Friday, December 03, 2010



Did Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) just compare Republicans to terrorists?

Well, not really. But he did compare negotiating with Republicans to negotiating with terrorists....

Asked if Democrats have a responsibility to move forward with a bill that can become law -- in other words, a bill Republicans will support and not block-- here’s what Menendez said:

"Do you allow yourself to be held hostage and get something done for the sake of getting something done, when in fact it might be perverse in its ultimate results? It's almost like the question of do you negotiate with terrorists."

Every poll says that voters want less fighting in Washington and more bipartisan cooperation to get things done. And then one party digs in its heels, says no to everything ... and cleans up at the ballot box, winning favor with voters who say they want just the opposite approach.

This strikes me analogous to the negative-ad paradox. Voters say they hate negative ads -- but negative ads work. Obviously, voters' gut reactions reveal what they truly think (or at least what they feel), and the high-minded principles they proclaim to pollsters aren't really an honest reflection of their feelings (probably because they're not being honest with themselves).

So voters actually want their politicians to be a bit nasty and snarly, polls notwithstanding. Or maybe they prefer solutions but, if they can't have them (or can't have the solutions they want), they'll settle for vicariously sharing in politicians' righteous indignation. Maybe Menendez has finally grasped that.

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