Monday, June 22, 2009

The Big Picture's Corner: Responses to the Weekly Strike

  • ON THE DIRE BUDGET CUTS ACROSS THE NATION: A huge "How do Senators Nelson and Collins sleep at night" front-page article in the Times on the impossible situation facing states. It says that the only thing keeping them from utter disaster is the stimulus package, although of course if that had been bigger it could have covered more of the states' shortfall, which instead is totally diminishing the efficacy of each stimulus dollar that's spent. Yet another example of "opposition to excessive spending" actually being very fiscally irresponsible. It's kinda the equivalent of this situation, which actually does come up a lot in life: you have most of what you need to cook dinner except that you need, let's say, the pasta. But you are opposed to spending that extra $1.79 on the pasta when you come home from work in the afternoon because you "spent too much on snacks at work already". But a few hours later, you realize that you can't make dinner for a total cost of like $3.30, and instead you have to go get something, for a cost of $8.75. Penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • ON OBAMA NEEDING TO LEAD ON HEALTH CARE I was hoping that that Axelrod-led meeting was going to lead to a big coordinated effort on health care, but no sign of that so far. Extremely frustrating. Let's GO! Get united, realize you all need it to succeed. This is where only the party leader can bring everyone together. Show some spine.Very interesting how all the qualms we had about Obama in 2007 that had been overcome with his incredible performance in the past 18 months are starting to resurface. Of course the other candidates would have somehow screwed up and not even reached this dominant position, and would be a lot less skilled at winning it, and of course have a lot less backbone than they posture. Nevertheless, still that real concern about being too concerned with popularity, with too-often avoiding the tough principled stand, putting too much emphasis on maintaining his above-politics brand and not enough on confronting the obstacles. Obviously I am not regretting anything nor am I saying his approach won't prove successful. But while in the campaign he was successful at convincing enough people that they shouldn't be worried about these things, now he has to prove that that's true. Obama has GOT to run hard against the Senate and the Establishment - his ability to embody dissatisfaction with them is the major reason he valuted from a nobody to President in 4 years. Not because he was nice, not because he opposed reconciliation, and certainly not because of fears about the deficit. It is so easy to frame this debate correctly, to your huge advantage, using the exact same contrasts you drew to beat Hillary and McCain - you're on the side of ordinary people and necessary change vs. the obstructionist forces of hte status quo. It is inexcusable to blow that opportunity. Especially if you're too concerned with Iran - first of all there's very little you can do, and second most Americans care a ton more about their health care than about Iranian democracy, to be frank. You absolutely should NOT listen to the Looks who want more talk about Iran and less about health care reform. WRONG. Always have to remember that the Looks have most likely the OPPOSITE priorities from average Americans, sometimes for good, more often, as is the case now, for ill.

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