Why the Win Matters

There were some complaints about Obama not doing enough to sketch out an ambitious second-term agenda.   This didn’t really bother me, because with Republican control of the House an ambitious agenda is moot.   The big legislative achievements of the Obama administration are going to be those of the first term (although I continue to insist that in context they were, in fact, major.)

But this doesn’t mean that the victory — and not just Obama but the Democratic retention of the Senate, which was less likely two years ago — wasn’t important.   The most important of his domestic achievements will now be implemented, and once in place will be nearly impossible to repeal.   (The paradox of health care reform in the United States — that the insured majority are generally happy with their insurance although the system as a whole is dysfunctional and inequitable — works in favor of the PPACA once the exchanges are set up and the ban on exclusions based on pre-existing conditions becomes operative.)     The Ryan budget is DOA.   Ruth Bader Ginsburg can safely retire, and if Scalia and Kennedy is forced out the Court could have a liberalish median vote for the first time  since 1969.  At least, Roe v. Wade is safe.   The judicial branch will, if at too slow a pace, become less dominated by neoconfederates.   The DOJ will continue to fight state-level disenfranchisement.    And so on.   The victories of a second Obama term will largely be defensive and non-legislative — but these count.   And since the incumbent party is likely to be in very good shape in 2016, this matters for more than the next four years.

And the election of Warren and Baldwin is also important.   The Democrats need a larger base of real progressives from the states where they can be elected; there needs to be more Browns and fewer Feinsteins.    Obama can start by taking the hint of Warren’s election and getting someone better as Treasury Secretary.

210 comments on this post.
  1. Craigo:

    Well, immigration reform is not only on the table, is it the table.

  2. Craigo:

    Blech, it is the table.

  3. Steve LaBonne:

    Yeah, what’s the opposite of a poisoned chalice? A honeyed chalice, maybe? That’s what this election is. We’ll have two more years of ignorant BS from the House, but after that the prospects for getting the country moving forward again look very promising. (Well, if we can somehow keep the European banksters and their hired politicians from sinking the world economy, anyway.)

  4. Tnap01:

    Obama can start by taking the hint of Warren’s election and getting someone better as Treasury Secretary.

    Matt Stoller is available but is he willing?

  5. Chatham:

    We should get started on the midterm elections ASAP. I’m hoping that some in the blogosphere take an active role.

  6. Cody:

    Make Paul Krugman do it! HAHAH! Okay, that isn’t going to happen.

    I’m definitely in favor of someone though. Hell, anyone who is a Progressive would be nice. I can do basic math, maybe they’ll pick me?

  7. rea:

    (1) The Senate needs to rid itself of the filibuster and start confirming nominations, particularly to the bench.

    (2)The upcoming struggle with the House leadership over the “fiscal cliff” must be won.

  8. Steve:

    And the issue with Feinstein is?

  9. John:

    She’s much more conservative than Boxer, who has easily won re-election 3 times?

  10. gocart mozart:

    And a real democrat, Chris Murphy, replaces Lieberman.

  11. mpowell:

    I don’t have much to add, but I wanted to say that I definitely agree with most of what’s listed here. It’s not a very inspiring message, but politics is the slow boring of hard boards, right? A big deal in this election was avoiding Republican control of the government, especially since House/Senate/WH were a definite possibility. Gaining a house majority in the mid terms will be really tough. It’s just a statement about the current state of the American voters, not necessarily in their policy preference, but definitely in their voting tendencies, that we are close to what is possible as far as progressive legislation goes. The next best opportunity for significant positive legislative action will probably be in 2016. As long as the fed keeps things on track, I think the US economy will do well going forward even if the Europeans shoot themselves in the foot and the longer term economic costs of oil dependency and climate change will not show up in the US for at least more than 4 years. As a result, the Dems should have a favorable political environment for holding all 3 branches in 2016. There’s also the matter that the current gerrymandering of the house (which heavily favors Republicans currently) will have become less effective by then as demographics shift the balance of various districts in unpredictable ways.

    There’s also just the point that as the Republican party becomes more extreme, the risk of a slide into outright fascism is reduced with each national Democratic victory. The tail risk, politically, is all on the far right of the spectrum.

  12. ploeg:

    Apparently filibuster reform was a big issue for Angus King (I-ME). We might see some movement on this.

  13. Craigo:

    Yah, those would be nice. Has anyone called Harry Reid’s office and asked “So ow about that filibuster you supposedly hate?”

  14. John:

    Didn’t the court have at least a liberalish median vote until 1981?

    In 1974, for instance, you have something like:


    Stewart wasn’t a liberal, certainly, but someone with his views would definitely be a liberal on the current court.

  15. Jameson Quinn:

    Hawkish, surveillance-happy, in the pocket of telecoms, israel-baiter. Fairly good on environment, abortion, gay rights.

  16. Anon21:

    Lieberman –> Murphy also a big win for the liberal wing of the Senate Dem caucus. So too Snowe –> King.

