The stimulus bill made it through both houses of Congress and awaits the President’s signature. Its passage required nearly all available Democratic votes and a handful of Republican ones in the Senate. Considering how some of Bill Clinton’s first encounters with Congress went, despite Clinton’s much less ambitious agenda, this has to be seen as a remarkable achievement for Obama.
Actually, we take that back — it’s doesn’t have to be seen that way. The rightblogger perspective is, as always, far different. Naturally they’re against the stimulus. But they’re even more opposed to the idea that Obama won anything at all. Losing galls them so violently that any Obama victory, even if it results in federal law, must be spun somehow as a defeat. In fact, some of them are saying that Obama actually lost in Congress — to Nancy Pelosi.
“He let his own party’s Congress go wild with its own bill,” said Jules Crittenden, “and lost virtually every Republican by insulting them when he wasn’t ignoring them.” Though Crittenden admitted that passing the massive spending bill was “a big victory if they say it is, not exactly Pyrrhic,” he insisted that Obama “just handed Pelosi and Reid what they tried but utterly failed to get from Bush. The Presidency.”
At Commentary, Jennifer Rubin also suggested that Obama was rolled by the Speaker. “By default we assume he likes the Pelosi lard-a-thon spending bill,” she wrote. “Or is he simply resigned to it?” If he wanted it, “there are plenty of voters who were deceived” — presumably those who had no idea Obama would spend a lot of money on the stimulus — and if he didn’t, “we have a serious management issue.” Clearly she leans toward the latter interpretation, as she later said, “If Obama wants to get his presidency back from Reid and Pelosi he better start crafting his own detailed agenda and insisting he won’t countenance business as usual.”
Intellectual Conservative agreed with Rubin’s patsy theory: “Instead of leading with a pro-business agenda, President Obama left the creation of the stimulus legislation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” “Hopefully,” said Iran-Contra’s Oliver North, “none of [Obama’s] ‘over-promising’ domestically or damaging diplomacy overseas is on an irreversible downward trajectory.”
Not everyone sought to portray Obama as Pelosi’s chump. Clinging to last week’s talking point, Clavos of Blogcritics called “BHO” the “Fearmonger-in-Chief” because “With his reference to [the recession] lasting several years, he is clearly invoking the years-long duration of the Depression” — an idea Obama apparently got from his fellow socialists at The Economist.
Some began to panic. “Obama wants to bring back the era of the welfare queen,” cried RedState. “The Democrats are all too eager to throw out all the Republican reforms from the Gingrich revolution and risk an enraged electorate because of it.”
Michael Ledeen became the first of them, so far as we know, to straight-up call the stimulus fascist. “What is happening now… is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business. Yes, it’s very ‘European,’ and some of the Europeans even call it ‘social democracy,’ but it isn’t. It’s fascism.” Ledeen added some historical perspective: “When Roosevelt was elected in 1932,” he noted, “in fact, Mussolini personally reviewed his book, Looking Forward, and the Duce’s bottom line was, ‘this guy is one of us.'” With any luck, Obama’s fascism will be defeated as FDR’s was in World War II.
Ledeen was followed upon by Vocal Minority, inspired by a Rush Limbaugh speech: “Then the liberal fascism: Rush catches Obama saying quite plainly that the government needs to manage the public knowledge (or, as Ben Kingsley’s character in the movie Sneakers called it: control the information).” (boldface in original) FDR and Ben Kingsley — people, do we have to spell it out for you!
Others settled down, confident that history would absolve them. “Man, are [the Democrats] in for a rude awakening in a few months, or years!,” declared Red County. “I believe that Obama has unnecessarily gambled his Presidency over the pork-filled Stimulus Bill,” said MJK at GlobalPolitics. “If this package fails and is exposed for wasting tons of money and causing inflation, this could be Obama’s last term.” Well, they have the right to hope.
Red State turned to the bright side, and celebrated Republican unity. “Zero complicit Republicans in the House,” they cheered, and also congratulated the House GOP leader and whip on their doomed opposition, saying “This is the kind of effective party we need to be if we want to win in 2010.” But they warned Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, “letting the three votes needed to pass an increase of $800,000,000,000.00 in debt slip away cost you a good bit of goodwill here, at least with me,” and called the three stray Republican Senators “Three Benedict Arnolds of the modern Republican party whom we can do without, thank you very much.”
Some fantasized vengeance of a more visceral sort. In advance of the vote, Confederate Yankee called the bill “Multi-Generational Financial Rape” and asked his fellow patriots, “are you looking to accept this nightmare and become a socialist, or are you still enthralled with the core beliefs of our founding fathers, and not so easily led to slaughter?” (boldface in original); after it passed in the House, he added, “many Americans have decided that now is a great time to put money back into certain segments of the economy, spurring a run on shelf-stable foods, water purifiers, subterranean concrete construction, and of course, firearms.” Cue the Braveheart theme.
Other contented themselves with yelling at people on TV. Watching “Meet the Press,” Newsbusters said “these so-called journalists appeared to be nothing more than Administration spokespersons,” and was angry at their suggestion that federal spending could help the economy: “Exactly which President has been successful at growing the economy with a radical increase in federal spending, Ron… hmmm?” (Answer: Reagan and Bush.)
The message filtered up to less politicized bloggers. “Stimulus: A Win for the GOP?” asked Mark Willen at the Kiplinger blog. The argument he repeated for this was that Republicans “found plenty of unnecessary Democratic spending programs to rail against. They also avoided becoming the party of just saying ‘no’ because they did offer their own alternatives.” That’s a rather weak definition of victory, and Willen later suggested that it was not particularly compelling. But he had to give it respectful consideration, lest he be called “nothing more than an Administration spokesperson.” Thus do rightblogger talking points, regardless of absurdity, find their way to the surface world.