The oldest phrase in politics is the adage "Politics Make Strange Bedfellows." I have in my years around the bend in politics and business made a lot of friends on the other side, many of them old-line Republican leaders (i.e. reasonable, thinking, patriotic, centrist). These folks have really had it with the direction their own party skipped down in the past 8 years. They have had it with obstructionist behavior by Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and Mitch McConnell; the pure lies of the Bush Administration that resulted in an unjustifiable war, and the anti-America business policies that caused the wholesale exporting of American jobs to India, China, and elsewhere.
Some of these leaders have jumped ship from the Republican Party in the last couple of years. These "New Independents" are leading an area of political activity that is fighting back against the obstructionists, the tokens, and the haters in their now-former political party. A couple of these fine Americans have been giving me their morsels of wisdom on a regular basis now, and honestly, their opinion can be summed up in one phrase.
"Its over, they lost, screw 'em."
These same fine Americans, literally a week after the election in November 2008, began to bubble with centrist hope, but also with warnings about what the Republicans had up their sleeves for the new President. The Republican plan has been and will continue to be obstructionist and make Obama look like a failure right out of the box. Their strategy is rooted in the idea that if he fails to enact policies of real change in the first 100 days, then they will have weakened him for the entire first four years; and in effect get what they want regardless. They're counting on co-opting the "big O" much in the same way they strangled many of his Hill colleagues.
Yet President Barack Obama is being particularly careful not to purposefully alienate Senator McConnell and his band of angry men on the hill, let alone telling them to go jump in a lake. He seems to be navigating a crazy mine field of Progressive vs. Radical Conservative members, making neither totally happy, but not kicking either group in the groin. Why?
Well the reality of the current political environment is that President Obama is carrying a silent-but-deadly majority group of leaders that are not represented in the mainstream media, the populist political establishment, or the right-wing crackpots that dominate the establishment Hill. The silent fathers that are the new Independents are with him, and both of the other sides know it, and they're really freaked.
The Progressives don't yet understand that the new Independents are their friends, basically because they are authentic leaders who aren't afraid of a good debate, are fine negotiating with Unions, try to buy American, and want everyone to do well. These are not greedy or power-hungry leaders. They already have the authentic power, and the authentic leadership. They are furious how the NeoCons and Right-Wing Religious Zealots took over the Republican Party -- enough to leave it behind.
The new Independents are driving an openness and conviction of purpose in the fight for what's necessary in order to save our country, and they spoke in droves when they began working for and donating to Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign. Now that they are in the position to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, they have his ear, and they are standing behind him as he fights for the survival of our country.
What they are saying to him right now is, "Give the righties enough rope to hang themselves with." He's doing exactly that.
Unfortunately the Progressive leadership is silent right now, because they are not pushing the envelope of authentic power they have in Barack Obama. I guess its probably because they haven't experienced it for so long that they don't really remember what they can do with it when they try. Sure, old line Progressive leaders like Harkin, Dodd, Kohl, and Sanders get it. They were there in the Wellstone days. They were there when Harkin and Dole locked arms and kicked ass on the ADA back when it was needed. Unfortunately they're not being listened to at the moment by Pelosi and Reid.
The new Independents were there too, though, and they are actually providing Obama with the political cover he needs where the Progressive movement seems to be faltering. In constructing and directing his "Cabinet of Rivals" Obama is walking the walk and talking the talk of a real reformer. He's going to do what it takes to save the country, regardless of whom he pisses off, and the new Independents are with him, come hell or high water.
They've just about had it with the Righties, though, and Obama is just about ready to unleash the hounds of moderate, across-the-aisle, collaborative, congenial Hell in a response to all the obstructionist b.s. He's jettisoning any idea that doesn't pass a co-operative tribunal test, and that includes dumping people who don't pay their taxes or meet other high standards of public service. In the past hour both Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer both have withdrawn, and Judd Gregg has entered the fray. That's what the new Independents are driving policy-wise, and we should expect higher standards, aisle-crossing, and ass kicking in the coming months.
The new Independents are causing the President to make decisions with a new level of accountability that hasn't been seen in my own lifetime. If people like Daschle have to step aside, you know that the President isn't screwing around, and has the backing of a deeper echelon of American fatherhood (and motherhood) that isn't going to relent, cave, or give up. They are committed, and they have high standards. They demand accountability, they demand openness, and they demand real leadership. Their judgement at this point is "Cut Bait On The Losers," regardless of who the losers are.