    Filibuster reform is going to be key, though. Given the situation, I’d be thrilled if they could get half-a-loaf rules restricting (hard time limit? lower cloture threshold?) filibusters on nominations.

    Since there will be a comparative paucity of legislative policy getting done over the next two years, I hope the White House Counsel’s office can completely clear the backlog of vacant federal judgeships by 2014.

  17. Craigo:

    Remember in 2004 when Boxer was a conservative cause célèbre? Do they only have enough attention spam to hate one liberal California woman at a time?

  18. Richard:

    Feinstein is also much more popular than Boxer as demonstrated by her margins of victory in each election. She won yesterday by over twenty points, the Republicans basically not bothering to put up a candidate with a chance of making a respectable showing.

  19. Craigo:

    I’d be thrilled with those too – but not as an opening gambit. Please, please say top Dems have learned their lesson on basic negotiation strategy.

  20. J.W. Hamner:

    The last point is pretty key… Dems didn’t pick up many Senate seats but still managed to move the mean vote leftward. Hopefully, as mentioned above, Reid moves forward with gutting the filibuster to make it a relevant legislative body again.

  21. tonycpsu:

    I thought Reid’s position was that he still wanted to keep the filibuster but wanted some “rule changes” so the filibuster would “mean something.” Sounds like he’s going after the painless cloture rules to actually force the filibusterers (heh) to debate.

    I would strongly prefer elimination of the filibuster, but Reid’s probably thinking the Democrats will be in the minority some day and they’ll want to use it.

    Would be nice to get Obama on record supporting filibuster reform instead of talking about TEH DEFICIT and the fiscal cliff.

  22. Craigo:

    By the way, King is playing coy about which caucus. Guess he wants someone to buy him dinner before he puts out.

  23. Jameson Quinn:

    Don’t forget the state-level supermajority in CA, and the other state pickups. On climate change, that could be more important than federal stuff in the short term. It could even pave the way for single-payer in some states.

  24. Wido Incognitus:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg can safely retire, and if Scalia and Kennedy is forced out the Court could have a liberalish median vote for the first time since 1969.

    The proud stupidity of the Supreme Court from Shelley v. Kramer to Roe v. Wade is the best reason to vote for the Republicans (although it is outweighed by many other reasons to vote for the Democrats).

  25. Richard:

    Can someone explain the current situation in Florida to me. Its showing that 100% of the votes have been counted and Obama is up by 50,000 yet no one is giving the electoral votes to the President. What else needs to be counted?

  26. Holden Pattern:

    Right, which says perhaps 10 percent of that 20 percent is wasted on Feinstein, who is a reliable Dem as long as the Dems are toeing a corporatist and militarist line.

  27. Reasonable 4ce:

    Registered Democrat (TM) Lanny Davis on Fox Noise two hours ago: “President Obama needs to be humble.”

  28. Holden Pattern:

    This is so stupid that it’s not even wrong.

  29. Holden Pattern:

    That will be the Village Consensus. Also, too, that this was a vote for Simpson-Bowles (the joint recommendation those two idiots made, because again, there is NO COMMISSION REPORT).

  30. somethingblue:

    Okay. “Top Dems have learned their lesson on basic negotiation strategy.”

    Alas, saying it doesn’t make it so.

  31. rea:

    Christ, someone reacts to the election by coming out in favor of racial restrictive covenants.

  32. Reasonable 4ce:

    The Florida absentee ballots still need to be counted.

  33. Craigo:

    100% of the precincts, not votes. Turnout is expected to be up over 2008, yet only 8.2 million or so votes have been counted, compared to over 8.4 m four years ago.

    It’s extraordinarily unlikely that Romney comes back at this point (which means, for yet another year, I have failed to predict all 50 correctly), but nobody’s really in a hurry to find out.

  34. Holden Pattern:

    Er, 10 percent as in HALF of the 20 percent, not 2 percent.

  35. Holden Pattern:

    You funny.

  36. Holden Pattern:

    AND Democrats. WTF?

  37. Craigo:


  38. Craigo:

    Also, Florida’s recount margin is .5%. They’re being extra careful because no one wants to trigger that unnecessarily.

  39. SatanicPanic:

    Boxer was defending her seat in 2010. Midterm elections tend to skew conservative, and again, it was 2010.

  40. Murc:

    It would be NICE to get Obama on-record, but what would the practical effect be? He’s not a Senator anymore.

  41. Richard:

    Still, there is just no question that Feinstein is more popular than Boxer. And their positions on almost every issue, with the exception of the vote for the Iraq war, are identical. Plus Feinstein has been a very effective senator in getting money and such for California while that has not been the case for Boxer.

  42. Richard:

    Anybody have a clue how many votes that is? And why doesn’t the state start counting the absentee ballots as they come in? Does it make any fucking sense to not start that count until after Tuesday?

  43. Craigo:

    Like I said below, it’s at least 200K, maybe more.
    It’s absentees plus provisionals.

    It could be worse, PA doesn’t start counting provisionals until seven days after the election. I have no idea why. We also can’t buy beer and liquor in the same place.

