What a week
This past week was an extraordinary one for politics watchers. It had the feel of a national political convention week -- all the pols, the pundits, the excitement of non-stop news. (START is dead! No it lives! The omnibus spending bill is monstrous! Oh my, that's dead, too.) But unlike a political convention that simply chooses leaders and quickly fades into the atmosphere (Quick: who were the keynote speakers for the two parties in 2008?), the week had meat -- constitutional law (wow, the Commerce Clause might have some bite left in it), ideological watersheds (we are all Bush tax cutters now), social breakthroughs (in a few years, will anyone care about any issue regarding gays?), and foreign policy intrigue (just how desperate is the administration to prostrate itself before the Russians?).
Big things happened. President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (I typed "majority leader" and had to correct, but he surely seems like the one running the place) may be the next Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill political odd couple. ObamaCare, by a combination of judicial surgery (a mandate-ectomy) and a starvation diet (not the Zone Diet, but the DeMint-McConnell-Boehner-Ryan Squeeze), suddenly seemed in peril.
The week's events also confirmed that Congress, not the preliminary 2012 Republican primary scramble, will be where the action is for conservatives over the next few months. None of the often-mentioned contenders are anxious to get into the race, although preening for the base is very much underway (Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Rep. Mike Pence, unlike Rep. Dennis Kucinich, opposed the tax agreement because you can never say "yes" and impress the hardest of the hardliners.)
The successful repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" confirms the Tea Party formula -- focus on economic issues -- is the effective one for Republicans. Moreover, the notion that liberals must run to the courts to impose gay marriage is undermined by the realization that our elected leaders do, in fact, reflect social change.
Meanwhile, the defeat of the DREAM Act, with the defection of six Democratic votes, suggests the liberals want an issue, not a solution to the immigration problem. (Had the DREAM Act been limited to military service only, wouldn't passage have been much more likely?)
And finally, we were reminded that political power is transient, entirely a function of the popular will. Two years ago, Obama was a colossus on the political stage, and the Democrats had huge majorities in both the House and Senate. A year ago, ObamaCare was jammed through on the narrowest of margins. And this week, the center-right, smaller government ethos -- a mere two years after Obama's election -- appeared triumphant. It won't be always so. But this week it was.
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