Saturday, December 26, 2009

While White House Condemns Liberals, Congressional Moderates Remain Inflexible

Now that the House and Senate have passed heathcare bills, the process of merging the disparate proposals must take place. The White House has branded liberals who oppose the more conservative Senate bill as inflexible and impractical. But moderates, whom Obama has eagerly sought to appease during the legislative process, have repeatedly drawn firm and rigid lines in the sand.

Joe Lieberman, for example, issued multiple filibuster threats until Obama instructed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to drop the public plan option from the Senate bill. Ben Nelson won concessions on abortion funding after he threatened to derail the bill. And Mary Landrieu secured millions of dollars in federal funding for Louisiana after she vowed to vote against the measure.

According to The Hill, Senate moderates have promised to maintain their inflexible stance during the upcoming negotiations:

Democratic centrists have informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) they will accept few changes in the final healthcare bill negotiated between the House and Senate.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have made clear there is little room to deviate from the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve.

They are the most vocal of nearly two-dozen senators who have indicated they see little wiggle room in the conference talks. . . .

Lawmakers in the House will have to accept the Senate legislation with little change if a final bill is to muster 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles and make it to President Barack Obama’s desk, the centrists say.

“There’s very little room for this bill to change,” said Landrieu. “The framework really has to stay basically in place.

Although centrists have continually dug their heels in the sand and threatened to kill the reform process unless their demands were met, the White House has not described their muscularity as "insane" or "irrational." Instead, these labels seemingly apply only to liberals who demand a tough posture during negotiations.

Question for readers: What do you think explains the disparate treatment of liberals and moderates by the White House?

See also:

NYT's Adam Nagourney Peddles New White House Attacks on Progressives

Criticizing President Obama Is Pragmatic

Rahm Emanuel Tells Liberals To Kiss His Arse

Liberals Battle White House Over Healthcare Reform

White House Shows Its True Colors on Healthcare Reform

Irrational Robert Gibbs Says Howard Dean Is Irrational

Salon's Glenn Greenwald Says: Blame Obama, Rather Than Lieberman

Why Is Obama Still Protecting Lieberman?

House Democrat Louise M. Slaughter: Scrap Senate Healthcare Bill

Obama Falsely Claims that the Senate Healthcare Bill Matches His Campaign Promises

Ezra Klein's "Pink=Blue=Colors" Logic Regarding Healthcare Reform


LETICIA said...

It is my hope that this will become Obama's "read my lips, no new taxes" line at election time. It is also my hope that the media will one day grow a pair and start holding those in power accountable for misleading us instead of insipid non-stop coverage of balloon boys and Michael Jackson.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Leticia: What would Obama's line look like -- No new compromises?

Also, you are dead right on the media. If we depended on the media for real analysis, we would get none. I am so happy that blogs emerged. They really help to fill the void left now that ballunacy boy stories pervade the airwaves.

LETICIA said...

To answer your question, Obama preyed on the hopes and fears of people to get in power, now he doesn't need us anymore. He's intelligent enough to know that most people's memories are short, so he has a good chance of being reelected even if he continues to screw us over. I do have a solution for those fallen on hard times, however: simply change your name to Goldman Sachs, and behave grossly incompetent and/or negligent, and I guarantee your check will be out within a week :)

Anonymous said...

Darren, to answer your question: political expediency (and then some -- like shameless arrogance and a lack of empathy and grace).

Obama and Dems want and need this legislation to pass, no matter how crippled it may be, because their political survival depends on it. In order to do it, they have to court the nay-sayers and possible spoilers -- i.e., the moderates -- knowing well that progressives will not stand in a way of anything that has even a faint resemblance to the reform. Progressive have wanted the reform so badly for so long, and they know how much the people hurt -- so if there is an even remote possibility that the legislation will improve something, they will take it.

It is easier for the moderates to say "no" and ruin the whole process than it is to do so for the progressives. Thus progressives can be discounted and shunned, and publicly berated, if needed, to bring them back into the fold, or at least to shut them up (and/or minimize their influence).

If Obama tried a similar approach with the moderates, they may just get offended and dig in their heels, thwarting his "momentous and historic reform."

Bottom line: progressives don't matter much. They serve a purpose as useful idiots during the campaign (buying that whole hope and change spiel), but when push comes to shove, they are discarded and their influences minimized in order to appease the special interests and the moderates.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: In that respect, true conservatives and progressives have a lot in common.It just seems to me that Republicans take more risks with conservatives -- at least in the past -- than Democrats do with liberals.

Mel said...

Clearly, the administration cut deals ahead of time that put it more closely aligned with the "moderates/corporatists" than anyone else.

Clearly, he is a politician and no matter how great at it he is, he doesn't have the ability (perhaps not even the will or imagination) to remove the corporate noose.

As ticked as I am, blaming him for caving to Lieberman and his kind without blaming us for putting schmucks like Lieberman into office is a bit unfair. If I were him, I'd probably be irritated with that, maybe even irritated enough to call critics insane.

Finally, there is this. Most criticism is in some degree projection. We usually criticize most harshly the things in others that we secretly hate or are insecure about ourselves.

It may be that the whole Obama admin was cynical and slippery all along. It may be that they are compromising their own principles so much that they are starting to project their own self-anger/disappointment outward. Or maybe they just don't like that the left is pointing out their hypocrisy. Falls from grace hurt like hell. Probably a bit of everything.

Just some thoughts.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hey, Mel. Interesting analysis! Maybe "thou doest protest too much" adds some insight.

PS: I never liked Lieberman!

Mel said...

Thanks. I never liked Lieberman either. I knew Gore lost the election when Lieberman debated Cheney and made Cheney look great. What was Gore thinking!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

That was a horrible debate. Neither one of them said anything useful, and Lieberman acted like Cheney was his fiance.

Aspasia said...

Pretty much everything LETICIA and Elizabeth said!

Adding my own $0.02: Obama and the Dems (as well as their GOP colleagues) know that voters still cast ballots according to the alphabet. "Oh, this candidate as 'D' after their name. Better vote for them!" Regardless of the fact that said candidate is no better for them than the one with the 'R' and heaven forbid they strike out and vote for someone with 'I' or 'G' or other third-party initial that may serve them better than 'D' or 'R' ever could.

Happy New Year, Darren!

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