Sunday, January 24, 2010


The wisdom of tweets: Bernanke’s reconfirmation as the next test for Democrats

by Larry Geller

Democrats failed a test in Massachusetts. There’s a buzz going that they are about to face and fail another, exemplified by this tweet that fluttered by earlier today:

ggreenwald    RT @markos RT @SamSeder: If Bernanke is not reconfirmed as chair, our economy could plunge into crisis unseen since Bernanke chaired the fed

(I’m amazed at how having to express something in 140 characters or less leads sometimes to great clarity of expression.)

For those whose attention span is long enough, some good analysis is emerging that took more time to write than a quick tweet.

Here’s a gem from After the Massachusetts Massacre, by Frank Rich (, 1/24/2010)

Obama’s plight has been unchanged for months. Neither in action nor in message is he in front of the anger roiling a country where high unemployment remains unchecked and spiraling foreclosures are demolishing the bedrock American dream of home ownership. The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it.

I’d like to snip backwards in this article. Here’s how it begun. I urge you to read the whole thing:

It was not a referendum on Barack Obama, who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown’s State Senate vote) in 2006. It was not a harbinger of a resurgent G.O.P., whose numbers remain in the toilet. Brown had the good sense not to identify himself as a Republican in either his campaign advertising or his victory speech.

And yet Tuesday’s special election was a dire omen for this White House. If the administration sticks to this trajectory, all bets are off for the political future of a president who rode into office blessed with more high hopes, good will and serious promise than any in modern memory. It’s time for him to stop deluding himself.

Read partway down why healthcare opponents are able to say anything they want about the bill. It’s because nobody knows what the bills are about, all these months later. Read how Obama has frittered away his political capital by doing nothing useful on what was supposed to be his signature achievement.

So back to the tweet. What will happen with Bernanke? The way things are going, I imagine a reconfirmation. I can hear echoes of an Obama speech in my head in advance. That’s a good trick, but I am losing patience with his high-flying rhetoric. (Bush was more amusing, anyway, when he did speak publicly.) What we need is an end to foreclosures (a complete stop) and meaningful action on jobs. Oh, and single payer health care. Not another speech.

Here’s another good article from the same website, this one from Norman Solomon, Democrats Boosting Right-Wing Populism (, 1/20/2010)

In his triumphant speech on election night, the next senator from Massachusetts should have thanked top Democrats in Washington for all they did to make his victory possible.

For a year now, leading Democrats have steadily embraced more corporate formulas for "healthcare reform." In the name of political realism, they have demobilized and demoralized the Democratic base. In the process, they've fueled right-wing populism.

The Democratic leadership on healthcare and so much else -- including bank bailouts, financial services, foreclosures and foreign policy -- has been so corporate that Republicans have found it easy to play populist.

Do the Democrats and Obama think that we don’t know that:

Key provisions -- such as a mandate requiring individuals to buy private health insurance without a public option -- are giveaways to mega-corporations on a scale so vast that it boggles the mind.

Such a federal healthcare law -- massively combining an intrusive government mandate with corporate power -- would be a godsend to right-wing populism for decades.

Just for a moment, combine the massive giveaway to the insurance and drug industry that this so-called “reform” would bring with the implications of the recent Supreme Court ruling unleashing corporate attack ads without limit. Any Congressperson who decides to oppose insurance industry power would be mowed down by night-and-day TV attack ads.

Perhaps a true healthcare reform law is already impossible.



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