Sunday, February 08, 2009


Maureen Dowd on today's New York Times op-ed page:

... the prince got distracted, seeing Lincoln in the mirror, and ... gave the kiss of life to a bunch of flat-lining Republican tax-cut fetishists.

In his first weeks padding around a White House..., Barack Obama could not locate the bully pulpit and ended up being bullied.

Republicans, pulled out of their existential lethargy and re-energized by the president's charm offensive, immediately mounted an offensive against him....

Charles Blow on yesterday's New York Times op-ed page:

... Republicans are trying to draw Democrats into a screaming match because they know they're better at it. They are the masters of shrill -- masters of stoking ignorance and rousing rabble.

Democrats, on the other hand, should know better, especially No Drama Obama....

Remember, rancor is the Republican briar patch.

So which is it? Were Republicans taking advantage of the fact that Obama was too nice? Or were they hoping to goad him into being too nasty so they could take advantage of that?

Doesn't asking the question this way tell you the answer? Obviously, the Republicans would have had exactly the same hissyfit no matter whether Obama was hot or cool. There was no Baby Bear's porridge. There was no tone that would have been "just right." Any pundit who thinks there was still doesn't get the modern GOP.

(And I think that goes for all the variables people are discussing now, particularly the level of Republican involvement in the drafting of the legislation. House Republicans say they didn't get to have their say on the House bill and they oppose it. The "centrists," by contrast, are infusing Republican ideas into the Senate bill -- and the GOP opposes that, too.)

As for Obama and the Republicans, maybe -- maybe -- the apparent comity in the brief honeymoon period derived from a real belief on Republicans' part that some of their pundits were correct about Obama being a secret right-centrist who'd pulled the wool over liberals' eyes and was actually planning a third Bush term. Far more likely, they were playing possum until it was time to go Taliban on the president. GOP dogma was never abandoned; the only question might have been how much of it Obama was ready to swallow. (And then even if the bill were just a tiny bit Keynesian, they'd almost certainly have attacked him over that.)

Let me try to explain this to Beltway pundits: Republicans are never reasonable. Nothing Democrats do has any effect on their intransigence and perpetual state of outrage.

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