Commentary Magazine


Reason to Rush

Many question the Obama team’s approach of trying to achieve several liberal goals all at once. It distracts, conveys political extremism, and simply doesn’t take account of the slow-moving pace of the Congressional calendar. But the president has a point. The 2010 election cycle could turn out more problematic for Democrats than even the most optimistic Republicans may have imagined.

The Senate was fraught with peril for Republicans — Jim Bunning and Arlen Specter looked especially vulnerable. But things change very fast in politics. As the Time’s blog (hardly a cheering section for Republicans) explains:

But then came the Roland Burris/Blago fiasco that has left Dem prospects of holding Obama’s seat in Illinois dicey. Chris Dodd was in melt down mode well before his AIG bonus flap. Democrats are doing everything they can to plaster Mike Bennet’s virtually unknown face all over Colorado. Kirsten Gillibrand is facing primary challenges and the same name recognition issues as Bennet. And Harry Reid has the worst approval ratings of the lot, with just 34% of Nevadans liking the job he’s doing. All of which translates to defending five Democrat incumbents with approval ratings below 50% (not to mention Barbara Boxer who’s hovering @ 52%). Menendez is going to have his hands full on defense now, as well as offense, making for a much more interesting than anticipated 2010 Senate season.

So there is reason for Obama to rush through his ultra-liberal agenda. The only problem: those same red-state Democrats (both in the House and Senate) facing tough elections may not be very anxious to go along. And you see the likes of Evan Bayh ( plus twenty-one other Senate and House Democrats) voting against the budget; you see cap-and-trade losing steam; and there’s even some foot shuffling over nationalized health-care.

The one approach that might actually secure Democrat majorities — a fiscally responsible, moderate course on domestic policy and a robust defense of American interests abroad — seems not to be in the offing for the Obama administration. In November 2010 we’ll see whether the president’s chosen course has been a political miscalculation.

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