Bow Down Before the One You Serve

You don’t see President Obama publicly lose his famous cool, but there was no mistaking his anger at the stinging defeat handed to him and the majority of the public who wanted to see even a watered down bill mandating stronger background checks for guns.    Unfortunately, 46 Senators chose to heed the call of their NRA masters over preventing more Newtown, Aurora and Tuscon shooting sprees.

And Obama was appropriately pissed off about it.

“Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders not just to honor the memory of their children but to protect the lives of all of our children,” the president said,  A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it.”

“All in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,”  a frustrated Obama said.

Among those shameful cowards were four gutless wonders laughingly called Democrats, all from conservative red states and three up for reelection next year.   The Senate voted 54-46 to scrap a proposal by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), that was both modest and somewhat watered down, but even that was too much for the gun lobby.   They pulled the chain and four Democrats (Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich and Heidi Heitkamp) side with the majority of Republicans to send the bill down to defeat.   This was a tough vote for Democrats running for reelection in conservatives states, but Sen. Kay Hagen and Sen. Mary Landrieu found a way to get behind the Manchin-Toomey compromise.

Trying to do something in a do-nothing Congress.
Trying to do something in a do-nothing Congress.

Even if the four Democrats found the balls to join with the president and their party, the vote would have still fallen short by two votes of the margin needed to get to the stupid 60-vote super majority necessary to pass it.    But the defection of the four Democrats still stung.

I placed calls to five of the U.S. Senators who bowed down to their NRA masters and stood against the will of the American people by opposing gun background checks.

Senator Portman’s office (R-OH) took my call and so did Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, one of the four Democrats that voted with the GOP. Senators Max Baucus and Mark Beigich’s phone lines were either jammed or their voice mails full. I left a message for Sen. Mark Pryor expressing my disappointment and disgust. All three are up for reelection in 2014 and not a one of them will see a dime from me in campaign contributions.

Profiles in Cowardice
Profiles in Cowardice

Collectively,  all four of them  can go to hell but first they can fail next year in their reelection bids.   What’s that you say?   Am I going to support Republicans over Democrats in 2014.   Highly unlikely.  I would  simply prefer to have these cowards  go down in  flames.  I would rather have a Republican I know I can’t trust than a cowardly Democrat with no spine, no heart and no balls.

I will only make my campaign contributions directly to the campaigns of the candidate.   The DSCC can go screw and when they ask me why Baucus, Begich and Pryor are dead to me i won’t hesitate to tell them my reasons.

I would prefer to deal with a real Republican than a fake Democrat.  I will not compromise my principles any longer for the sake of political expediency or misplaced party loyalty.   When it serves their purposes the Democrats use fear of Republican extremism as a scare tactic for ignoring the wishes of their constituents.   While I’m lining up asses to kick, I can’t forget most useless politician in Washington,  the craven Harry Reid,  who rejected the opportunity for filibuster reform out of a deluded sense of Senate congeniality.  Yeah, Harry,  weak and wimpy Democrats in Name Only like you do not deserve my support  either.

They won’t get it any longer. The Democratic Party is simply a vehicle for liberalism. It is not liberalism and we need all to get over the notion liberalism lives and dies based on the fortunes of the Democratic Party.

As for Heidi Heitkamp, I  invite her to go ahead and cross the aisle and caucus with Ted Cruz if she’s going to vote with him.

There is a lesson to be learned here and it’s that the fear of defeat moves more votes than the courage to do the right thing and most senators are more cautious than they are brave.   This should remind the Left what they shouldn’t forget:  The Democrats Need Liberals More Than Liberals Need the Democrats.    What Baucus, Begich, Pryor and Heitkamp  understand is fear and they need to have the fear of God put into their empty little hearts.

When the DINOs fear their own constituents more than the lobbies and possible challengers that’s when they will really start voting to protect their interests.    We are not at the day yet.

Boosting Barack: Yeah, They Built That.

Game recognizes Game.

Going into their convention, Democrats had a disadvantage the Republicans did not.   The GOP base is fired up to vote against Obama.  The Democrats need to get theirs fired up to vote for Obama.    The advantage Democrats have  is it is easier to get people to vote for someone than against them.   But too much of the Democratic base hasn’t been engaged thus far in the president’s reelection and that could imperil it.

Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton delivered show-stopping speeches to set it up for  President Obama to make the case  he deserves four more years.   The speculation was which Clinton would show up in Charlotte.  Would it be Bad Bill looking to stick a shiv in the back of the guy who blocked his wife’s bid for his old job or Good Bill rallying the faithful to help Obama join him and Harry Truman as the only  Democratic incumbents to win a second term since FDR?

It  took 48 minutes for him to say it,  but Clinton left no doubt he’s all in with Team Obama and squash any speculation he wasn’t.   Obama and Clinton have had a prickly relationship, but with his ringing endorsement of the embattled president and shredding of the Republicans,  Clinton is poised to become a significant asset to Obama’s campaign.

Michelle Obama’s job was tougher than the one Clinton had.  He had to say the things about the opposition in the way a former president can that a current one can’t.   Bill had to draw the distinctions between Obama and the Republicans.   Michelle had to reach out to disillusioned and disappointed Democrats to remind them, yes, there is are good reasons to show up and vote for her husband.

The Big Dog and the First Mom share a moment.

More than a few amateur psychologists such as D’nesh D’Souza have attempted to put the president on the couch trying to figure out why he hates America so much.  He doesn’t, but they are too full of hate for him to realize it.   With the First Lady, they can’t question her “Americaness” so they hit on her as being “angry.”   The go-to move for right-wingers too lazy or too stupid (or both) to understand the Obamas is to write him off as uppity and her as angry.

Stereotyping Michelle is a way to minimize her intellect and beauty.  She has been hammered by her critics as snobbish, materialistic, bossy and nosing into the dietary habits of American’s children.   It’s amazing how low they will go not to take Michelle seriously.   She has more grace, charm and smarts in one finger than most of the haters do in their entire flabby bodies.

She is also thought of as being the true liberal in the marriage or at least more than her husband.  That’s a sentiment shared by Salon’s Joan Walsh:

 There are Democrats who believe Michelle Obama carries the torch for liberalism, and reminds her husband what he came to Washington to do, when his Beltway advisers may be telling him something different. Tuesday night she spoke to those Democrats, who may not be as enthusiastic or optimistic as they were in 2008. She told them she loves her husband even more than she did four years ago, because of all that he’s done for the country – and maybe helped them to love him a little more, too.

All the professional and amateur “fact-checkers” will comb through every last word of their speeches looking for exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies of a Paul Ryan level, but a fact is not the same as the truth and what Michelle Obama  said about character and what Bill Clinton said about the economy Obama inherited was the gospel truth.

The First Lady said, “I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.”

President Clinton said“President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.

Today is the last night of the Democratic National Convention with Joe Biden and Obama himself ringing down the curtain with perhaps the two most important speeches of their political lives.  What they say doesn’t have to be as good as what Bill and Michelle said,  but it would go a long ways to waking up the base if it’s every bit as good

If the Democrats don’t come out of their convention energized and mobilized to send Mitt back to one of his six homes it won’t be because the Big Dog and the First Lady didn’t do their part.

Motivation?  Yeah.  They built that.

The First Lady killed in Charlotte.

Does Nancy Pelosi Get It That She Lost It?

Not simply repudiated, but rejected.

Forget for a minute about how terrible the election results were for President Obama.  Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi taking more heat for the way Democrats got hammered?

Pelosi won reelection with 80 percent of the vote so she can stay in Congress as long as she wants to, but I can’t think of a single reason why she should stay in a leadership role after the debacle she  presided over.   If the election results were seen as a repudiation of the President, they were a total rejection of Speaker Pelosi.

Just like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich, Pelosi has become a left-wing liability and an easy target for right-wing media, a punching bag for Republicans and an anchor around the necks of Democrats. Here in light blue turned blood-red Ohio she was  as popular as the Michigan Wolverines.   Every Democrat that won election riding Barack Obama’s coattails in ’08 was turned out in 2010. I had to keep my remote nearby so I could click away from yet another in an endless series of commercials of a hapless “Nancy Pelosi Democrat’ being pummeled as her stooge.

Now after presiding over the worst slaughter a majority party has suffered since 1948 and losing over 60 seats, Pelosi is supposed to be the field general who will rally Democrats after a crushing defeat? How? General Patton she ain’t.

While she wasn’t a terrible Speaker of the House, Pelosi clearly underestimated the range of dissatisfaction the electorate had with Democrats and she was a liability, not an asset to most of her caucus.

