Wednesday, February 27, 2008

David Broder's Bipartisanship

Many commentators, including Digby here, have observed that to our media elite "bipartisanship" is indistinguishable from acting Republican. David Broder provides a perfect example of this in his recent column "A Did-Something Congress."

The voters' message is getting through, not only in settling the fights for the Republican and Democratic nominations but in changing the mind-set of Washington.

The clearest evidence of the change is what happened last week on the economic stimulus bill. A week ahead of their self-imposed deadline, the House and Senate, by overwhelming votes, sent to President Bush almost exactly the kind of relief measure he had sought for the staggering economy. [emph. added]

It was a dramatic reversal of the gridlock that had characterized executive-congressional relations throughout 2007, and it reflects the recognition by both Republicans and Democrats of the public disenchantment with official Washington that has been one of the dominant themes of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Broder praises both Republicans and Democrats for the "bipartisan" approach but it's not clear what Republicans did to deserve praise or how Democrats doing exactly what Bush wants is an example of bipartisan action.

This is a ubiquitous theme in beltway media: that gridlock is caused by Democrats opposing Republicans and bipartisanship is achieved when Democrats drop that opposition and act exactly like Republicans. In column after column Democrats are chided for not moving enough, while Republicans get a free pass on not moving at all. Joe Klein writes repeatedly that Democrats should sign off on telecom immunity so we can move on to more pressing matters, but he never argues that Republicans should give up on telecom immunity for the same reasons.

The implicit argument in these sorts of columns is that Democrats have to be the "bigger man", that they have to act responsibly because Republicans won't. Imagine if this argument were explicit:

Bush Administration officials today argued that the expiration of the Protect America Act has left our nation at greater risk to terrorist attack. Republicans in Congress blocked the extension of the act and Bush vowed to veto it because the House rejected a separate bill that included telecom immunity. We call on Democrats in the House to agree to telecom immunity because some party has to act responsibly and it clearly won't be the Republicans. We call on voters to vote Democratic at all levels of government so that a cadre of ideologues can no longer force through bad legislation by holding American lives hostage.

This column has been written dozens of times in the last few weeks, only the parts about irresponsible Republicans has been left out. Yet that is the lynch pin of the entire argument for total Democratic capitulation: something has to give and it's not going to be those stubborn Republicans.

1 comment:

Autumnal Harvest said...

It's somewhat OT, but it's interesting to see what the Economist had to say about the "urgency" of the Protect America Act:

In reality, the statute's demise has done little practical harm. Existing wiretaps can continue. American spies can also tap away as long as they get permission from the attorney-general; warrants, which have to be signed by a judge, can be obtained subsequently. (Preparing warrant applications, even after the fact, is time-consuming, but that should not be an immediate problem.) And telecommunicatios firms worried about lawsuits are no worse off then they were before.

I think this it the first accurate M.S.M. description of the security issues that I've seen in the last half year? Why am I reading it in a foreign magazine? *!*&$$*