And so it goes

The political theater that is US politics is unfolding in ways that should be drearily familiar by now.

Once again, Obama and the Democratic leadership have ‘reluctantly’ and with ‘great regret’ been ‘forced’ to give up every thing they say they value because those nasty Republicans and their Tea Party caucus threatened to bring the country to ruin. They had to ‘compromise’ on what they really, really wanted to do (raise taxes on the rich and close tax loopholes) in order to ‘save the nation’.


The next phase of the drama is for the Villagers and the Very Serious People to hail this ‘bipartisan compromise’ deal that averted a supposed catastrophe. Those liberals and other Democratic supporters who are critical of the terms of the deal will either express amazement that their party’s leaders are such rotten negotiators (see Robert Reich and Paul Krugman) or urge everyone to rally round the party because the alternatives are so much worse. All the Democratic party needs to do is to raise the specter of Michele Bachmann in order to get their frightened base to fall in line and support whatever sellout plan the party proposes.

Matt Taibbi warns about another huge gift to the oligarchy, the corporate tax holiday (also known as the ‘tax repatriation holiday), that is going to be snuck into the deal somewhere along the line. Also watch for the other shoe to drop in this deal as it seems as if the ‘bipartisan commission’ that is part of the deal has been given triggers that will lead to cuts in the social welfare net in the coming year.

Oddly enough, although the Democratic party’s base should be the ones demanding that this deal be scuttled, in reality it is only the Tea Party which has the gumption to defy its party’s leadership. Of course, if they do and the deal goes down in flames, the Democratic party leadership will only use the subsequent ‘crisis’ as an opportunity to be ‘forced’ give the oligarchy even more goodies.

I am not by nature a cynical person. But when it comes to predicting how politics in the US will play out, I have found that you can’t go far wrong in picking the most cynical view to be the right one.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    Oh, they’ll play it to perfection, too. There will be just enough Democratic votes in the House to pass it, so the rest of them can pretend to have done something meaningful to oppose it. I think the voters have long since caught on to this game, though, as the Democrats ought to have understood after 2010 and will surely find out again in 2012.

  2. says

    If we accept the proposition that Obama is, in fact, a tool of the oligarchy, then the question is, why?

    I believe all his actions stem from unbridled political ambition. All the apologists for Obama -- whether they blame his fascination with clever white guys (Frank Rich), his lack of experience (Bruce Bartlett noted recently that Obama would have benefited from negotiating with the Soviets), or the hostile, right-leaning political landscape -- imply that he is fundamentally a good man who would like to do “good things” for the country. I never believed that; he just wants to do good things for himself.

    But that just pushes the question down another level into the realm of psychology. I would love an opportunity to ask him how he would like to be remembered by history. Is being a two-term president of the United States enough? He had -- and theoretically still does have -- a choice here. He could have been a one-term president who really did try to change America. He could have taken on the banks in 2008, fought for a single-payer health care system, brought the troops home, prosecuted the CIA torturers, closed Guantanamo…. Even if he went down in flames in 2012, history would have judged him more kindly. And, maybe, if the country realized its mistake 20 years later, he could have returned for a second, triumphal term. (He has plenty of years to play with.)

    I wonder if his wife ever has that conversation with him -- if he ever has that conversation with himself. Does he see himself retiring to Hawaii in 2017, lucrative book contract in hand, presidential library under construction? Is that all there is? Is that success?

  3. says

    You know, Richard, these are really interesting questions.

    I think that the filtering system that works in the political process is such that such questions would never even occur to those who rise to the top. Those who think about them and have opinions that are similar to yours would get eliminated pretty quickly.

    Politics is not unusual in that respect. The media is similar. The classic work Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman explained how it happens there and I think their model has wide applicability.

    The really interesting question is what kinds of things can make someone change their views and philosophy late in life, after achieving success. It would have to be some sort of crisis, either external or existential.

  4. Steve LaBonne says

    I overestimated those @#$%s- the Dems split evenly, 95 to 95, and didn’t even pretend to make Boehner work hard. The gang that couldn’t even do kabuki right.

  5. says

    Steve -- The Dems went beyond kabuki; they went Hollywood.

    Gabby Giffords, billed by Nancy Pelosi as a “real heroine,” made a “thrilling” return to the House for this vote, saying she “could not take the chance that [her] absence could crash our economy.”

    Doesn’t it just warm the cockles of your heart? If it wasn’t dark outside, I’d run Old Glory up the flagpole right now. God Bless America!

  6. Manik says

    I can’t remember that far, but was Carter thrown out after his first term, because of his ineptitude or because he bucked the trend? Was the Hostage scandal enough to nail him?

  7. says


    It is hard to pin down a single source for Carter’s defeat. The economy was in downturn, the oil embargo led to shortages and lines for gasoline caused unfamiliar hardships for Americans, the hostage crisis and his poor handling of it did not help, interest rates were high, and Reagan managed to effectively take advantage of all of these things.

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