Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Small Step for Democrats

For Democrats, the first step is admitting you have a problem. E. J. Dionne pulls that off, but fails to identify what the real problem is...

If you want to be honest, face these facts: At this moment, President Obama is losing, Democrats are losing and liberals are losing.

Who's winning? Republicans, conservatives, the practitioners of obstruction and the Tea Party.

The two immediate causes for this state of affairs are a single election result in Massachusetts and the way the United States Senate operates. What's not responsible is the supposed failure of Obama and the Democrats to govern as "moderates." Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won the Massachusetts Senate race last month. In all likelihood, health reform would be law, Democrats could have moved on to economic matters, and Obama would be seen as shrewd and successful.

But that's not what happened, and Republican Scott Brown's victory revealed real weaknesses on the progressive side: an Obama political apparatus asleep at the switch, huge Republican enthusiasm unmatched by Democratic determination, and a focused conservative campaign to discredit Obama's ideas, notably his economic stimulus plan and the health-care bill.

The Obama administration argues that both the stimulus and the health bill are better than people think. That's entirely true, and this is actually an indictment -- it means that on the two big issues of the moment, Republicans and conservatives are winning an argument they should be losing.
Dionne goes on to claim that the stimulus is working, a claim that is questionable at best, as illustrated by Reihan Salam. I also tend to believe that when a large enough majority thinks something is true, it's probably illustrative of an underlying fact -- so when only 6% of the public thinks the stimulus is working to create jobs, that's not just a messaging problem. I think this reflects the underlying reality -- the stimulus may have created jobs, but no one thinks it was a good return on our investment of $787 billion. And the President's claims that the stimulus staved off a depression are ridiculed even by stimulus supporters like Megan McArdle.

But hey, maybe it is a messaging problem. I'm fully in favor of the Democrats pursuing this line of stupidity, because it probably won't lead to any more bad legislation and will boot them out of the House majority come November. So I'm not going to spend any more time identifying the real problems for them - it's not like they're listening.

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