Less than Machiavellian

So most of us on the Left (insofar as I am on the Left) think that Republicans are master Machiavellian strategists. We hold their political ability, if not their sanity, in extremely high regard. Perhaps this is unwarranted, given our control over the executive and legislative branches, but there you go.

I was chatting with someone today, who asked if I was always for Obama. I said yes, and she said she had been for Clinton. Then she shrugged, and immediately shifted to how horrifying Sarah Palin is.

This got me thinking. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a real rift in the Democratic party between Hillaryites and Obamatons. Things were actually quite tense at family gatherings! It was passionate and emotional. And the Republicans utterly, completely failed to capitalize on it in any way. Pretty much everyone who was for Clinton is now for Obama, or, at least, is not a Republican. They blew a serious opportunity, I think.


  1. http://hillaryis44.com/

    These people don't seem to be on board. Of course, they are loons.

  2. But on your broader point, you are right, epic. They win a lot, and control the debate more often than is comfortable, but I don't think it is all that bright or cunning. I think it is instinctual. They know how to manipulate the media, and know how to lie, and know how to lie with the passionate ferocity of truth. But I don't think they are all that clever. Simply because tactics (aggravatingly) work doesn't mean they are smart.

  3. Wow on hillaryis44. They do seem a very sane, balanced, reasonable bunch.

  4. epic, I think a reason the rift never would have lasted is because Hillary is Secretary of State, which is almost on par with being VP. They have made every effort to be a working team. And, in the end, this was an argument over people, not ideas. Hillary and Barack agreed about 95% on the issues, and it is hard to stay angry at someone who you agree with (and agrees with you)

    As to the Republicans, if this vote passes tomorrow, then the Republicans have utterly failed. The sky will not fall, Obama and the Democrats will enjoy a short bump in the polls, all the magazines will trumpet the achievement of passing this bill in spite of horrendous odds (it is a once in a lifetime bill). The Republicans will then have to pray the economy doesn't rally.

    If they had made an honest effort, then many Republican proposals (like tort reform, expanded HSA's, and sales across state lines) would have been part of the package, but they couldn't bare to allow any glory for Obama deciding to make it his Waterloo. They are right, it is just that Obama is Lord Wellington and they are Napoleon.


  5. charo, I predict the Reps will deliver an ass-kicking of Biblical proportions starting in November. As McArdle says, "If the GOP takes the legislative innovations of the Democrats and decides to use them, please don't complain that it's not fair. Someone could get seriously hurt, laughing that hard." Your side is hurting my children and my future grandchildren. I take that very, very seriously, and I believe a lot of people will agree with me.

  6. I'm not so sure that the rift between the Hillaryites and Obamaites was ever seriously exploitable by the Republicans. Yes, there was the PUMA crowd but they seemed more in thrall to Hillary personally than to any ideology or even to any particular policy proposal. Democrats were pretty much always united in their distaste for Bush and their disdain for Sarah Palin, whatever dubious attraction they might have had for John McCain.

  7. GJ, spare me your sputtering about how this is going to hurt future generations. You don't actually know that.

    As for McArdle's ridiculous statement, it suggests that the GOP:
    1) Wasn't already on its way to victory in November, given that the lingering effects of the recession are still being felt in the unemployment numbers, and
    2) Hasn't been pulling parliamentary crap for years to exclude Democrats from the decision-making process. Yes, it will make little sense for the Democrats to cry if Republicans use reconciliation to bypass the filibuster in the future. But, given how obviously the filibuster is being abused, I don't lament its weakening.

  8. On the contrary, I do know this will hurt future generations. It is a mathematical certainty, a fact as well established as the sun rising in the east. Even the NYT, house organ of the Democratic party, admits that revenue is counted twice, and spending cuts are counted twice. The bill places enormous new financial burdens on the States, and those costs are not considered in the federal budget projections. The "Doc fix" was removed from the bill because it costs a hell of a lot of money, but by not including it, phantom savings could be found.

    The fundamental level of dishonesty in this bill is breathtaking. I really don't know how you can sleep at night when you support this pack of lies and fantasy accounting. You are going to hurt people, real people, and hurt them badly. You should be ashamed.

  9. GJ, I will thank you not to tell me what I should feel, thanks. You will either pay me the same courtesy that I pay you by defending your motives, even when I disagree with your politics, or I will start deleting your comments.

    In the meantime, I will remind you that I work in a challenging field in an economically depressed area with poor families, many of whom fall through the cracks of our current health care system. I have many, many, many families who make too much for public assistance but cannot afford to purchase it on their own, and thus must often defer recommended or prescribed care because they simply cannot afford it. So, amigo, I know that our current health care "system" hurts real people badly every goddamn day. You wanna come here and explain to families how they're going to afford their kid's Flovent every month, or you have a better solution? Start your own blog and tell the world about it.

  10. I offer my sincere apologies for offending you. I do believe that current liberal politics, to the extent they support Obamacare, will hurt people, especially children, and is stealing from future generations. I will be careful to phrase it this way in the future.

    I agree with you that there are improvements that can be made, and I am especially willing to protect children in vulnerable situations. There is nothing in Obamacare of which I am aware that will do the slightest to increase the availablility of medical care for poor children. In fact, MA's experience is that insurance does not result in poor people getting access to physicians. Just doing something isn't good enough, we must do something smart. Obamacare isn't smart. It is sausage, riddled with pork and rewards for pols. It won't do a damn thing for those children for another 4 years. Someone should explain to those families why they can't get coverage till 2014, and why little Janie can't get her Flovent for another 4 years.

  11. First of all, I accept the apology. For what it's worth, it probably wasn't especially conciliatory on my part to describe your objections as "sputtering," so we'll call it even.

    Well, one thing the new bill will do is prevent states from deciding that they'll shore up the budget by cutting CHIP. Like, say, in Arizona.

  12. Maintaining CHIP doesn't increase the availability of care. At best, it prevents a decline for certain groups. And the States are going to cut something if their budgets are in trouble (thanks to Pres. Super-Genius and his crusade to destroy job growth) because they can't print money like Uncle Sam.

    The Feds and the States are running out of Other People's Money. Having the Federal government micromanage State budgets is like having Bernie Madoff managing your retirement account. The Federal budget is a train-wreck, but by the Random Forces of Nature, the Feds know what States ought to do with their money.