It seems to be an axiom among Democrat strategists that if life hands you lemons, you pick those lemons up and throw them at the Republicans as hard as you can. But for the rest of the world, one hopes to make lemonade. One particular pack of lemons the Democrats are dealing with this year is the very real possibility of losing control of the Senate this fall. And if you read no further than the title, you might think that the hope of making lemonade was the attitude taken by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, when he wrote, For Obama, loss of the Senate could be freeing.
It’s not a crazy idea at all. Sometimes a president can be forced into finding a path toward getting things done when faced with a unified block of opposition in the legislative branch. Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich seemed to find a way to make things work, at least for a time, and it’s now looked back on as one of the more productive and appreciated eras of federal government accomplishment in modern political history. But as you read further into Milbank’s musings you find that he’s talking about something very different.
Yet there’s a chance that having an all-Republican Congress would help Obama — and even some White House officials have wondered privately whether a unified Republican Congress would be better than the current environment. Republicans, without Harry Reid to blame, would own Congress — a body that inspires a high level of confidence in just 7 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup survey last month finding Congress at a new low and at the bottom of all institutions tested.
There would be no more excuses for Republicans’ failure to put forward their own health-care plan, immigration proposals, specific cuts to popular government programs, and pet causes involving abortion, birth control and gay rights. This would set up real clashes with Obama — who could employ the veto pen he hasn’t used a single time since Republicans gained control of the House in 2010 — and sharp contrasts that would put him on the winning side of public opinion.
It is not hard to imagine a Republican takeover of the Senate causing conservatives in both chambers to overreach. House Republicans would get more pressure from their base to take a swing at impeachment, because the odds of convicting Obama in the Senate would be better (if still prohibitive).
Vetoes? Impeachment? Pinning the “blame” for a dysfunctional Congress exclusively on the GOP rather than sharing it? These are the net positives for Obama in the event of a Republican controlled Senate? Wait a minute here… I thought that obstructionism and gridlock were bad things and the reason that the GOP needs to be taken to the woodshed?
In these few paragraphs we get an unapologetic peek behind the mask and see exactly what the real goals are in the DC elite thinking circles. Actually getting something done isn’t in anyone’s best interest. (One need look no further than the immigration debate – which Democrats have no interest in resolving – to see that.) Milbank speaks aloud what so many leaders in the Democrat Party try not to reveal. The true objective is always winning the next election, not doing something for the nation today. If Obama can be propped up on camera wielding his veto pen, that’s a win, even if it means there’s still nothing getting done. He’s fighting the Republicans and that’s all that counts. Milbank doesn’t want the President impeached, but he most certainly does want the GOP to try it in case it makes voters think more kindly of Obama. And if the pathetic polling numbers of the legislative branch remain in the toilet for two more years, all the better – as long as the GOP shoulders the blame.
When life hands you lemons, inject some poison into them and feed them to your enemies.