Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
The Midterms: A Preliminary Game Plan
The Obama Administration needs to start preparing the ground for the November midterms. Here’s what it should do.
EJ Dionne has a typically smart piece at TNR about how the Democrats can avoid disaster in November’s midterms.Â They will obviously lose some seats, but this doesn’t need to be a repeat of 1994.Richard Cohen, though, is worried that Obama is off his game, which bodes very badly for the midterms.Â
It seems to me that while the administration has a lot of genuine achievements, it has created a huge political problem for itself by going out of its way to alienate its strongest supporters.Â Theoretically, helath care reform will bring many back to the fold, but the inevitable compromises of the dysfunctional Senate have, if anything, dampened Democratic energy.
Usually, Presidents handle this problem by taking executive actions to shore up the base, but Rahm Emanuel seems to know only one play: tell liberals to STFU.Â That might work sometimes, but not in a midterm.
What to do now?
1) Â Â Â Obama should take some high-profile measures regarding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Â He should publicly refuse to dismiss talented linguists who are gay, for example, on national security grounds. Â He has the authority to do this.
2) Â Â Â If and when there is a SCOTUS retirement, he should appoint someone who will unify the base and drive the Reps crazy while appealing to the center. Â My own preferred option is Kathleen Sullivan, the former Dean of Stanford Law School, one of the leading constitutional scholars in the country, and openly gay.
4) Â Â Â Putting reimportation into the 2010 reconciliation bill, and other goodies.
5) Â Â Â The head of Larry Summers on a platter; maybe replace him with Elizabeth Warren.
6) Â Â Â STRONG pushes on very tough financial regulation, forcing the Republicans to defend the bankers.Â The GOP has already said that it will oppose any unified Consumer Protection Agency.Â Let them.
This isn’t hard. Â It makes for good policy and good politics. Â Whether Rahm understands that is a totally different question.
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.
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