Friday, August 21, 2009

Changing the Tone in D.C.

My friend Lucky Fresh, the gentlelady from Alabama, blogged a few days about a Paul Krugman column talking about about the reality of partisanship in today's politics.  Today, Krugman is back with column talking about the trust problem Obama has with progressives.  Eugene Robinson address the same question in another column in today's Washington Post.  Robinson's point is that Democratic leaders, and especially President Obama, are not demonstrating the proper passion in defense of their health care reform bill.

One of my fears of Obama is that he thought his ability to be conciliatory and work with others would lesson the partisan disagreement in Washington.  I was willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume the talk of working with Republicans was just campaign speech and that Obama understood the nature of modern politics and the ferocity of Republican opposition.  Sadly, it actually appears President Obama actually believed his talk about working with Republicans and his presidency is weaker for it.

This is how you change the tone in Washington.  First you administer electoral ass whuppings, like the Democrats did in 2006 and 2008, and capture the Presidency and win commanding majorities in Congress.  Second, you steam roll your agenda through without regard to the opposition.  In other words you get all of what you can while holding your governing coalition together.  The tone in Washington changes when what you put through demonstrates that it works and that it is popular with the electorate.  Then the tone changes because everyone, including the opposition, recognizes and adjusts to a new political reality.  Republicans fought tooth and nail against Social Security and Medicare but they know better then to attack those programs now because they are popular.  In fact, GOP member of Congress often help people with issues regarding Social Security and Medicare.

A change in tone is a side effect to implementing a good and popular agenda.  It is not a prerequisite.  It is time President Obama learned this fact.

1 comment:

  1. I really hope he reads your column! You explain it so well, and in the broader context, not just the "we won, let's do what we want" sense that most of us are hoping for.