  44. patrick II:

    (Comment also posted at BJ)

    The President and the senate can make appointments without deferring to the republican house. It is an important but underrated task. There are still Bush leftovers screwing with Obama policies in the executive branch. Obama needs to push through both executive and judicial appointments, and some of those appointments should be serious young liberals. Obama should not let Mitch McConnell chase out potentially great appointees like Elizabeth Warren because they would actually be too good at their job. (how did that work out for you, Mitch?).

    It will take a change to the filibuster rule, but Obama should support Harry Reid when he changes the Senate rules to make that body the actual majority vote institution as it was designed to be.

    I will be looking for their attitude towards changing the appointment logjam as a sign of whether Obama really wants to get done the things that can be done.

  45. JKTHs:

    And if Romney won the Village Consensus would be “You are now free to slash social programs to the bone.”

  46. Chatham:

    Good point. The best bet for single-payer right now is at the state level.

  47. parrot:

    George Soros … Must have been a gardenia plantation at one time. All wild and overgrown now, but for about five miles you’d think that heaven just fell on the earth in the form of popped heads of various conservative gasbagging craniums

  48. Sargon:

    Oh my god seriously. Having had to endure Linda McMahon ads on just about every type of media (TV, radio, Facebook ads?!) over the past few months, I am very happy about this one. Also, you know, no more fucking Lieberman.

  49. Murc:

    Am I the only one less than sanguine about 2014 and 2016?

    Typically, parties in the White House only GAIN in the House of Representative midterms under extraordinary circumstances, and the 2014 Senate map is pretty tough for us; all those people who won in 2008 are playing defense.

    And managing the handoff in 2016… it’s incredibly rare to manage that to begin with (twice in the last seventy years, and one of those times involved FDR, you know, dying) and we won’t have an energetic, popular Vice President as an heir apparent. So I’m less than sanguine about THAT as well.

  50. Holden Pattern:

    Of course, the Village is populated by individuals who range in their demographic from rich conservatives to rich wingnuts.

  51. Reasonable 4ce:

    I call it the Press Corpse consensus. That’s more accurately decriptive.

  52. Reasonable 4ce:

    Left the “s” out of descriptive. Sorry.

  53. Ann:

    Abba Eban, Israel’s Foreign Minister during the 1967 Six Day War, said, ” I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.” This is very much what the media demands from Democrats when Democrats win.

  54. parrot:

    some senators caucus easy …

  55. Jesse Levine:

    Before I start my carping, I want to say that the images of the people standing in line to vote for hours on Sunday in Florida and in other states on Tuesday, are by themselves, sufficient reason to have voted for Obama. Now for the carping. We must do everything possible to urge the President not to put Social Security or Medicare on the table in pursuit of a lame duck “Grand Bargain”. Doing nothing until after inauguration is infinitely better.

  56. El Guapo:

    I think Kramer v. Kramer was more stupidly proud. Or was it more proudly stupid?

  57. Craigo:

    As of right now, I’d say that if Hillary runs, she wins. If Dems follow through on immigration reform, Hispanics are going to turn out huge again, and she’ll have a recovered economy at her back.

    2014 – eh, maybe. We said the whole defense thing about the Class of 2006 too.

  58. joe from Lowell:

    Would be nice to get Obama on record supporting filibuster reform instead of talking about TEH DEFICIT and the fiscal cliff.

    So you’re complaint is that Obama is both insufficiently Keynesian (TEH DEFICIT) and that’s he’s too Keynesian (the fiscal cliff).

  59. JKTHs:

    I just call it the Washington Post editorial board.

  60. JKTHs:

    Well wasn’t the story after 2010 that we had entered an “age of austerity” or something like that? Or am I just getting that impression from that being in every Friedman/Brooks/WaPo column?

  61. Craigo:

    And on cue, Harry Reid said he’s committed to reform, but not abolition.

  62. UserGoogol:

    It’s not even really just the comparison with Boxer. If you look at the general relationship between the Democratic tilt of states and the progressiveness of Senators (like, say, this site’s claims) Feinstein seems to underperform.

  63. joe from Lowell:

    That’s what he’s been saying all along. That’s what he said in the July interview that got everyone so excited.

  64. joe from Lowell:

    but Reid’s probably thinking the Democrats will be in the minority some day and they’ll want to use it.

    Reid reads his caucus very well. He’s probably thinking that he has the votes for reform but not elimination.

  65. patrick II:

    I prefer that we don’t have a vice-president that is going to be the next presidential nominee by default. That means a single person — the president — has picked the next democratic nominee for president eight years before the run. I like primaries so someone like the next Obama can step up. If Hillary runs, she will be tough to beat, but she now has Benghazi to justify. And there may be another talent that hasn’t shown his abilities on the national stage.

  66. JKTHs:

    One cool thing is the Democrats gain two seats in the Senate while dropping Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman. That’s like gaining four seats

  67. Craigo:

    I was worried he would back away slowly. Now that we finally have a good shot at chipping away at the damned thing, it seems too good to be true.

