Friday, August 14, 2009

8/14/08 - In which I'm disappointed.

There are some who see no difference between Republicans and Democrats. If I believed that, this blog would never have existed. Or I'd be posting more these days instead of less. Given the way our system works, putting a "bad" Democrat into office rather than a "good" Republican is the only way to allow the "good" Democrats to get anything done and prevent "bad" Republicans from doing much damage.

Given this, when Republicans controlled the Presidency, the U.S. House, The U.S. Senate, the Ohio Governorship, the Ohio House, and the Ohio Senate, my personal mission was clear: vote for Dems and convince others to do likewise.

We've flipped five of six. So what's the new mission? That's tougher. Let's start at the Federal level:

Obama is banking his presidency on health-care reform and environmental/energy policy reform. I'm pretty sure that he figures that if he can get these things done, nobody will begrudge him things like extending and defending the state secrets privilege, meeting in private with lobbyists and stonewalling requests for visitors logs, refusing to consider prosecuting or even investigating possible crimes against the citizenry by an overzealous executive branch and against foreigners by interrogators, treating gays like whiny children, and placing a justice on the Supreme Court who has been reliably conservative on issues like defendants' rights.

Perhaps he's right. But that assumes he gets those first two things done. On health care, he has no policy or plan. From a political standpoint, it might have made sense to insist that Congress come up with a plan and present it to him. What we have right now, though, is a situation in which some folks are arguing against any change (a coherent position), and the rest of us in the position of arguing that some sort of change would be better because it would have some subset of possible improvements compared to the current system, although we don't know for sure which improvements we should expect (an incoherent argument). Unless one believes that there is no such thing as a "bad" health-care reform bill, we're pretty much reduced to playing defense and ad hominem attacks. And losing. Given that I do believe that a "bad" bill is a possible outcome, I don't even enjoy playing defense. This coming from a guy who has always said that health-care reform is the number one issue at the federal level.

If Obama can't get health-care done, climate-change legislation is dead. Which is why it's not unlikely he'll compromise on cap-and-trade/alternative energy to get some form of health-care reform done. Obama was quoted today as saying (about health-care reform):

"if it makes me a one-term president, I'm going to, we're going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on."

On the one hand, I admire that greatly. On the other hand, it's not as if he has much choice at this point.

If I had to do it all over again, would I vote for Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin? In a motherf***ing heartbeat. Will I vote for them against whomever the GOP nominates in '12? Of course. Which is why my opinion counts for nothing.

Same goes for Ted here in Bexley/C-Bus. I think he's overseen a disturbing consolidation of power into the governor's office. I think he wimped out on education reform. I think he's sincere in his socially conservative tendencies, which is not exactly an endearing trait. I keep trying to come up with a reason to not unconditionally endorse today's Dispatch editorial, but for the first time in memory I agree with them completely. I normally think of Tim at Blogger Interrupted as pushing the envelope to pull the mainstream, but as mean/speculative as it is, I think that his post yesterday is going to become the consensus opinion of mainstream rank-and-file Ohio Democrats, if it isn't already.

My mind cannot fathom how bad the state would have fared under J.K. Blackwell. Neither can I imagine not doing whatever I can to keep John Kasich out of office. So really now, why would anyone care about what I have to say?

There are such things as primaries, and there is still work to be done. You can thank Jennifer Brunner, Marilyn Brown, and Paula Brooks for my renewed interest in blogging (not that any of them would likely endorse anything I've written today). I believe Ohio will be a better place when they assume their new offices in 17 months, and I'm committed to seeing that happen.

So I'll just finish up with this statement to my dearly elected Dem officeholders who have been dealing with state budgets and national health care: If you do things in office that could possibly cause swing voters to switch allegiances, then you won't survive to be able to do anything at all in the future. I get that. But if the alternative is not doing anything that could alienate swing voters, then ability is obviously not the issue, character is. Republicans were voted out in droves because they tried their policies and the policies failed. But, give them this: they tried, didn't they?