Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 22, 2010

MONDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, still not happy with Israel.

* Google gives up on China.

* President Obama will reportedly sign the first phase of health care reform into law tomorrow morning, around 11:15 a.m. (ET). He'll also hit the road this week, appearing in Iowa City to help promote the new law.

* Leading far-right voices did not respond well to yesterday's historic breakthrough.

* On a related note, Tea Party protestors not only threw around racist and anti-gay slurs, they also used offensive language towards at least one Hispanic lawmaker.

* Noting the outrageous conduct of the right-wing activists, Bill Bennett seems confused about what "racism" means, while a right-wing House member suggests conservative bigotry is Democrats' fault.

* Sarabeth ponders the efficacy of Stupak's strategizing.

* It was largely overshadowed by health care developments, but a huge crowd protested in support of immigration reform in D.C. yesterday. President Obama addressed the crowd via a videotaped message.

* As a national entity, ACORN is no more.

* Horse trading on student loan reform.

* Jane Mayer makes Marc Thiessen look even more ridiculous.

* Fact checking the Sunday shows.

* Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) is just not a serious person.

* I'm a big fan of Dave Weigel's reporting, and I was delighted to learn today that he's headed to the Washington Post. The Independent's loss is the Post's gain, and I wish him all the best in the new gig.

* Can we start helping Rush Limbaugh pack?

* And I feel a little awkward about mentioning this, but I wanted Andrew Sabl to know how much I appreciate his post about my health care-related efforts. His item means a great deal to me.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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I think you guys should put up a ticking clock that says "Only xx more days til Rush gets his fat ass out of the US". Well, it probably couldn't say exactly that, but you get the point.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 22, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nice piece by Andrew Sabl. Richly deserved, Steve. Congrats on the first of many!

Posted by: J. Paul Ghetto on March 22, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

wow, Steve that was some pretty high praise from a pretty impressive source. well deserved for your tireless efforts on behalf of reform.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 22, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Mayer is absolutely right about Thiessen and she's right at the end, when she calls Obama's strategy of looking ahead and not back at the previous torture regime a call for those who want to whitewash history.

Posted by: Jay B. on March 22, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sabl is right. Your tenacity and focus were invaluable on many, many levels. Thank you for that, Steve.

Posted by: citizenjane on March 22, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, every word in Andrew's post was true and well-deserved. You kept your head, which was invaluable, and had the ultimate writing satisfaction of seeing your words enter public currency as a slogan. It's not "Fifty-Four-Forty or Fight!" but it's a keeper.
Thank you and the rest of the people who kept the Democrats' feet to the fire. You performed a service for your country.

Posted by: JMG on March 22, 2010 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Steve, you did us good service. Thank you. As is Wow, too-many-posts-a-day-to read thank you.

Posted by: SF on March 22, 2010 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Steve (in great part), they Passed.The.Damn.Bill.

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2010 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

I've been following you since your Carpetbagger days, Steve. I'm so damn proud of your contribution to this achievement.

Posted by: MaryL on March 22, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Three cheers for Steve! http://www.samefacts.com/2010/03/blogging/benens-bill/

Posted by: johnnymags on March 22, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I found Frum's description of the "conservative entertainment industry" interesting.

On a related note it seems that the same industry is selling victimhood at least as much as it is selling fear. "You and I are victims of (Obama, Pelosi, Democrats, etc.)." It seems that this victimhood syndrome is at the heart of the Tea Partiers' angst.

Posted by: nerd on March 22, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

re Sabl: be d...d :) I didn't realise that you actually *coined* the rallying cry (PTDB), since it seemed to be seen everywhere all at once. Congratulations and thanks.

re Weigel: my loss, too; I read the Wash Indie fairly regularly, but the Wash Post not at all. I shall miss Weigel (though the rest of the crew there is pretty good too. Wonder who'll take over his "beat")

Posted by: exlibra on March 22, 2010 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

After the Scott Brown election, Benen's website was the only site I visited - he kept the fire going, and provided a way forward. congrats for providing vision!

Posted by: shawnz on March 22, 2010 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, Congrats on the deserved praise. I always stop here first. All day. Every day. Mostly because your commentary is never rabid or emotionally overwrought the way mine is.

Also, you have some of the best comment posters on the freakin' planet. Cheers!

Posted by: chrenson on March 22, 2010 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sabl: "[Steve] Benen’s conceptual leadership wasn’t sufficient by itself. But it was necessary. No Benen, no bill. Thanks, Steve. A lot of sick people owe their future lives to you."


Posted by: Chris on March 22, 2010 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I also didn't realize that you coined PTDB but I am not surprised if your blogging helped save health care reform. Yours is the one blog I read every day, going back to CBR days. I don't post much here, mostly because I would just be echoing you most of the time.

Also this is one of the few blogs where I spend a lot more time on the main page and not as much on the comments.

Thank you for your efforts, for saving HCR and for giving me so much to read every day.

Posted by: mordoormat on March 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, I don't come here all that much and comment even less, but believe me, Steve, your reporting was CRITICAL to our success on HCR.

T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U S-T-E-V-E!

