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Let’s be clear about this, since we’re all girls together here, and there’s nobody listening: yesterday’s election results were a disaster for Our Only President. I don’t mean that the populace at large has rejected his policies. That’s crap. The populace at large doesn’t know what his policies are, and when the do know, they like ’em just fine. Nor is the contrary story of what happened accurate, that the fact that the individual voters based their preferences on local issues rather than national trends means that this isn’t a disaster for Our Only President. No. Individual voters based their preferences on local issues rather than national trends, and that means this was an utter disaster for Our Only President.

Now, when I say it was a disaster—obviously, he’s still a favorite to win re-election in three years, if the economy picks up at all. But he is trying to get some policies in place, and he has to work with people to do that, and if Senators Baucus and Nelson and Landrieu and Nelson and Collins and Snowe and so on and the Blue Dogs in the House, curse them, feel that Our Only President was weakened by the election results, then he was weakened by them, and that’s the end of that.

But look: the Governor of New Jersey is an unpopular scumbag. He is also a pretty good Democrat who supported the President in a bunch of ways. His opponent ran, essentially, on the platform that the Governor was an unpopular scumbag, that the voters associated his name with failure and corruption, and that whatever he was, it wasn’t that. This was, unsurprisingly, a successful campaign, as Gov. Corzine was reduced to saying that although he was, in fact, an unpopular scumbag, the other guy was a scumbag too, really, and, um, look, isn’t that Our Only President? And in the end, the people who were probably willing enough to vote for the unpopular scumbag on the D line never made it to the polls.

Why is this a disaster for Our Only President? Look, the main leverage that the President has in negotiating with unpopular scumbags in the Congress is that he can get them re-elected. That he will stand on the stage with them at rallies in the week before the election and they will look less unpopular and less scummy (or baggy, depending). In particular, if he can get a bunch of people who like Barack Obama more than they like anything else in politics out to the goddamned polls on the first Tuesday in November, that’s gold for an unpopular scumbag with a D by his name.

But he can’t.

Or at any rate, he couldn’t yesterday. And I don’t see any reason to think that he will be able to next year, unless Things Change, and unfortunately, the main Things that would have to Change involve passing legislation through the defenses of some Senators and Representatives who have just seen how little he will be able to give them. Which means, if things were working normally, that our Senate Leader would have to trade more actual stuff to get their support. Only, just as a coincidence, our Senate Leader is an unpopular scumbag himself.

Or, perhaps, I’m just cranky, because if Our Only President had put his ass on the line in Maine, he would have one victory to show off, and a lot of people would be free from a particularly nasty and unnecessary bit of vicious discrimination. But hey! Come to Connecticut. Where our unpopular scumbag of a Senator is very likely to win, even if Our Only President was weakened yesterday, and where two lovers can get married today.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Obama's disinclination to put himself on the line for much of anything so far has been disappointing and has contributed to the lack of energy in the Democratic base. The outcome in Maine is frustrating and painful. I think, however, you underestimate the array of tools that the President has for influencing politicians, especially in his own party. He has plenty of tools besides electoral influence to move people. And frankly, the leverage with that LSOSL* should be that President Obama won't campaign _against_ him in 2012 if he has supported the President's policy initiatives in the Senate. He's not, you know, a Democrat, so the Democratic Party might, you know, want to run a candidate for Senate in Connecticut?

Another consideration is that if Obama wants to keep the enthusiastic loyalty of his base, spending his political capital to re-elect unpopular scumbags is not exactly going to go a long way with those folks. Is "if you want to win re-election, stop being an scumbag" such a bad message for Democratic legislators to take away from the election? Anyway, the Dems won in the two Congressional elections being contested, if you are looking for victories to show off. What can I say? Creigh Deeds and John Corzine would have been dramatically better for the people of Virginia and New Jersey than McConnell (he's too creepy for me to have wanted to learn his name-did I get it right?) and Christie, but it's easy to see why the Dems didn't turn out to support them, and why the Republicans were ready to go all out. If the Democratic Party had a stronger organization, things like this wouldn't happen, but if the Democrats were running better candidates than Deeds and Corzine, they'd have a stronger organization.

*LSOSL = Lying Sack of Shit Lieberman, whom I prefer not to mention by name, except in explanatory footnotes

Sadly, the unpopular Senator who is up for election in 2010 is Christopher Dodd, who is not really a scumbag in my opinion, but is certainly associated now with corruption and failure, much the same as John Corzine. And I think he will win re-election, mostly because the only Republican who is given even a tiny chance of beating him is a former Congressman who couldn't even win re-election in his own district in 2006. But fortunately, Sen. Dodd is a safe vote on almost everything important, even if he isn't as on-the-ball about certain things as I would like. Still, undeniably unpopular here at home, and it would be nice if he (and those like him) were to think that Our Only President could overcome that by the power of the smile.

As for the LSoSL, his recent passing reference to the possibility of running for re-election left people here utterly puzzled—does he really think he has the confidence of this state? I mean, we know he is a few stitches short of a tapestry mentally, these days, but he seemed to think that the option of running on the D line was still open to him. Hunh? He couldn't win a primary of people with the last name Lieberman. He couldn't come in third in a two-person runoff. This state loathes him. But he's our Senator for another four years, and anything could happen in four years.

Your main point, that it would be better to have your name associated with something other than failure and corruption, is a good one, but it may be too late for some of the people on the fence, who after all will be facing Republicans, one way or another, who will be only too happy to make that association whether it is deserved or not, or, as in the case of Sen. Dodd, his deserts aren't clear at all.


I inferred that you were referring to that LSoSL because you were discussing the need for Presidential leverage. As you note, Dodd is already a pretty safe vote in almost all cases. Now, maybe there are banking/insurance issues where Dodd is standing in the way of reform of which I am not aware? What would you like him to be on the ball about? I liked Dodd a lot when he was my senator, but that was 10 years ago. He's screwed up several ways since then, of course, that have tarnished his reputation, but it still seems from a distance like he's good on the issues and his heart is in the right place. I would much rather have Dodd representing me than either of my current senators (Bayh and Lugar).

If I were advising Dodd, I'd suggest a single, heartfelt mea culpa early in the campaign season and high-profile, vigorous support for mortgage relief and banking reform, starting yesterday, to demonstrate that he's not a tool of the banking and insurance industry. Now, if he actually is seriously corrupt, the industry probably has dirt that would bring him down if he tried to move in that direction. If that's the case, the graceful move for him would be to retire and clear the Democratic field for a candidate who can truly run on the people's interests. I have to think a good Democrat would have a very strong chance of winning in Connecticut these days. As you say, he has a decent shot at reelection even if he can't really clear the air, but it would be better to have an untainted Democratic senator in that seat, whether it's Dodd or someone else.

Yeah, my sloppy writing. I meant to contrast the Nutmeg state with Maine and New Jersey; we are happily gay-married to Sen. Dodd, despite not actually liking him very much… he has started to really push financial regulation, at last, but as Banking Committee guy he is as culpable as any Democrat for letting things get to this. And some fairly minor stuff about his own mortgage and real estate deals has come out; of all people, he should have known to stay clean, and to stay visibly clean. I would love for him to retire now, but I do recognize that I like him as much as I would like the next Senator, and more than most. Even leaving that LSOSL out of it, and Republicans as well, I would rather have him than Sen. Bayh or DiFi or…

But then, my point, I suppose, is that most Senators, at one time or another, will be unpopular scumbags, and still want to be re-elected. And that is where Our Only President's personal intervention (as a very popular guy) would come in handy, if it worked.


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