QoD: Joe Klein on Obama’s Working with Congress

“It pains me to watch normally reasonable colleagues overreacting to Obama’s situation now–which is far less dire than Clinton’s was. Some form of stimulus will pass. If it doesn’t revive the economy, then more stimulus will be passed. Obama’s maintaining the proper balance of reaching out to Republicans, making some compromises, but staying firm on the need for a bill that includes public works as well as tax cuts. A Republican Senator, a vocal opponent of the bill, told me the other day: “The guy has really impressed us. We may not vote for the bill, and he may have to learn that you have to give us more than he wants to give us to make us happy, but he’s made a really strong start that will work to his benefit down the road.”

…The legislative process is as ugly as a wart. We only notice it when an earth-shattering monstrosity like the stimulus bill comes gallumphing down the track, but there is no such thing as elegant legislation. You always have to throw in a little sweetener–the museum of organized crime in Las Vegas, the military kazoo band, whatever–if you want to cobble together the votes needed to win. This is business as usual–and Barack Obama is guilty as charged: he’s trying to get this thing through the old-fashioned way. So what? What’s new is his priorities: his efforts to put the needs of the working poor and the unemployed ahead of the wealthy, to build a new green economy, to fund inner city education and remake the health insurance system. That is what the American people voted for after an era of Republican neglect. The messiness of the current process is not only inevitable, it also says very little about Obama’s ability to deliver on those very necessary goals.”

-Joe Klein, 02.05.09

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