Hagel

I understand all the battles on the merits, and in the end don’t know that they make all that much of a difference. In the end, these guys do what the president tells them to anyway, and if they don’t they’re replaced.

I think it is a genius political move though, for this reason. The vast majority of the public will get exactly this much information and nothing more: President Obama nominated a Republican to be secretary of defense, and the Republicans in Congress are against it and are fighting the president on it. And that’s it. That’s the extent of the story that will really penetrate the public at large’s consciousness.

It will play perfectly into Obama’s narrative that the Republicans cannot take yes for an answer and that they don’t care about the country and are against whatever Obama does simply and only because Obama does it.

That will likely become the general public understanding of how things work in Washington right now (and it’s pretty accurate). And that will help Obama and give him leverage in the fight over the debt ceiling. The public will believe him and support him in pressuring the Republicans not to crash the world economy with a debt ceiling fight simply to spite Obama. The Republicans with a modicum of sanity left, even perhaps including Boehner, will see that and not have the stomach for the fight that shouldn’t be fought. The true believers on the far right of the party will of course still think crashing the world economy is the right thing to do. In the end, it will only result in a further fracturing of the Republican party, and that is good. Because we need a sane Republican party, and we’re not likely to get it back until the crazies have their day and destroy what is left of the party, at which point they will be marginalized and pushed out and the party can begin to rebuild.

Even with all this leverage, the question remains what Obama means when he says he will not have another fight over the debt ceiling, as he has said. He did not say what that meant. We have to hope it means he’ll just invoke the 14th amendment and end run around the Republican crazies, and let the courts decide if the Republicans push it. We have to hope it is that and not that he will cave and give away the store on spending cuts to make the crazies happy (cause face it, they’ll never be happy as long as Obama is in power, no matter what he does).

Are you as tired as I am of living in interesting times?

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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