  68. rea:

    Given that we don’t have the House, and that the beginning of a Congress is the time to make the change, then a reform this time that enables confirmation of nominees would be quite acceptable. We won’t have to worry about legislation this time around–anything that gets through the House will get through the Senate without filibuster reform.

  69. rea:

    There’s far more room for him on the Democratic side–he won’t want to spend his term voting against doing anything. And he has to caucus with someone if he wants to be on any committees.

  70. Richard:

    I can see the reason for provisionals. They’re waiting to see if any absentee ballots are delayed in the mails but I can’t see the reason for any delay in counting absentees. And I was never able to understand the beer and liquor rule during the year I lived in Pennsylvania.

  71. Craigo:

    Oh yeah, he’ll come around. I just find the charade grating.

  72. rea:

    she now has Benghazi to justify.

    There is no there there.

  73. Eli Rabett:

    Basic strategy is that Reid hauls McConnell into the cloakroom and tells him the entire thing is gone unless all the pending judges and Richard Courdray are approved in the next five minutes. After that show of good faith he and Mitch can have a serious talk

  74. JKTHs:

    He’s a skank

  75. joe from Lowell:

    she now has Benghazi to justify.

    In four years, if Libya plays any role at all in Presidential politics, it will be the entirety of what’s happened there since February 2011, not just that one day in September 2012.

    A dictator toppled, a new democracy born, an allied gained, and in the process, a very bad day. If Libya plays any role in the 2012 election, it will be as a bragging point for Biden and Clinton.

  76. joe from Lowell:

    I want to believe, Eli, but really, that would be a completely empty threat, and McConnell would know it.

    It is very unlikely that Reid has 50 votes for complete elimination.

  77. Reasonable 4ce:

    The other good thing is that the Democrats enlarged their Senate majority even with Bob Kerrey (DINO – Nebraska) losing. What an insufferable concern-trolling douche nozzle he would have been on the Sunday morning talk shows.

  78. joe from Lowell:

    Chipping away seems too good to be true to me, too.

    Although I predict that there will be those who, upon determining that complete elimination isn’t in the cards, will decide that complete elimination is their red line, and anything else a dastardly sellout.

  79. gmack:

    Right, the world’s most useless pundit (Cokie Roberts) said the same thing on NPR this morning; Obama’s victory was EXTREMELY thin, and the country is polarized, and oh yes, he lacks a mandate, so he has to do something reach out RIGHT NOW and soothe these divisions.

  80. Book:

    A chalice from the palace with the brew that is true?

  81. Holden Pattern:

    Don’t worry, that’s part of the permanent war on working people – it will continue.

  82. nixnutz:

    IIRC in 2000 Feinstein had a worse ACLU rating than her Republican challenger Tom Campbell, I don’t know when else that’s been true (although that’s due more to a lack of decent Rs than terrible Dems). In recent years she’s been close to Boxer, except in 2008 when she had a 58%, but historically she’s taken a lot of tough-on-crime stances including her co-sponsorship of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and multiple votes for flag-burning amendments. She’s fairly reliable on other issues but in this area she’s both terrible and seemingly a model for too many other Dems who want to burnish their tough-guy bona fides.

  83. Ed:

    Fairly good on environment, abortion, gay rights.

    Well, she is a Democrat from California. And corporatist Democrats can cover a multitude of sins with more liberal stances on cultural issues and some green talk.

    Feinstein is a more effective Senator than Boxer, however, and she’s smarter.

  84. JKTHs:

    I think (though I don’t know) the complaint is that the solution to the fiscal cliff will be insufficiently Keynesian and all too sufficiently center-right/right.

  85. Jerry Vinokurov:


  86. Ed:

    A dictator toppled, a new democracy born, an allied gained

    Quite the rosy view. Some people elsewhere in the region might disagree, but who cares what they think.

    From an electoral perspective, of course, you may well be right, since voters do seem to be indifferent as long as Americans aren’t in the line of fire. (In the last debate Obama was vigorously channeling his inner Mel Gibson when Libya came up.)

    I hope Biden runs. That’ll be an entertaining campaign.

  87. Joseph Slater:

    Win also matters for federal agency appointments where the agency has a lot of power in interpreting the law, including but not limited to the National Labor Relations Board.

  88. JKTHs:

    The Democrats could learn from 2004 Republicans and just say “MANDATE” as often and loud as possible so the media will get confused and start parroting them.

    Then again that probably only works for the GOP

  89. JKTHs:

    It’s like saying that the USS Cole doomed Kerry

  90. Wapiti:

    I’d like to see the Democrats move their primaries to the off-cycle elections. So the presidential primary would happen with the congress/senate elections in 2014. Whoever wins the primary then has two years to run, and might fill the VP position as well.

  91. JKTHs:

    Yes, forgot to mention that.

  92. joe from Lowell:

    Some people elsewhere in the region might disagree, but who cares what they think.

    Anyone in the region who objects to the rise of democracy in Libya can kiss my ass. Whether we’re talking about Gadhaffi dead-enders or al Qaeda, they are the problem, and the Libyan people’s overthrow of their dictator is the solution.

