On knowing that whatever jobs program Obama proposes is DOA in the Republican-controlled House (and that Republicans will gladly turn around and blame Obama for not doing anything about jobs):
The Republicans are going to deride whatever he does as Son of Stimulus, the right-wing propaganda apparatus will put a fatwa on the head of any wavering House member or senator, and no plan with “Obama” in its name is going to clear the Senate, let alone the House, and that will be that. We know this.
This is why it’s so chillingly disheartening to read quotes like Carney’s and Earnest’s. The plan can be bold. The plan can be modest. The point is that he has to fight like hell for it. But he won’t. He is the anti-Broder on this front. Remember how the late David Broder wrote all those columns lamenting partisan gridlock, carefully blaming both sides, pointedly ignoring the mountains of evidence that it was chiefly Republicans driving the divide? Well, Obama, rather than blaming both sides, blames neither. He speaks of ending partisan gridlock in a disembodied and remote way, and he talks about it as if it’s an act of God that has descended on the capital, like Irene did—and one that can be overcome if we all just put our shoulders to the wheel.
But the truth is that our gridlock is an act of man—or men. Particular men. They even have names. They are McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor. God forbid the president criticize them. It’s two more syllables than “Martin, Barton, and Fish,” the trio of Republican obstructionists FDR famously called out (read this for a little background on how Obama could be behaving differently), but the president’s an articulate fellow; he could handle it.
President Obama seems to be dipping into the crazy juice when he still talks about how Washington is going to come together and work to solve our problems. Yes, that’s what’s necessary, but it isn’t going to happen, and he needs to acknowledge that and choose how he’s going to spend the final year of his first term. There’s a terrific case to be made against Republicans for what they’ve tried to do to sabotage the economy and prevent any successful legislation that even appears to have come from President Obama, but Obama simply cannot move forward acting like anything’s going to change in the next year. Why should it? As stupid and destructive as it is, the GOP cockblock strategy is hurting Obama’s ratings and that’s all Republicans care about, even if it means cratering their own. Maybe it won’t work for them next year, but there’s no reason for Obama to let them have the chance. He needs to be the guy we elected the next year, the guy who ran on change we could believe in, who ran on standing up for progressive principles, for working families, for all the people the Bush/GOP years left behind.
The most important thing people need to see is that Obama cares and he’s fighting for them. If he fights for them and the Republicans oppose everything he does, then the Republicans are opposing the people. This is already the case, but it needs to be made crystal clear. Republicans are bullies. They will talk shit, they will insult, they will lie, they will make up anything they want about Democrats because they can usually expect Democrats to not fight back, and slowly the taint creeps. But when you fight back, Republicans scatter, whine, cry, complain, and moan about how hurt their feelings are. So Democrats veer between being wimps and, the second they fight back, mean ole’ meanies who are so very cruel and shrill. That’s falling right into the GOP playbook.
No, what you do is keep pressing forward, keep pointing your finger, and keep touting your values, the positive values that lead you to fight for all Americans, not just the wealthy and white. President Obama has actually done some pretty significant things for the poor, most importantly health care reform, but he can’t rest on his laurels and wait for progressives to kiss his ass, as his admin has sometimes signaled they’d like to do. The political capital is burned up. It’s time to earn some more.