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Interesting Definition of Bipartisanship Ya Got There

February 3rd, 2009

Obama and the Democrats could have rammed the stimulus bill through the House loaded with everything they wanted and squat for Republicans, and then played hardball in the Senate, laying out a public campaign attacking Republicans if they tried to filibuster an up-or-down vote–and it probably would have worked. That is, without any doubt whatsoever, exactly what the Republicans would have done were the situation reversed. We know they would because they did do exactly that, repeatedly, in the past.

Instead, Obama went way out of his way to include Republicans; he even left pride behind and showed up at the Republicans’ doorstep, gave them large amounts of face time and more than a little respect; he quickly eliminated programs from his stimulus that Republicans complained about, like family planning provisions, and gave Republicans several key elements they demanded, like increased tax cuts, despite their limited effectiveness in situations such as this. In short, Obama did exactly what Republicans have steadfastly refused to do: he was bipartisan and more than fair, considering that he won the election and has powerful majorities in both houses. More than fair considering that Republicans, with less power, did little more than spit on Democrats under similar circumstances just a few short years ago.

So, how did Republicans respond?

They took the considerable leverage and media exposure that Obama handed them in good faith and used it to grab everything they could and then bash Obama with smears and petty whining. In the House, they demanded and got more than they reasonably could have hoped for, and then ganged together and refused even a single vote for the bill. They then demanded more, some even dictating that Obama’s bill be scrapped and their own be put in its place, called the Democrats names, and accused them of all kinds of nasty political maneuverings–and then somehow, in the midst of all this, claimed the “bipartisan” mantle for themselves. For Republicans, “bipartisan” apparently means “give us everything we want and then let us eviscerate you.”

Sorry, but these people are beyond obnoxious. Obama extends them a hand, and they punch him square in the face.

You ask me, the Republicans just set the tone. They deserve no respect, zero. Take back everything offered to them, pass the bills America needs by appealing directly to the American people–taking a hard stance and forcing the GOP to play out each and every filibuster to show up their selfish obstructionism and political game-playing–and treat them with exactly the respect they have earned.

Until they are ready to act like adults and not like snot-nosed little brats, they can sit at the card table and whine all they want.

Unfortunately, Obama is unlikely to do that until the Republicans abuse him a whole lot more for a whole lot longer. He will probably continue to treat them with far more respect than they deserve–and the danger is that the American people will come to disrespect Obama for that. Let’s hope that Obama is smarter than that, and knows when to play hardball when it is required.

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  1. etoipi
    February 3rd, 2009 at 11:38 | #1

    Two comments basically unrelated to each other:
    I heard someone on NPR today ask in all seriousness if Obama was up to ending the culture wars. Funny how it’s up to him. Funny how no one ever asked if Bush was going to end the culture wars.

    Regarding your post – I hear ya. I’ve been thinking pretty much the same things the last few days as I mull the thing over in my mind… then I got thinking that Obama knows what he’s doing… I’m not sure what he’s doing exactly, but he’s surprised me several times already. I’m convinced he’s the smartest president (and the smartest candidate) in my memory (that goes back through Nixon)… and he’s definitely smarter than me. He’s doing the rope-a-dope or something as cool-headed and strategic… I hate watching it – just as I hated how much he took from McCain last summer without any significant response. I don’t have that much patience. But his patience seems to have served him well.

  2. Tim Kane
    February 5th, 2009 at 01:19 | #2

    I agree with you Luis, I am even losing some respect for him, of course this has happened before: he creates a void, lowers your expectations, and then he fills the void.

    He’s a strategic thinker unlike anyone we’ve had in politics, on a level with Lincoln and FDR.

    The fact is, the Republicans are not abusing Obama, it only seems like it. The Republicans are abusing the middle class and lower class Americans, and these days that means pummeling Obama. If Obama goes along with them, then they won’t abuse him and they’ll say he was bi-partisan etc…

    The Republicans are used to pummeling the middle and lower classes, especially the middle class. That’s their job. That’s their role. They are the scorpions on the frogs back.

    The Republicans want only to ‘conserve’ power, prestige and wealth for the powerful, the prestigious and the wealthy – during bad times – and extend power, extent wealth and extend prestige during good times.

    Since the lower class has no power, prestige or wealth to take from, the assault always has to be against the middle class. To do that, they need the middle class’s help.

    There is no such thing as culture warfare: the founding fathers did away with that with the bill of rights. There is only class warfare. To the extent that there is cultural warfare, the Republicans have concocted it as a proxy in their class warfare to fool members of the middle class into helping the rich steal their lunch and take their cookies.

  3. Stuart
    February 5th, 2009 at 05:22 | #3

    There was a funny thing on the Daily Show (or it might have been Colbert) where they quoted one of the Representatives as saying that “this is a bipartisan defeat of the bill” even though it passed and only Republicans voted against it —- so apparently if Republicans don’t like it, it counts as defeated.

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