I’m not crying over all the Blue Dog Democrats that got put to sleep, but losing that many moderate-to-conservative Democrats leaves a more liberal and more isolated minority in the wake of the Republican wave.    Rightly or wrongly, Pelosi’s highly partisan and bitterly divided House is extremely unpopular with voters and will be blamed by defeated Democrats as contributing to their defeat.

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner will have to ramrod an incoming class of Republican freshmen smelling strongly of tea and in no mood to give an inch to Pelosi or President Obama. Boehner may have the toughest job in Washington trying to get his extremely ideological majority not to overplay their hand and toss the Democrats a road map back to power.

Pelosi’s high negatives as all that’s wrong about “San Francisco values” remains a problem Democrats cannot solve with her in a prominent leadership role. Pelosi may believe Boehner is only keeping her seat warm for the next two years, but while it might be better for her ego to hope this is merely a temporary reversal of fortune, stepping aside so she could be replaced by the blander, but less ideological Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn might be better for her party.

"I have not yet begun to fight." Um. Okay.


Pelosi’s refusal to step aside is her way of saying she’s not going to go the Sarah Palin route and quit.   By staying Pelosi is making it clear she wants to fight for her political legacy even if many Democrats wish she would just go away quietly.

I personally have a lot of admiration for Pelosi’s iron-clad commitment to her liberal values.   Unlike Obama, she’s a true believer and an unwavering champion to the causes she believes in.   But she is also rigidly ideological and treated the Republican minority with barely concealed contempt when she wasn’t ignoring them completely.    No doubt Boehner and company will return the favor tenfold.

To paraphrase the president’s well-worn phrase he used on the campaign trail this year, Nancy Pelosi drove the Democrats into a ditch. Now she wants to be the one to pull them out?  As he ponders what the Republican rout of Pelosi’s Democratic majority means to his reelection hopes, President Obama has praised Pelosi, but you have to wonder if he really wants her hanging around making a tough job even tougher.   She needs to hand the keys over to somebody else. Probably anybody not named Nancy Pelosi.

Ice Cream for Everyone!

"Howzabout some vanilla chocolate, Mr. President?"

With Election Day rapidly approaching there are some small encouraging signs the Democrats only look dead.   They have a pulse and a chance—however small–of retaining their Congressional majority in the Senate, though the House of Representatives looks likely to fall to the Republicans. 

The Republicans came up with the Pledge to America, something of a “Contract With America-Light.”  It’s full of the standard GOP boilerplate about defending the country, cutting taxes and screwing Obama and the Democrats at every turn.   At the center of the Pledge’s tiny little heart is a plan to cut $100 billion from the federal budget next year. examined the fine print in the Pledge and suggests the only way to meet their goals means Republicans will slash-and-burn their way through domestic discretionary spending.   Naturally, the GOP has declared any cutting of military spending is off-limits and so are the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare (old people like those programs and they vote).   The feds are required to make payments on the national debt so that can’t be touched either.   All that’s left for the Republicans to go after in the $3.6 trillion federal budget is the less than $500 billion discretionary spending.  

If they make good on their plan, federal programs such as Pell Grants, education, Head Start, medical research by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health and money for local law enforcement through Justice Assistance Grants will be targeted by Rep. Paul Ryan, who likely would become chairman of the Budget Committee in a Republican-led House. 

“That’s where you get the savings,” Ryan told 

You can’t fault the Republicans for…well, acting like Republicans. Making sure the wealthy get their tax cuts and serving the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce and Corporate America is what they do.  Repubs present themselves as the party that hates government, but really what they hate is government that doesn’t favor their pet programs and special interest groups like all those defense contractors based in Southern states.  Then they like government just fine.

But at least the Republicans are somewhat upfront with their bullshit.   What are Democrats promising they will do if they stay in control?    Are they going to refine and improve national healthcare?   Push cap-and-trade and environmental protections?   Move on immigration reform?

Republicans are feeling cocky because their base of voters are fired up and enthusiastic.  Democrats are having trouble getting their supports to show any sense of urgency.   A poll this week revealed Hispanics overwhelmingly favor Democrats, but aren’t likely to turn out in November.   Similar sentiments are expressed by young and Black voters; two groups Democrats desperately need to turn out.

If the Democrats really want to win, they need to offer their supporters an enticement.   Screaming at liberals to get fired up isn’t going to get it done.\

The Ice Cream for Everybody plan will.

