Friday, December 03, 2010


Surely, comrades," cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, "surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?"

Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it
was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this
light, they had no more to say.

George Orwell's Animal Farm, Chapter VI


I'm All You've Got

White House Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes spoke last night at the American Constitution Society's "holiday" party at the Center for American Progress. Talking Points Memo reports that Barnes portrayed herself as

a guardian angel of sorts, trying her best Thursday night to pull progressives back from the brink.

Speaking at the American Constitution Society's holiday party at the Center for American Progress last night, Barnes drew parallels between the famous Christmas-themed movie (one of her favorite films) and the situation liberals find themselves in post-election 2010.

(It's a Wonderful Life; she's just an old-fashioned, small-town gal, doncha know.)

The President has nixed health care reform with no public option, let alone a single-payer system; pushed financial reform unlikely to prevent another crisis; refused to sign an Executive Order suspending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, despite protestations that he's just fine with gay people in the military; continued American military operations in Iraq, after flaunting his opposition to the war all the way to the presidential nomination; appointed a "debt reduction commission," inviting it to propose reductions in the most popular governmental program in American history.

Now, President Obama is maneuvering to have the GOP accept- accept!- tax cuts for the wealthy, if only (or especially) so he can get the new START treaty approved by the Senate. And then there is his proposal to freeze the pay of all civilian employees of the federal government because

Small businesses and families are tightening their belts. The government should, too.

Few instructors of Economics 101- Economics 101 in high school- would leave unchallenged a claim that an economic downturn, exacerbated by the reluctance of the private sector and of individuals to spend, would benefit from a cut in public spending.

Most Democratic presidents, too, would be unlikely to scapegoat public servants or at try to attribute a growing federal deficit to the impact of their salaries. And while the President continued to pander eagerly to those who have pledged his political destruction, Barnes, TPM notes

expressed confidence that courts would continue to uphold health care reform as constitutional, calling efforts to oppose reform "a page out of the old playbook: let's take it to the courts."

"We've seen it over and over again, we were prepared for that, we knew it was going to happen. We saw it with the Voting Rights Act, with the Civil Rights Act," Barnes said.

Brown v. Board of Education. Bailey v. Patterson. Loving v. Virginia. Jones v. Maye., Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Batson v. Kentucky. And Baker v. Carr, which established the "one man, one vote" principle and opened the door to election of minorities who had been largely denied the opportunity to run competitive races..... And Barack Obama's employee raises the old right-wing trope, attacking the appeal to the judiciary for justice?

Ironic, too- given Barnes' pep talk for President Obama- was the presence of Dawn Johnsen, who was nominated to be head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. Johnsen had condemned Bush/Cheney policies on warrantless wiretapping, torture, indefinite detention, ignoring international treaties and conventions, and concentration of power in a unitary executive. Despite- or because of- that, when the Administration found that confirmation would be an effort, the nomination was withdrawn, demonstrating "the failure of Barack Obama and his Administration to support their own nominee and stand up for the values she proffered which led them to select her in the first place."

Notwithstanding the irony of an Obama Administration official knocking use of the courts to gain justice and the prominent presence of a progressive, cast aside as mere collateral damage, at an event boosting the President, Melody Barnes effectively encapsulated the Obama political strategy. She cautioned

Yeah, it's bad, Barnes acknowledged. But, she implored, think of how much worse it would have been if Democrats hadn't been in power at all.

It all comes down to that with President Obama. The Party of Palin, Boehner, and Fox News- or me. Really, they argue, you have no choice anymore. You made me your nominee for president and now you're stuck.

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