Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Jerome Williams, 32. I was a big fan, and I'm really glad he got to have a career. Belongs on some sort of team with Solomon Torres, Ryan Vogelsong, and I suppose Jason Grilli.

Good stuff:

1. More on ACA, Obama, and the presidency from Scott Lemieux. By the way: I'm open to arguments that Obama (and Waxman, and Pelosi, and Dodd, and Harkin) could have done marginally better overall, if "better" is defined as getting more of what they were fighting for. My overall assessment, however, is that there was a lot more downside than there was upside; the whole thing could definitely collapsed, but better presidenting would have made very small differences. As for the question of how much agency Obama had...yes, he certainly could have pulled the plug at a few key points. But I strongly suspect that the incentives were overwhelmingly in the direction he wound up in, and that pretty much any plausible Democratic president would have gone down (and stayed on) the same path.

2. Kevin Drum is probably right about White House responsibility for the October fiasco. I do think successful GOP obstruction is an underrated factor, though.

3. "Pervasive sexual harassment and violence against female reporters, editors, and writers is rarely aired publicly, but it is an open secret in the field." Amanda Hess discusses.

4. And Josh Huder on the Embarrassing 113th.


  1. If Drum is right, it still leads back to GOP obstructionism because that was the reason for the delay. The "fault" lies in trying to estimate the seriousness of the impact of GOP obstructionism and fine-tune the response. The need was to weight the adverse impact of delaying website development against the adverse impact of allowing the Republicans to latch onto something that might sound bad, or be made to sound bad, during an election campaign. We know the disastrous results of delaying because that's what happened, so people automatically assume that the other choice would have led to a successful outcome. That may be true and it may not.

    1. Disagree. It's fair to blame obstruction for a lot of what went wrong, but if the WH deliberately slow-walked some decisions in order to avoid *criticism* during the campaign, that's not on the GOP. Big difference between obstruction and criticism, even if it's knee-jerk, mindless criticism.

  2. I am suspicious of on-line surveys where data concerning "unwanted comments about dress or appearance" gets crunched and comes out the other end as "pervasive sexual harassment and violence." I guess I get hung up on the words "pervasive" and "violence."

  3. Beutler has an interesting piece which relates to the post-policy GOP:

    "An astute friend remarked to me on Tuesday that the GOP’s position on Obamacare is coming to resemble its position on abortion in one key way: loudly, consistently, uniformly opposed, but ultimately not really driven to eliminate it. The backlash they’d face would be brutal, but they might stand to gain by fighting it on the margins and keeping the issue alive. [...]

    "More generally, conservatives are wielding Obamacare the way they wielded culture war issues in the 1990s. The particulars are enormously different, but the political objectives are similar: pick an issue that both unites conservative voters and appeals to the discontent of moderates and use it first and foremost to fracture the Democratic coalition.

    "I don’t think they’re going to fracture the Democratic coalition. But I can imagine the issue remaining an effective mobilizing tool for an otherwise agenda-less party through the end of Obama’s presidency."

    1. I also liked Beutler's description of the GOP as "post-principled."


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