With Sen. Lindsey Graham calling Obama AWOL on the stimulus package today, and Blue Dog Democrats in full rebellion mode against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it is clear that politics as usual has returned to Washington, D.C.
On Fox News Graham said, “This process stinks. We’re making this up as we go and it is a waste of money. It is a broken process, and the president, as far as I’m concerned, has been AWOL on providing leadership on something as important as this. Scaring people is not leadership. Writing an editorial that if you don’t pass this bad bill we’re going to have disaster — we’ve had enough presidents trying to scare people to make bad decisions. I like President Obama, but he is not leading. Having lunch is not leading … and doing TV interviews is not leading.”
Let me translate Graham’s comments for you. President Obama has not been able to get Pelosi and the House Democrats under control. He should be leading his own party. We know that Obama is popular, and that there is nothing that we can do to stop the bill, but Republicans want this to be Obama’s bill, because we are laying the groundwork for the 2010 mid-term elections. We plan on labeling this bill a failure and running against it next year.
While on the side of the Capitol in the House, Blue Dog Democrats want the wasteful spending cut from the stimulus bill, or they are threatening to take their 49 Democratic votes and walk away. According to Politico, the fiscally minded Blue Dogs could sink the compromise bill by opposing a procedural vote before final consideration. This issue between the Blue Dogs and Pelosi is really about the iron fisted way she runs the House. The conservative Democrats have been upset since Pelosi rammed through the $700 billion bailout bill last fall. They also want full legislative review restored to committees and subcommittees.
The Blue Dogs don’t want to embarrass Obama, who they will meet with next week, which is why they will support the bill after getting assurances from the president that he will tackle the budget deficit. However, Obama’s days of staying above the fray are over. He has already signaled this with the tougher warnings about the consequences of not passing the bill that got Sen. Graham so riled up. Obama tried the compromise route with Republicans, but they are more interested in winning the 2010 election than bipartisanship, so look for Obama to return to the traditional presidential role of the bully pulpit. Changing Washington is a great idea, but it works better in theory than it does in practice.