Were I in a better humor of late, the mess that has become the "stimulus bill" would be something in which I'd find a great deal of amusement. Obama talked up admiration for Dr. King but adopted Rodney King politics ("can't we all just get along?"). I've written much about the pernicious effects of this sort of thing. It's a subject that has probably made up most of this blog since I launched it.
Rodney King politics is the folly of fools in this day and age. That's something too many Democrats never seem to learn. Today's conservatives and Republicans are going to oppose anything of any substance a Democratic administration tries to do. Even if they agree with the policy in question, they'll do this. If the Clinton years taught Democrats anything, it should have taught them this. Instead, Obama is the latest in a long string of "Democrats" who think that, if you give up half of what you want right up front, the other side will be equally accommodating.
Did Obama genuinely think that if he appointed a gaggle of rightists to run his administration, then proposed a stimulus bill that was nearly half tax-cuts of the sort favored by Republicans, the Repubs would simply fall in line behind it? It certainly looks that way. At present, it seems he's being schooled on that point.
Whatever stimulus bill eventually passes will have to be rammed through on a party-line or mostly-party-line vote. Given this, why not just create a bill you'd like to see passed and think would be effective instead of wasting time and political capital on a doomed effort to be accommodating? If the Repubs want to filibuster, let them. The economy is going to be in the dumper no matter what passes. Let them be the ones to stand in the way of any effort to alleviate the pain.
Government is always a circus. In the U.S., it's a particularly pathetic circus. The transition from Bush to Obama is like a transition from evil-intentioned not-so-bright children running the government to apparently not-so-bright adults. A huge step up, perhaps, if one wants to call that "progress," but when it promises so little, is it really enough to call it progressive? It just looks so much better because of what came before. And so, by the way, would just about anything. Intuitively, one would assume that taking over from one of the worst presidents in the history of the Republic means there's nowhere to go but up. There's still the Grand Canyon between that and good.
Obama finds himself playing catch-up on the stimulus bill now. Today, he held a town-hall meeting and a prime-time press conference, with more to come, but Republicans have already managed to effectively demonize the package. He didn't accomplish anything by larding up the bill with Repub-friendly tax-cuts (which every serious economist says is far less stimulative than the spending provisions), except to ensure that the final bill, which will pass--if it passes--without any substantial Republican support (if any at all), is full of these sorts of expensive, less stimulative measures.