They should call it the Obama Doctrine and we should thank the Democratic leadership in the Senate for making its nature clear – most recently in their efforts to craft a health care reform (actually an insurance company enrichment) bill.
The Republican leadership, such as it is, follows just the opposite tack. Either out of guile or because they are controlled by the useful idiots they’ve been recruiting for decades, they play to those idiots, aka the Republican base. Whether this is a recipe for winning elections in 2010 remains to be seen. Maybe not because there’s a limit to how buffoonish Republicans can be and still win back the apolitical middle they lost thanks to George Bush and Dick Cheney. But as a recipe for influencing policy – which is, after all, what anybody who is not a party functionary or one of their media hacks cares about – it is a sure winner. It was Republican obduracy that empowered the Democratic right. Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson were the lucky beneficiaries; but for Republican nay saying, they’d never have been able to act out their obstructionist strategies or to stick it to their colleagues (never mind the voters).
Mainstream Democrats responded like the cowards they are. At a time when “bipartisanship” means surrender, they were happy to oblige.
It should now therefore be clear to all that, win or lose, Obama and his Congressional comrades are weak and unable to govern; that all they can do is betray the hopes of their base. The Petreus-McCrystal-Gates axis realized this long ago; so has the Israeli Right, which could have been tamed but is instead, as usual, calling the shots. And despite their moral and intellectual deficiencies, Congressional Republicans have figured it out too. The time is long past due for the Democratic base to realize what has been going on and to react accordingly – which means taking initiatives and restricting Obama’s choices, as much or more than Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson do.
Meanwhile, even if Obama finally gets a bill that is not, on balance, an unmitigated disaster, what a difference a year makes!