Thursday, January 28, 2010

70% of Polled Share Pres. Obama's Priorities

An "instant poll" conducted right after President Obama's speech last night indicated that 70% said President Obama "shares their priorities for the country". This was "up from 57 percent before the speech."

This is good. Doesn't this mean that President Obama should have no problem moving forward on his priorities since 70% of the country supports him? I bet not. Having a majority of the votes in the U.S. Senate these days no longer guarantees passage of legislation. You need 60 votes to pass legislation now.


Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

The far right passed a good chunk of their agenda during Bush's reign with fewer than 60 senators.

I'd like to see the Democrats change the Senate rules back to what they used to be. It used to be in order to fillibuster, you actually had to be talking all the time. You had to physically keep the floor in order to prolong debate. Now, the minority just has to say they want debate to continue and can go on to something else. This is insane.

That being said, I still think the president should push harder than he has. If 70% of the country really agrees with him, he should use that as leverage against undecided Dems and the few moderate Republicans. As politically savvy as he was during the campaign, I think he's failed to really motivate the public to help push senator's push his agenda.

The health care mess is a great example. The right is opposed to it as they would oppose any reform, real or miniscule. But the left isn't motivated because a) there's no real big idea or two to really fire people up and provide a compelling narrative and b) no one knows what's going to be in it so they don't know exactly what to sell anyway and c) they are ambivalent about a lot of what IS likely to be in it. The flip side is that the opposition can easily cherry pick parts of it to criticize or misrepresent. There's no counter.

There are two big things that would motivate the left to really get behind this: single payer or the public option. They never considered the former (for political reasons which I understand) and dropped the latter when there was a little resistance. Plus, that capitulation sent a bad message for the other negotiations. So the opposition is motivated but the support is tepid. That's a poor position to be in.

LBJ was an unelected president who passed a landmark civil rights' bill over the opposition of much of his own party. Yes, he had a larger senate majority and Republicans weren't as recalcitrant then. But he also pushed hard, used public revulsion of the status quo to his advantage and proposed a plan with a big idea that defenders could sell and the public could latch on to. There was opposition to Medicare too but he didn't water it down into something meaningless at the tiniest hint of tension. He fought for it.

Real health care reform is hard to sell in this country because of all money that's against it and willing to misrepresent anything. Where both Obama and Clinton made their mistake was to not offer a clear, coherent plan that the ordinary person can understand, and instead presented a giant mismash of things whose benefits only wonks can really grasp but whose provisions can easily be manipulated by the malicious opponents that are always going to be there.

That's why I'd like to see someone try to push single payer. The same vicious, deceitful opposition is going to be there but it has the potential to rally the public in a way that co-ops and tax breaks do not. It might well fail. But then again, so did Hillary-care. And the chances of current Dems' plan aren't looking so hot either. At the very least, they should go back to the public option and make it the center piece of their sales' pitch. It's better to fail with your best, compromise and get something imperfect but pretty decent instead than to fail with something ok, compromise and get something piss poor. Why spend all your political capital on something like that?

Sorry this is so long but it's a topic that's important and should be a winner for the Dems.

PCS said...

I agree with everything you wrote. Two problems, the President hasn't been a strong enough leader on this issue and the Democrats are pussies. They need to hire Tom Delay as a consultant. But what has really bothered me are all the out-and-out lies being told by the opposition. That is bad enough, but then we have a good proportion of our citizens who believe these lies. Lastly, the last time I got to question a Democrat who was running for Congress I asked if he would be willing to vote for a Bill he believed in, even if it might mean he would likely not be reelected. He said yes (and I believed this particular candidate - Mike Oot). That is the kind of representative I want sent to Congress.

PCS said...

Hmmmm, I never saw that first comment. I certainly didn't delete it because I don't delete comments.

Brian said...

NB-There was a cut and paste error I made in reworking the first comment so I deleted and reposted the correct.