    I’m a liberal, and as a liberal, I support people toppling dictators and establishing liberal democracy.

    Even if they have the terribly bad taste to earn the sympathy of Americans.

  93. patrick II:

    When was Kerry the secretary of state and responsible for state department security?
    I am a democrat and like Hillary, but not having enough security around our ambassador in a middle east country that was in turmoil was a mistake. There have been worse mistakes — like the entire Bush administration — but it will be brought up if she runs.

  94. Craigo:

    Some of these will be the same people who cherish the filibuster as a powerful progressive weapon, like in that movie I saw with Jimmy Stewart.

  95. Jim Nichols:

    The Democrats need a larger base of real progressives from the states where they can be elected; there needs to be more Browns and fewer Feinsteins.

    Thats why now is the perfect time to bring back the 50-State Strategy!

  96. Cody:

    We also can’t buy beer and liquor in the same place.

    Yes, but who needs liquor when you have Yuengling? Also, I have no clue why we don’t have it in Indiana. I can literally drive 10 minutes to Ohio and buy some though.

  97. "Fair and Balanced" Dave:

    If only that were true. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if “Joementum” continues to show up regularly on Faux News and the Sunday morning bobblehead shows.

  98. Cody:

    Yes, I can’t stand this. Republicans won the 2010 midterm so they got a “mandate to dismantle the welfare state”. Democrats win a very convincing Presidential Election and they get “no mandate, need to do whatever Republicans say!”

    How does this make any kind of sense?

  99. PSP:

    The word that McMahon has spent $100 million during the past two cycles trying to get elected makes me very proud of Connecticut.

  100. Scott Lemieux:

    The Senate needs to rid itself of the filibuster and start confirming nominations, particularly to the bench.

    Oh hell yes.

  101. Cody:

    If the US economy improves faster in the next 2 years, you will see a roaring Democratic turnout. Otherwise, we may be in trouble.

    I, in my unprofessional opinion, believe the economy is on the cusp of a massive surge and will put us in great shape for the 4 years.

  102. Tnap01:

    I take it that McMahon’s “Vote for Obama and me” campaign didn’t work as well as expected?

  103. joe from Lowell:

    The basis of the 50-state strategy was to support Democrats who had a chance of winning in red states. That is, not “real progressives.”

  104. Scott Lemieux:

    It’s important to remember that Reid isn’t a dictator. He can’t produce reforms that don’t have substantial support in the caucus.

  105. DrDick:


  106. Scott Lemieux:

    Some of these will be the same people who cherish the filibuster as a powerful progressive weapon, like in that movie I saw with Jimmy Stewart.

    Sadly, as any relevant thread on this blog will demonstrate, they exist. The filibuster was absolutely crucial to stopping the Bush Social Security plan that never even got a vote in the house, doncha know.

  107. Lee:

    Abba Eban’s quote was after the 1948 Israeli War of Independence not the 1967 Six-Day War, although it would have been appropriate after that war to.

  108. Scott Lemieux:

    Stewart was more Kennedy than Breyer, really.

  109. joe from Lowell:

    To the extent that there was a case to made that the filibuster was an important protection for progressive achievements, the Republicans’ credible threat of a nuclear option, followed by their enthusiastic embrace of blocking cloture over the past four years, should put that argument to bed.

    Even if you think it is important to have a filibuster for the next time the Republicans control Congress, how can anyone expect, with any confidence, that it will be there?

  110. Craigo:

    Products include Jim Webb, whom nobody seems to miss, and Jon Tester, whom progressives disliked once it turned it that he’s, you know, from Montana.

  111. Scott Lemieux:

    Yes, but if he told McConnell that he had 60 votes for single payer and then shown him a picture of LBJ’s dick, McConnell totally would have caved. It’s just that, unlike internet commenters who think that if you offer $1,000 for a new Bentley the dealer will have no choice but to sell you one for $2,000, Reid doesn’t understand how to get legislation passed.

  112. Amanda:

    They broke the chalice from the palace…

  113. mds:

    Don’t forget the state-level supermajority in CA, and the other state pickups.

    Yeah, I’m using California, Minnesota, and Maine to offset the (admittedly largely expected) rage and despair over the Wisconsin state senate going back to the Republicans. And I’m using Cravaack being sent packing from his Minnesota seat to offset the fact that Sean Duffy remains in the Wisconsin congressional delegation. Dems really need to avoid shutting down between Presidental campaigns, and work on shoring up states. The GOP getting to redraw so many lines post-2010 has really helped them cement their previous gains.

  114. Jim Lynch:

    One other sea-change of a win last night was the passage of California’s Prop 30. Jerry Brown deserves mucho plaudits for this strike at the vitals of the insidious Prop 13.

  115. Scott Lemieux:

    I need to note here that Yuengling is Budweiser, except made by union-busting pricks.

  116. AR:

    And while Burger and Blackmun started at about the same place, Blackmun moved very left by the end (though that was not in full swing until the late 80′s) and Burger was moving about as fast to the right until he left the court rather early (so he never got as far to the right as he may have). In the early and mid 70′s both of them were still at about the Anthony Kennedy zone of voting.

