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March 15, 2010

Obama, Pelosi Double-Down on Pure Hardcore Left-Liberalism

Madame Palomino is unabashed about declaring health care reform the first step in a fundamental reordering of America along far more socialistic lines.

Also in Allah's post is this interesting piece by Peter Beinart, worth reading in full. But here's a taste. The term "Superjumbo Democrat" means much as you might guess it does -- the metaphor is to Boeing building superjumbo planes even when the market doesn't want them, thus strengthening its brand. A superjumbo Democrat, then, pursues hardcore liberalism even when the public doesn't want it, in the belief that... I don't know. That for some reason the public learns to respect Democrats for doing the opposite of what they ask of them.

Why exactly Obama—advised by David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel and Valerie Jarrett—decided to double down on health care remains unclear. But it’s a good bet that President Hillary Clinton—advised by Mark Penn—would have acted differently. And in acting the way he did, Obama has turned himself into a superjumbo Democrat. For the foreseeable future, he has forfeited any chance of bridging the red-blue divide. Prominent Republicans have already announced that if Democrats try to pass health care via reconciliation, they will not work across the aisle to pass anything major this year. Conversely, Obama has cemented his bond with the netroots. It doesn’t really matter that the health care reform bill he is fighting for isn’t particularly left-wing. For the netroots, a politicians’ ideological purity has always been less important than his willingness to resist pressure from the other side, which is exactly what Obama has just done.

Whether health care reform passes or not, Obama has embraced polarization over triangulation. He has chosen Karl Rove’s politics of base mobilization over Dick Morris’s politics of crossover appeal, with consequences not merely for how he campaigns for Democrats in 2010, but for he campaigns for himself in 2012. And that’s a disaster for “don’t scare the bear” Democrats whether Obamacare passes or not. The reason is that the DLC wing of the party is much more top-down than the MoveOn wing. It has always wielded influence primarily through elected leaders rather than grassroots activists. But today, Obama is the only leader in the Democratic Party who really matters. As the retirement of Evan Bayh illustrates, there are few nationally prominent DLC-aligned politicians left. (The one person who could have rallied that faction of the party against Obama is now his secretary of state). The DLC wing’s best hope for relevance, therefore, was that Obama himself would restrain the party’s base, that his White House would nurture a new generation of centrist candidates.

That hope is now gone. From top to bottom, Democrats have decided to bet the party’s future on the belief that Americans prefer bold liberals to cautious ones. Now it’s up to the bear.

"The bear" is the American public -- for years cautious DLC types argued that liberals mustn't "scare the bear." Obama, Pelosi, Reid et al. have decided to call the bear's bluff and to try to back the bear down.


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posted by Ace at 04:58 PM

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