But let’s see: Mark Dayton shucked his “tax the rich” crusade and settled for slice of Tim Pawlenty lite. He agreed with the modern conservative accounting regimen of budget-balancing-by-not-paying bills and taking out third mortgages. Today’s pledge-signing GOP loves that stuff. It protects the “job providers”. But it’s pretty disappointing to see a liberal Democrat concede to it.
Then, Rupert Murdoch’s influence-peddling “news” operation was caught in multiple frauds and crimes and is having its layers peeled back and splayed open like a Blooming Onion, not that his employees the Wall Street Journal opinion page or FoxNews see any relevance in the issue at all.
And in DC, Barack Obama, who long ago accepted something Mark Dayton didn’t have the stomach for, namely that when your opponent actually believes in the cleansing fires of Armageddon, you have no real choice other than to plan accordingly, and make them feel the consequences when they crash they burn.
I’ll save for later the role the governing ethos of Murdoch’s empire has had on both Dayton and Obama, Minnesota and the country, other than to say every raging apocalyptic needs a venue to broadcast his craziness. Some stand on street corners and preach the end of time. Others go on Sean Hannity’s show and claim that slamming shut the debt ceiling will liberate the job providers.
In one way it was good The Same Rowdy Crowd was down and out when Dayton signed his deal with Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers. Given a couple of days to think about it I regard it as less miserable than I did in my first reaction. The $500 million in bonding is maybe a quarter of what’s needed, (while you still have a AAA rating with some of the houses). But it is better than nothing. Nothing … and trusting that with fatter profits the state’s 1%ers will exercise a further sense of noblesse oblige and maybe rebuild the 494-35 interchange. Also, getting a cease-fire (until the 2012 session) on the GOP’s mail-order messiah shtick was worth something. I’m talking about the shtick where, to listen to allegedly credible adults, God and the Constitution require them to bring righteousness and propriety to our liberal-pagan land via state-issued IDs, more guns and fewer gays.
Besides the actual budgeting of the budget deal, (kind of a big part of the deal), what still galls me is that Dayton did not bring any heat to the feet of those who brought the state to its entirely self-inflicted crisis. For all his noble talk of requiring more from those with the most, Dayton’s messaging never took the “class warfare” complaint and reversed polarity. As in every other state and DC, the script from which Zellers, Koch and their Tea Party freshman take their rationale and talking points is calculated to protecting the advantages of the most advantaged, and slide sacrifice off on the middle class. That middle class needed a call to emotional arms it never got from Dayton.
Where was a unions, teachers, public employees, outraged partisans rally on Capitol Hill, a la Wisconsin only in nicer weather? Where was a TV campaign along the lines of what recall groups in Wisconsin are currently doing to GOP legislators? Was a call put out to politically creative types and liberal benefactors, here and across the country, to drive home an indelible message that the crisis, such as it was, was entirely avoidable and due exclusively to a GOP theory of government and accounting with no credible mooring in 21st century reality? What would the effect have been on Koch, Zellers et al of say 50,000 people on the Capitol steps, with speaker after speaker eviscerating the GOP’s bogus claims of financial rectitude and reminding all gathered who is first among equals in the GOP equation? Reminding the public the real fight today is for the health of the middle class? Or the impact of, as I say, two or three sharp-edged TV ads in heavy rotation for a week? Hell, Dayton himself could have paid for the latter.
Bottom line: Dayton allowed the state GOP to wander away from the shutdown protected by a fog of ambiguity.
The point of course is that the GOP’s solemn-sounding talk about deficit and reckless spending is a line of verbiage that only the most credulous chumps — and “balanced” reporters — continue to treat as true and legitimate. Everyone else can run the numbers and grasp the stunningly obvious reality that this is only about protecting the assets and the asset-producing systems of the already wealthy, the people who underwrite the careers of the “public servants” doing their work.
Obama, a more talented politician and far less a lone wolf than Dayton, appears to have known from last fall’s election that getting the GOP caucus to vote to raise the debt ceiling in a responsible way was something John Boehner was never going to be able to do. While Obama’s White House script may be coming a bit too much from Doris Kearn Goodwin’s “A Team of Rivals”, as opposed to the GOP’s from David L. Koch via Karl Rove, even Obama accepts the value of maneuvering your opponent into the painful position of the unambiguous perpetrator of a fraud against logic and society.
I still believe the true engineers of America 2011 — Wall Street — will hold sway with the 236 GOP House members and 41 Senate Republicans whose first allegiance is to Grover Norquist. But even if the country falls into default, (something a big chunk of that same pledge-signing crowd thinks is just liberal scare tactics), and Obama is damaged for such a self-inflicted calamity happening on his watch, all the facts and gearwork is in place for Obama to deliver a killing blow in the 2012 elections.
No big change ever happens without first some kind of shock or pain. No pain, no gain, you know. And sometimes, when the stakes are very high, you have to have an instinct and a strategy to target pain on the most cynical knaves in an intense and unequivocal way.