To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, July 19, 2024


Time To Play Hardball



The election of Scott Brown as Massachusetts senator is indeed cause for Republican celebration. But there are lessons to be learned for both parties and Sen.-elect Brown in particular.

January is not November. Politics is a fickle beast. The landscape can change in matter of not just months, but days. Democrats still hold a clear majority in both houses.

The filibuster is not always your friend or your enemy. Should Republicans elect to filibuster it could well be their undoing.

Any criminal defense attorney knows that allowing defendants to “tell their story” – to go under the microscope of cross-examination – is not always, in fact seldom is, a good idea. It can well be the same with the GOP – the longer they talk, the more their warts will show.

Do Republicans actually want to stall legislation while letting the public see and hear their rationale? This gives Democrats opportunity, if they will use same, to publicly refute GOP arguments. Dangerous business.

Republicans will have to make sure they have articulate, sane people making their argument, otherwise they may even dissuade their own members of their position. Presumably, Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn will be left on the bench.

Oft said “Politics is the art of compromise.” Democrats must now put their statesmanship and political acumen to work. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Democrats must also learn that politics is not the business of being nice. The GOP has no intention of being nice; they want those Democrat seats and they’re not particularly concerned about what they have to do to get them.

Gone are the days of inclusiveness; bi-partisan is not a word often heard in Republican cloakrooms, in Washington or state capitals. This is now hardball and Democrats need to awaken to that fact, and awaken yesterday.

Democrats need to take on the bank, pharma and insurance interests. They need to make the case that politicians who take money from these interests have no intention of serving the electorate. And that these interests have no intention of making life better for anyone, save themselves.

One need only look at bank profits from outrageous fees and surcharges at a time when their customer base is in economic pain to understand why they give money to politicians to protect their backsides. It matters not how many stadiums banks lend their names to, if the public can’t afford the parking to attend the event.

Until Democrats make hard points with the public, and quit caving to petulant members of their own party, they have every right to fear the future.

The administration was elected to govern, not make nice. Bill Clinton was saddled with the “Contract with America” and managed to get the country into the black, make some social progress and restore some international credibility.

Clinton’s accomplishments were quickly destroyed by George W. Bush’s buffoonery which left us with our current woes. Democrats need to make that point, not cower in the corner of appeasement.

Of course, the Massachusetts election gives Democrats cause for lamentations and tearing of garments, but that’s politics. It’s time to play hardball.

The GOP win is cause for great excitement if not jubilation for Republicans. There may even be Republicans having sex with their lawful partners, negating the need for Sen. Coburn’s procurement and payoff talents. But these successes can be as fleeting as their fidelity sex.

For Sen.-elect Brown there are two points, one from the Beatles and one from Rome. The morning after his election Brown was asked on the Today Show if the election was a referendum on Obama, he replied, “No, it’s bigger than that.”

His remark brings to mind July 1966. A John Lennon interview appeared in England which went largely unnoticed in the U.S., until four months later. Lennon was discussing Beatle popularity saying they were “more popular than Jesus.”

America, not understanding the context of the statement, erupted. The Beatles never went on public stage again; when the statement was actually clarified it was too late, the Beatles were no more.

Sen.-elect Brown should be careful; things said in moments of triumph, can come back and bite, hard. Speaking of triumph, Sen. Brown should remember, as he is carried into chambers as the GOP silver bullet to healthcare reform, what the slave told the Caesars, “Respica te, hominem te memento.”

Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

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  1. One fact that Oklahomans may be leaving out of the MA election is the washington Health Care Reform or Not choice that they were presented with left them little choice but to vote for Brown or end up with a federal health care plan inferior to the state universal health care they had initiated a few years ago.
    And I never heard Brown he wouldn’t vote for any health care plan his wording seemed to me include what appeared to be coming out of Washington at the time, which is inferior to what MA already has.
    The Repugs are promoting this as a big coupe, but this is a New England Repug. Take a look at the 2 from Maine. They couldn’t survive a democratic primary running as blue dogs.
    Don’t be too dismayed, all is not lost to the edxtent the Repugs would like to lead you to believe.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.