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The Morning Plum: Fury among House Dems

* The lid has suddenly been ripped off and the seething tensions and anger among Democrats have now been laid bare. As I noted here yesterday, House Dems are furious that they will be the ones who get shellacked in the midterms -- largely because of the dithering of the Senate and White House on the economy.

This despite the fact that House Dems have already succeeded in doing the heavy lifting on their side on jobs- and unemployment-related measures and other legislation.

* Now House Dems are going public with this grievance and many others. Rep. Bill Pascrell boils it down:

"What the hell do they think we've been doing the last 12 months? We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes."

* House Dems also charge that the White House is putting far more effort into helping embattled Senate candidates than into helping them.

* John Cole adds:

If I were a Democrat in the House I'd be pissed, too. Without question, they've been the most responsible and pro-active part of the government on every issue to come before them, and they are the ones about to get pasted in the mid-terms. I'd be screaming bloody murder, too.

More on this dynamic later.

* Speaking of Senate dithering: Dem leaders have decided to press forward with a shadow of their former hopes for a climate bill, though enviros seem to think it's a good foundation for more action later.

* Bold pronouncement of the day: Paul Krugman accuses Obama of "systematically echoing and giving credibility to all the arguments of the people who want to destroy him."

* Concession of the day: Politico's top-dog editors, noting that financial regulatory reform is expected to pass a key vote today, allows that Obama is no Jimmy Carter and is largely delivering on his promises.

* Also in the above link: Obama advisers are frustrated that the message that Obama is delivering hasn't broken through.

* Marc Ambinder thinks Republicans may still be vulnerable to charges that they are rooting for failure.

* White House to business community: Whine all you want, the days when you led government around by the nose are over.

* Breaking: The word "torture" makes an appearance in an article about Dick Cheney. Too bad it was AFP, and not the American press.

* Senate Republicans continue to press the case that tax cuts for the rich don't count as costs.

* And Sharron Angle goes on Fox News because the network allows her to raise money on the air, unlike the rest of the lamestream networks.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  July 15, 2010; 8:28 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Financial reform , House Dems , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Politico's theory: Liberal bloggers don't care if Dems sustain large losses this fall

Comments

"* Concession of the day: Politico's top-dog editors, noting that financial regulatory reform is expected to pass a key vote today, allows that Obama is no Jimmy Carter and is largely delivering on his promises.

* Also in the above link: Obama advisers are frustrated that the message that Obama is delivering hasn't broken through."

To prudently use a euphemism here... no poop!

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

bernie -- it's my understanding that that ad about the mosque is all a sham...more on that later, hopefully

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 15, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"Paul Krugman accuses Obama of "systematically echoing and giving credibility to all the arguments of the people who want to destroy him."

"Obama advisers are frustrated that the message that Obama is delivering hasn't broken through."

Am I the only one who sees cause and effect between these two? Maybe if Obama would actually stand up occasionally and fight for something that he really believed in then maybe people would start giving him some credit for delivering. I look back at the HCR fight and I don't think about Obama that much...I think about all the work that Pelosi and Reid did to get it done.

He spends so much of his time trying to avoid hurting the feelings of the right that he just seems like a passive player in the whole process. I understand that there's a lot of work that's going on behind the scenes and there's got to be some room for compromise, but just once I would like to see Obama say "I think X needs to be done and I intend to fight for it".

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 15, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I somehow missed Gerson's last column declaiming the extremism of Angle, Paul and others about to run for office and the support explicitly or implicitly given them by broad elements of the conservative camp. He notes the "coldness" of Libertarianism (by which he means "heartlessness" or lack of human empathy for those suffering). Sheesh, he even makes a comparison between these folks and hippies in Che t-shirts (is there a more serious derogation for conservatives?)

So, let's give Gerson kudos for finally writing something that sounds like it didn't fall in from some other planet.

Yet, even though Gerson speaks out against the extremities of what is afoot in the nation and in his movement, it would be difficult to find a more profound example of intellectual and moral cowardice than this.

Gerson utterly refuses to identify agency here. He cannot bring himself to point to FOX or to Limbaugh or even to "talk radio" or to the strategists/lobbyists like Dick Armey or organizers like Norquist and Weyrich or funders like Scaife and Coors and Bradley or extremist ideologues like Schlafly or the propagandist functionaries at NRO and Weekly Standard and WSJ who have forwarded unceasing attacks on the possibility of responsible governance and who continue to push Sarah Palin! as an exemplar of the proper sort of leader - all of whom have been instrumental in driving the movement so far to the right's ugly extremities such that the Republican Party is now at risk of "riding a massive wave towards a rocky shore".

And why the hell didn't Gerson perceive years ago, as so many of us have, that this consequence was inevitable?