Look, people respond to positive reinforcement.  Promise them something good will be theirs and they’ll love you.  Trying to scare them with doom and gloom about what the other side will do if they take over won’t work.  People are more likely to cast their votes for you when they are fired up about what you’re offering them.

Everybody likes ice cream.  Kids eat their veggies when they know there’s a sweet treat waiting for  them.  Even those who don’t like ice cream like positive reinforcement.   We already know what the Republicans want to do:  repeal major parts of healthcare reform, make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent and grease the wheels in 2012 for a Sarah Palin presidency by making Obama’s life miserable.  

What is the downside to offering liberals, progressives, labor unions, women, and minorities a reason to come out and vote instead of staying home cost Obama and the Dems?   What’s wrong with standing up for a woman’s right to a legal and safe abortion?   Take a hard line against Arizona’s heavy-handed immigration laws.  Challenge the Republicans by making them choose if they’re going to stand with the big banks or the middle class by calling for a national moratorium on home foreclosures.  

Announce a definitive date to wind down the decade-long war in Afghanistan and stick by it.  Hammer Republicans for cozying up to the extremist elements of the Tea Party and embracing their extremist, far-right rhetoric and policies.  Boast a bit about what’s been accomplished and give voters a reason to believe there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.

In sports the cliché is “Go Big or Go Home.”   That’s the choice facing the Democrats.  Or they can just offer some ice cream to their presently dissatisfied and disinterested base. 

Come on guys.  It’s not too late. Stop berating your base and give them a treat.   And a reason to keep you in power instead of early retirement. 

"I'm your ice cream man..."

Democrats stagger while Republicans swagger.

Will Pelosi still be applauding in November?

The Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer and the might as well be official start of the fall political campaigns.  All signs are pointing to this November being very cruel to Democratic prospects of retaining control of Congress and statehouses across the country.

There’s one hard and fast rule to the game of politics and that’s don’t play if you can’t stand losing. Sooner or later you’re going to and at times badly.  This feels like one of those times.  All the polls say it.  All the experts are predicting it.  The things that could save the Democrats, falling unemployment and an improving economy aren’t happening.

The Democrats are going down in November.  I know it, they know it and the Republicans definitely know it. The only question is how hard and far the fall will be and if it translates into control of possibly 30 governorships and both houses of Congress.   Barring some serious shifts in the prevailing trends, things are not going to get a lot better for Democrats than they are now (and right now things look pretty lousy).

But even in the bleakness of the impending carnage for the Dems there’s a possible upside.   I vote Democratic out of neccessity but I’m not particularly in love  with these particular Democrats.  Too many of them are too moderate, too cautious and too beholding to corporations and special interests.   If the Dems crash and burn as they seem to be on the verge of doing  what might crawl from the wreckage is a more vigorous and committed Democratic Party.   I would gladly lose control of the House and the Senate if it  means getting rid of some of these  cowardly “Blue Dog Democrats.”   These  Republicans in Democratic drag  are largely  responsible for the watering down of healthcare reform.   Purging the party of these gutless sell-outs  is a trade-off I heartily endorse.

41 reasons to vote Republican

If the GOP does as well as projected, I’m looking forward to giving my conservative colleagues a hearty “congratulations” and “welcome back” to the business of actually participating in the legislative process instead of obstructing it and trying to screw President Obama at every turn.

Not that I expect anything good to come from more Republicans and less Democrats than even more gridlock.  The Republicans have made it clear once in power they intend to launch a series of investigations against the Obama Administration.   It’s going to be ugly,  but at least the GOP loses the “Hey, we’re out of power. Don’t blame us” excuse.

The Tea Party, even if they are successful in getting some of their candidates elected to Congress,  look to be  less like barbarians at the gate trying to shake up the status quo than simply an even more conservative breed of Republican trying to join the status quo.  I think there is very little hope that once elected they too won’t be successfully sucked into the sphere of influence of the only permanent power center in the Beltway, the K Street lobbyists.

As the Tea Party demands ideological purity from  the Republicans it also drags them further from the middle ground to the extreme.  It’s already cost the GOP two incumbent senators (Robert Bennett in Utah and Sarah Palin’s nemesis, Lisa Murkowski in Alaska) and forced  several supposed “moderates” such as John McCain to tack to the Right to survive a primary fight to keep his seat.  McCain, hoping for a repeat of 1996, has suggested the GOP needs a second Contract On…(sorry, Freudian slip)…With America.

