Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Elsewhere: Senate Deal, more

Lots of stuff to pass along, including one on the Senate deal still holding on today's ATF vote. One quick addition to that: it's worth remembering that the Senate deal is important, and that the potential instability in the tag-team approach is important, because Republicans are still filibustering everything. So it still takes 60 to defeat all these filibusters; all that's happened is that some Republicans are willing to help the Democrats defeat those filibusters in order to avoid a nuclear confrontation. But the filibusters are still going on.

Here's the other recent ones, beginning with my weekend column from Salon, which is about why presidents should continue going public even if it doesn't do what people think it can do.

Is the bully pulpit dead?

The conservative (led) boycott of (some) health insurance

In defense of context-included policy coverage

Will Obama finally move ahead of W?

Ignore the Obamacare spin war!


  1. JB, good post on Obama vs. W. Short, readable, and with a concise "why it matters" at the end. I urge readers to click through.

  2. On the bully pulpit--apart from the reasons mentioned in the cogent salon piece, if you get below the wholesale, the retail can be even more important. That is, presidents speak to actual audiences, usually surrounded by local officeholders, hoping for a political effect. Sometimes the audience is an organization, and the president's words can affect that organization's agenda and activities, with effects perhaps years later.

    The speech is often an educational experience for the audience--whether it is the captive audience at the event, or the audience that watches in other ways. I used to watch Bill Clinton's speeches on C-Span and thanks to his excellent team, I always learned something--history, economics, etc. Politically, it can perculate up from citizens who think about this point of view.

    As for the specific political effect on particular issues, it is always easier to prove the negative (Pres. X spoke for Y, it didn't pass, hence Pres. X 's speeches were futile) than a positive (Pres. X spoke for Y even though at the time Congress and public opinion was weak on Y, but by the time Y came up for a vote, it passed.) If proving a positive was as easy as a negative, there's grounds for saying that President Kennedy's barnstorming speeches on behalf of the nuclear test ban treaty worked because the skeptical Senate ratified it.

    Finally, I was a teenage participant in the March on Washington, and I remember my impression upon returning that the media considered it politically ineffective, and MLK's speech as sort of nice but futile. The "inspiration" factor you mention should not be underrated. Speeches like Obama's in Galesburg may turn out to be inspirational, not just in terms of inspiring people to participate in politics or government, but in the specific terms of the speech and its arguments concerning the American middle class, and the dangerous effects of such an extreme income divide.

  3. So on the insurance "boycott"...

    Lots of commentary has been along the lines of "OMG you can't tell people not to get insurance! What if they get sick!?! They won't be insured."

    But that gets to one of the biggest weaknesses of Obamacare: If you violate the mandate by not getting health insurance, you just pay a small fine. But the other regulations of insurance: no pre-existing conditions, no recission, consistent pricing, all mean you could pay small fines every year and then go buy insurance when you get sick. So basically conservatives are trying to engineer the death spiral that NY ran into when they half-assed regulating the insurance industry.



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