Barack Obama: America’s Leading Liberal

Obama abandons his friends and caves to his enemies on the stimulus.

…if you follow Robert Frost and define a liberal as a man “who is too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”

He lets Daschle go today after allegedly fully backing him yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, he completely checks out on the fight over transit funding, which could be the best long-term, energy-independent, and greenest stimulus there is. Obviously, Larry Summers, who did such a wonderful job with the international economy in the 90’s, has apparently persuaded the President that moving away from auto dependency is a bad thing.

Senate Republicans just filibustered the Murray Amendment, which would have opened up the bill for more transit. Cloture failed by two votes, one of which was a missing Ted Kennedy (who surely would have shown had it been necessary).

The other? Judd Gregg. Who just nominated him for something?

Meanwhile, alleged Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (R-IL) has been taken to an undisclosed location. No one seems to have heard from him.

Maybe Obama will put all this stuff back in during the budget, which cannot be filibustered. But if you cave to your enemies and don’t back up your friends, you’ll find yourself with a lot of the former and few of the latter.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.