This close to the election, there’s no time to come up with one and as far as the GOP is concerned, not much a need to start getting specific about what exactly it is they will do differently once they’re back in control.

Oh sure, we’ll see renewed efforts in making the Bush tax cuts made permanent and maybe even some attempts at rolling back parts of health care reform, but the best thing the Republicans have going for them (and maybe the only thing) is they aren’t Democrats.

If things play out the way our friends in the GOP and Tea Party expect they will in November, we will see if they have anything in mind beyond witch hunts, score settling and turning the clock backward. If that’s all they have on the agenda (and I think it is), I can’t think of what would better re-energize Democrats and turn off independents than a sharp and hard right turn with the intention of greasing the skids for a President Palin in 2012.

The Dems are on their way to a humbling in the fall or a major blood-letting, but they could be on their way to returning to relevance if the Republicans overreach. The unpopularity of the Democrats shouldn’t be confused as a rekindled romance with the Republican Party. 2010 looks like a vote against one group of politicians and not for another.

The best hope Democrats have for a rebound in 2012 could be the Republicans reminding voters why they threw them out in the first place.   The political winds that appear to be blowing the Dems out of power could just as easily shift and blow them back in if the Republicans expend their energies in bedeviling Obama instead of solving problems.

The Boner smells Democratic blood.

The Domino Pizza Theory

What, me worry?

Another day and another poll full of nothing but bad news for President Obama:

Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.

Pardon me if I’m not pulling my hair out and running around screaming in a panic.   Barry’s poll ratings are in the toilet, the Democrats are gonna get slaughtered in the fall.  Oh golly.  Oh gee. Oh gosh.  Whatever will we do and what will become of us?

As far as things go on a cosmic scale, this ain’t worth a fart in a tornado.

This is the Domino’s Pizza theory of politics: we want it within 30 minutes or Barack Obama is a failure.

We can sit back and suffer as gays gripe, minorities mope, pro-choicers pout and every other special interest group complains about Obama not delivering the change they voted for. At least we know the Republicans are going to continue to be against everything. They’re nothing if not consistent.

If anyone was foolish enough to believe any politician, even one as charismatic and smart as Obama was going to walk into the White House and turn every day into Christmas they deserve their present disappointment.  I said it before, but it bears repeating:  Barack Obama is not your Santa Claus.

Polls in the summer of 2010 may not bode well for Democratic dominance of the House and Senate, but as outliers for Obama’s reelection possibilities they are as useful as a wet Kleenex. Obama still has another two years left on the job despite all the bitching as if the election were next month.

No buyer’s remorse here. I knew what I was voting for in 2008 and it wasn’t a magician who was going to entertain me by pulling rabbits out of his hat or ass. What I believe is happening here is expectations wilting in the summer heat  relentlessness of reality.

“Why can’t President Obama stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Why can’t he get the Israelis and Palestinians to stop squabbling and make peace? Why can’t he get the Europeans to contribute more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan? Why can’t he forge a global treaty to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses? Why can’t he…well, you get the point. Obama, it turns out is not Superman. In (unhappy) truth, no president is, no matter how politically gifted and no matter how many people, in this country and around the world, root for his success.”

~ Paul Starobin in The Washington Post

People keep wanting Obama to be what THEY project him to be: saint, savior, super-hero.  He’s simply a politician.  A talented and brilliant one, but a politician nevertheless and one who walked into office with more messes to clean up than any President has in my lifetime.

Make no mistake: they are Obama’s messes to clean up, but he needs more time to do so than the typical man in the street is willing to give him.   I’m sure the president is concerned about the restlessness of the nation, but panic?   Not much point in that.  He doesn’t even know if his opponent in 2012 is going to be named Romney, Palin, Jindal, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Barbour or Snooki.

Obama still has over two years to deliver on the hope and change.   If he does, these polls will be seen as what they are: a mood and moods change.   If he doesn’t then he loses.  It’s really that simple.   It’s politics and Obama is a politician.  Not a miracle worker.

If enough voters aren’t feeling  the love, there will be no shortage of Republicans willing to vie for their affection.   We will see if they come up with better ingredients or it’s just the same old right-wing swill in a newly designed box.

We want our pizza and we want it now.   No matter how unreasonable the demand might be.

Obama caught setting a bad example for the kids.

The Democrats should ask, “What would Paul Wellstone do?”

