Sunday, August 23, 2009

Barack Obama Has To Find His Partisan Balls

The White House needs to abandon dreams of bi-partisanship and get their Democratic Ducks in order.

There will be no health care bill that gets more than one to two Republican votes. It is time for the White House to play harder with the Democrats in Congress, particularly the Senate Dems.

Over the next two election cycles there are eight Democratic Senators running for re-election. It may be time for the party and the President to take advantage of this reality. I don't think it helps these eight Democrats to have a new president under cut on what is likely the biggest policy initiative of his presidency. It would pay off for congressional Democrats to strengthen Barack Obama's political power by passing reform in the strongest form possible.

Since the President, and politics in general, is fond of sports methaphors we can call this last week of August half time. The President needs to set the tone for the team that he leads and have them running out of the locker room with a new game plan and all on the same page. If he can't get firm commitments from the Democrats that strayed from the pack he and the party needs to use real internal party pressure on these politicians. Right now Barack Obama is still the most popular figure in the country and the fundraising possibility is amazing. If the Congressional Democrats want a piece of that they need to get in line. They should be told to imagine the possible electoral and fund raising power of a President that passed a major policy initiative and what that power does for them. Remind them that avoiding huge losses in the mid-terms is good for them as much as it is for the White House.

This week while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard Barack Obama should also make time to sit with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic legislative leaders to stress the importance of changing state succession laws for the US Senate seats as soon as possible. Along with Patrick, President Obama stress to Senator Kennedy the need to resign if the State does change the succession law. It secures the Senator's legacy if a strong bill passes with him in retirement not if a weak bill fails with him kind of in office. A similar conversation should take place with Senator Robert Byrd in West Virginia.

What is likely to be the most important piece of legislation to come out of the Congress in nearly forty years and will create huge changes in our society over the next forty and beyond should not be held up by the lack of congressional and presidential leadership.

Eleanor Clift of Newsweek writes:
"Obama's message of conciliation worked perfectly in the '08 campaign in part because it's an authentic reflection of his personality. Axelrod harbored doubts about whether Obama's aversion to confrontation when it becomes nasty and personal would hamper him as a candidate. 'When it comes to taking a punch, I don't know whether you're Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson,' Axelrod wrote to Obama in a November 2006 memo reported in a new book that reprises the campaign by Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and former Post writer Haynes Johnson. Now Obama supporters are wondering about their man. If they're to see what he's made of, Obama has to first get in the ring. Forget the niceties, it's time to fight."

It is past the time for Barack Obama to get involved in this process. He needs to put out some strong speeches about the moral obligations we have to secure health care for everyone but he needs to get the politics in his party together first.

Photo is from Newsweek Sphere: Related Content

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