Tuesday, May 27, 2008

David Brooks Gets a Hit...

After reading an excerpt at Sullivan's that NYT's concern-troll extraordinaire David Brooks suggests Tom Daschle and Sam Nunn as VP picks for Obama, I clicked through, ready to get medieval on this sure-to-be-bullshit column...

Surprisingly, aside from the names that spit out at the end, Brooks actually has a pretty good point about VP selections...
[link] ...Most discussion focuses on what state or constituency this or that running mate could help carry in the fall. But, as a rule, recent vice presidential nominees haven’t had any effect on key states or constituencies. They haven’t had much effect on elections at all, except occasionally as hapless distractions.

A vice president can, however, have a gigantic impact on an administration once in office (see: Cheney, Richard). Therefore, a sensible presidential candidate shouldn’t be selecting a mate on the basis of who can help him get elected. He should be thinking about who can help him govern successfully so he can get re-elected.

Yeah, yeah...but he nails it here:
If Barack Obama is elected, his chief challenge will be that he hopes to usher in a new style of politics, but he has no real strategy for how to do that.

He will find himself surrounded by highly partisan Democratic politicians, committee chairmen and interest groups thrilled to finally seize power. Some of them might have enjoyed his lofty rhetoric about change, but in practice, these organization types have no interest in changing politics. They just want to take the money and patronage that has been going to Republican special interests and give it to Democratic special interests.

These entrenched Democrats are more experienced than Obama. They know how to play the game better. The effect of their efforts will be to turn his into a Potemkin administration filled with great speeches but without great accomplishments or influence over legislation.

Now I don't think Brooks is giving Obama enough credit—it's not like that shit hasn't occured to Obama, and unlike Brooks, I am sure he has a plan to deal with it. But Brooks makes a good point that just because the President will have a "D" after his name, there is no reason to expect Democrats in Congress and D.C. to suddenly adopt Obama's reformist gameplan. In fact, Democrats drunk on power actually worry me more than marginalized Republicans.

So Brooks starts out right, but comes up with the wrong conclusion. I loathe Daschle, and while he knows how government works, he's hardly what I'd call a firm hand, and not one I would trust near the till. Daschle is precisely the type of politician Obama is running to replace—and the kind of guy I was happy to see sent packing. And Sam fucking Nunn? The future of politics, Mr. Brooks, not ’80s Oldies. Nunn for the cabinet? You bet. On the ticket? Not so much.

I'll give you credit for a single on this column, Brooks, but you tried to stretch it for the double and I have to gun you down.

1 comment:

S.W. Anderson said...

" . . . but in practice, these organization types have no interest in changing politics. They just want to take the money and patronage that has been going to Republican special interests and give it to Democratic special interests."

Yes, there will probably be some of that. But there will be — at least there should be — a whole lot of undoing damage Bush and Republican congresses have done, along with some done during Clinton's administration, that makes things less fair and equitable for most Americans.

You can be sure Brooks and the rest of the right-wing noise machine will condemn any such liberal/Democratic reform moves as just so much rearranging to shift benefits where it will do liberals and Democrats the most political good. That's an old standard the Republican right has been playing since the dawn of the New Deal.

How much progress the poor and middle class made from the 1930's to the late 1970's, and how much less progress they've made since, proves the lie of that old GOP refrain. But of course, that won't stop them from using it.