  117. Hob:

    “And their positions on almost every issue, with the exception of the vote for the Iraq war, are identical”– If you’re just counting individual votes, that’s basically true. If you’re looking at things that a lot of people consider rather important, like the Patriot act, FISA, and Internet censorship, then no. And the Iraq war is a pretty goddamn big exception anyway, IMO.

  118. david mizner:

    Is Erskine Bowles better or worse than Geithner?

  119. Malaclypse:

    Well, he’s less relevant.

  120. Scott Lemieux:

    A question I’d be happy to ponder as soon as there’s a shred of evidence that he’ll get the job.

  121. The Dark Avenger:

    But the flagon with the dragon……

  122. djw:

    In Ohio it’s 10 days. Everyone around here was terrified the election would come to that.

  123. tonycpsu:

    That is correct. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire and starting negotiations in the 112th Congress without the filibuster would go a long way toward a more Keynesian deal, because instead of the GOP silently blocking the deal, the House GOP would have to go on record as torpedoing something passed by the Senate (assuming use of the “deem and pass” loophole around spending bills originating in the house.)

  124. JKTHs:

    Nope. It’ll probably be a Clinton retread or some other Very Serious Person. Don’t know who though

  125. david mizner:

    No hard evidence, of course not, only alarming statements like this from Ezra, who has, if nothing else, good sources.


    If Barack Obama wins reelection this year, I’d bet that Erskine Bowles will be our next Treasury Secretary.

    It’s certainly not to early to say Fuck that. The question is whether liberals — labor, women, blacks, Latinos — get anything for wining the election for Obama.

  126. Election Day 2012 Winners:

    [...] Bader Ginsburg can safely retire, and if Scalia and Kennedy is forced out the Court could have a liberalish median vote for the first time  since 1969. At least, Roe v. Wade is safe. The judicial branch will, if at too slow a pace, become less [...]

  127. david mizner:

    Gene Sperling mebbe.

    In other news, courtesy of Yahoo:

    Stock market plunges: Is Obama to blame?

    The Rubinite Socialist just won’t stop his war on capitalism.

  128. witless chum:

    The sweet, sweet tears of the movement to reform loot public education are filling my inbox. We scored a few wins there, especially in California.

  129. joe from Lowell:

    “A shred of evidence” isn’t the right standard.

    There were shreds of evidence that Iraq had an active WMD program in 2002.

    The problem is those people whose relationship to evidence is a sustained effort to find that shred which gives them permission to believe what they want to believe.

  130. Craigo:

    You know that the Village conversation will be all about Bowles. It’s the only way for Obama to prove that he’s as Serious and Bipartisan as John Boehner.

  131. John:

    And preventing an actually electable Republican, Chris Shays, from getting the nomination.

  132. JKTHs:

    I’m assuming one of the arguments for filibuster elimination is that Republicans just use reconciliation for everything anyways so it’s basically irrelevant as a protection

  133. John:

    That seems wrong. Stewart was more liberal than Powell, and Powell was more liberal than Kennedy, whose appointment marked a distinct turn to the right.

  134. Manta:

    Didn’t Rice already give that speech before? Some kind of “birth pangs” were also mentioned.

  135. joe from Lowell:

    Republicans just use reconciliation for everything anyways


    Double Secret Job Creator Dynamic Scoring means my gays-to-the-camps bill reduces the deficit.

  136. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Has Jill Stein conceded yet??

  137. Joe:

    A few limited but seemingly benign tweaks of the filibuster was blocked a couple years back. I wonder if we can hope for anything this time around.

  138. tonycpsu:

    Right. Beyond the raw numbers, it’s getting real-life liberals back into relatively safe seats (Warren, Murphy) keeping complete wingnuts from taking the shakier seats (King, Donnelly, MacCaskill, Tester.) These could end up being more important going forward than anything Obama’s able to accomplish in his second term.

  139. joe from Lowell:

    I don’t recall anyone named “Rice” giving a speech about people overthrowing their dictator.

  140. FMguru:

    It had a 50% success rate. That’s pretty good in a lot of fields!

  141. NonyNony:

    It’s where the GOP’s ability to ignore reality helps them – the propaganda war.

    GOP politicians are willing to say utterly and obviously ridiculous things and GOP voters are willing to parrot them.

    If Obama and his team started going on about a mandate, the Republicans would have to wait their turn behind Democrats correcting him and telling him that it isn’t really a mandate.

  142. joe from Lowell:

    I do remember Pat Buchanan giving speeches along the lines of “Those people need a strong hand to keep order, and order is all we should care about.”

    Maybe you’re thinking of that?

  143. JKTHs:

    True, but my point is that it’s a minor event that was overblown by desperate Republicans looking for SOMETHING in the midst of Obamentum. I don’t think many people will even remember it well 4 years from now.

