‘Buckle up’

‘BUCKLE UP’…. We talked earlier about a quote from an administration official, who told Mike Allen about the White House engaging with Republicans after the results in Massachusetts are announced. Republicans, the official said, will face “pressure … to participate in the process in a meaningful way.”

My argument is that this assumption — which the media establishment will likely trumpet incessantly in the coming weeks and months — is, at best, naive. GOP lawmakers aren’t interested in compromise and bipartisan problem-solving; they’re interested in destroying Democrats.

Kevin Drum is right to emphasize, however, that the crux of the Politico article wasn’t really about White House outreach to Republicans, but rather, the president and his team planning “a combative response” in the wake of the Massachusetts debacle.

“This is not a moment that causes the president or anybody who works for him to express any doubt,” a senior administration official said. “It more reinforces the conviction to fight hard.” […]

There won’t be any grand proclamation that “the era of Big Government is over” — the words President Bill Clinton uttered after Republicans won the Congress in the 1990s and he was forced to trim a once-ambitious agenda.

“The response will not be to do incremental things and try to salvage a few seats in the fall,” a presidential adviser said. “The best political route also happens to be the boldest rhetorical route, which is to go out and fight and let the chips fall where they may. We can say, ‘At least we fought for these things, and the Republicans said no.'”

The White House rallying cry, according to one Obama confidant, will be, “Buckle up — let’s get some stuff done.”

I hope this is true. More important, I hope congressional Democrats realize that crawling into a defensive crouch, waiting for the storm to blow over, would be a misread of public discontent.

Even after Massachusetts, Democrats will have a fairly popular president and the largest congressional majority in a generation. If they want to go through the motions and see if any Republicans might be willing to play a constructive role, fine, just so long as they keep expectations low. But Dems weren’t given the reins with the expectation they’d do nothing with them.

Even after Brown is sworn in, Dems will have an opportunity to deliver and make a positive difference in the lives of Americans. What better way to respond to a pounding than to bounce off the ropes, taking a few swings? Pass a jobs bill, go after irresponsible banks, bring some safeguards to Wall Street, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Prove to the country that Dems are at least trying to legislate, and demonstrate that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president have the wherewithal to tackle the issues that matter.