That so many other reforms have been virtually unheralded is another monument to the efforts of Obama's Orphans. Bills that in another Congress would have loomed large were passed with hardly a ripple in the media.
Consider: the new food-safety rules, the big repair in the student-loan program, stronger regulations on the credit-card industry, the creation of a financial consumer protection agency, an improved children's health-care program and a broad expansion of national service opportunities.
The startling achievements of this lame-duck session owed to the decision of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to shun the counsel of those who said they should just pack it in after a bad election. If a certain amount of boldness had cost some of their colleagues at the polls in November, the same audacity would at least permit those on their way out to add to their record. They would use their majorities right to the end.
Our media and political systems are obsessed with presidents. We are also very tough on those who lose, in elections no less than in sports. As a result, end-of-year commentary will concentrate on how much stronger President Obama looks today than he did even a month ago, and on all he got done. The vanquished of 2010 will get barely a nod on their way to the rest of their lives.
But the president's accomplishments were possible only because a group of younger, largely unsung politicians - the infantry of political change - refused to think only about polls, politics and their personal ambitions. Obama's Orphans deserve to take a bow.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
E. J. Dionne gives credit to the outgoing Democratic congressmen who passed so much legislation at great cost: