Less than ten days into the Obama Presidency and the political parlor games have begun. Obama ran for office on the promise of change. He was not just talking about changing from a conservative to a liberal point of view – he was talking about bipartisan work on solving the country’s huge problems. But the games have begun, and the stakes are high.
The economic disaster of the Bush administration, in partnership with a Republican Congress, has taken center stage. Bush and his Treasury Secretary Paulson recognized, after reading the Washington Post, that banking industry was in big trouble. They scurried over to congress with threats of a falling sky and secured 700 BILLION in bailout funds for their banking buddies. No strings attached. No accountability. No guarantees. The Republican game is to give taxpayer money to big business and hope it finds its way back to main street.
The Democrats were in a pickle again. The Republicans have done a good job of framing issues in the context of National Security. Note their argument for the Iraq War. The game is to make whatever proposal an issue of National Security, or of creating jobs – and hey, who can be against it? Anyone who opposes the legislation is smeared as anti-American. Today’s pickle for the Democrats is the next wave of economic stimulus.
The Obama Oracle predicts the need for at least 825 BILLION in additional stimulus to the economy. It seems the parlor games are in full swing. The Democrats put some dubious spending in the proposal. Things like re-sodding the lawn on the Washington Mall. The oinking could be heard across the aisle. Too much pork the Republicans cried. Not enough tax cuts was the simple refrain. Obama was listening to the poetry of the Congress. Obama chose to go to Capital Hill himself to meet with Republican leaders (Republican Leader is an official oxy moron).
Obama’s Oracle predicted an atmosphere of bipartisanship – the Jewel of the Potomac. Romantic ideology has returned to flavor the poetry with string accompaniment. The meeting was fruitful for Obama. The Republicans were complimentary, saying the dialogue was useful, but continued to claim there were too many pigs in the pen.
The Democrats have purposefully backed off some of the pork. They took the provision for re-sodding the law out of the proposal. The Republicans smiled at their triumph, but continue to claim a disparity between spending and tax cuts. They love the sound of a punctual refrain.
The Obama Oracle is smiling. She knows there will always be dissent – so serve some cheese with their whine, remove the pork at the opposition insistence, gather the votes, and win the victory.
Is it possible that part of the game was to put nonsense like re-sodding the Mall lawn in the proposal merely as a bargaining chip – something the Republicans could claim as victory in negotiations? Is President Obama changing the rules of the game, or is he merely playing more skillfully than anyone in congress? Feeding the ego of opposition is not new – but has not been deftly played for a long time.
President Obama is better at the game than anyone in the Congress. He wants to change the game because he clearly understands the foolishness of political parlor games. I don’t believe the parlor games will change – because the fundamental value of capitalism is to win. Everything is done in a win/lose mentality. Obama’s Oracle is a win/win strategy – but the partisans of Congress cannot grasp that concept.