Thursday, January 21, 2010

o captain

captain picard and dr. crusher, on the run on a hostile planet and victims of a mutual telepathic link courtesy of their captors:

crusher: [stops in her tracks]
picard: what is it?
crusher: i'm not sure whether we should go over this hill or that one. the topography on this map is a little vague.
picard: let me see. [scans map, then points]
this way. [begins walking]
crusher: you don't really know, do you?
picard: what?
crusher: i mean, you're acting like you know exactly which way to go, but you're only guessing. do you do this all the time?
picard: no ... but there are times when it is ... necessary for a captain to give the appearance of confidence.
crusher: [shakes head in amused epiphany]

this is what every leader pretends no one knows: never let anyone, not your enemies — but most importantly not your own crew — see you sweat. if you do, they won't be your crew much longer.

knowing that every leader knows this rule, what are we to make of the democratic leadership's reaction to the cloakley loss in massachusetts?

well, after months of analyzing senate procedural kabuki while being assured of the intricate tri-dimensional chess being played, we can now say with confidence that the democrats aren't sweating. no, the lieberman ratfuck was sweating. we are well past that.

even taking account of the ready-made obituaries rolled out with the morning headlines, after a race that had spiraled noisily out of control for weeks, it's excruciatingly clear the democrats never prepared for the loss. evoking the worst of the previous administration, there was no plan b. even before the votes were in, fingers were wagging and there was plenty of blame to go around, but no coordinated spin, no coherent message and absolutely no composure whatsoever.

ladies and gentlemen, this is open panic.

yesterday i asked, rhetorically: does the democratic caucus now limp along like a supermajority minus one or charge ahead like a majority plus eight? after all, there's always a chance democrats might not live up to their much-maligned image. i didn't have long to wait for my answer:

massachusetts election means that senate republicans have more responsibility to govern, not obstruct
  • we welcome scott brown to the senate.

  • while senator-elect brown's victory changes the political math in the senate, it does not change the challenges are country faces or the need to address them.

  • we remain committed to strengthening our economy, creating good paying jobs and ensuring all americans can access affordable health care.

  • senate republicans have an obligation to the american people to join us in governing our nation through these difficult times and to help clean up the mess they left behind.

  • it is mathematically impossible for democrats to pass legislation on our own. senate republicans [need] to come to the table with ideas for improving our nation and not obstructionist tactics.

  • saying "no" might be a good political strategy but it does nothing to create jobs or help improve the lives of struggling americans.

  • we understand that there is great anger, anxiety and frustration among voters as the economy continues its recovery. that is why senate democrats will continue to do everything that we can to strengthen our economy, put americans back to work, reform wall street and address the health care crisis.

  • republican hypocrisy on debt limit puts our economy, seniors and veterans at risk

  • failing to raise the debt limit would undermine our nation's credit worthiness, badly weaken our economy and put social security and veterans benefits at risk.

  • in 2001, america enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion.

  • republicans squandered those surpluses by spending wildly on massive tax breaks for the wealthy and special interests, leaving president obama with a $1.3 trillion deficit on the day he took office last year.

  • now, as the time comes to take responsibility for those mistakes, senate republicans want to pass the buck.

  • senate democrats didn't create this problem — we are simply cleaning up the fiscal mess that we inherited from the last administration in order to avoid the economic catastrophe that would be created if the united states defaulted on our debt.

  • when they were in control, senate republicans voted seven times to raise the debt limit and refused to pay for the costs of major initiatives. their claims of fiscal purity do not square with their record of wasteful spending and excess.

  • increasing the debt limit does not authorize a single penny of new spending — it allows the government to pay bills already incurred.

  • standing against this measure would demonstrate yet again that senate republicans have no real plan to solve our nation's economic challenges they helped create.

  • republicans, now more than ever, have a responsibility to work with us to move our nation forward with economic policies that continue us on the path to recovery.

charitable supporters will give them credit for attacking the party of "no!" but no crew wants to follow a captain that cries "uncle!" and begs his abusers for help.

sigh. looks like it's supermajority minus one full speed ahead, folks.


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