Much too little. Much too late, Mr. Gerson.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

@Greg...that's a hell of an interesting twist. Can't wait to hear.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I want to sign on to this:

(quote)
The liberal echo chamber

Polls show most self-described liberals still strongly support Obama. But an elite group of commentators on the left — many of whom are unhappy with him and are rewarded with more attention by being critical of a fellow Democrat — has a disproportionate influence on perceptions.

The liberal blogosphere grew in response to Bush. But it is still a movement marked by immaturity and impetuousness — unaccustomed to its own side holding power and the responsibilities and choices that come with that.

So many liberals seem shocked and dismayed that Obama is governing as a self-protective politician first and a liberal second, even though that is also how he campaigned. The liberal blogs cheer the fact that Stan McCrystal’s scalp has been replaced with David Petreaus’s, even though both men are equally hawkish on Afghanistan, but barely clapped for the passage of health care. They treat the firing of a blogger from the Washington Post as an event of historic significance, while largely averting their gaze from the fact that major losses for Democrats in the fall elections would virtually kill hopes for progressive legislation over the next couple years.

In private conversations, White House officials are contemptuous of what they see as liberal lamentations unhinged from historical context or contemporary political realities.
(unquote)
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39772_Page4.html

The truth hurts. The promising liberal blogosphere has had precisely zero impact on the beltway narrative. There was a time, for instance, that Glenn Greenwald was read and taken seriously, but his descent into daily unhinged ranting, Emptywheel and Digby's stale stuff, Media Matters' confusion of politics with journalism, Hamsher's descent into madness, Atrios' sneering putdowns the reverberating echos of Benen, Klein, Drum, Yglesias, each writing about what the other has written, is all just boring.


Worse, when one points out where one could be more constructive in having an impact, one gets berated and ridiculed. The opportunity is passing -- or has passed -- us by. That's a shame.

Posted by: TomBlue | July 15, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

@schrod - I sympathize with your view and recognize it is held by many respectable and smart folk.

But every now and again I do the thought experiment of yanking Lincoln up from the past and plunking him down in a 2010 Presidency. How would he fare?

And I find it hard to imagine that he would fare much better than Obama. The problem seems akin to an election of an inmate-leader in an asylum...regardless of who gets picked, swimmingly is not the way things will go.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I am glad that the House is whining NOW in July then in September.

It is important that the White House hears their complaints and will address them accordingly.

By September the Democrats NEED to be united in order to hold on to the House and Senate. If this infighting continues a house divided is weaker than a house united and the losers will be the Dems themselves.

Posted by: maritza1 | July 15, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I am glad that the House is whining NOW in July then in September.

It is important that the White House hears their complaints and will address them accordingly.

By September the Democrats NEED to be united in order to hold on to the House and Senate. If this infighting continues a house divided is weaker than a house united and the losers will be the Dems themselves.

Posted by: maritza1 | July 15, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I am glad that the House is whining NOW in July then in September.

It is important that the White House hears their complaints and will address them accordingly.

By September the Democrats NEED to be united in order to hold on to the House and Senate. If this infighting continues a house divided is weaker than a house united and the losers will be the Dems themselves.

Posted by: maritza1 | July 15, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

TomBlue wrote: "The promising liberal blogosphere has had precisely zero impact on the beltway narrative. There was a time, for instance, that Glenn Greenwald was read and taken seriously, but his descent into daily unhinged ranting, Emptywheel and Digby's stale stuff, Media Matters' confusion of politics with journalism, Hamsher's descent into madness, Atrios' sneering putdowns the reverberating echos of Benen, Klein, Drum, Yglesias, each writing about what the other has written, is all just boring."

I actually don't consider any one of those sentences factually accurate.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@maritza1 - I guess you've figured out what happened there? One just has to be patient.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The real test for the word "torture" is if it's used in Cheney's forthcoming obituary.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | July 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

And...BRAVO to Argentina for the change in law now allowing gay marriage. Fighting against this move towards equality and liberty and away from bigotry was, of course, the Catholic Church and Evangelical groups in the country.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

"Obama advisers are frustrated that the message that Obama is delivering hasn't broken through."

The message that Obama is delivering is being overwhelmed by negative economic news. Positive news (e.g, the 6 consecutive months of private sector growth, positive GDP for the last two quarters, strong earning reports, drop in jobless claims to their lowest levels in 2 years, 3 consecutive months of foreclosure decreases, etc.) is deemphasized or ignored, because no one in the media wants to seem "out of touch." Even though, by definition, the recession is over, no one -- including the White House -- is willing to declare it so. So, we all just drone along talking about how terrible things are.

Certainly, I understand that there are many who are experiencing tough times. But, it's not all doom and gloom in this nation. I mean, 1.7 million everyday folks are doing well enough to run out and buy a new $200+ iPhone. How does that jibe with the notion that we're "actually" in a "depression" as some have recently asserted? Maybe the picture is more nuanced.

Also, Obama gets no credit, because anything he does is belittled by the right AND the left (see schrodingerscat's 8:58 am post above).

