The Imperial Presidency
November 8, 2010

My latest Salon column was prompted, at least in part, by a post Conor Friedersdorf wrote last week, in which he asked why “the Daily Show left” seemed to have lost so much interest in protecting civil liberties now that they had their Democratic president. I question some of the premise — I have no idea who counts as part of the Daily Show left, nor do I think it’s Jon Stewart’s job to grill the president on matters of policy — but Freidersdorf’s point still struck a nerve. I can’t speak for the rest of the Daily Show left, but I am on the left, I watch The Daily Show, and for the past two years I haven’t been treating these issues with nearly the attention I think they deserve.

Anyway, I’ve made a resolution to rededicate myself to this The more people who do, the better.

The Midterms
November 3, 2010

The first thing I did at work today was accidentally spill some hot coffee on myself. That felt pretty much the whole way the previous evening did: briefly unpleasant, but not as bad as it could have been, all things considered. The biggest problem was having to live with the consequences for awhile afterwards.

You won’t hear me say this often, but I’m going to say it now: Look on the bright side. Sharron Angle, easily the most deranged Senate candidate in a good long time, did not make it. I have never been, and will never be again, this happy to see Harry Reid on my television. And while Prop 19 did not pass, surely the fact that its existence was more than a late night punch line suggests that time is on the side of the anti-prohibitionists.

And while the Tea Party had a pretty good night, there’s another silver lining there. The two sides of the Republican Party have been sniping at one another for at least the past week, and I predict more internecine strife to come. If the GOP leadership’s pact with the extreme right proves unsustainable, then that bodes well for the future of some sort of sanity.

July 14, 2010

President Barack Obama talks with White House ...
Image via Wikipedia

Steve Clemons is one of my favorite commentators on matters of foreign policy, but, as with many brilliant IR wonks, I often find his thoughts on domestic politics to be rather lacking. Case in point, his scolding of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for conceding the obvious: that the Democrats might very well lose the House in November.

Clemons fails to acknowledge that by ratcheting down expectations, Gibbs is trying to head off the PR catastrophe for the Democrats if the GOP does seize the House. If Democrats can honestly claim that this is something they anticipated, and is not, in fact, some kind of enormous, unexpected coup, then it will soften the blow a little bit, and potentially blunt some of the Republican momentum.

More to the point, the White House needs the liberal base of the Democratic Party to realize just how likely a possibility Republican control of the House actually is. If that happens, then the left’s legislative agenda could conceivably come to a dead stop for the next two years. Right now, quite a few liberal activists are disappointed with what Obama has been able to accomplish, and as a result they’ve been less than totally onboard with this election. Gibbs is telling them: Get to work, or else this could get a whole lot worse.

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