Monday, December 21, 2009

Mixed Results

The Senate apparently has the votes and has passed cloture. I'm disappointed in the liberal senators that voted the party line with little-to-nothing to show for it, and maintain that progressives should look very, very closely at possible primary opponents. Dean was right about the bill, and that hasn't changed.

But as I said, the discourse has changed. You need only look to Biden's NYT piece for proof.

I share the frustration of other progressives that the Senate bill does not include a public option. But I’ve been around a long time, and I know that in Washington big changes never emerge in perfect form.

Those in our own party who would scuttle this bill because of what it doesn’t do seem not to appreciate the magnitude of what it has the potential to accomplish. Howard Dean was head of the Democratic Party. I respect his leadership on health care, and I understand his criticism of the bill...

...If the bill passes the Senate this week, there will be more chances to make changes to it before it becomes law. But if the bill dies this week, there is no second chance to vote yes. What those who care about health insurance reform need to realize is that unless we get 60 votes now, there will be no health care reform at all. Not this year, not in this Congress — and maybe not for another generation.
The edited part was a bunch of boilerplate pro-Senate Bill talking points I won't repeat, including yet another "do you want to deny the poor and underprivileged" plea that is a bit grotesque, considering this bill will likely increase health care bankruptcies. But never mind that. Look at the rest.

Look at the "shared frustration" language. It's very different from what was heard even a few months ago, when nobody in the White House had a word to say about the public option. Yes, that might well be because they had little to no interest in it, and didn't expect it to pass the Senate... but one of their own had to acknowledge the anger.

Look at the comments about Dean. Howard Dean has been savaged by those who are infuriated that he dragged the "nutroots" into the Overton Window. Yet here is Biden playing nice with Dean, saying that he respects his leadership and understands his concerns. It was part of a "you don't understand how good the bill is" paragraph, but even then, they had to defend the bill from the left!

(THAT, folks, is what they do when they stop taking you for granted.)

Finally, look at that House/Senate bit. It is a bit disingenuous, since we can now be certain that LieberBaucusCare is undoubtedly closest to what the White House really wanted. It's also unlikely, considering both Conrad and Nelson were threatening to change their vote if the House isn't almost completely ignored. But the very fact that Biden is promising some progressive changes in the first place says a lot about where things stand right now. Progressives have a voice. A tiny one, to be certain, compared to their Republican counterparts...but they do have a voice.

Think about it. The progressives play ball, play nice, go along with things, raise money for the DNC/DSCC/DCCC like dutiful little fanboys, and they're treated like ants to be crushed underfoot. They start raising shit, and all of a sudden they're A Big Honking Deal.

There's a lesson in that. And if liberals learn it, if they start thinking less about Dems vs. Reps and more about what needs to be done to get the results that they want, if they stick to their guns and make a few incumbents very, very uncomfortable, maybe even throw a few bums out... then you'll see a change.

Nobody's going to save you. Nobody's going to carry you. Obama's election was the last gasp of that mode of thinking, and the last year proved it was ultimately useless. If you want results, you have to fight; and if you want to succeed, you have to recognize that you're going to be fighting Democrats and Republicans alike.

Obama was right about one thing, oddly enough. He said "we are the change that we've been waiting for". He just mixed up one word. YOU ARE THE CHANGE YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR, not him.

It's not "we". He isn't the agent of change. He never was.

YOU are.

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