Enabling Your Enemies
by Deacon Blues
Look, I’d like to think there is a master plan here, that the White House planned all along to start off its term with a Wall Street-friendly approach on the stimulus (way too many tax cuts and too little actual stimulus), banking reform (ditching real action on compensation limits and failing to reinstate Glass-Steagall), the bailouts (billions for AIG and Goldman Sachs but squat for homeowners, regional banks, or Main Street), and health care reform (deals with Big Pharma and ditching of the public option) just to get off to a calm start and not look too progressive or reactionary. And I’d like to think that if this was the plan and the Phase Two of that plan was to set up your opponents and then go after them leading into the midterms, that the White House knew it was squandering massive political capital in doing so.
But I’m troubled by the possibility that there wasn’t any such plan at all, that in fact the falling poll numbers and elevation of the GOP from the political graveyard for 2010 was totally preventable if a competent and savvy team really occupied the White House. It’s been said around these parts for years that you have to run your political operation on two tracks or tiers: Tier One is for the president to talk a good positive game and appeal to your base and independents, while your team quietly savages your political opponents in a Tier Two operation. Yet has anyone seen any real evidence of a Tier Two operation at any time during 2009, except for the coarse treatment Rahm and the boys dished out to the progressive base of the party?
It’s possible that Obama and his team can build upon GOP overreach and mistakes and regain a political advantage heading into the midterms, but the question is why did it have to come to this in the first place? What was wrong with building upon the public anger towards Wall Street early in 2009 to push through a recalibrated bailout package and tough financial reform package, and couple those two things with a large enough stimulus to be your 2009 agenda, saving health care reform as a politically-defining issue for the 2010 midterms? In other words, what was wrong with making 2009 the “It’s the economy, stupid” year, and leaving other bigger issues for when the economy began to get its feet in mid-2010 after the larger stimulus began paying real dividends?
There's nothing wrong with it, except that that Obama is afraid of Wall Street, plain and simple. And that in the end will kill Democrats this November.