Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Till the End of the Age

Steve Kornacki at Salon briefly dared to tone down his adulation of President Obama after the debt deal, but he can't quite let go of it. Today, for example:
If there was ever a chance that there'd be a follow-up to the now clearly inadequate stimulus that Obama pushed through Congress at the start of his presidency, it vanished for good (or at least through the 2012 election) last November, when the GOP reclaimed the House and increased its share of the Senate. We knew then that the scale of collaboration between the president and the 112th Congress would probably be limited, at best.
It depends on who "we" are, I guess. There has been plenty of collaboration between Obama and Congress in this session, in the form of Obama collaborating with the Republicans. The stimulus bill was "clearly inadequate" when it was passed, and we who pointed that out were not surprised to see Obama scaling up his concessions to the Right as his term went on. (Of course, we who noticed such things, the premature anti-collaborationists as it were, were and are taken seriously only as "professional leftists" who didn't want to President Obama to succeed. Which was true, if success is to be measured in terms of enacting the Republican Right's agenda, as it has proved to be.)

Kornacki continues:
Five dozen districts that voted for Obama in '08 are now represented by Republicans. If Democrats can pick off half of them in '12, and keep their losses to a minimum elsewhere, they'll be in position to win back the House -- making it possible for Obama to enjoy a productive relationship with Congress again.
Wait a minute. That "productive relationship with Congress" gave us that "clearly inadequate" stimulus bill, the corporate-subsidy Affordable Health Care Act, and an ongoing failure to keep the progressive-sounding promises Obama had made during his campaign, because the nasty partisan Republicans wouldn't cooperate with the President. Obama and his apologists were big on excuses for their failures when they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House; I don't believe their situation is going to be as advantageous after November 2012 as it was after November 2008, but even if they did, would it make any difference? If they couldn't -- or wouldn't -- do better then, they won't be able to do better after the next election.
Realistically, this may be the best case scenario for Obama and his supporters -- gut it out for the next 15 months, eke out a small but impressive-seeming win, then hope the Republicans of the 113th Congress decide its in their interests to be just a little bit more open to collaboration.
For the rest of us, a President a little bit less open to collaboration would be better, but that's not a best-case scenario, it's an impossible dream.