"Keep your powder dry.",

Pick your fight, give it your best shot, wait for the moment to be right; all battle related cliches with more or less the same meaning: be strategic in your timing to increase your chance of victory. We hear them often whenever caution is urged, and even when inaction is urged. But common to them all is an implicit call TO action, when the moment is right.

For the Democratic Party, and for health care reform, that moment is right now. Tens of thousands of us, each working at our own levels, have worked for years to restore the Democratic Party to strong majority control of both houses of Congress, and to return a Democrat to the White House. Doing so required acts of compromise too numerous to be tallied, some from the left, some from the right. But working together we greatly increased our forces. For what?

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A Partisan Obama in San Francisco

The President came to San Francisco yesterday to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee hosted by Speaker Pelosi at the Westin St. Francis. More than 150 people paid $30,400 per couple to have dinner with the President and another 900 paid between $500 and $1,000 to attend a reception and listen to the speech.

Those in attendance certainly got their money's worth because it was a hell of a speech. I love the partisan Obama, it's the bipartisan one that can give me fits. Granted that this was a speech to a partisan crowd but never mind the audience it is the content that matters. It is a speech that lists accomplishments - the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and lifting the ban on stem cell research to name but two; a speech that reminds one of the challenges we face that must be addressed; a speech that reflects on why we as progressives and as Democrats do what we do. The President spoke about the "huge gap between what America could be" and the America that is. The President reminded his audience that "things that are worth fighting for" and that there are "things that are worth grinding" out. Nor are we here just "to kick things down the road" and leave future generations saddled with unsolved problems. As the President noted "the status quo is unsustainable," and he urged us to come together because "now is the time to secure our future." He admonished the other side for sitting on the sidelines and not helping to mop up they created. All in all, a hell of a speech.

Below the fold the transcript of the speech.

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Obama to Paterson: Step Aside

This is bound to cause a stir. Voicing concern, if not dissatisfaction over his tenure, President Obama has apparently conveyed to David Paterson, the unpopular and embattled Governor of New York, a request that he should step aside in the interest of the party retaining the Governorship. The story in the New York Times:

President Obama has sent a request to Gov. David A. Paterson that he withdraw from the New York governor's race, fearing that Mr. Paterson cannot recover from his dismal political standing, according to two senior administration officials and a New York Democratic operative with direct knowledge of the situation.

The decision to ask Mr. Paterson to step aside was proposed by political advisers to Mr. Obama, but approved by the president himself, one of the administration officials said.

"Is there concern about the situation in New York? Absolutely," the second administration official said Saturday evening. "Has that concern been conveyed to the governor? Yes."

The administration officials and the Democratic operative spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions with the governor were intended to be confidential.

The president's request was conveyed to the Mr. Paterson by Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, who has developed a strong relationship with the Obama administration, they said.

The move against a sitting Democratic governor represents an extraordinary intervention into a state political race by the president, and is a delicate one, given that Mr. Paterson is one of only two African-American governors in the nation.

But Mr. Obama's political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor's unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in next fall's election.

Where did it all go wrong for David Paterson?

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Why Jews are liberals

Subtitle: Why Norman Podhoretz is wrong as usual.

Podhoretz began his political life on the Trotskyite left but swung sharply to the right and edited the conservative magazine Commentary for more than three decades. His latest book is called "Why Are Jews Liberals?", and he published a few thoughts on the subject in the Wall Street Journal this week.

All the other ethno-religious groups that, like the Jews, formed part of the coalition forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s have followed the rule that increasing prosperity generally leads to an increasing identification with the Republican Party. But not the Jews. As the late Jewish scholar Milton Himmelfarb said in the 1950s: "Jews earn like Episcopalians"--then the most prosperous minority group in America--"and vote like Puerto Ricans," who were then the poorest.

Jews also remain far more heavily committed to the liberal agenda than any of their old ethno-religious New Deal partners. As the eminent sociologist Nathan Glazer has put it, "whatever the promptings of their economic interests," Jews have consistently supported "increased government spending, expanded benefits to the poor and lower classes, greater regulations on business, and the power of organized labor."

As with these old political and economic questions, so with the newer issues being fought out in the culture wars today. On abortion, gay rights, school prayer, gun control and assisted suicide, the survey data show that Jews are by far the most liberal of any group in America.

After the jump I'll offer my thoughts about why many Jews are liberals and, equally important, why many Jews who are not liberals vote for Democrats anyway. Podhoretz is convinced that more American Jews should identify with political conservatives, but today's Republican Party makes that unlikely.

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Gagging On Half a Loaf

In one of her debates with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (who's forgotten more about health care than hacks like Kent Conrad will ever know) said Democrats needed to insist that their plan provide universal coverage (which Obama has always been lukewarm about), or else the opposition would "nibble it to death." Well, as usual, Hillary was right.  The Republicans and their crazed wingnut hordes have been nibbling away like the killer rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and they may very well succeed in getting President Obama to sign a shitty bill.

But missing from this depressing story in today's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/health /policy/06lessons.html?_r=1&ref=poli tics) is any indication that Barack Obama himself -- who's been lauded for playing chess while lesser politicians played checkers -- has much interest in the health care endgame from a policy standpoint.  He seems prepared to sign anything, which might be why, at each potential inflection point during the course of the debate, he has chosen to make himself invisible.  And politics abhors a vacuum.

This is the problem with Democratic strategists in general and Obama in particular.  They're still afraid of looking too liberal.  So in the end, because they refuse to lead, they look weak, even in victory, as they pass a milquetoast bill that they then have to sell -- without conviction -- to a still skeptical public.

But maybe this time, the Democratic base might get royally pissed off.  What -- really -- have we got to lose?

(From my blog http://partisandawn.wordpress.com/)

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Diaries

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