"If we don't fight hard for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we really don't stand for them." Paul Wellstone

As the House of Representatives stands ready to FINALLY vote on healthcare (or maybe not vote depending on which parliamentary trick Nancy Pelosi plays),  Republicans and the vast right-wing are howling like raped pigs, there’s really no reason to pump ya fist if you’re a Democrat.

Come November there will be fewer Democrats in Washington than there are now.  It won’t be because the GOP  came up with any better ideas.   In non-presidential election years, the party in power usually takes it on the chin.   This year appears to be no different for the Dems.  But because of their own ineffectiveness they have brought much of the pain upon themselves.  Estimates vary about how much blood will be spilled,  but nobody is predicting Democrats will gain seats in the fall.  The question is will Harry Reid win his reelection bid and stay Senate Majority Leader (doubtful) and will the Dems lose control of the Senate and House?

If they do that might not entirely be a bad thing.     Passing healthcare reform will cost the Democrats dearly.   Not passing healthcare reform will cost them even more.   In this time where courage is in short supply they need a Paul Wellstone.   And they don’t have one.

The late Paul Wellstone, the liberal lion who died in a plane crash once said, “I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”   There are too many Democrats in Washington who don’t.   When he’s not on one of his bipartisan kicks, I think President Obama belongs in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

But as far as  Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Bart Stupak, and the other cowards that make up the bulk of the Blue Dog Democrats I have my doubts.   The only thing these guys seem interested in is covering their own asses and making sure they get reelected.     The strength of the Democratic Party is its diversity and it is truly a national party with a variety of perspectives.  Unfortunately on major issues  we’ve witnessed the party break up into Balkanized factions that have little in common.

Given a choice between a weak Democrat who’s with the president sometimes and a committed Republican who you know is against his policies all the time, I’d rather have the Republican.   Better to know who your enemy is than to wonder who your friends are.   I’m willing to live with the Democrats out of power if that means getting rid of the DINO’s (Democrats In Name Only) and replacing them with real ones who aren’t trying to be Republican Lite.

The Republicans will make healthcare reform their number one campaign issue against the Democrats.   They believe allowing people to suffer and go without medical treatment and medicine is a winning issue with voters.   At least with their voters who presumably are all in perfect health and never will lose their jobs or coverage.

Well, what of it?  I would rather support a representative, senator, governor or president that stands up for what’s right than a bunch of cowardly chickenshits who only do what’s easy and politically expedient.   The Democratic and Republican parties are already almost subsidiaries of Corporate America and real, systemic reform is darn near impossible to get without spilling blood in the street.   There was a slim chance healthcare reform would include the public option, but single payer was never seriously considered.   Obama, Pelosi, and Harry Reid knew even with a Democratic majority there was never the courage to push for either.

It may cost the president and his party in November if a number of Democrats go down to defeat, but deeds have consequences.  There are a lot of voters just like me who voted with enthusiasm for them in 2008 whom have been left disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted by how badly they have screwed up getting healthcare reform passed into law.

McCain, McConnell, Boehner: Keeping your enemies too close?

The Democrats had exactly three things they needed to carry out before the elections:  stop the economy from collapsing, pass healthcare reform and get Americans back to work.  One out of three is not good enough.

Whatever I was expecting from the Democrats was not the timid and weak way they have exercised the mandate they were given.   Nor did I expect the president to squander his momentum wasting time in the futile pursuit of cooperation from the untrustworthy likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.   What was Obama expecting from people who screamed “You lie!”  and predicted if they could stop the president on healthcare it would be his “Waterloo?”    You can’t work with people dedicated to ensuring you fail.

When Ted Kennedy died a lot of the momentum behind the reform effort died with him.   It doesn’t have to be buried with Kennedy too.  Let the Republicans, tea party cranks and Fox News bitch and whine.   Shut out the noise and get about the business of trying to make the nation a little bit better than it was when the Republicans were in power.

Wellstone, like Obama, was a community organizer and knew how tough it is to wage a grassroots fight against entrenched, powerful interests and their minions all too happy to defend a corrupt and ineffective status quo.    This is the moment for Obama and his party to stand up for principle and run on their record or stand down and go down in bitter defeat.   It’s their call to make.  Too many people fall through the cracks the Republicans are ignoring and need the help healthcare reform can offer.  But there is no Kennedy or Wellstone alive to prod, push or shame their colleagues into doing the right thing.  They’ll have to find the guts to do it all by themselves.

