You know that scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where George Bailey is standing on the bridge ready to end it all? That’s where White House Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes sees liberals now, as they await the GOP takeover of the House. In her metaphor, Barnes is a guardian angel of sorts, trying her best Thursday night to pull progressives back from the brink.
Speaking at the American Constitution Society’s holiday party at the Center for American Progress last night, Barnes drew parallels between the famous Christmas-themed movie (one of her favorite films) and the situation liberals find themselves in post-election 2010.
Yeah, it’s bad, Barnes acknowledged. But, she implored, think of how much worse it would have been if Democrats hadn’t been in power at all.
For liberals, Barnes told the audience at the progressive legal organization’s event, 2010 has been “a year of great accomplishment, but it has also been a very tough year.”
She expressed confidence that courts would continue to uphold health care reform as constitutional, calling efforts to oppose reform “a page out of the old playbook: let’s take it to the courts.”
“We’ve seen it over and over again, we were prepared for that, we knew it was going to happen. We saw it with the Voting Rights Act, with the Civil Rights Act,” Barnes said.
Barnes also praised ACS for speaking out against Republican opposition to judicial appointees. Just yesterday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) took to the Senate floor to prevent the nomination of James Cole to the position of Deputy Attorney General from going forward, citing Cole’s work as an independent monitor for AIG and advocacy for civilian trials for terror suspects.
“No voice has been more significant than the voice of ACS as we have tried to move well qualified” — turning towards Obama nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Goodwin Liu, in the audience — “exemplary legal minds to our courts,” Barnes said.
Liu was in attendance to accept an award from the ACS. He told TPM we’d have to ask Sen. Harry Reid’s office whether there was any chance he’d be confirmed during the lame duck session.
Obama’s former nominee to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council, Dawn Johnsen, was also a guest. Now a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, she told TPM that she’s spoken at nearly a half dozen law schools in recent weeks, pushing the Obama administration to use his Constitutional power to make recess appointments to counteract GOP obstructionism.