July 29th, 2011

What’s Horribly Wrong With This Picture? (Now With Clueless White House Update!)

by Philip Baruth

So let VDB get this straight. The Boehner plan, which we all hoped against hope would fail, has in fact now failed. Which leaves Democrats a clear opening to do what we have all hoped against hope they would do . . . introduce a variant of the Boehner plan? Last we counted, Democrats controlled both the White House and the Senate, and the GOP majority in the House was not overwhelming. So someone explain, if you would: How did we get into the politically vertiginous situation where all plans represent some genetic offshoot of the House Republican plan, if not because the President and the Senate prefer said offshoot? Take a look at that series of headlines again, and tell VDB the wheel isn’t rigged.

Clueless White House Update, 8:01 pm:

The TPMDC headline says it all, with the closest thing to a straight face they could manage: “White House Calls On The Social Media Grassroots To Push Debt Ceiling Deal.”

If you need a case in point, demonstrating the Obama administration’s disdain for the Left, and its maddening certainty as to the Left’s continuing support, here it is in a nutshell. After capitulating utterly, and casting off in turn everything that progressive voters care about in this defining negotiation with the GOP, from slashing entitlements to offering a path to re-continue the Bush tax cuts, the President goes to the netroots in his hour of need as a fellow traveler.

What is this crucial tweet he and his media-savvy folks so want retweeted? “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet.”

Forget that “compromise” has been defined for months as Democrats accepting entitlement reform, and the GOP accepting modest new tax revenues. Forget that “compromise” now includes nothing from the Republican side, other than agreeing to pay US debt. Forget that every single thing that Barack Obama wanted from the GOP he did not get. Forget that Obama clearly came to the situation with the pre-conceived plan of using the GOP threat of default to force his own party into finally agreeing to less generous retirement benefits. This in order to run as a successful lite-Republican candidate, the President who defended the Bush tax cuts and sweet talked those balky Democrats into seeing reason on Social Security.

No, what “social media grassroots” are supposed to push, in a blaze of cyber-indignation, is a mildly more acceptable version of the Republicans’ own bill, one that will smooth Obama’s path to re-election, but otherwise offer absolutely nothing to progressives other than pain and suffering and humiliation.

This is where and how Barack Obama lost his army, folks.

Brings to mind an OFA organizational meeting during the health care debate, circa 2009. The room at a cafe in Burlington was packed; people were fired up. But what were we asked to go door-to-door with?

A “manifesto” that consisted of the most homogenized health care talking points ever conceived, bullet points like “The President insists that any health care plan must cover more Americans, and make health care more affordable.” No talk of universality; no talk of a public option. It was the least we could have expected presented as the most, with a straight face and all the rhetoric of change and urgency intact. The President had to be ceded maximum leverage by his troops, and therefore our marching orders were entirely content-free. Any attempts to add heft to the message were rebuffed.

And times haven’t changed.

Well, let VDB tell you one thing that’s true about the netroots: they got good noses. Give them a real fight, and take a real position, and they will engage. But they ain’t about to take up arms to defend vanilla custard.

And poorly made GOP vanilla custard at that.