The Corner

The Good News for Obama

. . . I suppose is that he’s just had a 1994-like event without actually losing control of Congress. Tonight reminds me a little bit of the defeat of the rule on the crime bill in the summer of 1994 — a sharp crack in the edifice of Democratic rule that promised more change to come. Although this is more consequential, since it means the likely end in its current form of a legislative project which Democrats have poured untold political capital into over the last year and made their dearest cause for a generation. It was all avoidable, of course, if they were willing to compromise sooner, but they were drunk on their ideology and their power. They might be able to salvage something if they pivot off the current bill and do it fast, as Barney Frank is signaling tonight. The longer they go on the current course, the more political capital they lose, and the likelier it is that they get absolutely nothing. But if they pivot fast, how do they control the disappointment of their base, which will consider it the rankest surrender if they don’t make a kamikaze run at passing the Senate bill in the House? Tonight was a stinging defeat that may ramify into utter political catastrophe.

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History

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