Not much interesting there.
But Joan Walsh does identify a tension that I believe is going to plague any incoming Democratic administration. That's because she's on both sides of the tension.
On the one hand, Walsh believes that any Democratic administration is going to have to come up with "big ideas" on important issues like health care to be successful.
Let me be clear: Like Bai, I would like to see more political will (the ideas are there; it's a mobilized constituency behind a few key ideas that's missing) to do something about the healthcare nightmare, the public education crisis, persistent inner-city poverty, the shock waves of globalization ... I could go on and on. I think the 2008 Democratic nominee will need to articulate and build a constituency behind a compelling vision of post-Bush America that reckons with terrorism, security and a new U.S. role in the volatile global economy. He or she may not need it to get elected, the way the Republicans are going, but they'll need it to govern and to solve the problems voters elect them to address -- as well as to get reelected.
Walsh's vision about a possible Democratic agenda is so expansive here that it would take a combination of the New Deal and Great Society to get it all done. Edwards and Obama (at least to a certain extent) are campaigning on this decisive separation from the Bush era, but neither of them asks how they're going to get big popular majorities and various elites to support such an agenda let alone how they would administer programs and pay for them. It's all pie in the sky and here Walsh is being as naively idealistic as Bai himself.
But Walsh also seems to recognize the insanity of trying to do that much and soon pulls back into a minimalist mode.
But unlike Matt Bai, I think undoing the disasters of the Bush administration makes for good policy as well as good politics, and I think most Americans agree.In other words, Walsh believes that an incoming Democratic administration is going to have to clean up a lot of the Bush administration's messes before it embarks on a any ambitious new plans. In my opinion, this is the right track. In fact, undoing the damage of the Bush administration is a pretty big ambition in itself. The Bush administration has made an enormous mess of the war in Iraq, international institutions like the UN and the World Bank, terrorist detention, interrogation policies, the Justice Department, federal agencies like FEMA, and the federal budget.
And that's just the well-known disasters. It may turn out that a big chunk of the federal government is as dysfunctional as FEMA.
Cleaning up the federal government and repairing our relationships with other countries is going to be a full time job for incoming Democrats. That's especially because a Democratic administration will be under a lot of pressure from the right-wing attack media. Unlike Obama and Edwards, Hillary seems to have a sense of how tough the environment is going to be for the next Democratic president. That sense of hard-headed practicality is one of the reasons I support her candidacy even though my own views are closer to those of Edwards.
But there's one thing for sure, the moderate Democratic--DLC--Lieberman era that Bai so much embraces really is over in the Democratic Party. In that sense, the liberal bloggers have won the war even if they continue to lose a lot of battles.