Beltway Fever! Catch It!

Doing something because it’s the right thing to do? I just don’t understand it.

Clive Crook is just so confused:

When Max Baucus declared that the president wasn’t helping him, sirens should have gone off in the White House–and some advisers should have been fired on the spot.

Obama could fix this problem so easily. I say that because I don’t think he has strayed as far left as Brooks does. It’s as much about messaging as policy. But he has to start disappointing the party’s liberals. He has to pick a fight or two, and takes sides with the centrists. In choosing the party’s liberals over the party’s moderates, he is repudiating one of the most brilliant campaigns ever seen. I simply don’t understand it.

Crook seems like a fairly smart guy, so why amnesia strikes him here is beyond me. PIcking a fight with the party’s liberals? How about, say, state secrets? Or military commissions? Or releasing the Abu Gharib photos? Or refusing to use the Swedish model to get us out of the fiscal crisis? Or pushing hard on card check? Or a bigger fiscal stimulus? Or advocating for single payer? Put another way: what hasn’t Obama picked a fight with liberals on?

But worse than that is Crook’s inability to understand why in the world Obama has pushed so hard for health care reform. Maybe because, you know, it’s good for the country? That we’ll be bankrupted if we don’t somehow reduce costs? That every other developed country has been able to achieve universal care and better health outcomes with a lower costs than the United States? The party’s “moderates” loudly proclaim that they want to reduce costs, and then fight provisions to reduce costs, like the public option. They say they want health care reform, and then try to delay it. There just isn’t a credible position there.

Everything for the Beltway press is about tactics and politics, not policy. Best for the country? That’s so jejeune, especially if it’s a mildly progressive idea. And now even someone like Crook, who isn’t from the Beltway punditocracy, has picked up on it. Nauseating.

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.