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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Clearing The Decks

by digby

Brian Beutler wonders why the Republicans didn't fight harder on some of the lame duck agenda and concludes:

Republicans must at some level have understood that some of these things weren't going away. DADT would've stayed on the agenda. 9/11 responders would have stayed on the agenda. DREAM will stay on the agenda. And I'm guessing they made the simple calculation that it would be easier and wiser to give Dems these victories now, rather than fight it out with them publicly next after the GOP takes over the House with a caucus that's divided over these things.

Now the issues are off the table, and that creates more space for them to set the agenda.

I think this is right. And I think we know what that agenda is, don't we?

I also believe that while DADT, START and the 9/11 responders bills were hostages they would have killed if they had to, they were ok with allowing them to live if they got the tax cuts, which set the table for everything that comes next. After all, DADT was endorsed by the military, START was endorsed by every Republican statesman dead or alive, including retired Generals by the bus load, and the 9/11 responders bill was to benefit a bunch of cops and firemen. At the end of the day, the GOP has always been a sucker for a man in a uniform.

Here's how a Republican operative described the real dynamic today on MSNBC:

The reason that Republicans worked with Democrats this time around is because we're talking about something like tax cuts, not the health care bill or the takeover of GM or some of the Big Government things that Republicans don't philosophically agree with. We were finding compromises on things that Republicans already agreed with.

Karen Finney jumped in to say that the Republicans were left in a position of defending the wealthy at the expense of 98% of Americans to which the GOP operative replied: "yes and the Democrats jumped right on that."

But it also raises an important question: what's the Democratic agenda for the next congress anyway? There are certainly many things that would normally be on my wish list, but I don't think a single one has even the slightest chance of passage.The tax deal was the one that set the template for more "getting things done." And since the GOP is essentially a nihilist party and the president is anxious to get more of these bipartisan wins going into the election, it appears to me that liberals are going to find themselves in the unenviable position of having their main purpose being to stop bad compromises --- which will squeeze them between their constituents and their president.

On the other hand, since the political establishment takes their votes for granted and frequently have rewarded the "sanctimonious purists" with derision and anger for failing to be proper cheerleaders (even as they dutifully fell in line) now that the House majority is gone, they don't have a lot to lose. Maybe they'll even come to relish being the flies in the ointment. Coalition building is a delicate game and it's going to be very interesting to see if Obama and the Democrats can keep their factions balanced. I suspect they'll be fairly successful at doing it, for a lot of reasons. But you never know.

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