Sunday, November 02, 2008

The fallout from the choice ...

Since it seems more and more likely Obama will be elected, I wanted to look ahead a little. The fact that Obama refuses to admit that he will have to scale back his programs some in the face of the financial crisis tells me that a)Obama did not believe Jessica Lange when she told a disguised Dustin Hoffman that she just wanted to meet an honest man, and b)Obama has mastered the politician's trick of answering the question he wants to answer it, and in the way he wants to answer it. Which is to say Obama doesn't trust us enough to think we will still vote for him if he tells us the truth. And I can't blame him, it didn't work for Paul Tsongas.

But that leaves us with a question. Is Obama up to the tough job of saying no to Congress (or does he even recognize the coming need to do that). I vaguely remember a story (possibly from the West Wing) about a basketball player, possibly Wilt Chamberlin, who when he moved up to professional basketball was getting fouled left and right. His coach told him he would need to throw an elbow. Chamberlin, raised to be fair player, objected. The coach said, if you throw that one elbow, that will be enough.

Now, like I said, my memory of the story is vague and probably wrong, but I think the lesson could be valuable. Obama may need to veto an extravagant democratic initiative early. Maybe a spending bill with excessive pork, or that is just totally pork. The risk is the Democrats would punish Obama, but it might be worth it.

Now, there is another very related question in the up coming election, whether the Democrats will get 60 votes in the Senate or not. And I don’t know what to hope for. If the Democrats got 58 votes, they could lobby Olympia Snowe or Arlen Specter only on the important votes, for education and infrastructure, for Iraq and for the really important parts of the tax cuts, the increases in the EIC and tax increases on the rich. The rest of it they could let the Republicans threaten to filibuster and have some of the same problems as now. It would slow down government, which might make everybody publicly outraged and secretly happy.

Meanwhile, the biggest story here tomorrow may be the brown wrapper your Post-Gazette comes wrapped in.

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