  144. tonycpsu:

    I’d argue competing in Virginia and having Webb be a moderate Democrat in the Senate helped lead to Obama being able to retain VA in a very difficult re-election bid. The “hey, we elected a nominally Democratic Senator and the world didn’t end” effect.

  145. JKTHs:

    It’s certainly not to early to say Fuck that. The question is whether liberals — labor, women, blacks, Latinos — get anything for wining the election for Obama.

    My guess is no, other than not getting destroyed by a Romney Administration. But I also highly doubt Bowles will be at Treasury

  146. pete:

    If Clinton runs, she’ll be almost 70. Forget it. Not going to happen. She’s a big (and important, and useful) link to the past, not the future.

  147. Craigo:

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s better to have more Democrats than less. It’s just that people who shout 50-state strategy the loudest are also the ones who complain the most about the Democrats that this naturally produces.

  148. JKTHs:

    Similar to the “Team of Rivals” meme from four years ago. Democrats have to be bipartisan with their cabinet while Republicans are free to fill it with incompetent partisan hacks.

  149. Scott Lemieux:

    Stewart was more liberal than Powell

    Really? I don’t have my Segal and Spaeth in front of me, but there can’t have been much of a difference. Stewart was pretty bad on criminal procedure stuff.

  150. sparks:

    Same reason I didn’t drink Coors when I was a teenager in the ’70s. It was cheap, but I wouldn’t touch it.

  151. djangermous:

    I’m assuming one of the arguments for filibuster elimination is that Republicans just use reconciliation for everything anyways so it’s basically irrelevant as a protection

    But the democrats can’t do the same because [joements]

  152. Scott Lemieux:

    Given the gender differences on life expectancy, she wouldn’t be meaningfully older than Romney is this year.

  153. catclub:

    Would ‘No filibuster on advise and consent’, but still allow on bills be a fair compromise?

    If he is not going to completely eliminate the filibuster.

  154. Scott Lemieux:

    Right. People seem to think that the “50 state strategy” means the left-wing equivalent of the Republican “wingers everywhere” strategy, when in fact it’s the opposite of that.

  155. joe from Lowell:

    I love how large I loom in your mind.

    Tell me, when you have nightmares, what does my facial hair look like?

  156. djangermous:

    “And the Iraq war is a pretty goddamn big exception anyway, IMO.”

    What’s a million or so dead bodies between friends?

  157. Malaclypse:

    Except if you are going to adjust foe gender, you probably need to adjust for religion as well.

  158. joe from Lowell:

    A little cognitive dissonance is a small price to pay for being able to worship Howard “Guys with Confederate stickers on their pickup trucks” Dean as a progressive savior.

  159. John:

    Even picking up two Senate seats in this cycle is pretty amazing – Democrats had to win 25 of 33 seats (counting Angus King as a Democrat) to do that.

    I think that’s the most one-sided Senate race since 1964.

  160. Malaclypse:

    For gender, that is.

  161. John:

    Yeah, he has to be wooed, I’m sure, because he’s so independent. But, really, he got the vast majority of his votes for Senate from Democrats, the Democrats have a majority (and thus have more room to give him attractive committee assignments), and his ideology fits much more comfortably with the Democrats than with any Republican besides his fellow Mainer.

  162. John:

    Robert Byrd!

  163. John:

    we can’t even buy beer and wine in the same place. Lots of places can’t buy beer and liquor in the same place.

  164. Paula:

    Yes: 50 state strategy = MOAR BLUE DOGS.

    Whenever someone brings this up I wanna punch ‘em in the face.

    Right up there with “we had a filibuster-proof majority in Obama’s first 2 years!”

  165. John:

    True. Although, for that matter, isn’t pretty much every craft beer made by union-busting pricks?

  166. Leeds man:

    if Scalia and Kennedy is forced out

    How can they be forced out?

  167. rea:

    Bad health.

  168. Manta:

    Nothing like a good war, ops, I meant, kinetic military action, to instill democracy & liberty. Those dead-enders are doomed! http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-06-18-rumsfeld_x.htm

  169. pete:

    I love her dearly, but have you looked at her lately? That job she’s got is wearing on her. And she’d be four years older and running for a job that is wearing on the current President, like all his recent predecessors.

  170. joe from Lowell:

    And it came among the same cohort that saw such a Democratic sweep in 2006. What was left Republican after that wave year should have been the most reliable of holds.

    And the Democrats won several of those anyway.

  171. Janastas359:

    Here in CT this election was the first one they called of the night, at roughly 8:30 PM, so yeah, it didn’t work out so much.

  172. Ed:

    The question is whether liberals — labor, women, blacks, Latinos — get anything for wining the election for Obama.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if some kind of immigration reform legislation gets passed. Republican pols must be soiling their drawers given their disastrous results among Hispanic voters last night.

  173. JKTHs:

    I’m assuming it pissed off Dean Chambers by throwing swing state Connecticut to Obama

  174. Janastas359:

    I would be okay with lowered cloture numbers, plus a reduction or elimination of the required debate time whenever a filibuster is invoked. Remember that one of the issues with the filibuster isn’t just that it blocks votes, but also that even if you have the votes to pass something you are required to wait several days before the cloture vote. This slows down business greatly.

