Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tyranny of the Centrists

If they're in charge, we're all in trouble.

If six months ago you had said that within three weeks of taking office, President Obama would pass a $787 billion stimulus bill with billions of dollars for food stamps and schools, infrastructure and energy modernization, health care and broadband, anyone would have said it would be an extraordinary victory for the president, his party and his ideology. Yet now that it has actually happened, the administration is hardly acting triumphal, while some other people are imagining themselves the true winners.

The Republican minority, calling in from some alternative universe, is convinced that by achieving lockstep opposition to a popular economic-recovery plan pushed by a popular president in a time of economic crisis, they've laid a firm foundation for future electoral gains. For the moment, they seem more delusional than dangerous. But the people we should really worry about are the "centrists," that merry band of legislators who determined the fate of the legislation. It was the centrists -- a group that may have held as many as a dozen senators but was most represented by Democrat Ben Nelson and Republicans Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins (the three GOP members who voted for the bill) who got what they wanted, and what they wanted was for the entire nation to beseech them for their favor. Every time they were photographed, they seemed barely able to contain their glee, one's goofy grin wider than the other's. >>MORE

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