Posted by: Ethan on March 22, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, your yeoman posts these last few months have fed into countless Facebook and Twitter missives. You are a true organic messaging machine, and a finely-tuned one at that.

Posted by: The Guilty Carnivore on March 22, 2010 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations, Steve. That strategy memo is just the kind of meaty but approachable stuff I'd love to see you do more of. It's where you shine brightest. ;)

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2010 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Take a bow, Steve! Your motto, and argument, came right when a lot of us really needed it. ''Pass The Damn Bill'' is forever part of American political history; unforgettable.

Posted by: buddy66 on March 22, 2010 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

This place has been my sanity touchstone. Thank you for your persistence and enthusiasm.

Posted by: maggie on March 22, 2010 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations, Steve. That strategy memo was pretty much tits on.

One hell of an accomplishment. You must be very proud.

Posted by: jharp on March 22, 2010 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Steve!
I read your work every single day and am never disappointed.
You are clear, practical and level headed.
Just what we need in these crazy times of rabid TV talking heads and robot repeater journalists.

You make me a smarter and more practical political thinker.. just how I want to be.

Please keep up the good work!

Just so you know.. because of your work I bought a subscription to Washington Monthly a few months ago. I'm grateful and happy to support a smart and reasonable progressive publication.

Mark Rubins

Posted by: Mark Rubins on March 22, 2010 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Leading far-right voices did not respond well to yesterday's historic breakthrough."

Wait until the campaigning for November votes starts in earnest - then, you'll think it was the Right's idea.

Posted by: Mark on March 22, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely the kudos are deserved, Steve! You and Balloon-Juice get major props: You for showing a way forward on the political strategy front, and BJ for exhorting us every.single.day to get in touch with our congresspersons and senators and tell them to "pass the damn bill!"

I believe it's no more and no less than the plain truth that we couldn't have done it without you.

Posted by: CaseyL on March 22, 2010 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'm diving in here from Balloon Juice. Today was the first time I read the memo. A great and focused piece of writing. I wish I had read it earlier it would have saved me a fair amount of consternation. Thank you Mr. Benen.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on March 22, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: I have not liked the way this whole thing has played out. You have been on record early and often to try this approach. We'll see. I would much rather have seen a Medicare for all approach. If this means higher taxes for little visible gain for most Americans, it will be a wasted effort that will end in repeal. If this winds-up as a huge success, not damned by long timetables and costs, it will be a landmark achievement. Crisis. In the Chinese character sense of the word.

Posted by: Sparko on March 22, 2010 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Just finished Jane Mayer's article. She and the New Yorker have done an invaluable service to the country. As one would expect when fact checked the claims of Marc Thiessen simply vanish.

She notes that books like Thiessen's and the soul chilling defenses of Cheney might not have happened if Obama had formed a commission to investigate the use of torture in Iraq.

I am inclined to agree. It's not too late for Congress to investigate this.

Meanwhile, like everyone else I am very appreciative of the time you took to debunk every horrible Republican claim about the health care bill. I am sure it was not pleasant, I hate reading Republican propaganda. But invaluable.

Posted by: Kurt on March 22, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'd also like to thank you Steve for your efforts. I think they made a great impact.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 22, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Steve - because of you the Damn Bill Was Passed!

Posted by: Dorothy on March 22, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Just now on Harball, former Bush official David Frum rhetorically destroyed some hack from Club For Growth.

I'm vaguely aware that Republicans once had intellectually serious people who could engage in debate without lying or parroting debunked talking points.

I'm sure this guy is totally out of favor with the new Rush/Palin party.

Posted by: Winkandanod on March 22, 2010 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Steve. I also felt like your immediate reaction to the MA-Sen fiasco was very important, and it did a lot to lift my spirits, help me soldier on, and pester my Congress critters to get something down.

Posted by: J on March 22, 2010 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Warm fuzzies rightly deserved, Steve.


Can't rest now, on to November!

Posted by: 2Manchu on March 22, 2010 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Just reporting in to offer my deep appreciation to You, Steve, for your tireless and focused work on behalf of passing Health Reform. It makes me very happy to see fellow progressives with a platorm leading pragmatically & smartly, with conviction and resolve.

When we have opinion and thought leaders like You, we win. In my view, we progressives still have some catching up to do with the other side of the aisle when it comes to party discipline, message discipline and effectiveness. But we are bringing in a new breed of progressives and the gap is shrinking fast (and I'm not talking about "Hanoi" Jane Hamsher - pardon the pun). Our ideas are superior, given a fair fight they will prevail.

Thanks Steve!!!

Posted by: Danny on March 22, 2010 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Adding one thing though. It seems obvious the fight is far from over. The President will not have the stage for himself in talking up the bill - the repubs are smart and are going all out in trying to frame the bill as bad once and for all. And they are still terribly effective.

The major networks are leading with polls showing a split public on the bill and CBS have the following headline "Already have insurance? Get ready to pay more". If that message takes hold, it spells trouble for the democrats and the bill. And it's a headline that is false. "On the individual market, making over 200k a year? Get ready to pay more."

Mailing, calling & making a big stink about that stuff works - but we're not good enough at it yet.

