Specifically, Republicans in Washington could not care less about helping Barack Obama accomplish anything, much less his precious stimulus bill, and cable news commentators remain, for the most part, either abjectly stupid or uninterested in treating the economic crisis that's unfolding with the seriousness it deserves.
Obama finally realized this last week and reinserted himself into the "debate" over the stimulus, after having allowed it to be wrenched out of his hands, as Digby, Atrios, Josh Marshall and others have chronicled.
The question, assuming a Senate-House compromise passes in coming days, is how much lasting damage has been done in the public arena on the subject of government spending, and how will it hinder the rest of Obama's domestic agenda, from reshaping the health care system to protecting Social Security, not to mention the second stimulus bill he'll have to craft once this one proves to be insufficient.
I've long thought Obama's "change" mantra was kind of silly, but apparently he meant it and would actually like to transform the rancorousness that characterizes the political debate between left and right. Hey, good for him. But if he really intends to fix Washington, that's the sort of thing I would characterize as a long-term project. My advice in the short term would be to put more emphasis on getting shit done and less on the happy talk.
Until he retook the initiative late last week, Obama seemed to have thought that he could say some nice things about John McCain and other Republicans and invite them over for cookies and a shimmering blanket of fairy dust would settle over the capital. And then the hearts of the Republicans in the House and Senate would grow three sizes, and they'd no longer be the people who during the election called him a Muslim terrorist who wants to force your children to have gay sex.
In the meantime, Republicans spent several weeks telling Wolf Blitzer, John King, David Gregory, Chuck Todd and all the rest to open their mouths for a spoonful of nummy, nummy bullshit about the perils of spending and pork. This from the same party whose Nazgul overlord declared about six years ago that deficits "don't matter."
On the brink of what could become the most devastating economic implosion since the Great Depression, congressional Republicans were busy listening to a "speech" by "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, who says the government, like a household, should cut spending and balance its books when it hits hard times.
Oh, that's nice, Joe! Thanks for the tip. So I take it you're not a Keynesian, then?
Honestly, why am I still being oppressed by this douchebag's presence on the national stage? Can someone please grab a sharp hook and yank him off it?
Some Republicans are stupid. But others are cunning. Like Rush Limbaugh, the buffoon king who sits at the gravitational center of their id, they would like Obama's plan to fail, as many in the liberal blogosphere have noted, so that they can point to that failure in 2010 and beyond to reclaim political power.
They would rather risk economic catastrophe, one that could put millions of Americans like you, theoretical reader, and me out of their jobs -- not to mention their own constituents, particularly those with low incomes -- than abandon their small-government "principles," principles they conveniently ignored during the reign of George W. Bush -- who presided over the largest expansion of government spending in history -- except for their opposition to TARP, which, given the president's lame-duck status and McCain's looming defeat, was also colored darkly by politics.