LIGHTNING ROUND: IMCOMPETENT OR EVIL?

  • The Obama administration has decided to get tough with GM, giving the ailing auto giant a deadline to finalize a merger with Fiat and restructure the company. The president also sacked CEO Rick Wagoner, making the entirely reasonable claim that new management will be needed in order to move the company forward.
  • Jonathan Chait has a nice piece on why the Democrats can't govern, which gets to the heart of our Senate problem: "Yet the constant recurrence of legislative squabbling and drift suggests a deeper problem than any characterological or tactical failures by these presidents: a congressional party that is congenitally unable to govern." The evidence Chait employs is too legion to be recalled here, but it's worth noting the dynamic on display here: the structure of Senate amplifies the bad behavior of Democratic Senators and the only thing that keeps the GOP in check is total partisan loyalty.
  • I agree it's ominous, but I think Sen. John Cornyn's assertion that it might take "years" for the Minnesota Senate election to be resolved is a bit of cheerleading hyperbole. Cornyn, you'll recall, also hinted that his caucus would filibuster the seating of Al Franken until the entire process had been resolved, which I assume would take nothing less than a gut check from the Almighty to make sure Al Franken really should be Minnesota's junior Senator. Brian Beutler has more on the "Importance of being Franken" and Eric Kleefeld sees the potential for a backlash against the Minnesota GOP on account of Cornyn's remarks.
  • The fact that a Spanish court has opened a case against six members of the Bush administration for covering up torture at Guantanamo Bay is significant not because it will actually lead to immediate prosecution (it won't) but because it's another small step towards reestablishing accountability for international criminals, even if they come from the mighty United States. Ultimately this means the Bush Six can't travel to Spain without being arrested, although I'm holding out hope that Doug Feith really is as bright as Gen. Tommy Franks said he was and might take a trip to the Iberian Peninsula anyway.
  • Speaking of the discredited, it's quite remarkable that someone as full of it as Dick Cheney appears on television so regularly that even David Petraeus has to start correcting him. Even stranger, as dday tallies, is the enduring appeal of John McCain as a fixture on the political talking heads circuit. And the fact that McCain lost the election is only part of it. At the end of said losing campaign, McCain began rapidly shedding all credibility on policy issues, outsourcing them to (literally) some man on the street, and hastening the impression that only one candidate really knew what he was talking about. I don't see much evidence that McCain has changed since yet and there he is, the go-to guy for criticizing the president on policy grounds.
  • I'm not sure which of these quotes comes closer to pulling back the curtain on uncomfortable truths: Glenn Beck's admission that he knowingly manipulates his viewers or John Murtha's admission that his corruption is exactly what his constituents want.
  • Remainders: Newsweek profiles Krugman; Juan Cole talks engaging the Muslim world; DADT gets pushed off the table; The Colorado Independent finds someone more wingnutty than Ann Coulter; the National Popular Vote project chugs along towards its goal; and Texas raises the bar on must-have accessories for the complete college experience.

--Mori Dinauer

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