Sunday, February 15, 2009

26 days

As I write this, we are moving into the 27th day of the Obama Administration. It has not been the best 26 days, this is true...stimulus...Judd Gregg...Susan Collins...renditions... Tom Daschle...Bill Richardson...

Yeah, not that great. Generally a mixture of incomplete vetting and faux "moderates" in the Republican Party. I'm not of the school that is whining for everyone to shut up and "let Obama lead", but I can't get too worked up over these mistakes for two reasons: 1, it's the rookie stuff we all should have expected, and 2, it may be toward a larger end.

First of all, Obama is not a little inexperienced for a president -- he just moved to DC about 4 years ago. He essentially moved out to the campaign trail about 18 months ago, so he's going to make some rookie mistakes, the same way that his understudy Deval Patrick pretty much blew the first few months of his tenure as governor (remember the poorly chosen phone calls, and the lavish Inauguration? Remember Deval praying with anti-homosexual bigots the morning of?) I'm willing to wait for Obama to settle into his new job.

However, one thing that I don't think is a rookie mistake is this continuing outreach to Republicans. Yes, it drives me crazy. But see the whole board, here -- Obama is concretely proving how little interest Republicans have in the success of the federal government in improving the lives on Americans. He can only do this one way -- by putting Republicans in place where they choose between working with him or clearly, undeniably demonstrating their hostility to the very idea of any success for America. Unfortunately, this means that President Obama has to let these Republicans spurn him -- having them refuse to meet, refuse to vote, refuse to negotiate, refuse to compromise, refuse to talk.

After four or five anguishing months of outreach, Obama will have every justification to work solely with Democrats. If President Obama conferences with Republican "thinkers", and gets nothing out of it, if Republicans continue to promise to vote down legislation before they even see it, his case will be made. If they can't hide behind the idea "we were never asked" or "we never had a chance to talk", they're out of excuses.

Then Obama can make his case to America. He can demonstrate on issues X, Y, Z, bills A, B, C, that Republicans had the opportunity to help, to compromise, and simply said no. Hence, Obama had no choice to work solely with Democrats, and furthermore our best chance of accomplishing anything is to add more Democrats -- Senator Hodes (NH) and Senator Murphy (PA) , for instance. Yes, political savants realize this already, but it has to be made starkly obvious.

It's been a frustrating 26 days, but if it provides crystal clear basis for a truly, unashamedly Democratic administration for the next 20 months, the next 44 months, then it's worth it.

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