In the Arena

Democrats in Disarray

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Boy, that’s a headline I’d hoped to retire. I wrote versions of that story for more than twenty years after 1980, for publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the New Yorker. And lately, it’s been the Republicans who’ve been disheveled.

But this excellent piece by Jonathan Chait is fresh evidence that the current crop of Senate Democrats just can’t quit their perverse ways and seem intent on undermining Barack Obama’s budget plans. Now, I’m sure there is a substantial Democratic constituency for continuing to give ginormous tax breaks to big-time corporate farms–perhaps even 100 or so of them, nationally –but one does wonder how Kent Conrad resolves his support for the porkers with his budget hawkery. Ditto for Senator Ben Nelson and his support for the student-loan sharks.

Back during Clinton times, it was argued that the Democrats in Congress showed him no respect because (a) he was a softy whom the legislative leaders rolled and (b) the legislative leaders had no sense of contingency or proportion since the Dems had controlled the Congress forever. But there are no excuses now: We’ve just experienced a disastrous period of Republican Congressional control, which ended in 2006. I would suspect that if Democrats–of all stripes, Blue Dog and liberal–don’t exercise some self-discipline, the Republicans will be back soon enough.