Monday, February 15, 2010

So Much For The "Do Nothing" Congress

A great point was made this morning by Bob Cesca about the unprecedented amount of obstructionism that has occurred since Democrats took over the majority in Congress in 2007 and the "dig your heels into the ground" GOP mentality since President Obama took office. And yet, the President's success rate in Congress on roll call votes is higher than any in presidential history since the stat has been taken, while facing the highest obstruction in history.

The new CQ study gives Obama a higher mark than any other president since it began scoring presidential success rates in Congress more than five decades ago. And that was in a year where Obama tackled how to deal with Afghanistan, Iraq, an expanding terrorist threat, the economic crisis and battles over health care.
...A major reason for Obama's record high score this year: Democrats took away a significant number of seats from Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, resulting in big majorities in the House and Senate for the president's party.
But Sarah Binder, a congressional analyst at the Brookings Institution, says there's another key reason he scored so well. She says he only took an official position on issues that were really important to him — those that he knew he had a very good chance of winning.[*] He picked his battles carefully.
"He can do that because he's been in the Senate, his staff has been in the House and he understands the process here. They are consummate congressional insiders in understanding how this works," Binder says.
Now that's not to say I believe that the President shouldn't push harder for what he wants and hold his hand out in the interest of "bipartisanship" less, but just to point out that the mainstream media meme claiming the President can't close the deal (which started while campaigning against Hillary Clinton) or wingnuts who claim "we need more than a charismatic guy with a teleprompter" is just plain bullshit.

Also, when looking at overall job approval ratings for President Obama, which currently stands at 53%, there's been an uptick in February since he started fighting back and being more vocal about what he wants and calling out Republicans who are blocking every move with filibusters, holds and in most cases, just flat out stupidity.  So when you hear "the American people have spoken" and they don't want this or that as proven by polls, I think the more telling sign is the frustration with the President not because the don't believe in his policies, but because the think he should fight back harder for his agenda.

*Sarah Binder contradicts herself - does Obama take sides when he knows it's an easy win or when it's an important piece of legislation? I personally believe it's the latter.

Adding... My point here wasn't to suggest that the Congress is doing a bang up job (clearly they can be doing much better) but only to point out the Democrats are not doing as horribly as we're led to believe by most reports. There has been some major, positive legislation passed in President Obama's first year in office, despite the Party of No.


NowhereMan said...

Until the filibuster is changed or eliminated, nothing of any significance will pass through this Congress.Thanks to Harry reid's incompetence or temerity of leadership and Obamas reluctance to crack the whip,it was a year of waisted opportunity.
Until the WH has and the Dems in have a "truth Squad"armed and ready to counter the repubs attack that the msm starts regurgitating they will always be playing catch up.

Broadway Carl said...

That's entirely my point. Obama does better when he fights back. It took them a year to realize that, no thanks to Rahm Emanuel, but now that David Plouffe is back in town, haven't you noticed things working a little differently these last few weeks?

As far as Reid is concerned, yes, he could be a more forceful leader in the Senate but overall, filibusters and cloture on 60 votes (which was never the original rule) has frozen the Senate, so it isn't totally Reid's fault. When he says he doesn't have the votes, it's actually true. 60 means nothing when you can't get 60 for cloture.