Alex Blaze

Forgetting the horse they rode in on

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 07, 2008 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, david broder, David Brooks, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay rights, gays in the military, LGBT, ruth marcus

Blabberhead-in-chief, David Broder, yesterday:

These insiders can judge Obama better than I can, but I think they read him correctly. The expanded Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate may tempt Obama to consider a mirror-image of George W. Bush's strategy of mobilizing his own party on Capitol Hill and simply bulling bills past the minority party.

But that approach really didn't work for Bush after the first year or two. I think there is much wisdom in a comment that Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts made on "Meet the Press" this week. He said that the difficulty of the challenges facing Washington is such that the aim should not be to pound out narrow partisan victories but to negotiate for "85-vote majorities," endorsed by all but the most extreme liberal or conservative senators.

After the hyper-partisanship of the Bush years, I think there are probably many members of both parties who would welcome the kind of approach that Dodd, LaHood and Kerry advocate.

But it will be up to Obama to signal that this will be his way of doing business, as well. The earlier he does it, the better.

So which important law could get a majority of of the Republicans in the Senate: DADT repeal, DOMA repeal, a trans-inclusive ENDA, or getting rid of abstinence-only education?

If you've been paying attention to the blabberheads these past few days (or weeks, they've been building it up for some time), you might have noticed that they've all decided that America is a center-right nation, that people don't really want change, and that Obama has no mandate for anything he ran on. Apparently saying the word "change" to the point where it was ridiculous to anyone paying attention and then getting 53% of the American electorate to agree with it isn't enough to actually get some of these changes passed. What, are we going to let the dirty fucking hippies run all over this country?

Just the other day I saw David Brooks was on Jim Lehrer blabbing about how there simply wasn't enough political support for massive health care reform in the population in general. Apparently, Obama running on the issue, running ads that sold his health care plan in every key state, discussing it at length on the stump and in debates, and then getting a majority of the vote isn't enough to prove that people actually want his health care plan.

This doesn't bode well for LGBT issues, if the Democrats don't find a way to ignore the Washington establishment these coming years. There is absolutely no pro-queer policy that can get 85 votes in the Senate, and none will for a very, very long time.

But these folks are using DADT as a specific reason why Obama should move to the center-right (this is from Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus):

Obama will have to contend with the hydraulic force of pent-up Democratic demands for action. After eight years without the White House, and two years in which a Democratic majority in Congress found itself stymied in delivering on its promises, the leftward precincts of his party are not inclined to either compromise or patience. There is some basis for their urgency: A new president has a small window to launch major initiatives if he hopes to see them enacted.

Yet the experience of President Clinton's rocky early months -- remember gays in the military? the BTU tax? -- suggests the steep political price of governing in a way that is, or seems, skewed to the left. This risk is particularly acute for Obama, whose opponents have painted him as a leftist extremist. The good news is that his advisers seem exquisitely aware of this trap and determined not to fall into it.

It's a complete misreading of the Clinton years, but they don't care. They have a vested interest in making sure that the progressive base doesn't get what it wants in the coming years. And Ruth Marcus, as well as many, many other pundits, have officially defined repealing DADT as what destroyed the Democratic Congress in 1994, and, by extension, have defined LGBT issues as too-toxic-to-touch once again.

We need to be putting pressure on Congress now not to buck under the pressure to run straight to the right after the left just handed them a majority in both houses. But it's not looking likely:

Dems lower expectations
By Mike Soraghan
Posted: 11/05/08 08:11 PM [ET]

Democratic leaders are tamping down on expectations for rapid change and trying to signal they will place a calm hand on the nation's tiller.

"The country must be governed from the middle," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. Repeating themes from election night, she said she plans to emphasize "civility" and "fiscal responsibility."

Her comments emphasized that after an election consistently referred to as "historic," Democrats face the daunting task of dealing with the plunging economy and two wars.

Yet, they face massive expectations for change and deep-seated fears of overreaching. But senior aides say they've learned from the mistakes of the past. Nearly every member of the current Democratic leadership in the House served through the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton was elected president. Two years later, the GOP gained control of Congress.

Yes, we wouldn't want them to repeat the mistakes of the past and actually do something to improve this country. It's fundamentally a center-right nation, no matter the fact that Democrats are in charge of everything because they ran on progressive platforms that include basic gay rights. Don't let the queers get anything - Joe the Plumber will get mad if Congress even shows the slightest bit of ability to care about boys who put things up the wrong pipe.

Don't relax now. The Democrat are in charge, but far too many of them are still the scared-shitless sort.


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the aim should not be to pound out narrow partisan victories but to negotiate for "85-vote majorities," endorsed by all but the most extreme liberal or conservative senators.

Fuck you, Broder. I'll be happy with 75-vote majorities endorsed by all but the most extreme conservative senators.

Isolate the conservatives, make them feel helpless and confused, and keep them fighting among themselves until they die and nobody shows up at their funeral.

Hell, I'd take 51 vote majorities. :)

Reformed Ascetic | November 7, 2008 2:42 PM

We all know that the GOP is trying to save itself right now. And that for decades that have engaged in redefinition of public rhetoric. It has been successful for them in the past, and it would be astounding if they didn't continue to try to engage in it.

But I do not believe I saw Obama fall for it at any point during the campaign. Though they repeatedly tried.

The Dems have been defined for quite some time as only the party of some. Partly due to GOP rhetoric and partly due to their own failings. Don't be surprised that they are trying to turn the rhetoric. Don't be surprised that they want to solidify their gains.

Obama is not going to start his first day with an announcement of a new gay civil rights program.

He is going to start economic reforms as his centerpiece. He is going to do something about healthcare and Iraq and Afghanistan. He is going to try to demonstrate his political power and expertise by capturing large voting majorities. In part because this will give him continued capital into the future.

But I do believe, the Dems will act on LGBT issues. Do I believe it will be everything we want or need? No, no I really don't. But this will be a time of progress for us. And we will in part determine how much. We have access now. A great deal of the progress made will be determined by how effective our strategies our.

I agree - health care, economics, and the wars will be the top of his agenda. He campaigned mainly on those issues and he has a mandate on them.

LGBT issues, well, sure, wait a little while, but not too long!

Reformed Ascetic | November 7, 2008 5:52 PM

Is there any chance that what we may see is LGBT advancement as part of the other issues.

For instance, in dealing with the broad issues of the war and armed forces, might he dismantle DADT to deal with the recruitment crises and loss of trained specialists. The Dems may well feel safe doing so in the middle of much broader actions and in light of growing military support.

Or might LGBT positive legislation become riders on some of the economic crisis aversion bills that will be coming out.

I don't know if I'm just speculating and hoping, or not.

Large majorities in Senate and House are better than narrow partisan victories, true.

But sometimes to get that majority you have to water legislation down so far that it's useless.

It's a delicate line to walk.