President Bush had President-Elect Obama over for a little tea and a little talk, most of which we'll probably never know about. The one thing we do know is that Bush asked Obama to repudiate one of his policy positions in order to get a stimulus package. And this is after Chuck Norris threatened him a little, Lieberman seems to be winning the fight to keep his committee chairmanship, Howard Dean isn't getting his just desserts and the weather has finally gotten cold. Luckily, I have Spencer Ackerman on hand to keep my brain warm as we try to figure out why the new President, with his brand new mandate, would already be considering compromises and when in Washington you can admit that you were wrong.MEGAN: So I have abandoned Williamsburg in favor of Queens, but only because it's easier to get coffee and the subway here. Am I missing anything in D.C. other than a federal holiday I don't believe I've gotten off since high school? SPENCER: It's really cold. MEGAN: Like, unusually for November cold? Or just cold-cold? SPENCER: And Howard Dean is leaving the Democratic National Committee. I hate talking about the weather. I know I brought it up. MEGAN: It did seem unusual for you. Maybe Howard just misses a real autumn and a snowy winter and wants to go back to Vermont? I know, I crack myself up, too, sometimes. SPENCER: This is a man who will simply never get his due. Fought at every single step of the way for the Democratic nomination, fought at every single step of the way for the DNC chairmanship, all to say that the time is ripe for a progressive infrastructure in all 50 states, and most importantly at the state legislature levels to build the future of the Democratic Party, and vindicated in every particular. But will he ever be treated as the visionary he is? No, because he's too friendly to dirty fucking hippies like Markos Moulitsas and Duncan Black and Jane Hamsher. Oh, and let's not forget how he was ridiculed for the sin of being right about the Iraq war. MEGAN: I mean, credit where credit is due, Obama's 50 state strategy really is just Howard Dean's from 2006. And even then Dean was considered a profligate over-spender because what the hell Democratic candidate was ever going to win in Indiana or North Carolina? SPENCER: But I want to see some inter-party acknowledgment that Dean was right and certain magazines I used to work for were overwhelmingly wrong. These kinds of decisions speak to the heart of what people in progressive circles believe is possible, and good work needs to be rewarded and bad work needs to be... well, if not punished exactly then recognized as myopic. MEGAN: Wait, you want people in Washington to admit they were wrong about stuff? Man, you are Mr. Rainbows and Sunshine and Unicorns. I mean, fuck, the word today is that if Reid held a secret caucus vote to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship, Lieberman would win. I mean, then there's really never going to be a penalty for being wrong ever again. On the other hand, I guess if there's never a penalty for being or doing wrong, I wouldn't have to apologize for stuff anymore. SPENCER: I know, here we strip ourselves of Very Serious Personhood by conceding that we make mistakes from time to time. These people need to purge themselves of their inner Bush Administration. MEGAN: Why, if you admit you were wrong once, you might be admitting that you could be wrong in the future!! SPENCER: Here's another thing about Joe Lieberman, speaking of. According to TPM's Justin Elliot, Lieberman granted an interview to a McCarthyite in which he smeared American Muslim communities as seedbeds of terrorism — I mean, even the reactionary New Republic knows that's not true. And this guy is the head of a homeland security committee. MEGAN: What the motherfuck? Jim Webb, I don't call you because I know you carry a gun and I don't want you to pull a Dick Cheney on me (although I'm not a lawyer), but I'm calling you. You got elected on being a tough guy, so be a tough guy. A little metaphorical birdshot to the face won't kill Lieberman, and no one will mind if you aim lower. Anyway, speaking of testicular fortitude, Obama yesterday apparently asked Bush to get off his ass and do something about preventing a GM bankruptcy and Bush reportedly said he would "think" about it as part of a stimulus plan... but only if Dems pass the Colombia FTA as part of said stimulus. You know, one of the things Obama explicitly campaigned against. And so rather than rolling over and capitulating to the least popular outgoing President in modern history — and I actually support the Colombia FTA, don't get me wrong — I think Reid, Pelosi and Obama should just let him veto an economic stimulus package. You know, call his fucking bluff for once. SPENCER: Josh reported that Obama was like don't give me that shit about your agenda in his meeting with Bush yesterday. I can see Bush being petulant about this sort of thing. Why do you support a free trade deal with Colombia? MEGAN: Well, for one, I generally support lower tariffs on imports because higher tariffs aren't effective industry savers (it just staves off the inevitable) and because it lowers my prices as a consumer. Rather than trying to save individual industries by an overarching, government-run, slow-moving industrial policy managed by a bunch of wonks and bureaucrats in D.C. with little real-world experience in running or financing businesses, I would rather see our government focus on education, re-training, economic growth writ large and stop trying to pick winners and losers. I also get annoyed at the Democratic rhetoric about how there aren't enforceable labor and environmental standards in the main text of the agreement because it's intellectually disingenuous — the "main text" is literally a list of tariffs and how we have agreed to lower them and everything else including agreements on service and market opening, labor and environment and quote-unquote side agreements that are, indeed, enforceable. Colombia's actually a relatively decent agreement and it's not an economic threat to our economy. But I also understand that Obama just ran on a platform that opposes it. SPENCER: Aren't the politics of such a thing toxic? Obama needs to pass a stimulus bill first-things-first to stop the fuck-uppage of the economy. Forcing a free-trade fight at the outset seems like a poor idea. Not that you're arguing otherwise. But this is all I can contribute to the conversation. MEGAN: That is, in fact, my argument. Obama shouldn't let Bush force his hand (my personal feelings on the bill aside) on the FTA to get the stimulus, but it's the sort of thing Pelosi and Reid have been caving on for the last two years. And the unions will scream to the heavens even if he does get an auto industry preservation plan out of it. He should tell both Bush and Chuck Norris to fuck off already. SPENCER: Wow:
They had come for my wallet./ They wanted my pay/ To give to the others,/ Who had not worked a day!
So now we know that what's behind Chuck Norris' beard isn't in fact another fist but a douchenozzle. It must feel so impotent, to know that individually you can kick anyone's ass, but 65 million Americans kicked yours a week ago. MEGAN: Technically, I think the Republicans alone kicked his ass back when they didn't vote for Huckabee, so the bitterness has had some time to build. SPENCER: Oh one last thing: for all you veterans out there, thank you, and may you be blessed with free health care, generous education benefits and friendly golden retrievers forevermore on behalf of a grateful nation.