IN WHICH I EXPLAIN SOMETHING TO FRANK BRUNI THAT SHOULD BE GLARINGLY OBVIOUS
I enjoyed today's Frank Bruni column, which is about Newt Gingrich's ego. But I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it didn't include this passage:
Yes, we live in a grotesquely partisan moment, the main reason for gridlock, brinkmanship and super-committee ignominy on Capitol Hill. But would Clinton have stood at so far a remove from that committee? Isn't it possible that a glad-hander more aggressive and warmer than Obama would be making a smidgen of headway?
Gingrich isn'’t the answer: he's hot-headed and truculent.
If Bruni thinks a Gingrich presidency wouldn't solve the problem of excessive partsanship and gridlock, that means Bruni is yet another fool who believes partisanship and gridlock are caused by politicians in general, rather than by Republicans. That alone makes him unfit to write political commentary for one of America's most important news organizations (although in making this particular misreading of the cause of gridlock, he has a hell of a lot of company within the ranks of the elite media).
Assuming we have (as is likely) an all-GOP Congress, or even a Congress just like the one we have now, with a GOP majority in the House and a "superminority" of Republicans in the Senate (i.e., a number greater than 40), there will be absolutly no gridlock as long as there's a Republican president -- any Republican president, with the possible exception of Ron Paul. In the case of Gingrich, the only way there'll be gridlock is if he reverts to being the occasionally centrist Gingrich of the past -- if he tries to do something about climate change, or urging a less-than-draconian path on immigration, he'll be shot down as decisively as George W. Bush was when he attempted immigration reform or proposed Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Otherwise, the agenda of Gingrich -- or Romney or Perry or Bachmann or Santorum -- will go through Congress like a knife through butter, because it will be a conservatively correct agenda, rubber-stamped at every stage of the process.
Democrats certainly won't gum up the works -- I'm predicting there won't even be a filibuster to save the Obama health care law if Republicans win the White House and the Senate, not even if there are 49 Senate Democrats. (After an election loss, Blue Dogs and pants-wetting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014 will desperately avoid any dissent from the Republican agenda.)
I suppose this is why the public is so slow to sour on Republicans (it took six years with W and nearly twelve with Reagan and Poppy Bush), and so quick to sour on Democrats: voters just want something done in Washington, and when a Republican is in the Oval Office, things get done. Think of W's first term. Tax cut? Done. No Child Left Behind? Done. Patriot Act? Done. A war and then another war? Maybe the second one took a little arm-twisting, but you didn't see the Democrats threatening a government shutdown over it, or relitigating it once it started. And Reagan got his agenda fairly effortlessly through a Democratic House.
Gridlock happens only to presidents who are Democrats. Shouldn't a political pundit for The New York Times know that Politics 101 fact?