[T]hat would require Democrats to do what has come naturally to Republicans for decades, but is more or less anathema for the helpless, hapless Dems.
It’s called playing hardball. It’s called playing to win.
The lame duck Congress brought some surprises and some notable victories. It’s fair to say, for instance, that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell may the biggest single civil rights leap forward we’ve seen in half a century. That’s no small thing, of course, but it’s well to remember two caveats there. The first is that what we’re talking about is essentially a negative victory -” the undoing of what was a really bad idea to start with, going back to its beginning nearly two decades ago. That may be progress of a sort, but it’s kinda like somebody reaching into your pocket and pulling out a hundred dollar bill, then later handing it back to you. You might feel like you’re that much richer, but you really shouldn’t.
The other missing ingredient here is that the president, who may not have even worked particularly hard behind the scenes for this legislation, surely didn’t get out front on it. That is to say that he -” unlike Lyndon Johnson or Jack Kennedy -” never used the bully pulpit to make the moral case for why this is the right and essential task for the nation at this time. Civil rights legislation and moral haranguing go hand in hand, each reinforcing and further advancing the other. Barack taking a powder on one of the great moral causes of our day doesn’t exactly help make life in America better and safer for gays and lesbians. Indeed, it’s worse than that. By stating that he still opposes gay marriage, he is absolutely part of the problem, not the solution.
My guess is that we’re going to be seeing more of that. The last two years have been disappointing and arguably quite disastrous for the country. That produced a lovely vicious cycle, which gave us Election 2010, the results of which are now likely to produce even more disastrous politics over the coming two years.
This was all ridiculously unnecessary, but that’s how it works with Obama and his party.