The Obama team started out using the birth control issue to throw key centrist Catholic Democrats like Bob Casey under the bus. But once that blew up in their faces, they decided to just throw a Catholic Cabinet Secretary under the bus. In this case, Kathleen Sebelius.
In the article linked below, the New York Times contends, with only off the record sourcing, that Sebelius, a Catholic moderate from the heart of the bible belt dragged her feet on the Hawaii compromise announced today. Meanwhile, Obama is portrayed as having wanted the Hawaii approach all along.
Sure, that’s what happened.
The Times fails, however, to square that argument with the widely accepted reality that anything Obama supports, Valerie Jarrett supports. And the Times agrees with other reporting that Jarrett led the charge against Bill Daley and Joe Biden on this issue, in favor of the toughest version of the rule. Up against Jarrett, Sebelius is irrelevant inside the West Wing.
So what does this add up to? The Jarrett/Michelle/Barack troika has a long term agenda. They are interlopers inside the Democratic party and have no loyalty to or comprehension of its central goals and purposes, much less its history and institutions. They see a good number of Congressional Democrats as their enemy as much as the Republicans. They hope to use a second term to clean house, to see the Republicans wipe out a whole swath of conservative and centrist Democrats (some like California Cong. Dennis Cardoza are already giving up, and making clear their displeasure on the way out the door).
With those in the way gone, they can restructure the party from within. They are well aware that that is how successful Presidents end up in the history books – they shift politics in some fundamental way for a generation or more. Lincoln, FDR, Reagan – all moved the wider political debate well beyond their own term in office.
Obama shares that same grand ambition. Once the pesky centrists are gone and the only thing left is a rump group made up of members of the black caucus, a few hispanics and opportunistic leftists like Dennis Kucinich, Obama and Jarrett will try to rebuild the party with their own odd brand of multicultural racialist politics.
The only problem with this scenario is that the team around Obama, now firmly in the hands of Jarrett with Daley gone, continues to prove how out of touch they are with reality. The birth control disaster is only a small example. Does anyone really believe a Jarrett-led White House should be in charge of designing our strategy with respect to Iran, Syria and China? In other words, the Chicago-bred political ideology they took with them to the White House leaves them woefully unprepared to execute Presidential policy and to exercise effectively Presidential power.
The final question this tempest brings up is whether genuine left liberals and the labor left believe that this is the way to argue for their solutions to the nation’s deep seated economic problems as well as foreign affairs. The one upside of the Obamabroglio is that it makes clear that the Democratic Party itself is in crisis. It is time for the democratic left to think about organizing a new genuinely left and genuinely democrtic party.