Sunday, February 01, 2009


David Broder in today's Washington Post:

Nothing was more central to [Barack Obama's] victory last fall than his claim that he could break the partisan gridlock in Washington.

Really? Nothing?

That's absurd. Maybe I was watching a different election, but it seemed to me that voters wanted to vote for Obama because he represented a clean break with the status quo on policy, not (or certainly not primarily) on niceness. In fact, back in September, Gallup asked voters to volunteer the principal reasons for their presidential preferences, and it appears that no one specified an end to gridlock:

Admittedly, you can interpret "Want change/Fresh approach" a lot of different ways. But given the unambiguous way the Obama campaign defined "change" in ads and speeches -- as a break with the failed policies of the Bush administration, policies clearly supported in large measure by John McCain -- I don't think there's any doubt what the electorate was voting for.


Broder says that Obama "needs a bipartisan majority" for his stimulus plan "because, tough as this issue is, harder ones await when he turns to energy, health care and entitlement reform." But Frank Rich has an answer to that:

... The [Republican] party's sole consistent ambition is to play petty politics to gum up the works....

The nightmare is that we have so irrelevant, clownish and childish an opposition party at a moment when America is in an all-hands-on-deck emergency that's as trying as war. To paraphrase a dictum that has been variously attributed to two of our most storied leaders in times of great challenge, Thomas Paine and George Patton, the Republicans should either lead, follow or get out of the grown-ups' way.

As does Steve Benen:

Perhaps the political world has been looking at this debate the wrong way. All week long, we've heard quite a bit about what's incumbent upon Obama to satisfy Republicans' demands, despite the GOP's horrific failures at governing, and despite voters having thrown the minority party out on their asses. Maybe now would be a good time to turn the question around: what are Republicans going to do to play a productive role in the process? When will they move beyond Bush's failed economic agenda and get serious about the crisis? Obama was prepared to make all kinds of compromises; what concessions are Republicans prepared to make? GOP leaders have acknowledged they can't just be "the party of 'no.'" So when might we see them start to say "yes"?


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