Somehow the most well-known person on the planet lost control of the economic message to someone named Eric Cantor. . . .This is simply counterfactual. Dowd is hallucinating, a different derangement than Judith Warner's neurotic obsessive disorder, but nonetheless utterly out of touch with the reality of what happened.
Barack Obama could not locate the bully pulpit and ended up being bullied.
Republicans, pulled out of their existential lethargy and re-energized by the president's charm offensive, immediately mounted an offensive against him. Just as Michael Bloomberg learned the perils of cuddling a groundhog when it bit him, Mr. Obama learned the perils of coddling conservatives.
Obama did not "coddle" anyone. He wanted Republican votes for the Democratic "stimulus" bill so as to head off partisan attacks on his economic policy, a policy which -- I'll say it again -- won't work. If he could pull over a double handful of GOP votes, he'd have the tissue wrapping of "bipartisanship" that would inoculate him against blame if the policy ended in disaster. (You saw how much trouble Democrats had in attacking the Iraq war that Bush got so many of them to vote for.)
"Someone named Eric Cantor" may not be as famous as Barack Obama, but Cantor worked for 10 years in the real economy -- his family's real-estate business -- and so he knows a thing or two about economics. Cantor knows that, if enacted, the Pelosi plan will make the economy worse, not better. And he was apparently able to persuade his GOP House colleagues that the "stimulus" was wrong, both as policy and as politics.
Since Dowd's tripping on magic mushrooms here, let's all engage in a little hallucinogenic reverie, shall we? Pretend that the Pelosi plan actually creates an economic recovery. Will Republicans get any credit for "yes" votes? Is voting "yes" going to help Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe win re-election? Of course not. This is a Democratic bill, embodying Democratic priorities, and all the credit will be claimed by Democrats.
So, even under the psychedelic delusion that the Pelosi neo-Keynesian approach could actually work, there is zero incentive for Republicans to vote "yes." Nancy and Harry Reid have the majority, let them pass it. It's theirs; they own it, lock, stock and barrel. And in this drug-addled vision where Keynesianism works, the economy recovers -- at the expense of $780 billion in taxpayer dollars that must be repaid somehow.
Ah, see? Win-win, baby. Republicans represent taxpayers, who will be presented the bill for all this, and won't like paying the bill, even if the stimulus does lead to recovery. But it won't. And so Pelosi and Reid and Obama will be on the hook for a $780 billion failure, with the overwhelming likelihood that the economy will in fact be much worse in fall 2010 than it is now, and except for the Senate GOP Jellyfish Caucus, there won't be a single Republican fingerprint on this disaster.
That's the reality, and if Maureen Dowd is too stoned to see it, she needs to be reassigned to do more fluffy travel features.