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The BULLY PULPIT — Is There Anything it Can’t Do?


The latest Drew Westen article has the same fundamental problems as every other Drew Westen article. There is, however, one howler that’s particularly instructive. Starting with the stimulus makes sense, because there’s a least a plausible argument that Obama left some money on the table. But the argument that “Obama’s first mistake was inviting the Republicans to the table” runs into the fairly obvious problem that at least two Republican votes were necessary to pass a stimulus bill. Since we’re dealing with someone who who genuinely seems not to understand why you don’t always need 60 votes to pass a tax bill, I suspect that he really doesn’t know that the legislative context was different in 2009.

On health care, there was at least a narrow window where there were 60 Democratic votes, and Obama and Reid probably did waste too much time trying to court Snowe. But Westen never stops to consider the implications of this — if 60 votes are your absolute maximum, what leverage do you have over the marginal ones? Not much. Westen, as always, solves this problem by implying that a better presidential slogan could have gotten Bayh, Nelson, Manchin et al. on board, which still still needs more pony.

And, yet, against all odds Westen’s latest recycling of the same awful argument isn’t even the worst green lantern argument to emerge this weekend. Over to you, Col. Mustard:

Obama, in complete control of foreign and military policy, will be unrestrained by electoral considerations in a second term, and will impose his vision of a Middle East settlement on the Israelis. There won’t be a thing Congress or public opinion will be able to do about it.

Right. Obama will get those settlements dismantled, perhaps with his bare hands, and will follow that up by unilaterally creating a two-state solution. Can’t see any limitations on his power there. The president is in charge of foreign aid appropriations, right?

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