No surrender!

Obama hits it out of the park.

That’s the Obama I voted for:

* Pinning the blame for gridlock where it belongs.

* Not backing off an inch on health care.

* Not backing off on an inch on energy and  climate change.

* Going after the financial sector twice, once with the big-bank tax and again with consumer financial protection.  Those are going to be tough “no” votes for the Republicans, and I doubt they’ll be able to hold ranks when forced to cast them over and over and over again.

* Demanding a jobs bill, with the “freeze” to come after two years of hefty increases in domestic spending.

* And, predictably, moving forward on DADT.  (I hope that those who predicted otherwise will inquire into the errors in method that led to to that mistake.)

Yes, I could have done without a capital gains tax cut for small businesses. But on the substance it was basically fine, on the politics he did his “triangulation” against the conservadems and the GOP – making them “Washington” standing in the way of getting the nation’s business done, and on the rhetoric he was pitch-perfect, framing a solidly progressive agenda in the rhetoric of national greatness.

I watched at an OFA debate-watching party, and I think that crowd went home energized.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

6 thoughts on “No surrender!”

  1. Even pretty talk like this is cheap unless it's backed up by actions. Let's see if he improves on the recent history so nicely described by Zasloff in the previous post. Like him, I'll judge Obama on the results he gets. Maybe this latest in a string of nice speeches is the key to some real accomplishments. Or maybe it's just another nice speech. We'll see. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised.

    Yes, he's talking about moving forward on DADT, but talking about what he plans to do isn't doing it, so I'd hold off on accusing anybody of "errors" just yet.

    I look forward to the day when I can enjoy these speeches again, but first I'll have to recover a basis for believing them.

  2. Don, I'm already counting the $100 I'm going to win from JZ when DADT is repealed this year. Would you like some of that action?

    Here's the process:

    1. House Armed Services writes DADT repeal into the Defense authorization bill, with the SecDef (seen applauding tonight) and the Joint Chiefs testifying in favor.

    2. The bill then goes to the Senate, where the repeal section can't be filibustered as an amendment. All the GOP can do is filibuster the entire Defense bill, with troops in the field in two theaters. Good luck with that.

    3. The President signs the bill.

    Even money, any amount you like up to $10k.

  3. Mark, that's a plausible scenario, but there are other ones:

    1) The House DOESN'T pass a repeal because of the Stupakites and moderates worried about the issue; OR

    2) The House does what you say; but the Senate gets hung up on it because the GOP filibusters it.

    Now, you say that in the second scenario, the Republicans get hammered for blocking defense funding in the middle of a war. Maybe. But maybe the headlines read, "Defense appropriations hung up over gays-in-the-military." Then the administration has to decide whether it wants a public fight over DADT. And the right-wingers start screaming about how Obama won't fund our troops because he is so committed to Teh Gay Agenda. And the Republicans realize that this is great: it gets their base even MORE rabid, whereas it is a fight on turf where Democrats don't want to be. And then Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson say that really the important thing is funding the troops and we really shouldn't be doing this after all.

    Does Obama back down after hearing for two weeks from Rahm about how stupid this is? Does he risk a bad media spin? Do they come up with some other face-saving compromise that does nothing?

    I hope you're right, but I fear that I am.

    The question, as always, is whether Obama wants to take a political risk in the middle of an election year.

  4. But the public is way, way, way on the right side of this: 56-37 according to Quinnipiac: a complete reversal from 1993. And that's before the hearings where Gates and the Chiefs say they've done the studies and it's time to let everyone serve. Other than fighting the bankstas, it's hard to find an issue that's better for us or worse for them, once the brass is on board, which it apparently is.

    If the Republicans could mount a successful filibuster, maybe they'd try it. But are Snowe, Collins, Brown, Voinovich, and Lugar going to vote against cloture on the Defense Authorization on this issue, when the Republican Secretary of Defense and the former Republican Congressman who is now Secretary of the Army are both in favor of the change? In Jim Dobson's dreams!

  5. You guys need to settle down a bit. If Zas wants to be a bit cynical, let him. He's earned it. But as for the right-wing talking point about nice speeches, I suppose you believe that the public gets behind a policy based on reading white papers. The SOTU is watched by a fair amount of the non obsessed so the "nice speech" is likely to focus their support behind more positive frames than the party has cared to provide them so far. Perhaps it will bring other factions together as well, but one thing is a sure bet; if it was a mediocre speech, it wouldn't do crap.

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