There's no one to rally behind his achievements, save historians who -- even at this early juncture -- already rank his presidential tenure as one of the most consequential of this nation. For the left, nothing goes far enough. For the right, everything goes too far.

When you pass a bill and then have the left AND the right, who have each cultivated powerful and influential media apparatuses heretofore unseen in politics, ripping your accomplishments apart, it should come as no surprise that your achievements don't resonate.

Additionally, when things are achieved that no one has ever achieved before, and your role in that achievement is dismissed (again see schrodingerscat's post above), and people on "the internets" (perhaps because the whirlwind of information has caused them to forget or "misremember") rewrite history, and write you into a bit player, you don't get credit.

Being president is a thankless job. When you're in office, few people appreciate you. You don't get your kudos until your time in office has past and you're serving as world diplomat (see: Clinton, William J.).

Posted by: associate20 | July 15, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

All, my response to Politico's attack on the liberal blogosphere:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/07/politicos_theory_liberal_blogg.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 15, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Greenwald being unhinged and Hamsher descending into madness. I do think Media Matters plays an important role still. Benen and Yglesias still seem relevant and based in a fairly stable analysis of what's going on.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 15, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Bernie: "The problem seems akin to an election of an inmate-leader in an asylum...regardless of who gets picked, swimmingly is not the way things will go."

Oh, I agree for the most part. I've tried to refrain from the Obama bashing because I understand what a terrible hand he has been dealt as president: crisis after crisis, the Senate is a joke, the Repubs refuse to do anything but obstruct, and the national media is obsessed with the Palin and the tea partiers. If he's too strong then he's brandished as 'arrogant or angry' and if he doesn't pound on the desk then he's a 'wuss and effiminate'.

I guess my biggest complaint in all of this is just what a terrible job his administration is doing in messaging. Sometimes I feel like we in the blogosphere are the only ones actually defending him because they seem to be absent from most debates. Take extending unemployment benefits: where are they? Every day, all day someone needs to be out there saying "To all of you unemployed: we're trying to help, but the Repubs think it's more important to give tax breaks to the wealthy. You wanna know what they think of you? They think you're lazy; they think you're not looking hard enough; they think you're out buying steak with your $300/week; one congressman even suggested you're hobos. This debate is about whether we should provide help to you to keep the electricity on and buy groceries for your family or whether we should give money to those have nothing better to do with it than stick it in their savings account."

Obama's winning some great victories and the public is screaming for action - but the Republican noise machine is dominating the debate. I just really think the WH needs to re-evaluate their communications team.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 15, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@schrod - and I do agree that the messaging thing continues to get somewhat messed up by them. The weak point in my Lincoln comparison is that it sets aside the necessity of responding to the present situation realistically. My assumption on their reluctance to join the battle in alley-fight mode is a two-parter: it isn't their style and they don't wish to add to the dynamic driving towards the bottom.

But they cannot allow this movement to regain power - that's just a matter of fundamental governing responsibility now.

So, yeah, I want them to get a bit more real about the size, scope and degradation of what they are facing and play a better (and maybe dirtier) game.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 15, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@Bernie, those were opinions, not facts.

@mike, sure, but if you read Plum Line, you already know all about everything Benen and Yglesias write about, right? That's the point -- *they all write about the same things.* And in my opinion, their opinions aren't that interesting. Your mileage may differ, of course.

Posted by: TomBlue | July 15, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@Bernie
"I actually don't consider any one of those sentences factually accurate."

FWIW, I don't either. I disagree with all of them vehemently.

"his descent into daily unhinged ranting"
"Emptywheel and Digby's stale stuff"
"Media Matters' confusion of politics with journalism"
"Hamsher's descent into madness"
"Atrios' sneering putdowns the reverberating echos of Benen, Klein, Drum, Yglesias, each writing about what the other has written"

Good Lord, @TomBlue, aren't YOU unhinged and ranting? Exactly which of the liberal blogs meets your (undefined) standards?

Posted by: msmollyg | July 15, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"This despite the fact that House Dems have already succeeded in doing the heavy lifting on their side on jobs- and unemployment-related measures and other legislation."
------------------------------------------

LOL. Define "heavy lifting." I haven't exactly seen House Democrats assemble 100% of their caucus plus a couple of Republicans for any vote of any consequence lately. And that of course would be the minimum threshold for success for senate Democrats, like it or not.

They're basically saying, "Look! We're lifting 100 pounds and the senate is only putting up 60 kilos. They're not doing their share." Screw that.

Posted by: CalD | July 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

more liberal whining. More music to the ears. This is fun.

the facts are just too simple for the sophists here. The house Democrats voted for things the American people don't want.

So they pay the price. It is really that simple. What's Obama gonna do? Is he going to tell people that they shouldn't be angry at their representative because it wasn't their fault that they voted the way they did?

to quote Shrek; "Yeah, like that'll happen"

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 15, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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