Eugene Robinson: “Power without purpose…doesn’t get you anywhere”


    As I watch the White House and Congressional Democrats flounder in the post-election-wipeout period generally, and specifically on the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts – adding $4 trillion to the national debt over the next decade in the process – I become more and more disappointed, disenchanted, and ultimately disgusted with the spinelessness and cluelessness of (many of) my party’s so-called “leaders.” Here’s a case of classic Republican craziness — wildly irresponsible public policy, the main purpose of which is to satisfy the Republicans’ wealthy donors who put them in power. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the Republicans’ continuing longer-term purposes: 1) to “defund” government, except for corporate welfare, the military, and rich people; 2) to make government unworkable so it fails, which they can then point to and say “see, government fails!”; and 3) “break Obama” so they can return to power and never let go of it again.

    Given all this, of course the White House and leading Congressional Democrats are fighting back with everything they have, particularly since they still control many of the levers of power in Washington, not to mention the “Bully Pulpit?”  Oh wait, they’re not fighting back at all? Huh? They’re actually negotiating with Republicans on blowing up the deficit/debt by extending the Bush tax cuts, even as the “deficit commission” issues its report, clearly stating that extension of said tax cuts is completely unaffordable?  Argh.

    With that sound of utter exasperation and pounding of head on desk, I strongly recommend Eugene Robinson’s superb op-ed in today’s Washington Kaplan Post, entitled, “Tax cut fight highlights Democrats’ missing convictions.”  The conclusion is that nobody knows where, if it exists at all, the Democratic Party’s “bottom line” happens to be. Also, the Republicans remain monomaniacally disciplined – on their agenda for the wealthiest Americans, for their corporate overlords, and for their goal of making Obama “fail” – while the Democrats completely flounder. Then, we’ve got President Obama failing to “fight for the principles that got him elected.”  

    In the end, what does this all add up to?  Nothing good, either in terms of public policy or in terms of political calculus for the Democrats. So why are they acting this way?  Are they stupid? Spineless? Delusional? Naive? Also serving their wealthy and corporate overlords? All of the above?I’m not completely sure, but one thing I am 100% certain of is that, as Eugene Robinson writes at the end of his op-ed, “Power without purpose, in fact, doesn’t get you anywhere.”  The question is, does anyone in the White House or top levels of Congressional Democratic “leadership” understand that?

    P.S. Let me just point out that I say all this as a committed progressive and as a committed Democrat – at least to the Democratic Party that fights for working people and the middle class, that stands up to the corporations and certainly doesn’t do their bidding, that fights for the environment and minority rights, etc, etc.  Key word in all this? Fights! Fights for what? Democratic principles! (if there are any left at this point, after “triangulation” during the 1990s and whatever the hell we’re calling the cluster**** we’re seeing now)

    • Dan Sullivan

      At least there’s not enough evidence to remove any reasonable doubt.

      I have been dismayed since the copycat “troop surge.” The administration has a record of capitulation through emulation in an effort to gain acquiescence. It will be painful to watch the health care act be “reformed” one aspect after another.

    • JimWebster

      They cave on single payer. They chicken out on real financial regulatory reform. They look to give in on tax cuts for the rich and flirt with cutting the social safety net to reduce the deficit. And now the White Sox take Adam Dunn. Where will it end?

    • Jim B

      Jim “Deminted” said Obama would meet his Waterloo over the health reform bill, but it looks like this lame duck session of congress is going to be his Waterloo.  

    • Cool_Arrow

      In my opinion the best thing policy and politically wise to do would be to let these things expire and start the debate next year. Why continue to debate under something called the “Bush Tax Cuts”? Obama needs to have it called the “Obama middle class tax cuts” not a continuation of the “Bush Tax Cuts”. The problem is two-fold in that you have a GOP caucus that is essentially lockstep in everything against him with the exception of sometimes peeling off Snowe, Collins, Brown, Voinovich, Lugar on some issues but for the most part they won’t even negotiate. Combine that with some DINOs like Ben Nelson, Lincoln, Pryor, Landrieu and you have a very tough hill to climb no matter what.

      These guys need to stop worrying about losing votes and just bring stuff to the floor and let it be defeated. Show the American people that the GOP is against XYZ through their floor votes and not through some backroom negotiation. Hell let the vote fail and then negotiate in the backroom to get some concessions. That is what f’d up HCR and these bozos not having learned their lesson is just brain dead. Just because a bill is defeated doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying and it shows that you are working on it. Look at all of the House Dems who made the tough clean energy vote only to see not even a darn vote on the Senate Floor. This system of needing 60 votes for anything is just killing us. When the day comes that the Republicans have the Presidency and both Houses of Congress one can only hope that the Senate Dems left would pull this same stunt but somehow I doubt it.