You could make a good case that the last ten years have been relatively good for liberals. Democrats won two out of three presidential elections and controlled Congress for four years, two of them overlapping with the Obama presidency. It was a too-brief window, but during that time they managed to accomplish an awful lot—passing major of the financial sector, ending the war in Iraq, launching a major regulatory effort to tame climate change, formally allowing gays into the military, and finally passing something that looks like universal health care.
In August 2008, a week before Barack Obama went to Denver to collect his nomination, Steven Chu stepped onto a stage in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Cox Pavilion. The 60-year-old physicist was a towering presence in his field, a Nobel Prize winner and the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. But he was largely unknown to the Washington-centric crowd of several hundred, in town for a clean energy conference co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund.
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player [with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] News from H Street: The Center for American Progress, which happens to be next door to the New Republic, has a new president. It’s Neera Tanden, whom readers will recognize from her contributions at TNR.COM.
Earlier today I wondered what Ron Suskind's forthcoming book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, would have to say about White House chief of staff (and scapegoat du jour) Bill Daley. One thing it says, I have since learned, is that in September 2008, as polls were starting to show that Obama was the likely winner, a meeting was called with three former Clinton chiefs of staff: John Podesta (who would later be Obama's transition chief), Leon Panetta (now defense secretary) and Erskine Bowles (later co-chairman, with former Sen.
Of all the historical analogies urged on Obama following November’s drubbing—Truman in ’48, Reagan after ’82, Clinton after ’94—the one the White House has opted for is easily the most obscure. That would be Patrick in ’10—as in Deval Patrick, the recently re-elected governor of Massachusetts. Months after Patrick signed the state’s first sales-tax hike in 33 years, political chatterers gave him little chance of surviving to a second term.
[Guest post by Jonathan Bernstein:] Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist.
This is the final installment of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read parts one, two, three, and four. And click here to subscribe to TNR.) Mass. Panic Nancy Pelosi was in the Old Executive Office Building when one of her advisers gave her a message: Obama wanted her next door, in the White House. Martha Coakley was about to lose the election for Ted Kennedy’s old seat and, with it, the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority. Obama had summoned Harry Reid, too, and together they discussed options.
Allow me to posit a case study: Two high-ranking government officials are the subject of multiple newspaper and magazine profiles in the span of a few weeks. The first official resists the attention. He isn’t so much as quoted in any of the pieces, whose authors glumly note his lack of enthusiasm for their projects. By contrast, the second official goes out of his way to cooperate with the profile-writers. He submits to numerous, on-the-record interviews and mounts a detailed defense of his actions.
Steve Clemons, with whom I worked at the New America Foundation in 1999, has some advice for President Obama: Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on. That seems, ah, problematic. The only two people who could actually be useful here, Daschle and Podesta, already sit in the outer-advice circle.