  175. joe from Lowell:

    Not your choice, Mr. True Progressive.

    As much as you may wish the Libyan people had knuckled under to their country’s insane dictator, they don’t seem to be too terribly impressed by your logic.

    But, hey, any True Progressive knows that popular uprisings to overthrow a dictator are inherently wrong. You just keep spitting on those Libyans for their bad judgement, champ. You’re so awesome.

  176. joe from Lowell:

    Shorter Manta: American invasion, popular uprising – I can’t tell the difference!

  177. Keaaukane:

    A Hillary run would be great in some ways: The final death blow to scores of geriatric pundits as the blood pressure increase makes their heads explode. I see Will and Buchanan definitely checking out that way, if they don’t commit seppuku first.

  178. Josh G.:

    Powell wrote an infamous memo which basically started the right-wing think tank movement. I don’t know if his decisions as Supreme Court Justice were as bad, but Powell was a very, very evil man who did a great deal of harm to American democracy.

  179. wengler:

    I’m pretty sure I’m on the record for dissolving the Senate.

  180. Bill Murray:

    impeachment. While I would say some their behavior does not equate with most definitions of good, this will never happen to either of these justices.

  181. wengler:

    Give him Lieberman’s old Homeland Security chairmanship.

  182. djangermous:

    I love how large I loom in your mind.

    Yes, that is what attention-seeking trolls typically care about.

  183. wengler:

    No. Most craft-brewing operations are like 4 or 5 people.

  184. wengler:

    And thanks to Ohio and Virginia, no one has to give a shit about Florida.

  185. joe from Lowell:

    Given the aggressive executive actions Obama has taken on behalf of each of those groups in his first term, I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be even more aggressive during a second term, when he doesn’t have any reason to hold off in order to focus on legislation.

  186. joe from Lowell:

    You’d know.

  187. rm:

    This is a temptation to think reprehensible thoughts. It would be evil to pray for anyone’s bad health. Perhaps I will just fervently hope that they each take an overwhelming interest in hobbies and travel.

  188. joe from Lowell:

    What you’re saying is, we need to destroy Keynesian stimulus in order to save it.

    The Democrats should roll the dice, and let a big tax hike and big spending cuts kick in, with the economy as it is, in the hope that they will get an improvement on the status quo.

    There’s certainly an argument to be made for this, but at the same time, there is a major downside risk. That “better deal” might never happen.

  189. djangermous:

    You’d know.

    Hahahaha, fantastic.

    I can only assume you accidentally clicked submit before adding “you are, but what am I?”

  190. joe from Lowell:


  191. djangermous:

    Aw come back baby don’t be that way.

    How about if I tell you how large you loom me, we both know how much you like that.

  192. joe from Lowell:

    Hint to trolls: when you are generating most of the verbiage and emotion, u r not doin it rite.

  193. Leeds man:


  194. Colin Day:

    Who wants a Treasury Secretary who can do basic math?

  195. Colin Day:

    Israel baiter? Isn’t she pro Israel?

  196. Colin Day:

    You don’t need a man date if you’re married to Michele Obama.

  197. Colin Day:

    Wasn’t part of the problem that Republicans cut funding for security?

  198. JKTHs:

    I guess it depends on whether you see a “Grand Bargain” as worse than the destruction scenario.

  199. JKTHs:

    They probably have their income set up as pass-throughs to avoid payroll taxes.


  200. rm:

    Hah no, if they’ll just retire I wish them a long and happy stamp-collecting retirement.

  201. patrick II:

    That Bowles quote makes me wonder if Ezra has become such an insider that he has become one of the msm who are used to plant names of people who are making a public job application.

  202. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Budweiser in the sense of the size of company, or taste? I find a million times tastier than Bud.

  203. Hogan:

    has the pellet with the poison?

  204. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Parkour. Even if he never gets high enough for a fatal fall, his heart will explode from the cardio.

  205. Manta:

    Not everybody is obsessed by the question
    “What Would a True Progressive Do?” (which, in your case, coincides with “What Would Obama Do?”).

    A neocon policy only because it’s implemented by Obama does not become wise & moral (on the other hand, if one must have such policy, it’s much better if implemented by someone competent like Obama &C. than the likes of Bush & friends).

  206. spencer:

    In that case, McMegan for Treasury!

    Not only can she not do basic math, but her calculators don’t even work properly.

  207. spencer:

    Does it make any fucking sense to not start that count until after Tuesday?

    There are so many things about life in Florida that don’t make any sense. This kind of shit just fits right in.

    Seriously, this state is so fucked. I’ve been trying to get out for over a year with no luck. Bleh.

  208. spencer:

    Shorter Manta: American invasion, popular uprising – I can’t tell the difference!

    This, exactly.

  209. spencer:

    What an insufferable concern-trolling douche nozzle he would have been on the Sunday morning talk shows.

    Losing this election is not going to prevent that. Luckily for us, though, we don’t have to even pretend to give a shit about what he says.

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