Sunday, February 15, 2009

Frank Rich says it so much better than you can

I've been following the coverage of the stimulus package debate for the past couple of weeks and it's been fascinating. The American political press, that which we bloggers refer to as "the MSM," really doesn't have a clue. I'm not going to let this post become a rant. Frank Rich has already said everything I need to say about this topic. I'm just going to provide some remarks, a brief quote, and then I'll encourage you to read Rich's entire column at The New York Times.

Here's Rich talking about what happens when the Republican leadership in Washington, DC begins believing it's own propaganda:
Here’s a third moral: Overdosing on this culture can be fatal. Because Republicans are isolated in that parallel universe and believe all the noise in its echo chamber, they are now as out of touch with reality as the "inevitable" Clinton campaign was before it got clobbered in Iowa. The G.O.P. doesn't recognize that it emerged from the stimulus battle even worse off than when it started. That obliviousness gives the president the opening to win more ambitious policy victories than last week’s. Having checked the box on attempted bipartisanship, Obama can now move in for the kill.
The Republicans on Capitol Hill convinced themselves that voting almost unanimously against the stimulus package would deliver some kind of huge boost to their movement in the eyes of the public. Let me make this perfectly clear: the Republican Party suffered more than a defeat on Friday night, they suffered a disaster.

One of the key memes floating around the last couple of weeks was "political capital." "how much political capital would Obama have to spend to get his stimulus package passed?" That was the question that obsessed the MSM. They had things exactly backwards. The outcome of this process was really never in doubt. Obama was always going to pass some kind of stimulus and he was always going to receive increased political capital as a result. Less then four weeks after being inaugurated, Obama delivered a stimulus package. He even successfully predicted the date: Presidents' Day. In politics, this is the equivilent of calling your shot. Obama won and made it look easy.

No, the mainstream political press blew this one. The real questions they should have been asking were: How much political capital will this cost the Republican Party? How badly can the Republican Party screw this thing up? The answers are "a lot of political capital" and "they have screwed it up pretty much as badly as they could have."

Read Frank Rich's "They Sure Showed That Obama" in The New York Times today.

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