The Conventional Wisdom, eagerly promoted by a conventional media that keeps pushing the frames of discussion inexorably toward fascism and right-wingery, holds that the Democratic loss of Congress in 1994 — an event so devastating to the party that it’s typically referred to as simply "1994" in much the same way that Bin Laden’s attacks on the US are referred to as simply "9/11" — was caused by Bill Clinton’s and the Democratic Congress’ pushing too far leftward: Raising taxes, trying to reform health care, yadda yadda yadda. This take on 1994 is being pushed very hard right now, particularly by Republicans and their conservative Dem Blue Dogs buddies, and other fellow travelers looking to kill meaningful health care reform and replace it with Co-Ops and Triggers, alive, alive-oh.
What this airbrushes out of the picture are a few key details:
– The Democrats were in the midst of the House Post Office Scandal, which ultimately took Dan Rostenkowski from the
Speaker’sHouse Ways and Means chair to a jail cell [correction: Rostenkowski was Chiar of the House Ways and Means Committee, not Speaker, in 1994. At other times, the Representative was Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and Deputy Majority Whip. (h/t Mimir)]. (Ironically, he was busted for doing things that not only were penny-ante offenses, but had been perfectly legal up until recently; even Republican congressman Bill Frenzel of Minnesota said as much. Nevertheless, the media made a bigger deal out of this than they did out of Iran-Contra.)
– The Democratic base was further demoralized by the determination of the Clinton Administration to act in accordance with pro-corporate DLC, Blue Dog, Third Way principles that required them to screw their base and even Democratic legislators over issues such as "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and most especially with the infamous "North American Free Trade Agreement", aka NAFTA — which screwed and screws both American and Mexican workers by playing them against each other to keep their wages low while American corporations make money from both groups.
And guess who was the architect and chief cheerleader for NAFTA? Just guess. (Hint: It’s the same guy who’s been allowing the Blue Dogs — many of whom he personally helped elect and who he protects above all else — to screw us on health care reform and other issues.)
That’s right: Rahm Emanuel.
The bottom line: Rahm helped cause 1994, but with the TradMed’s and Villagers’ aid successfully pinned the blame on the Democratic base for pushing Clinton to be too "liberal". Now he’s trying it again — but this time, there’s a loud and active faction in the new media that’s working to correct the record, and to keep him from screwing us yet again to make his corporate buddies happy.
Ironically enough, Rahm himself says that 1994 happened in part because Bill Clinton didn’t do what he was elected to do. In 2008, we elected Barack Obama on his campaign promises to reform health care, get us out of Iraq, and shut down Gitmo, among other things — and Rahm has been one of the key forces, if not the key force, telling Obama to "go slow" on all of these promises.
Go out and spread the word — via letters to the editor, e-mails, and the Spotlight function on posts that you like. Let’s show Rahm that it’s only 1994 again if he doesn’t stop what he’s doing now.