Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Obama Republicans Conservative Dems May Pass Bills in Senate without Liberals

Tags: Liberals Cannot Rely on Obama to Veto Conservative Bills, Profiles Pelosi, Jim Webb, VA, Obama

Articles hard to find on Newsweek’s website but easy to find in magazine is one reason I prefer to pay for magazines. It is harder to hide important articles as often the NY Times tries do, but often ends of to be on Most Popular list.

I found three that is worth the attention of liberals who feel that they can block radical House bills.

The article below about Obama will explain why he still feels he can work with Republicans. His ideology gained from his mother that he should not reject ideas from those who oppose his plans. Include them. You can never find out from our corporate press and media, but many Republicans really like and admire Pelosi because she is tough and clever.

Show that all of us cannot think accurately without a surplus of information on ideas we like to think and consider.

Jim Kawakami, Nov 24, 2010,

Pelosi Plans to Block Obama-GOP Deals AP, Nov 24, 2010,

… Pelosi's mandate is diverging from the president's at a critical time, with potentially damaging consequences for Obama's ability to cut deals with Republicans in the new Congress.

Their partnership is strained after an election in which Pelosi and many Democrats feel the White House failed them. They believe Obama and his team muddled the party's message and didn't act soon enough to provide cover for incumbents who cast tough votes for his marquee initiatives. …

It is a race Webb could lose. His victory over Allen in 2006, followed by the large majority won by Barack Obama in Virginia in 2008, led many Democrats to believe that the state was finally trending blue. This proved to be wishful thinking. In 2009 conservative Republican candidate Bob McDonnell took the governorship in a landslide, and this year Republicans knocked out three Democratic incumbent congressmen and now control eight of the state’s 11 House seats. Still, a recent poll by Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling shows Webb leading Allen, his most likely opponent, by 49–45 percent. The fact that Webb has a fighting chance, much less an outright lead, is a tribute both to his personal popularity and the right-center positions he has staked out on behalf of what he refers to as Jacksonian democracy. It is also what makes him a potential role model for other endangered Democrats up for reelection in 2012.

It is a political truism that a lot of things can happen in two years. The national mood could shift in the progressive direction. President Obama might pull a Clinton and move to meet the electorate halfway. Republicans could overreach. But none of these things will necessarily happen. Politicians, like generals, tend to view the next campaign through the lens of the last one. By that standard, senators from deep-blue states—like Ben Cardin of Maryland, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, or Daniel Akaka of Hawaii—can look toward 2012 and relax, confident that sticking up for the president’s agenda, no matter how liberal it is, will not hurt their chances. But for Webb and his endangered colleagues from deeply conservative areas of the country, or swing states where the Democrats got clobbered this year, following the leader in the White House doesn’t feel like an effective electoral strategy. “I’ve been saying this for five years,” Webb told me. “Democrats have to reach out to the working class. Something has to change in the Democratic Senate.”

After the ceremony I followed Senator Webb into the Marshall mansion, up two flights of stairs to a small meeting room. On the way I noticed that he limps, the result of throwing himself between one of his men and an enemy grenade. This was our first meeting, but I had heard about Webb from Washington journalists. Several warned me with variations of “He doesn’t suffer fools lightly,” an admonition I tried not to take personally. His fearsome reputation was enhanced in 2007 when one of his senior aides was busted carrying Webb’s loaded handgun into a Senate office building. Webb, it emerged, has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia. It concentrates your mind to sit down with a U.S. senator who you assume is packing. …

Webb also firmly believes that the base of the Democratic Party—African-Americans, Hispanics, college students, and urban elites—is missing a crucial piece, the white working class, and he has not been shy about saying so. In July he published an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege,” in which he argued against affirmative-action programs for all but African-American descendants of slaves. “Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard--working white Americans…” Predictably, Webb’s article infuriated many liberals, including the head of the Virginia branch of the NAACP, who attacked the author for denying the existence of white privilege. But in our interview, Webb insisted that he is arguing only for simple equity. “When I met the president at a birthday lunch?at the White House in August, we discussed this. I told him, ‘Mr. President, people need to know you are fair.’?”

Affirmative action is only one of the Democratic orthodoxies Webb would like to dispense with. He opposes cap-and-trade and wrote a letter to the president on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit warning him that he lacked the constitutional authority to bind the United States to an agreement; he thinks the detainees in Guantánamo ought to stay put and be given military trials; he doesn’t necessarily support the abolition of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” preferring to wait for the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs; he wants a narrow path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here and $3 billion in emergency funds to build a serious border fence; and he is not enthusiastic about “Obamacare.” “I voted with the Republicans 17 times against provisions of the bill before I voted for it,” he said, unconsciously echoing John Kerry’s famous line in the 2004 campaign.

Webb not only advocates moving away from the more liberal aspects of the Obama legislative agenda, he thinks the party needs a change in attitude. In Born Fighting he scorned “the upper crust of academia and the pampered salons of Hollywood”—among the Democrats’ most important sources of money and policy advice—as an elite unable to comprehend, much less appeal to, working-class whites. He warns against the influence of these “cultural Marxists” and people on “the Activist Left” who want to create a “collectivist” America.

