Monday, April 05, 2010

Game, Set, And (Almost) Match

With a victory on healthcare firmly in his back pocket, and embarassing the crap out of the GOP who thought they had it lock, stock, and barrel, wither Barack Obama?
For one thing, despite our grousing about Congress and the Democratic leadership, he owes a few chits from the healthcare reform battle, and he will have to mend a few fences for Congresscritters back home, but the news for Dems this year is looking better and better.
That said, there are landmines out there:
1) Justice John Paul Stevens - Republicans have already made it clear they will be obstructionist...gee, what a shock! An avowed and confirmed liberal is leaving the bench and rather than give it a pass, the Republicans have decided to try to move the court further to the Fascist, errr, I mean, right! While Stevens hasn't given a date certain beyond 2012, the sense between the lines is that this retirement may come as early as this summer. Before the midterm elections, forcing a Senatorial spectacle, something Obama really doesn't need. His options would be limited: either fight a nasty fight over an avowed liberal to replace Stevens' ideology, or choose a warm body that Republicans can't put up that much of a fuss over.
I have a suggestion that solves both aspects: Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. It would be hard to pin him as a true-blue liberal when he is personally pro-life (altho supporting choice for women,) but he's old enough (nearing 80) that his service to the bench would be short in duration.
2) Immigration reform - This is the real trap for Obama, but one he can sidestep in the short term. Immigration reform is the most polarizing issue on the national political landscape after healthcare reform. The Teabaggers are licking their, maybe that's an image you don't anticipation of letting the racist-freak flag fly. Democrats are running scared because on the one hand, a significant bloc of their new-found strength is the Hispanic vote and on the other, immigration reform that doesn't include strong penalties for illegal immigration will rally Teabaggers and allies, as well as some normally perfectly liberal people who see immigration as yet another pool of people taking advantage of a bountiful society.
My suggestion: duck and weave. This is not a fight you need to take on until after November, despite the gathering momentum. If you could delay healthcare for over a year, as unfair as this may be, you can delay taking up immigration until the end of this year. John McCain needs this issue, so maybe throwing him a bone in exchange for his help on the Teabaggers would make a little sense, but don't risk your Congressional majority over this. Not until you run for re-election and can take the heat off them in 2012.
3) Jobs - There was desperate good news on jobs last week, in that the jobs report was very positive, based on the hiring of temporary census workers. Obama needs momentum in this direction, and while he's actually lost fewer jobs in his first year than Reagan did in his, the perception is strong that bankers came first. Obama needs a big win here.
Fortunately, Obama has a little political cover on this one: no one wants to see unemployed Americans, no matter how desperate they are for power.
4) Financial reforms - This, I think, will be Obama's next stump speech topic. He can paint any opposition as anathemic to the American people, and simultaneously distance himself from the dance he had to do after Bush's bailout in 2008. The GOP will be painted into a corner, and he picks up an easy win.
Come November, the American people will want to see a government that works. They are less concerned with ideology so long as they see legislators earning their pay and keeping the problems of Americans front and center. We're an adventurous group when the chips are down, and I suspect that if Obama can reel off a few wins in a row this spring and summer, the 2010 elections will be seen less as a referendum on the direction the country is going and more as an endorsement of how fast its getting there.