Wellstone cautioned,  “A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people’s lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail.”

Being weak, indecisive and unable to pull themselves together put the Democrats into this situation where they could win and lose at the same time.   They could have gotten healthcare done months ago when they had the momentum and the support of the public.   They didn’t and now they have neither.   Too bad.

Now it’s up to Obama and the Democrats.   Upon their own heads so be it.

The President's moment of truth is coming.

Charlie and the Corruption Culture.

Charlie, you got some 'splainin to do."

“I really don’t believe making mistakes means you have to give up your career.”   ~ Charles Rangel, 2008

Maybe guys like Charles Rangel start with the belief that they’re going to go to Washington as an a reformer, clean up how Congress works and not succumb to the temptations of life in the Beltway.  But anyone who holds power for 40 years is no longer a reformer.  They have become the monster they came to Washington to slay.

This week, Rangel,  the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee “temporarily” stepped down after a House ethics panel found he broke House gift rules by accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean.    Rangel hasn’t been charged with any crime and says he’s not going to resign from Congress (does any politician say they’re going to quit before they have to?) , but with voters already in an ugly, anti-incumbent mood, Rangel  becomes the poster boy for the Republicans who got hammered by the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 for their own corrupt Congresscritters.

Charlie cops some zzzz's at his Dominican Republic villa.

Every Democrat up for reelection that has even been photographed with Rangel, served on the committee with him or talked to him should expect to see themselves in an 60-second attack ad.    What makes it even more delicious is the Republicans don’t even have to lie.   Rangel’s ethical lapses include using a rent-controlled apartment in New York as a campaign office, not reporting income on tax forms and channeling favorable treatment for the Charles B. Rangel Center at the City College of New York.  The National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted 71 Democrats who have accepted funds from Rangel’s political committees.

Some commentators have floated the notion that Black politicians such as Rangel and New York Governor David Paterson are being targeted because of their race.   Isn’t it just as likely that Rangel and Paterson are just being scrutinized based on the content of their character instead of the color of their skin?

Black people have overcome to the extent that we’re comfortably entrenched in the halls of power in Congress.   Rangel is hardly some fuzz-faced rookie.  He’s done a lot of good for a lot of people in his four decades in Congress.  Now he’s a liability.   Rangel needs to not just turn in his gavel, but step aside before he morphs from liability to cancer.   We can’t keep looking at racism for the reason Black politicians get a hot spotlight turned on them.    Racism is among the reasons some Black politicians fall flat on their faces, but it’s also an excuse they hide behind.   When a Kwame KilpatrickSheila Dixon or Roland Burris screw up and embarrass themselves, they typically take themselves out with their own self-inflicted wounds and not from some evil conspiracy by “The Man” to take them down.

Democrats can’t wag their fingers in sanctimonious outrage at Republicans and pull a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” to the transgressions of their elected officials.  Voters are willing to forgive anything except hypocrisy and stupidity.    Corruption is both non-partisan and colorblind.

Rangel may not want to resign his seat based upon vague allegations and rumors, but there’s enough smoke to send both him and a lot of other Democrats crashing down in flames.   If he won’t go willingly,  President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to force Rangel out.  That’s a steel cage death match that would bloody all involved participants, but it’s a fight Obama and Pelosi can’t back away from if they have any hopes of maintaining control of the House.

In 2006, the Democrats wrestled control from the Republicans in the House of Representatives by campaigning on a theme of ending the Washington, “culture of corruption.”   They bashed the Republicans for the Jack Abramoff  influence peddling scandal, Mark Foley’s creepy cruising of male Congressional pages, and the  Tom DeLay campaign finance investigation and the public responded by sending Democrats to Washington.

The shoe is firmly on the other foot now.  In 2008, William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat is serving a 13-year sentence for bribery, lost his reelection bid to a Republican, Joseph Cao.  Cao captured a seat held by Democrats since 1890.

Rangel’s seat in Harlem is solidly Democratic, but the Republicans don’t need to beat Rangel to use him to beat other Democrats.   The longer he  hangs on the longer his troubles serve as a drag on the entire party’s November prospects.

Rangel has forgotten more about politics than a hundred political scientists and strategists know.  He’s created an impressive legacy for a successor to match.  Rangel should given them the chance to do so.   He should know it’s time to let go and find the “Exit” sign.

It's all smiles now, but will Obama have to pressure Rangel to quit?