There Is No Plan

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Now It’s Up to the Democratic Congress to Step Up

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clinton in 1993. he came from hope, he ended up nowhere.

a fresh faced bill clinton in 1993. he came from hope, he ended up nowhere.

In 1993 Clinton arrived on a heady wave of enthusiasm, dedicated to undoing some of the excesses of Reaganism. He made a few stumbles, he announced a sweeping healthcare initiative and he got nowhere. There are many reasons for his failure. The sheer newness of the administration, presentation issues, and this – he got very limited support from a Democratically controlled Congress. That opened the door for Gingrich’s charges of stasis and corruption that led to the Contract for America, and sweeping mid-term victories. That broadly was the end of the Clinton Administration as an effective liberally-driven government. It’s the main reason that the Reagan Revolution was not shattered. Clinton became merely a painful interregnum.

Cut to 15 years later.  Obama is getting it right. The budget is a great document, the bipartisan experiment is over, the decision to leave troops behind in Iraq is correct, and the healthcare, energy, and education agendas are on course. Now it’s up to the Democratically elected Congress to respond. Obama’s charm offensive is wasted on the GOP. Obama appears to have realized that. The true targets of his charm offensive should be members of his own Senate caucus with a more conservative viewpoint.

By making an end run around the Democrats in the Senate by courting Snowe and Collins of Maine, Obama will be able to skewer Blue Dog Democrats with the charge of obstructionism, and privately at least, be able to warn them of what could happen if they let him down. Obama is a student of history, and he knows better than anyone what happened to Clinton.

The GOP is winging it’s way to virtual irrelevance, thankfully, with the exception of the tiny rump of Republican moderates in the Senate. The success of the Obama administration rests on many factors, but the willingness of Democrats in the Senate to hold fast will be a key element. Let’s put the majority whip to work, and hope that Obama makes his displeasure clear, public and effective in dealing with recalcitrants in his own party. They must tow the line – or face the historical legacy that they opened the door to yet another conservative backlash, with all the destruction and injustice that would usher in.

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