29 January 2009

"Bipartisan"... ho ho ho.

In the absence of Hunter S Thompson (oh how Hunter would have enjoyed the last US election!) it's up to me to begin posts with "ho ho ho" (although I'm unlikely to start using his other catchphrase, "bubba", anytime soon.) The Obama stimulus plan passed through the US House of Representatives with - get this - ZERO Republican votes. So much for trying to cultivate a "bipartisan approach" to the economic crisis.

This could actually help the Obama administration in the medium term, though. If the plan gets through the Senate (where the Democrat majority is much thinner than the house) it will show that the Democrats don't need any Republican support to get legislation through. And that's great, because it means Obama can drop the "bipartisan" approach and start to kick some ass.

The Senate Republicans could theoretically block legislation by filibuster, but that tactic will only work if the mid-term elections in 2010 deliver some kind of Republican boost, or at least no change to the Senate's composition. That seems unlikely; the seats coming up for re-election in 2010 were last contested in 2004, George W Bush's electoral high-point, and it seems most unlikely that there wouldn't be at least a couple of Democrat gains - which is all they'd need for a 60-seat 'supermajority'.

But it's amusing - and not really unexpected - to see how quickly the "bipartisan" spirit of the post-inauguration euphoria broke down into a bitter political fight.

Which is fine. Because this is one fight the Democrats can win. Obama's spat with Rush Limbaugh is reassuring because it's an early sign he may be The Real Deal and not just another bullshitter. His catchphrase, to quote Wendy Alexander, should be: bring 'em on.

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