Mittwoch, Februar 10, 2010

Democrats and Bipartisanship...

Since the days of Reagan (if not Nixon before him), the Democrats have always understood bipartisan to be what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable. Bipartisanship for Republicans was discussion, discourse, even agreement on common grounds. Look at the legislative record: bipartisanship is what the Republicans live, but what the Democrats use as a bludgeon to get a whitewash on what they say and do. Republican Congresses get along with Democratic Presidents quite well, but Republican Presidents have their budgets declared "Dead On Arrival" by Democratic Congresses (that's a quote, by the way, from House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill to Reagan's first budget.

That is why this should really come as no surprise.

In this 13th month of his presidency, he's anxious to pass a jobs bill and be seen addressing an unemployment rate that only last week declined from double digits. And his efforts to enact bills on energy, financial regulatory reform and especially health care are stuck in Congress despite the solid majority his party holds in both chambers.

The problem here isn't that the Republicans are being obstructionist - they aren't, as there are quite a number of things they could be doing that they aren't (like blocking meetings, refusing to participate in the logistics of lawmaking) and they have brought alternatives to the table that have been ignored completely - but rather that President Obama, after having ceded so much initiative to Congress, is finding that he is caught in a trap purely of his own making: Congress won't listen to him because, at the end of the day, he is a weak leader.

Charismatic as hell, yes. Able to inspire the Democratic Party Faithful, hell yes.

But he is a weak President. More than a few world-wide have noticed this and have changed their behavior appropriately: Iran, China, Libya, all those countries that pray daily for the US to disappear.

What these presidential appeals for bipartisanship always mean is: do it my way.
Mr. Obama said he "won't hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party." But he wants his way. He wants his energy policy enacted along with his jobs bill, his financial regulatory reform and his health care plan.

And if the opposition continues to block his objectives, he said he "won't hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that's rooted not in substantive disagreement but in political expedience."

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its "obstinacy" and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

Mr. Obama again said the American people are frustrated by the political stalemate in Congress. And he can be counted among the frustrated as well.

He wants to be seen calmly pursuing his legislative goals – and he told reporters today that his meeting with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle went well. So well, in fact, he joked that the Senate leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell had gone out to the South Lawn to make snow angels – together."

Sorry, Mr. President: that's pathetic.

Odd that the MSM - the link is to CBS News, for goodness' sake! - has picked up on this for the first time. Perhaps there is hope for a change...

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