Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Smart Letters: Bipartisanship

Yes, the Dumb Letters are much more fun, but every now and then I like to point your attention to a smart one. It makes me feel like less of a prick. And it allows me to use someone else's words instead of having to type my own. I'm lazy sometimes. Well, most of the time.

Here is a fine upstanding citizen from Ohio writing to the NYTimes about "The Perils of Bipartisanship". (Mildly truncated. Emphasis mine.)

It should now be clear that, for all its facile appeal, bipartisanship is a mistake for at least three reasons.

First, it assumes a willing partner, and the Republicans have made it clear that their goal is to rapidly derail this presidency rather than help build a new spirit of bipartisanship.

Second, it assumes that the solutions to the nation’s ills lie somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum — between the two parties — whereas the reality is that our most pressing problems, from providing universal health care and sensible economic regulation, to environmental protection and labor law reform, all require more radical solutions, not weak compromises.

Third, bipartisanship of this kind undermines democracy because it thwarts the will of the people. Republican ideas and political practices were decisively rejected at the polls last November; they should not reappear through the back door.

I voted for Barack Obama and his policy agenda. I thought we won.

Let’s see it enacted.

Chris Howell
Oberlin, Ohio
I couldn't have said it better myself. And I would have rambled for three times as long to make the same point.

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post has this to say about partisanship. He's sort of sticking up for Republicans. I usually think the guy's a douche but every now and then I agree with him. This is one of those days.

These Republicans are as wrong as wrong can be, and history, I am sure, will mock them, but they were not elected by history, and they are impervious to mockery from the likes of me. They come from conservative districts, and they are voting as their people want them to. That's partisanship. It is also democracy.

The desire to think that political differences are manufactured and can be sweet-smiled into consensus is touching but unrealistic.


Mrs. Chili said...

You turned me on to Dan Froomkin and the White House Watch (bastid! Like I have TIME for all that!!) and one of today's offerings was bits from an interview on Air Force One between Obama and a group of opinion columnist in which the President had this to say:

Obama made it clear that, despite his efforts at outreach, he's realistic enough not to expect a great deal of support from Congressional Republicans any time soon. "You know, I am an eternal optimist," he said. "That doesn't mean I'm a sap -- so my goal is to assume the best, but prepare for a whole range of different possibilities in terms of how Congress reacts."

He does, however, hope that more Republicans in Congress will eventually come around -- possibly because their constituents demand it. "I do think that over time, as we keep on reaching out, and as I think the American people express their view that we need to start actually doing something about jobs, housing, health care, education, and so forth, that there will be some counterveiling pressures to work in a more constructive way."

I don't know if he's really going to GET to that point - I think that the issues your smart guy raises are important ones, and I think that many of our congresspeople have developed a far better gauge for "winning" than for what's really good for the people as a whole. Plus, some people are just assholes and will never concede to anyone they think is "less" than they are, regardless of whether that person's ideas are more valid.

MAB said...

I thought about including the Obama "sap" quote. I ended up refraining, obviously. Thanks for bringing it into the fold.

As far as winning is concerned, there is more than one Republican congressperson out there right now crowing to their constituents about the pork they got into a bill that they didn't vote for. Funny.