Fewer victories = fewer victories

FEWER VICTORIES = FEWER VICTORIES…. The other Sen. Nelson agrees that the Senate health care reform legislation is “a good bill” that deserves to be passed. He’s right.

The problem is what Nelson recommends for the rest of the year.

“I think the President is going to have to scale back his agenda after we pass health care reform,” he told ABC News in an interview that aired on Good Morning America. “Then I think some of those folks we think are in danger like Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, I think you’ll see they’re gonna win.”

Nelson said “the president’s instincts are right in the mainstream of America. I think he’s allowed the left wing pull him too much in that direction. But he always comes back into the center.”

First, I can’t really think of any key instances in which “the left wing” has pulled President Obama away from the mainstream. Literally, none. I just don’t know what Bill Nelson is thinking with a comment like that.

And second, how much more can policymakers “scale back”? The White House, at the start of this Congress, basically asked for four bills: health care, Wall Street reform, student loans, and a climate bill. A majority of the House and a majority of the Senate support all of four, but so far, zero have reached the president’s desk.

Nelson’s suggestion is in line with a certain kind of conservative (small “c”) thinking: successful policymaking makes people uncomfortable. Don’t move too fast, don’t try too hard, don’t aim too high. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) approaches politics the same way.

So, here’s the follow-up question for Nelson and others who agree with his go-slow approach: later this year, voters are going to wonder what huge Democratic majorities and a Democratic president got done in 2009 and 2010. What does Nelson intend to tell them?

Opinions may vary, but I tend to think voters are impressed by accomplishments. It’s very likely that fewer legislative victories will mean fewer electoral victories.

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