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    January 11, 2008

    Barney is stuck in the '90s

    Posted by: Chris

    Barneyfrank An angry and defensive Barney Frank -- and isn't that exactly how we love him best? -- takes issue in a HuffPo piece with Barack Obama's denigration of "the Washington battles of the '90s." Our Boston bulldog is upset because he remembers those battles as important struggles that it would be wrong to shy away from:

    Racial fairness, reproductive rights for women, an end to discrimination against sexual minorities, universal health care, the right of working men and women to bargain collectively with employers -- these battles we waged in the nineties remain essential to our vision today, and I do not understand why we should either be embarrassed about having fought hard for them, ten, fifteen or twenty years ago, or why we should not be determined to keep fighting until we have achieved success."

    Say what you will about Barney, he is a very smart man. So how has he so completely missed Barack Obama's point? His exhortation not to "refight the Washington battles of the '90s" isn't about "generational politics," as Barney suggests, or because political pros like Barney were fighting about the wrong things.

    The point is that whether because of excess partisanship or the politics of personal destruction, Washington proved incapable of resolving most of the big questions that Barney lists, like health care, Social Security, tax reform, gay rights and the like. And what's worse, it poisoned the political discourse, divvied up the country by color -- red and blue instead of black and white -- and made addressing the next set of big problems that much more difficult.

    Obama's view -- and it's one shared by many independents and moderates of both parties -- is that Hillary Clinton and supporters like Barney haven't learned the lessons of the '90s and will refight the battles in much the same partisan, personal way. Unfortunately for HIllary, she might not even have the choice. With so much water under the bridge, Republicans would unquestionably react to her nomination, much less her election, in the Gingrich-Armey patterns that Barney describes so well.

    Barack Obama's promise is to transcend the divisiveness of the '90s and approach problems old and new free (as it is possible) of entrenched party interests or settling old scores. It's not a message likely to appeal to battle-scarred veterans like Barney, but it sure does appeal to many of us.

    Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan



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    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 1:07:00 AM:

      but it sure does appeal to many of us.

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