When things are going well, even when you appear to lose, they end up going the way you wanted. Hence the situation for Democrats on Capitol Hill and the auto industry bailout.
A couple of weeks ago, Democrats in Congress were adamant that the auto bailout should come from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion bailout mainly targeted towards the financial industry that Congress passed earlier this year, or if not from that source then in the form of a loan from the Federal Reserve.
The Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson balked at that and refused to spend money from the program, asking instead the Congress pass a separate bailout for the auto industry. And after making that clear, President Bush threatened to veto any bailout that took money from the TARP program (even future funds from it), and instead insisted that it should come from $25 billion already appropriated and earmarked to go to the Detroit automakers under a seperate bill to finance research and development of new cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles.
After several days of negotiations with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backed down and agreed to tap the research and development money. They agreed to a $14 billion package, which would keep the automakers solvent until January, when the next Congress and President can develop a longer term plan.
So then members of Congress started questioning union contracts. And the union made some concessions on payment to laid off workers and health care.
Once those were in, Harry Reid made another concession and agreed to not give Federal judges a pay raise in order to rope in wayward Democrat Clair McCaskill of Missouri.
So then Senate Republicans started demanding that the bill included a new wage structure in which union workers in Michigan would be paid on the same wage scale as non-union workers in Alabama. The union refused.
So then they launched a filibuster that garnered 43 votes, enough to block the measure. It died in the Senate.
So yesterday White House spokeswoman Dana Perrino said that the Bush administration will look at using TARP funds, or if not that then a loan from the Treasury Department. Heck, by the end of the day yesterday the White House announcement even had GM stock almost all the way back where it started the day.
Either way, whether TARP funds are used or it comes from the Treasury Department, this is where Democrats began on this whole thing. The $25 billion fund for cleaner vehicles will remain intact, there will be very few strings attached relating to union benefits, and the judges will get their pay raise.
Which is exactly what the Democratic leadership's position was in the first place.
It's great when your opponent is a party as leaderless, as directionless and as tied in knots as today's GOP. Even when they beat you, the result is that you actually get what you wanted to begin with.