We can't take our eye off the ball for a second and assume everything works out, not even a day like today!

Posted by: Danny on March 22, 2010 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Benen's Bill - HEAR, HEAR!!! Thanks Steve

Posted by: tsynnott on March 22, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks so much Steve. I don't go to bed at night unless I have read Political Animal, same as I did when you were Carpetbagger....We really appreciate all that you have done and continue to do.

Posted by: mishanti on March 22, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, Congrats on the deserved praise. I always stop here first. All day. Every day. Mostly because your commentary is never rabid or emotionally overwrought the way mine is.

Also, you have some of the best comment posters on the freakin' planet. Cheers!

Posted by: chrenson on March 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

How big a threat is it that 10 states claim that their attorneys general are going to argue that the health care reform bill is unconstitutional? I would call the claim ridiculous, except that the current Supreme court contains 5 loose cannons.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm ashamed to admit that one of those attorneys general is mine: Cuccinelli. Yes, the same guy who said that, as attorney general, he could argue that Obama wasn't really born in the U.S.


Posted by: chrenson on March 22, 2010 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm vaguely aware that Republicans once had intellectually serious people who could engage in debate without lying or parroting debunked talking points.

And you're speaking about David "Axis of Evil" Frum? Just a few years ago, he wrote Dead Right about pruning away the non-true believers. Now he finds the green room is greener on the other side.

An unprincipled hack of the first order who, by conversion or convenience, now fakes common sense as easily as he faked conviction.

Daniel Lairson is an honest conservative. There are more. Frum ain't one of those, even if he's right at the moment.

Posted by: Jay B. on March 22, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Way to go,Steve. Andrew Sabl was right! You named the movement -- and they passed the damn bill. Thanks!

Posted by: pol on March 22, 2010 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

The teabaggers are comin', the teabaggers are comin'

Mr. Benen...

You've earned the right to be at the bill signing ceremony. Although, even if invited I bet you wouldn't go. Obviously, not even crazy wild teabaggers on horses can get you to abandon your desk and computer...

Posted by: koreyel on March 22, 2010 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Google and China. Here is a corporation going to war with a sovereign nation. And I am rooting for the corporation.

After the past year having to abide the abuses of corporations in the financial and insurance sectors while they rake in their bonuses and profits over the common good, finding myself at least casually on the side of Google is giving me whiplash.

Is that covered under HCR?

Posted by: paulo on March 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

CBS have the following headline "Already have insurance? Get ready to pay more" -- Danny, @20:22

So, check out whether that's true:

Posted by: exlibra on March 22, 2010 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK


Well obviously if you're on employer paid health insurance and making less than 200k a year you WONT pay more - you'll pay the same. That's the majority of Americans right there. If you're on the individual market and makes less than 88k a year you'll pay LESS.

That's my point. The headline is a freaking lie, and if progressive grassroots were as wild eyed crazy as the religious kooks and teabaggers then cbs would have received 50 angry phone calls by now. That's where we're at a disadvantage, unfortunately....

Posted by: Danny on March 22, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

I did not think about it until I read Andrew Sabl's post, he is absolutely right that Steve's leadership was key in crystalizing early support to Pass.The.Damn.Bill. Steve was there the firstest with the mostest. Josh Marshall got it too, and was important, and Ezra Klein, of course, but Steve was there first.

Thanks Steve.

Posted by: Steve on March 22, 2010 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you were a tremendous resource through the entire process--laying down the truth. You were the man. You never faltered. You never wavered You kept your eyes on the prize. Thank you for the very real part you played in this historic effort. Our posterity would thank you, if they could. Great, great, great job..

Posted by: Patriotic Liberal on March 22, 2010 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Now that Congress has PTDB we can take a sec to thank those who kept us going and you were definetly on my list of daily encouragements, Steve. Close, eh? 3 to spare!

Posted by: Cha on March 22, 2010 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Those New England winters have a way of focusing the mind if they don't kill you first. Congrats to the hardest working man in the 'Tubes!

Posted by: beep52 on March 22, 2010 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to second Andrew Sabl, Steve. Thank you for rallying people to the cause. Well done.

Posted by: JPS on March 23, 2010 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Congrats on a great achievement, Steve. What you & others expressed was obvious to everyone who paid attention to this outside the beltway, but for some reason took a while to sink in within the political class. You, Josh, Chait, Drum played a key role in this.

Also glad to see Balloon Juice get some props up above. Their relentless phone call campaign seems to have given some backbone to more than a few wavering members, who until then had only been hearing from the teabaggers.

Again, what's obvious to us isn't obvious to everyone, least of all (it seems) those who actually make the decisions. So hammering the point home - in blogs, in print, on the phone, with friends and acquaintances, etc etc etc - is the key to getting things done in this crazy political system of ours.

Posted by: Basilisc on March 23, 2010 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

Don't be embarassed Steve, be proud. All of us aspire to in some way influencing progressive debate and pushing policy forward. You achieved that. Congratulations, and thanks.

Posted by: AndrewBW on March 23, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Congratulations from a long time daily reader, from back in the Carpetbagger days. You deserve all the recognition you are getting, and much more!

Posted by: SBC on March 23, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK



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