Kevin Drum, quoting Joe Klein, hopes the press (which we know to be so terribly biased against leftish ideas and new government spending) doesn't smear Obama's economic plan like they did Clinton's.
I won't get into all that, but I want to ask a related question: To what extent does current legislation actually represent an Obama plan at all? Maybe the press coverage has been poor, but hasn't Obama really been forced to put a happy face on and accept the half-baked mess that comes out of Congress? Hasn't Obama really taken the role as Majority Whip, trying to wrangle votes for an existing piece of legislation, rather than actually crafting its framework?
I would define one of the key aspects of Presidential leadership as bringing some adult supervision to Congress, and particularly his own party in Congress. Bush CERTAINLY never was able or willing to do so, and I don't see evidence of Obama doing so either. Congress is running amuck, and every week seems to add another $100 billion in random pork to the bill. In content, my perception is that the stimulus bill is Nancy Pelosi's bill but Obama's blame. Or am I missing something? Has the Administration had more involvement in the crafting of this bill than it appears?
Update: Jane Hamsher at Huffpo (HT to a commenter) argues that my understanding above is a result of furious Administration spin:
The story of the morning seems to be that the Obama team is unhappy with Nancy Pelosi and the House committee chairs for delivering up such a liberal, pork-laden bill that they themselves really had nothing to do with.
"Anonymous staffers" are fanning out to fuel the fiction that "during the transition Summers, his deputy Jason Furman, and the White House's top Congressional liason, Phil Schiliro, laid out the broad principles they wanted the bill to adhere to, but when it came to actual content, they deferred to the chairmen."
Except that it's not true. The Obama transition team has been working on the substance of the bill from day one. Their first step was to go to the Association of Mayors, the National Governors' Associations and other non-congressional groups and say "give us all your shovel-ready projects." That and other provisions written by the Obama team became the spine of the bill. It went through only three committee markups, and moved through the House at lightening speed in a way that made many House chairs unhappy, with the notable exception of Dave Obey (now also under attack) who helped push it through quickly.
The House bill is notable not only for its size but also because it had no earmarks, which are the lifeblood of House members, the way they show their constituents what they're doing for them. As one person knowledgable about the writing of the bill says, "if you're in the House why would you write a bill without earmarks unless you didn't write the bill?"
But with public opinion quickly turning against the bill, and the House Republicans claiming the moral high ground as they held formation to oppose him, how could Obama be distanced from responsibility for elements of the bill under GOP attack and remain above the fray? That seemed to be the locus of White House concern, and according to those familiar with what happened, the "polarizing" Nancy Pelosi was designated to take the fall.
Interesting. Well, I don't often comment on politics per se (vs. actual proposals) because I am so naive about this stuff. Hamsher could in turn be shilling for Pelosi. I just don't know enough.
By the way Hamsher tends to imply that it is a good bill with bad PR. Phhhth. It is an awful bill, and I am willing to bet that I have read more of it and the CBO report than she.