Friday, February 5, 2010

So, there was this thing where the guy wanted to shut down the government...

It would appear that Senator Shelby's manna from Heaven for the Democrats is not exactly getting exposure:

That's right, all of 58 articles on this so far. It's just at #3 on Google News's U.S. section. I realize that the right has Fox News, Drudge, Limbaugh, and the rest, but the Democrats have many elected officials that could go on the record blasting this thing. They also have many paid media professionals who could turn this into a real headache for the GOP. It's not only hypocritical because Shelby wanted to abolish the filibuster a few years ago, it's doubly hypocritical for members of a Republican Party that's obsessed with spending and deficits and pork to make these sorts of demands. This could be a huge opportunity for the Democrats to highlight the ability of Republicans to obstruct uncontroversial things, and to lay the groundwork for a frontal assault on the filibuster.

But...that doesn't seem to be happening.

Look, if this is going to be the way things go, then the Democrats really don't have a chance in 2010. What we have is a White House that's stacked with people who are running the inside game--Emanuel, Rouse, Messina, all of whom are talented and are real assets to the Administration, it should be noted--but nobody who's particularly capable of running the outside game, or at least nobody who's interested in doing it. I have always liked Andrew Sullivan's notion that Obama wants to govern like George H.W. Bush--this is an appealing notion to me. But it ignores one major flaw--Bush LOST, in large part because of that governing strategy. In retrospect, his modest tax hikes were absolutely the right thing to do at the time, and both he and Clinton deserve credit for the good economy of the 1990s. And the guy had a lot of good stuff happen on his watch: the Americans with Disabilities Act was huge. But if Bush 41 is a decent model for governance--and you could do much, much worse, in my opinion--he's a horrible model for politics. I just think the whole let's worry about the politics later thing just doesn't work, and more and more I think that it's the insiders that are leading Obama astray by keeping him focused on the inside game.

I'm not saying that the left needs to build up a noise machine equivalent to what the right has. But they can't just worry about the politics later anymore. I think it's time that Obama bit the bullet and hired Howard Wolfson. Dude's a hack, but I'll be damned if the guy can't plant media narratives and drive coverage, which is exactly what they need. I know, because I endured it for months back when his candidate was running against Obama, and I was cursing his name on a daily basis.

Update: Evidently there's some pushback from the White House. Here's Bob Gibbs:
"I guess if you needed one example of what's wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government work better because he didn't get his earmarks. If that's not the poster child for how this town needs to change the way it works, I fear there won't be a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010... It boggles the mind to hold up qualified nominees for positions that are needed to perform functions in a government because you didn't get two earmarks."

This, from Dan Pfeiffer, is slightly better:

"This is just the latest example of this kind opposition for opposition's sake that the President talked about earlier this week," wrote White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. "This strategy of obstruction is preventing qualified people from doing their jobs on behalf of the American people and it's preventing real work from getting done in Washington."

"Every minute spent needlessly blocking noncontroversial nominees, many of whom go on to be confirmed by 70 or more votes or by voice vote (nine of the President's nominees so far), is a minute not spent on the issues that matter to American families," he continued.

Mention the stuff about Bunning blocking nominees about candy-flavored cigarettes and Kyl blocking the TSA guy over internet gambling. Segue into talking about the filibuster after the GOP tries to kill the jobs bill. And please, for the love of Dios, give Gibbs's job to Wolfson. Do it now.

Update 2: This, on the other hand, is really good politics. At least there's one Democrat in town who knows how to do this whole "politics" thing.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.