Enough With “Process Stories”—Process the GOP to Shreds in 11/2022 February 15, 2022
Like many of you, I still remain a fan of the TV drama “The West Wing (TWW) which ran from 9/22/1999-5/14/2006 (Keveney, B., usatoday.com, 1/22/06). During those awful years that Demagogue Donald was in power, I often watched TWW reruns weekly by replaying them on my TV. I kept wishing that the likes of Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) really sat in the Oval Office, not the Former Grifter, TFG. One of my favorite characters on TWW was Bradley Whitford who played Josh Lyman, the powerhouse Deputy-Chief-of-Staff who worked under Chief-of-Staff (COS) Leo McGarry (John Spencer). Spencer, unfortunately, died of a heart attack toward that show’s end. In the TV version, Josh, to my delight and that of many others, married his charming street-smart aide Donnatella, Donna Moss, Janel Moloney (“The West Wing,” Rollins & O’Connor, 2003). One of my children even had her autograph a picture for me! In one of my favorite episodes, Josh made a crack about the press printing “process stories” about what was going on in the Bartlet Administration, if it made the slightest political error. At that time, I had never heard that term. Josh explained that “process stories” were the supposed analytical pieces the print media wrote often calling “Democrats in Disarray.” I started laughing and rolling my eyes. I had already seen far too many such “process stories.” Now, I finally understood what all those “Democrats in Disarray” pieces meant.
Fast forward to the Biden Administration in 2022. The real “process stories just keep on coming.” In the 2/14/2022 Los Angeles Times edition, on Valentine’s Day, that paper, no Cupid, shot a heavy arrow straight toward the hearts of President Biden and two of his key Democratic aides. In a “process story” by Eli Stokols and Jennifer Haberkorn, unnamed “moderate” Democrats did not blame conservative Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for killing the social safety net Build Back Better (BBB) bill and the Voting Rights bill when they refused to abolish the filibuster to pass that legislation. Of course not! They blamed such failures on Biden’s more than capable and super-experienced Chief-of-Staff (COS) Ron Klain and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY) (See latimes.com, Stokols et al, 2/12/22). Never mind the way Biden, Klain, and Schumer went out of their way to negotiate and nearly beg those two Democrats to tell them just want they wanted in the final bill. Never mind that Manchin and Sinema never really gave Biden, Schumer, and other Democrats straight answers. Never mind that this “runaway duo” kept changing their demands every time they talked to fellow Democrats and the press. Of course, had COS Klain and Majority Leader Schumer quickly taken Manchin’s and Schumer’s “bottom line,” if they had really settled on one, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) would have screamed “bloody murder” that Democratic leadership was ignoring them. The CPC would, no doubt, have made more rigid demands of Biden, Klain, and Schumer. And as for voting rights, we must stand for this key core of our beliefs. Democrats stood up for civil rights even when we lost Southern white voters. Sometimes, you have to take a stand to push Dr. Martin Luther King’s “moral arc” forward and keep at it. To ignore this issue constitutes not only political malpractice, but utter cowardice. African Americans and many progressives who gave Biden and Democrats the White House and Congress aptly see voting rights as imperative. We all must.
As of 7/22/2021, the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) consists of 94 voting Representatives, 1 non-voting Delegate, and 1 Senator. The CPC, not “moderates,” constitute the Democratic Party’s largest ideological caucus and the second largest ideological caucus overall after the right-wing Republican Study Committee (wikipedia). Third-term Seattle, WA Congressmember, Pramila Jayapal (56) who represents WA’s 7th District chairs the CPC (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). From the get-go, she has made a name for herself running this group with her strong nearly absolutist stands (See Cohen & Cook 2022). Remember Rep. Jayapal? She was the one who led the charge to stall the very popular bridge-building infrastructure bill, effectively holding it hostage in the House for weeks. Why? She feared that if her CPC did not engage in this “hostage taking,” Manchin & Sinema would kill Biden’s social-spending oriented Build Back Better, BBB bill. And how did that all work out? IMHO, Jayapal’s “strategy” backfired. Not only did Manchin later kill this bill in the 50-50 Senate but Democrats were left for weeks without passage of the popular infrastructure bill. One of the reasons Dem. Terry McAuliffe narrowly lost his 11/2021 gubernatorial race to “pretend GOP moderate” (NOT) Glenn Youngkin was because he could not show VA voters that Biden and the Democrats had delivered help on key roads and bridges needed in the Old Dominion and throughout the nation. As VA U.S. Sen., Mark Warner noted, the CPC’s hostage “stunt” would have been called “absolute stupidity” anywhere else but in Congress. Shame, shame CPC! You join Senators Manchin and Sinema in playing the obstructionist card. Don’t we have enough obstruction with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his “Red” crew? Why do our own members have to engage in such lunacy? Democrats are supposed to be the grownups in the room, not whiny toddlers like the GOP. Biden himself had to go down and implore the House to vote on the infrastructure bill. He did not say that the House, dominated by the CPC, should vote the day after he spoke to them. At that time, many pundits and House members believed the CPC would still defy Biden and vote against the infrastructure bill. Such a defeat would have really made Biden and his Democrats look pathetic. “Process stories” would have then pronounced Democrats “doomed.” Now, many House members believe that had Biden really said more about passing the infrastructure bill ASAP, it would have cleared the House, including Jayapal’s CPC. Get real! Such an analysis constitutes nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead, many unnamed Democrats foolishly blame Biden for listening to staffer Klain, Majority Leader Schumer, and similar advisors (See Stokols & Haberkorn, latimes.com ,2/12, 2/14/22).
Democrats, stop leaking to the papers and blaming Biden, Klain, and Schumer. If we want to win in 2022, our whole party, the Manchins, Sinemas, and Jayapal’s Progressive Caucus must get together and compromise. Both conservative and progressive Democrats are at fault here. The only way to get our base out in droves plus in 11/2022 is to deliver on BBB, even if it’s a rather slimmed down version. Manchin now claims BBB is dead. However, he stated that he would like to see some of its provisions pass through committees (latimes.com, Stokols et al, cnn.com). Take him up on this. And keep pushing the fight for voting rights. As former Dem. Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), who also presided over an evenly divided Senate in the “W” Bush era and got much less, aptly noted, “You have to take a stand on voting rights even if you fail (See latimes.com, 2/12/2/14).” Repeated “process stories” will only bring the GOP to power in at least the House and perhaps the Senate. No more “process stories,” Dems. Put far more effort in passing bills, not griping to the media. Instead, process the GOP to shreds in 11/2022. How? Finish passing Biden’s key agenda and keep bragging about the major landmark bills we have already passed. The public must know all of this. Very few still do. And again, vote, vote, vote. Our democracy depends upon it.