Sunday, December 19, 2010

Obama's plan for the lame duck session

How is it that President Obama, the liberal's liberal, managed to convince himself that he needed to fight his own base over preserving the Bush tax cuts? And why was it so damned important for President Obama to get a repeal of "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." in the lame duck session?

Two words: Jerry Brown.

As the governor of California, Jerry Brown will perfectly positioned to mount a primary challenge to Obama in 2012. Brown has the most powerful Democratic state in the Union as his own personal fiefdom. He has loyal armies of union goons to do his bidding (if they're sufficiently compensated). Brown has no obligation to run on Obamacare, the stimulus package, Obamanomics, or any of the other Obama blunders since 2008. Brown is dumb enough to make a go of it and smart enough for his campaign to be a credible threat.

The key is whether Brown can turn the California economy around before Obama can turn the national economy around. If California is perceived as outperforming the national as a whole by 2012, Brown becomes a very dangerous man. If the national economy is doing well in 2012 and California is still mired in the doldrums, Brown has blown it and Obama wins.

Thus, the next two years are a sort of chess game between Obama and Brown. Extending the Bush tax cuts was the opening move.

Why the emphasis on "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." then? Think of that as a political gift for Nancy Pelosi. As a congressperson representing San Francisco and the outgoing Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is obviously a major political power in Brown's backyard. Giving Pelosi this as a consolation prize from the 2010 midterms is Obama's way of making sure she stays on his side in this battle.


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