Monday, January 27, 2003

Here's a post by Kausfiles, a blog I often have problems with but it's still worth reading. It's about the new leadership position given to Rep Matsui by Minority Leader Pelosi, and a quinessential example of why the Democrats have yet figure out how to pull their heads out of their asses. All of the Dem's success has come generally from the GOP slip ups. Can't we get anybody competent to lead the Dems?

Matsui may be the man (along with former Speaker Tom Foley) most responsible for losing the House for the Democrats in the first place. How? Remember the situation back in 1994, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency. There were two major domestic issues: Health care reform and welfare reform. President Clinton had promised to do both, but had given Hillary's ambitious health plan priority. By the summer of 1994, it was clear the health initiative was in trouble. True, Clinton had belatedly unveiled a tough, radical welfare plan, but it wasn't moving through the Democratic Congress. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich was running around the country denouncing the "liberal welfare state" for subsidizing a culture which featured "12-year-olds having babies, 15-year-olds killing each other."

It was pretty clear, in this situation, what a smart politician would do. A smart politician would move a welfare bill to satisfy the public demand for some action on at least one crucial campaign promise -- the one that meant the most to angry swing voters. But Rep. Matsui was having none of it. He made sure Clinton's welfare plan stayed bottled up in the House Ways & Means committee (on which he served). The Clinton "two-years-and-go-to-work" plan was too conservative, he explained to me at the time. It would have to pass with Republican votes, in a center-right coalition, which would mean the "Democratic constituency gets very unhappy."


When smart liberals, sensing a potential voter revolt, approached Matsui privately in mid-1994 and suggested that it might be politically wise for the Democrats to pass some bill to reform the despised welfare system -- even if it was a bill far more liberal than Clinton's -- Matsui got righteously angry with them, too. The result: no welfare bill.

Truly monumental miscalculations are rare in Congressional politics, but Matsui's was one of them. Democrats went before disgruntled voters in November of 1994 with no health care reform and no welfare reform. They lost control of the House and they've never gotten it back.

This blackout may never end of the Democrat continue to screw up this bad on a regular basis.


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