Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obama unplugged

The downside of the 2010 elections is that not much is going to happen legislatively with split government. But perhaps there's an upside as well.

I've talked before about how the Republican strategy is better at campaigning than governing. We've seen that at work lately with the Ryan budget plan. And now we've seen that inability to govern begin to affect elections with the victory yesterday of Democrat Kathy Hochul in a very red district in NY.

But is anyone else noticing a bit of change in President Obama's strategy? It came first with his unqualified rejection on the Ryan plan. Then yesterday, he threatened to veto the Defense Appropriations bill currently being discussed in the House.

The White House is threatening to veto the annual must-pass House Defense Authorization bill over language limiting his ability to transfer detainees overseas or try them in civilian court, among other issues.

In addition, the White House is taking strong exception to language dramatically expanding the president's power to wage the war on terror indefinitely, among other provisions.

As I mentioned previously, yesterday we also learned that he will fight back against Indiana's legislation to pull funding from Planned Parenthood in that state.

The first 2 of these (Ryan budget and Defense Bill) either already have or are likely to pass the House, but not the Senate. So he's not fighting FOR something where he needs to build a coalition with centrist Democrats and Republicans. He's fighting AGAINST legislation that he finds unacceptable. In that sense, he's letting Democratic Senators know that he "has their back" on voting against these bills. The Planned Parenthood provision in Indiana has already passed. But the administration is fighting against implementation - something that doesn't require Congressional involvement.

What we're seeing then is President Obama freed from the need to negotiate in order to pass legislation. I hope the poutragers are paying attention. It might give them a clue about who they're dealing with.

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