The Shoals of Washington DC

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David Roberts says that Netroots Nation was more subdued this year than last.  That’s hardly a surprise.  But it’s not just the fact that 2008 was an election year and 2009 isn’t:

The sense, rather, is that we are witnessing a tsunami of progressive enthusiasm, organizing, and, um, Hope crash on the shoals of the status quo … and the status quo isn’t budging. Bit by bit, the giddy high of those days following Obama’s election is dissipating. It’s dispiriting.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t just a liberal problem.  9/11 and the Iraq war masked a lot of this during George Bush’s first term, but conservatives ended up feeling the same way before long.  They wanted a revolution, but instead they got NCLB.  And a wimpy stem cell compromise.  And Sarbanes-Oxley.  And McCain-Feingold.  And a huge Medicare expansion. And complete gridlock on Social Security.

Not exactly what they signed up for.  The tax cuts were great, of course, but what about abortion and gay marriage and entitlement reform and slashing the size of government and ANWR and the Endangered Species Act and everything else on the conservative wish list?  They got most of what they wanted on the national security front (missile defense, big Pentagon budget increases, a couple of nice wars), but on the domestic front most of them felt like Bush ended up delivering almost nothing.

It wasn’t quite that bad, of course.  They did get the tax cuts, after all.  And they got a new bankruptcy law and a bunch of right-wing judges.  But for the most part, their domestic agenda crashed on the shoals of the status quo too.  Washington DC is a tough place to get anything done.


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