New political eras have a kind of Robert's Rules of Order rhythm to them. First on the agenda: old business. Then on to the new.
And that's the point at which we find ourselves in the Obama era -- we are about to bring the unfinished business to a close and move on to the new stuff. After the low-hanging fruit, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Yesterday in Washington, D.C., the Peter G. Peterson Foundation convened the 2010 Fiscal Summit: America's Crisis and A Way Forward to, in its words, "launch a national bipartisan dialogue on America's fiscal challenges." Top billing as participants in the six-and-a-half-hour session on reducing long-term budget deficits went to former President Bill Clinton and then to the two men whom President Barack Obama appointed to chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.
It turns out banks aren't the only things that can be too big to fail. Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, seems securely ensconced in his position despite his frequent off-message remarks, massive overspending on travel and luxury items, and his invocation of the race card at the oddest moments. Sure, race will protect him somewhat -- he won the chairmanship because the party elders liked the idea of an African American chair more than the reality of Steele -- but he's hardly the first high-ranking executive to have "failed upward" -- a phenomenon white men have been taking advantage of for decades.
During the ugly late days of the debate on health reform, a minor skirmish broke out when a savvy journalist-of-the-right, David Weigel, got an organizer of a Tea Party event protesting the legislation to acknowledge that she'd been working with Jane Hamsher, who through her blog Firedoglake had become one of the sharpest critics of the legislation from the left. Hamsher objected that, while she knew the right-wing activist and they had planned to work together on other issues, such as drug legalization (supported by some of the libertarian elements of the movement), they had not actually joined forces around their shared opposition to health reform.
I hold no particular brief for David Frum, the conservative writer who was abruptly ousted as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute last week. I've participated on panel discussions and debates with him (including at AEI) but wouldn't consider him a personal friend. He once accused me of becoming like Charles Lindbergh (I'm pretty sure he wasn't referring to my aviation heroics). I consider "axis of evil," his best-known construction as a Bush speechwriter, one of the most irresponsible phrases ever put in a president's mouth.