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Hullabaloo


Monday, August 31, 2009

 
Losers And The Left

by digby

Chris Matthews had on David Corn and Eugene Robinson to discuss the fact that the liberals are going to ruin everything like they always do. Surprisingly, neither Robinson and Corn seemed to agree, at least not entirely:

Corn: There are different ways of compromise. I don't believe in making the perfect the enemy of the good or the possible, but I do believe that Obama in certain ways miscalculated...I think he entered the debate thinking he could do this in a non-partisan fashion and I think that was a miscalculation. It's winding up in a very polarized manner and I think he's getting the, at this stage, he's getting the worse for that.

Matthews: It's funny. What has changed, Gene and David, has been the tone of the country. We did come in January, well maybe this guy will get a few breaks from the other side and now it looks like we're down to Olympia Snow it looks like being the 60th vote after Ted Kennedy.

Robinson: Yeah well, how did we get there? Well there would be two competing narratives about that. Mine would be that the Republican party has adopted a strategy of saying no, basically, and Obama has offered and has offered and has offered, maybe too early on some occasions and maybe hasn't gotten anything in return. ... but I think there is a sentiment out there in the country that wants bipartisanship and I think the White House calculates that being seen as the party that offers that is a good thing. And if you fast forward everybody's starting to think about 2010, by then the economy could be coming back we could be out of this cycle of unemployment, things could be getting better ...
Matthews then showed Bill Clinton at Netroots Nation telling the audience that it was politically necessary to get a bill out. The discussion continued:

Matthews: ... I completely buy what he's saying. In politics if you lose, you lose. And if you think you're going to get any credit from the center or from the right or any of the commentators from that part of the world you're crazy. The Democratic left will be pounced on, blamed for defeat. So this idea that you're waiting for the perfect bill or you won't go without the public option is suicidal, but that's my thought ...

Corn: That's not necessarily the issue. (And I can remember a day Chris when you didn't think Bill Clinton was so Godlike). But that aside, I do think there is a way to have a clear fight. And I think this is one of the problems Barack Obama is having here ... I think the health care fight has become a very muddy fight now. Iit's not a clear battle and it's not clear what he stands for in terms of the details of this bill.

And you can't just pass anything. It has to be something that people recognise as good for them and they have to have a clear understanding of this bill. So, to that degree, I think Bill Clinton is right; passing something is better than nothing. But if it's something that's unclear and people don't really understand, and can be demagogued even after passage, that won't necessarily help the Democratic Party politically.
[...]

Matthews: I think it should be a page or two long, it should be that everybody's got to enroll, everybody's got to be part of it and it should regulate and control the insurance industry so it doesn't make a killing out of this

Robinson: Absolutely. But Bill Clinton's message cuts both ways. It's also a message to Democrats who may be recalcitrant who may be unwilling to to stick with what is the majority view of the Democratic caucus to what the bill ought to loo0k like. And part of that message is , you know, if the Democrats go down in 2010, who's going to lose? It's those marginal Democrats in 2010 who are going to be in trouble, and it is better for them for the Democrats to pass a bill even if it goes further than what they might like ...

Matthews went on to describe the left as the PLO, determined to blow everything up to which Corn replied:

Right now it's not the left that's controlling the ballgame here. it really is the White House and Max Baucus and others. So if anything is going awry, it's not because poeple on the left are criticizing.

Setting aside Matthews' usual soporific CW and general inanity, both Corn and Robinson make the same important point: if the Democrats don't pass decent health care, it's the Blue Dogs who are going to suffer, not the liberals. Matthews is right about one thing: Americans don't like losers and even if they don't like the health care plan, failure to pass anything will blow back on everyone in the party --- it's not like Republican challengers in marginal districts are going to go easy on the Blue Dogs and give them credit for voting against health care. It will be like 2002, where no matter how much the Democrat marched around with a flag, he still got nailed for being unpatriotic.

Some of these Blue Dogs are probably going to lose anyway. They were swept up in Obama's coattails and in this sour political and economic environment his coat frayed immediately. But if health care actually works and the economy is looking better, a few more of them might hang on. If it tanks, they'll be tarred with its failure, not the left, who are all in safe districts.

I've been writing about this for some time as have many others in the blogosphere. But it's good to see the normal conventional wisdom being challenged by Robinson and Corn on Hardball. It went in one of Matthews' ears and then got lost somewhere in his head, but it's possible that some other people heard it and realized that automatically scapegoating the hippies doesn't actually make sense in this circumstance.

The Blue Dogs and the Senate corporate lackeys are the ones standing in the way of health care reform, not the progressives. If anybody pays the price for failure it will be from among their numbers and from where I sit, that's exactly as it should be. If they don't want that to happen, maybe they should stop playing the role of the GOP before it went crazy, cooperate and pass real health care reform. It's for their own good.


*All of this assumes that the White House and the leadership actually want to keep their large majority and want to pass health care reform. Whether that's the case is increasingly unclear.

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