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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Declare victory and go home (II)

One reason progressives can never sustain their agenda is a preference for circular firing squads.

The tax cut compromise negotiated by the White House, to the apparent annoyance of congressional Democrats who failed to take a vote when they held a firmer grip on power, is far from perfect. I've railed as much as anyone about tax breaks for millionaires.

But there is something for everyone in that measure -- from millionaires to those qualifying for the Earned Income Tax Credit to the long-term unemployed who have been removed from hostage status for awhile.

The estate tax has even been reinstated after a year of freebies for the families of the wealthy.

Yet just as during and after passage of historic and long overdue health care reform, my friends on the left are in a snit, threatening to walk away and blow up the agreement. And leave us all with higher taxes, especially those of us in line for payroll tax cuts that can be used to try and stimulate a sluggish economy that needs one more jump start.

Liberals and progressives have a tendency to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, as Barack Obama noted during a news conference:

“So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years,’’ he said. “But because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow was a sign of weakness and compromise.’’

OK, maybe a tad too much self pity, but a reality. Same as this fact of political life:
Obama said if that is the type of standard Democrats expect, “then let’s face it, we will never get anything done.’’
Democrats failed to celebrate their accomplishments in health care, financial reform and stimulus and got a "shellacking." There is good in the deal, even if it is not total victory. Take credit for standing up for the vulnerable who would have gotten bupkis from Mitch McConnell and friends.

It's a basic truism: Democrats govern better than they campaign, while if Republicans
brought half the skill they show in politics to governing we would not be in the GOP-dug hole we're trying to climb out of.

When the going gets tough, Republicans grab talking points and rally around their leaders. Democrats grab verbal rifles and start shooting each other.

Until that changes, Republicans will be able to exploit the disunity and push an agenda that is bad for every one, even while they present it as nectar of the gods.

ADDENDUM: OK, so the Times did some better reporting than the Globe. But my premise holds true that Democrats squandered their opportunity to shape the package before the election and continue to be their own worst enemies.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or you could have had it when Jimmy Carter had total control of government and he was submarined by that icon Ted Kennedy. Or Obama could have closed Quantanamo like he promised. Or maybe some of your lefty progessive ideas just aren't reasonable and practical.

December 08, 2010 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05: Your job is done for the day. You've got your attack in. Just because you don't like the ideas, it doesn't follow that they're unreasonable.

December 08, 2010 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about that Harry Reid sponsored / Chinese wind farm. No better example that both parties don't really care about anything other lining their own and their close friends pockets with our money. Sad, sad, sad.

December 09, 2010 9:12 AM  

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