By Ruth Conniff on September 20, 2013

Progressive activists across the country were gleeful about the defeat of Obama's choice for Fed chair, Larry Summers.

Senate Banking Committee members Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jeff Merkeley of Oregon, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, together with a network of progressive activists who abhorred Summers, basically staged a coup, forcing Summers's withdrawal last weekend.

It wasn't how things were supposed to go.

The Administration, Wall Street, and a chorus of friendly mainstream media voices, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, pushed Summers over the progressives' preferred candidate -- the far more qualified Janet Yellin, as economist Dean Baker has pointed out.

Yet progressives did not give up. They kept pointing out the problems with Summers: that he was an architect of financial deregulation in the 1990s and 2000s that led to the recent economic collapse; that he supported trade deficits and an opposed economic stimulus that righted the economy and helped the poor and middle class; and, of course, that he was fired from the presidency of Harvard for suggesting that girls are inherently bad at science and math.

The Summers defeat severely weakened President Obama, CNBC.com senior editor John Carney warned, and could even lead to a government shut down.

"The victory against Summers's nomination is likely to embolden resistance among the liberal Democrats to a budget resolution that includes further spending cuts," Carney wrote.

Will progressives and Tea Partiers be equally to blame if the government shuts down? Or, down the road, if there is another debt ceiling crisis?

CNBC's Carney thinks so.

In Carney's estimation, Democrats will have to accept House Republicans' Food Stamps cuts in exchange for dropping the ridiculous demand that they kill or delay sections of the Affordable Care Act in exchange for avoiding a shutdown.

"It would fall to the Obama administration to try to bring reluctant Democrats along" on such a deal, Carney reasons. "But after failing to convince Democrats to support Summers, it seems more likely that the White House will fail to convince them to support the Republican budget cuts. The economics team in the Obama administration just is not very good at this these days. This is a recipe for a government shutdown."

In other words, it's looking like Congressional Democrats, having rejected the architect of the bank collapse and recession, might start feeling their oats and reject the House Republicans' attempts to do more damage to the poor and middle class with safety-net cuts, too.

Outside the CNBC studios, that sounds like good news.

In the Atlantic.com, David A. Graham writes that, by breaking ranks with the President first on Syria and then on Summers, progressives in Congress are looking more like the Tea Party every day.

"Maybe Republicans don't have a monopoly on disarray after all," Graham wrote.

Again, that's bad news if you're President Obama.

But it's good news if you don't think it's a wise idea to launch a third war in the Middle East, or to put an advocate for the very bank deregulation that torpedoed the economy in charge of the Fed.

Can primary challenges to corporate Democrats be far behind?

Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter.

Section: 

Topics: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

John Nichols on the luckiest break Democrats have had in the 2014 election cycle...

The Ebola crisis has revealed severe deficiencies in how the American health care system works, experts say.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter