This has been brewing for a couple of days now, and it brings a couple of points to mind:
First, what Lamont said was stupid and wrong. No doubt.
Second, I’m very impressed that nobody who’s familiar with Malloy’s history of labor relations in Stamford seems to have said a single word about how awe-inspiringly cynical his attack here is.
Third, there’s a disconnect here that repeats itself over and over again with progressive policy initiatives – a compromise is hashed out behind the scenes and introduced, but those who want to be seen as centrists don’t get the memo (or the airtime, more likely), and attack whatever bill as too liberal.
With healthcare, a national health system was compromised down to single payer, single payer activists were sold on the public option, the public option was vaporized in exchange for nothing. Advocates, who would have been thrilled at half a loaf, start getting pretty unhappy when they’re told to give back the 1/8 of a loaf that they have remaining. And now, everyone’s clucking at the clever Democrats promoting the ultra-conservative Paul Ryan healthcare bill. Of course, the Ryan bill will go down in flames, but in February 2010, some fringe Republican character will get a chance to insert items into the signature Democratic legislative accomplishment while the large and loyal progressive caucus has been frozen out for the better part of a year.
The President or the Governor is always going to tack to the center – as another example, Bush wanted the authority to invade anything and everything without giving any reason, and compromised by accepting the mere authority to invade Iraq for no particular reason. He was able to compromise with the extreme right because there was a functioning extreme that he could negotiate with.
But now, as Lamont is realizing that the bill (click here to see the draft) is already compromised to a pale shadow of what liberals wanted, it’s basically impossible to ask for any further compromises in the name of moderation and reasonableness. So he’s forced to either crap on a bill that was already pretty conservative and incremental (making it moreso), or sound like an idiot for not understanding what’s actually on the table.
Yes, what Ned said was uncool, but without a functioning left in the legislature, it’s something that’s going to be repeated over and over again no matter who winds up being Governor.