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Behind the Obama comeback in lame-duck season.
A lot will be made of Barack Obama’s remarkable political recovery since his electoral “shellacking” of 6 weeks ago.
A politician who appeared to be headed for two possible years of lame-duckness was saved by the most active lame duck session of Congress in generations.
• They passed the tax “deal,” which included a few of Obama’s wish-list of non-stimulative “stimulus.”
• They passed a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (“DADT”), probably going a long way to soothe the far left fringe who were angry about the tax deal.
• They passed the START treaty.
• They passed the 9/11 “First Responders” health care bill
Each of these measures except for DADT repeal was done after substantial modification to the Democrats’ preferred legislation to meet Republican demands.
The short-term impact of this rapid-fire success for Obama was for him to reassert his primacy within the Democratic Party, a position which he’d de facto delegated to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid by his absence during important policy debates, not least the socialized medicine bill commonly, and somewhat ironically given his near invisibility during the discussion, called Obamacare.
Obama is like a boxer who was beaten against the ropes, got a gash over his eye, but was helped by a good trainer between rounds and came out punching with surprising effectiveness against opponents who had thought that they had already won the bout.
That’s the good news for Obama. He would be wise not to get overconfident.
The START Treaty, once certain aspects of its applicability to possible future missile defense systems was cleared up, was not extremely objectionable. And it was unlikely to have failed even in the next Senate session once Republicans had had time to pretend to understand or care about it, which only a handful of Senators of either party do.
The 9/11 health care bill hubbub was primarily a debate about cost. The GOP got certain pork stripped from the bill, got the cost cut by more than 50%, and it passed with bipartisan support…as it would have in the next session as well.
Even DADT repeal, having gotten 65 votes in the Senate and passing the House with a 75-vote margin, is reasonably likely to have gone through in 2011 if it didn’t go through now.
And finally, hindsight on the tax “deal” is a colossal bundle of “what ifs” for both sides, with arguments being made by Republicans and Democrats alike that the other side played its hand better. Many conservatives believe that a GOP-majority House could have gotten a better deal in 2011 than was agreed to in the past few weeks. With a resurgent Obama and a Senate maintaining a Democrat majority, I’m skeptical of that claim. Furthermore, it’s hard to believe that whatever modest improvement could have been made would have been worth the economic turmoil certain to have been caused by tax rates rising, even if that rise were later retroactively rescinded.
The presidential election, just like our just-passed mid-term election, will be all about government spending and unemployment. While a few on the extremes of both parties might remember DADT repeal going into the 2012 elections, nobody will particularly care or talk about the 9/11 health care bill or the START Treaty. The tax issues, on the other hand, will be front and center again as the tax rate extension expires in two years.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?