sacrifice so much that the legislation would be intolerable. It happened a few days ago, and we're seeing the fallout now.

No matter what happens, the Republicans win. If progressives—now so alienated from the party that they can barely stand it—support the bill, the Dems will all wear it. When it fails, when it creates this "financial and physical ruin", the Dems will be wiped out and the Republicans will gain control. Liberalism and progressivism will be discredited by their connection to this horror; the fact that this bill is antithetical to the ideals that animate liberalism will be completely washed away. The Republicans win.
Remember that the Finance bill that forms the backbone of this damned thing was practically written by Republicans. They're just too good at the game to have their party's fortunes ride on it.

As for "progressives causes" and all that...well, yes, that is lost, BUT IT'S LOST BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE AND ATTITUDES MATT IS DEFENDING. Politicians—especially Democratic politicians,—go where the gettable votes and election resources are. If they can count on the base no matter what, they aren't going to do anything progressive, now, are they?
That's what's been happening, and that's what we've been saying!

The only difference is that we thought that Obama was different, and discovered that not only is he not different, but he might be the purest example of the breed in decades. Then he filled that big ol' kennel at 1600 Pennsylvania with every other prime example of the breed as well! (That the second-purest was undoubtedly Clinton just makes this that much worse. He just hid it better.)

If you want progressive legislation, then progressives need to be a concern. If progressives never break away from the party, even when faced with the one of the most horrifyingly corporatist, destructive, and impolitic health care bills that a Democrat could possibly author, then they'll never be a concern, so you'll never see progressive legislation. "Centrists" will always be the ones that may walk, so they'll be lovingly catered to.

Opposing this mess not only helps save the Dems from electoral apocalypse, but teaches them that they can't take their base for granted anymore. And people wonder why it's happening.

As for Matthew, I'll just bring up one quote:

I don’t want to endlessly rehash the intramural argument about whether this bill is worth passing or not, since at the end of the day I’m looking forward to working with all the netroots activists of the world on more and better legislation in the future.
The conciliatory language is cute, but it shows that he still doesn't get it.

If you pass this mess as-is, there won't be better legislation.

And if the bill's defenders keep on strawmanning and mischaracterizing the progressive opposition, and calling Dean every name in the book, why on earth do you think everything will be all nicey-nicey any time soon?

Edit: Yglesias himself links to a Greg Sargent piece entitled "Journalists Cheerfully Urinating On Senate Bill’s “Ideological” Critics", which links to offensive bullshit like this piece from Ron Brownstein about how Dean and LieberCare's critics (critics!) are "limosine liberals". Which is, from what I've seen, manages to be the most offensively wrong thing that has been said about all this. Quite an achievement.

Whether the Senate bill becomes law or not, this is not going away.

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