Earlier this week on Morning Joe on MSNBC, Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana, announced that he and about 14 senators were forming a working group of about 15 'Moderate Democrats' to work with Obama to make sure that America gets the change it needs but in a practical way. Many pundits and others have looked at this move by Bayh and his colleagues as a sign that some Democrats are starting to cash their reality checks as they peruse the president's bugdet in the coming weeks. Some postulate that this is the tiny crack in the Democratic coalition's windshield that will soon spider and cause Obama's agenda to land in a 59 vote pile up.
I see it differently, but only with one caveat: it's highly possible that I'm giving the Democrats way too much credit. Either way, time will tell.
I think this may be Obama's perfect win-win scenario. No one likes a race where the winner is a shoe in. In fact, most of us generate conflict in our lives to help us feel useful and needed. There's a reason this country fights all the time. We're addicted to the entire concept. Nothing you have is worth having until you know someone else wants it. We use conflict to define who we are. It's sad, but it's true.
And that's what's wrong with our current political situation in Washington, D.C. right now. There's no real conflict. We have a president that we adore and not just because he believes what we believe, but because we finally have a normal person running this country. We have a president who loves his wife so much that we can feel it, treasures his children and although he doesn't always get everything exactly right, makes it clear what his priorities are every single day. He carries our burdens instead of dismissing or exploiting them.
Obama has no legitimate enemy in Washington. He has to reach all the way to Rush Limbaugh to find someone consistent enough to use as an example for the GOP. There's no chance for real bi-partisanship between the GOP and the White House right now because there's no GOP to speak of. The Republicans would dispute that point, but trust me, on behalf of the USA, I promise you, no one knows what the hell is going on with your party. At all. You've managed to become an isolated, southern regional party that is simultaneously 'all over the map.' That takes serious talent and by 'serious talent' I mean 'the obvious lack of Karl Rove.'
And that's where Evan Bayh and his 14 fellow Senators come in. Someone has to play 'bad cop' to Obama's 'good cop' and who better to do that than a group of Moderate Democrats? They gain legitimacy for trying to keep 'rabid liberalism' in check and Obama gets as close to bi-partisanship as he can get while the GOP is in exile. Bayn has more credibility than Pelosi or Reid. Pelosi comes across as a bit 'snippy' and Reid often seems like less of a leader and more like an appointed trustee who wishes his tenure would end. We need politicaly vibrant and relevant figures to make this work.
So maybe I'm giving Bayh and buddies too much credit, but he was the one who said that Rahm Emanuel was eager to come to their meetings, so I'm hoping that they've realized that a public debate between Moderate Democrats and Bleeding Heart Liberal Democrats is far more constructive for this country than a debate between sane people and a political party who's mascot is no longer an elephant but rather a headless horseman.
I'm sure Emanuel does. He's no fool.