These are fighting words—Tea Party talk. The problem for endangered Senate Democrats is that it resonates loudly in the states they hope to carry in two years. Webb thinks these candidates would be wise to readjust their outlook, their voting, and their rhetoric. “I’m optimistic that people will see the logic of these positions and realize that it is in their self-interest to adopt them,” he said.

I asked Webb who among his fellow senators he considers potential Jacksonians. “People can describe themselves,” he said. But when I read him a list of endangered Democrats and asked if he saw them as potential allies in moving the Senate to the center, he nodded at nearly every name. If he is right, Majority Leader Harry Reid could find himself going into the 112th Congress up against not merely an energized Republican opposition, but a band of rebel Democrats led by the new Old Hickory.

Endangered List

The Democrats kept control of the Senate in the midterms. But James Webb and these other Dems, who face reelection in 2012, will likely need to emphasize (or find) their conservative side in upcoming campaigns if the current mood prevails.

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska

A conservative pro-lifer in a state that voted heavily against Obama.

Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida

A center-left figure in a state with increasingly center-right views.

Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota

Will his role on the Senate Budget Committee clash with a cost-cutting mood?

Sen. John Tester, Montana

He narrowly won in 2006, in a state that voted for McCain two years later.

Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia

He often sounded like a Tea Partier when he won a vacant seat this year.

Sen. Sherrod brown, Ohio

Ohio elected a GOP governor and senator this year. Can this liberal survive?

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania went for Obama in ’08. This year the state veered right.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan

She barely won in 2006; one recent poll showed a 38 percent approval rating.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri

The Republicans scored big midterm wins in the Show Me State.

Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin

You can’t assume Wisconsin voters are as progressive as they used to be.

The Real Obama: His Books Tell Us Who He Is, Newsweek, Nov 29, 2010, James T. Kloppenberg, Historian, Harvard

… Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do. Perhaps the critics should read—or reread—the president’s own books. Dreams From My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006) are the most substantial works written by anyone elected president since Woodrow Wilson (who wrote several books before he won election in 1912). In laying out his philosophy, Obama contrasts the GOP’s excessive individualism with the ideal of “ordered liberty” and the rich traditions of civic engagement typical of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. He also criticizes orthodox Democrats for too quickly dismissing market solutions and too often defending failed government programs. Above all, he criticizes the hyperpartisan atmosphere of contemporary public life.

Almost everything you need to know about Obama is there on the printed page. In contrast to the charges coming now from right and left, Obama is neither a rigid ideologue nor a spineless wimp. The Obama who wrote Dreams and Audacity stands in a long tradition of American reform, wary of absolutes and universals, and committed to a Christian tradition that prizes humility and social service over dogmatic statements of unbending principle. A child of the philosophical pragmatists William James and John Dewey, Obama distrusts pat formulas and prefers experimentation.

Throughout his career, Obama has refused to demonize his opponents. Instead, he has sought them out and listened to them. He has tried to understand how they think and why they see the world as they do. His mother encouraged this sense of empathy, and it’s a lesson Obama learned well. Since January 2009, Obama has watched his efforts at reconciliation, experimentation, and -consensus--building bounce off the hard surfaces of political self-interest and entrenched partisanship, but there is no reason to think he will abandon that strategy now. He knows that disagreement is a vital part of the American fabric, and that our differences are neither shallow nor trivial.

Although Obama’s reform agenda echoes aspects of those advanced by many Democrats over the last century, he has admitted—and this is the decisive point in understanding his outlook—that his opponents hold principles rooted as deeply in American history as his own. “I am obligated to try to see the world through George Bush’s eyes, no matter how much I may disagree with him,” he wrote in Audacity. “That’s what empathy does—it calls us all to task, the conservative and the liberal … We are all shaken out of our complacency.” Obama rejects dogma, embraces uncertainty, and dismisses the fables that often pass for history among partisans on both sides who need heroes and villains, and who resist more-nuanced understandings of the past and the present. …

The shrill tone of Obama’s critics makes reading his books especially illuminating today. In Audacity, Obama explained why, because of our national traditions, the United States would never have a single-payer health-care system and would have to find a distinctively American hybrid relying on existing insurance plans. That’s what we have now. He explained why, although he favors regulation to protect against abuses, he rules out socialism and remains firmly committed to a market economy. His financial reforms follow that pattern. Finally, he explained why, although he opposed the war in Iraq, he supported war in Afghanistan for -different—and legitimate—reasons. Now that he must bring that war to a conclusion, he has made clear that the decision will be based on evidence, not blind adherence to a predetermined course of action.

After almost two years as president, Obama has failed to satisfy the left for the same reason that he has antagonized the right. He does not share their self-righteous certainty. Neither his personal restraint nor the achievements of his administration should surprise anyone who has read his books. In the domains of health care and economic regulation, and in his approach to Afghanistan, Obama has followed his script: substantial but incremental reforms growing organically from American experience rather than hewing to party orthodoxy. In November 2010, President Obama remains the man who wrote Dreams and Audacity, a resolute champion of moderation, experimentation, and deliberative, nondogmatic democracy. It’s just that the distorting mirrors of political commentary in America’s fun house can make it hard to recognize him.

Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American history at Harvard University and author of Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition.

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