Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Willingly Snatching Defeat

Oh, for the good old days.

Those good old days would be Sunday, January 21, 2018- two days ago. It was on that date that with one part insight and four parts mere observation Matt Grossman wrote for Politico Magazine

Nearly every new Trump move has been treated as a five-alarm fire with united resistance, with Hillary Clinton die-hards just as active as Bernie bros. They tripled the ratings for MSNBC and spurred new liberal media outlets. Some followed online conspiracy theorists, who breathlessly enlarged every detail of the Russia investigation. Major Democratic donors, such as California billionaire Tom Steyer, have called for the president’s immediate impeachment.

But the sharpest changes have been on social issues surrounding gender and race. Democrats in the electorate have moved swiftly left on race, immigration and feminism. Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim countries even provoked an outpouring of support for Muslims. Attitudes toward illegal immigration softened. Sexual harassment became a top-tier Democratic issue. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus gained a hearing with leaders in both chambers—and is now having its concerns become the party’s top priority.

Somewhere Grossman is probably (or at least should be) wishing he could take those words back. He was not to blame, though, because they were an accurate assessment of objective reality.  The previous day, an estimated one million-plus individuals, mostly but not exclusively women, had marched throughout the USA with a myriad of interests, but nearly every one seething at Donald Trump. As expected, surveys would indicate that most voters held either him or his lackeys in Congress responsible for shutdown of the government.

Politics is a zero-sum game for the two major political parties. And while activists and the general public backed the Democrats and Main Street seemingly agreed with revulsion toward the Republican Party, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer surrendered.

He didn't cave in on Thursday or Friday (better yet a week ago), when the public reaction would have been either a sigh of relief or a little annoyance at both parties for playing politics as usual. He did not submit in a matter of weeks, when it might have been clear his Party had taken the issue as far as it could, and at least had stood up for principle.

He took the worst- and weakest- course possible in the Trump era, in which perceived strength equals success. 

With uncharacteristic ambivalence, or something close to it, Charlie Pierce remarks

I'm not going to scream, “Sellout!” nor sing “Kumbaya.” I am just going to sum up the state of play in three questions.

Do you trust a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think Paul Ryan can be trusted to control his caucus sufficiently to pass a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think the president* can be trusted to sign a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Your mileage may certainly vary.

Your mileage may vary as in Google maps informing you that depending on which of three routes you select, the destination will take 37, 35, or 32 minutes to reach- when you can spare only 30 minutes.

Democratic victory in the next few weeks does not depend on one of the three scenarios Pierce presented playing out. It's not either-or; all three are required (MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle skeptical, too, starting at 1:26 below). And as many gambling pros will admit, a three-team parley is a bad bet.

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