Daschle Days Are Here Again

September 3, 2010

So here we are, Labor Day just around the corner, midterm elections on the horizon. After a sweltering summer of bone-deep crazy, the Republicans have made it clear that if they regain power in Congress we can expect them to paralyze the government, conduct endless phony investigations into equally phony scandals, and pad the pockets of their cronies while the country continues its downward spiral.

So what are the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, proposing to do about this? Why do I feel that I’m witnessing a re-run of the Tom Daschle years, when the Senate leader let Republicans walk over him so many times that he should have had WELCOME tattooed on his forehead? Paul Krugman has some ideas about what they can to, you know, stave off the looming GOP disaster:

The actual lessons of 2009-2010, then, are that scare stories about stimulus are wrong, and that stimulus works when it is applied. But it wasn’t applied on a sufficient scale. And we need another round.

I know that getting that round is unlikely: Republicans and conservative Democrats won’t stand for it. And if, as expected, the G.O.P. wins big in November, this will be widely regarded as a vindication of the anti-stimulus position. Mr. Obama, we’ll be told, moved too far to the left, and his Keynesian economic doctrine was proved wrong.

But politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. The economic theory behind the Obama stimulus has passed the test of recent events with flying colors; unfortunately, Mr. Obama, for whatever reason — yes, I’m aware that there were political constraints — initially offered a plan that was much too cautious given the scale of the economy’s problems.

So, as I said, here’s hoping that Mr. Obama goes big next week. If he does, he’ll have the facts on his side.

All true. However, Obama has had the facts on his side pretty much all the time. The facts supported single-payer healthcare. The facts supported the public option. The facts supported getting the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The facts supported lots of sane, politically astute measures that would have pulled us back from the abyss we now stare into. Hell, the facts supported grabbing the Republicans and rubbing their long noses in the immense mess they created.

Obama had the facts. The Republicans had scare stories about socialism, death panels, and birth certificates. And now the Democrats are once again poised to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sure, I’ll vote for the Democrats in November. With Congress ready to become an even worse bedlam, it would be criminal to stay home. While teabaggers chase phantoms around the foot of the Washington Monument and Obama’s press secretary sneers at “the professional left,” I will do my bit to speak up for rationality and good policy.

But I sure do wish the guys with the power had been doing likewise these past months. When I pulled the lever for Obama I knew I was voting for a politician, not a messiah or a saint. But never in my wildest nightmares did I think I was voting for a younger version of Tom Daschle.