Sunday, November 28, 2010

Non-Partisan Hysteria

We interrupt our regularly scheduled discourse to bring you this special message from Planet Broder:

But nonetheless, suppose that he is serious when he says, over and over, as he did on Thanksgiving Day, that if we want to "accelerate this recovery" and attack the backlog of lost jobs, "we won't do it as any one political party. We've got to do it as one people...."

Suppose there is a chance that he is serious - that after two years of trying to govern through one party, a party that held commanding majorities in the House and Senate but now has lost them, two years with landmark accomplishments but ultimate frustration of his hopes to change Washington, he has reverted to his original philosophy of governing.

No supposing about it- after two years of negotiating- nay, pleading- with a party which fought to create a Waterloo for what it termed "Obamacare," opposed a modest, conservative stimulus program designed to reverse a near-Depression, dutifully opposed tepid Wall Street reform, and voted even against a small business program, the President remains serious about bipartisanship. Naive and foolish, but conciliatory and bi-partisan.

Broder is only arguably the most famous and oldest of the Washington insiders who (apparently) believe that if only both parties compromised, the heavens will open and there will be eternal bliss.

We've always assumed these guys and gals were selling a load of nonsense- but maybe they're victims as much as perpetrators.

And so it is with syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, one half of CNN's still-fairly new Parker-Spitzer. She lauds the new group "No Labels" which, the Wall Street Journal reports

has drawn support from supporters and advisers of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the country's most powerful independent politician (and) is led by Democratic fund-raiser Nancy Jacobson and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who were introduced to each other by Kevin Sheekey, Mr. Bloomberg's political adviser....

The group has raised more than $1 million to seed its effort against what it calls "hyper-partisanship."

Parker argues "Democrats and moderate Republicans alike have been banished," even "purged," and have joined the No Labels movement. She notes that Jun Choi, the Democratic mayor of Edison, N.J., "told The Wall Street Journal he lost because he wasn't extreme enough. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire state senator, thinks she lost for being too moderate." According to the WSJ, at the group's recent gathering in Portsmouth, N.H., Mayor Choi volunteered "Hi, I'm Jun Choi, and I lost because I wasn't extreme enough." He was followed by Hassan, the state senator, who, evidently mistaking the gathering for an A.A. meeting, added ""Hi, I'm Maggie Hassan, and was defeated because I was too moderate."

Choi's Edison, N.J., a large, moderately affluent suburb, had been ruled since prehistoric times by a Democratic machine which, a few years ago, Choi challenged successfully in a Democratic primary. His recent primary defeat, therefore, may be disheartening- but it doesn't appear to have been related to Persian Gulf policy, extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, Wall Street reform, or even education policy. According to

Two-term Councilwoman Antonia Ricigliano, who had the backing of the township's Democratic Committee as well as the local police union, snatched the party's nomination for mayor away from incumbent Jun Choi tonight in an upset primary election victory....

Ricigliano's win is the culmination of a stinging, dramatic campaign that saw nasty allegations, protests outside town hall and hordes of finger-pointing fliers passed around Edison, making it the most heated primary in Middlesex County.

And then, given the politics of the area, came the key comment:

She also received the backing of the Edison police and fire unions, who viciously opposed Choi.

It may have served Choi well to have appeared at a No Labels convention to claim that he was the victim of liberalism run amok, and it sent a tingle up Parker's leg. But it doesn't square with reality and whatever virtue the victorious opponent may lack, her victory, spurred by the support of the representatives of police officers and firefighters, does not reek of a party consumed by leftist elitist intellectuals out of touch with the enlightened middle.

But facts may not matter. If President Obama has not been able to reverse the economic downturn, end partisan sniping in Washington, and prevent his party from experiencing a "shellacking" from voters dismayed by his leadership, it must be because he has been too liberal and has failed to reach out to Republicans. Taylor Marsh, however, notes

Since Barack Obama came into office he has unilaterally disarmed in the name of bipartisanship and “accomplishments,” without taking the time to make the Democratic case for policy prescriptions that matter in people’s lives and has been the foundation of the Democratic Party since Roosevelt. There can be only one reason for this and that is he doesn’t believe in them strongly enough. Pres. Obama even went so far as to voluntarily form a Debt Commission through Executive Order, which he wouldn’t do on DADT, to take on entitlements when they’re not the problem, while also sending signals that he’d protect the upper 2% Bush tax cuts even as Warren Buffet and other wealthy Americans served up protestations to the President’s ridiculous ode to the super rich.

Compromise does not consist of one side staking out an extreme position and the other side doing whatever it can to accomodate it. A recent Gallup poll found that most Democrats want office holders to compromise while most Republicans want those officials to stick to their beliefs. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal found three prominent politicians planning to attend the upcoming launch of No Labels: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and United States senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. You will not be surprised that they are all Democrats- like President Obama, exhorting, imploring, beseeching Republicans and others to be reasonable, pretty please.

Broder, Parker, and other Washington Wise Men are impressed. Voters, unable to detect a commitment to principle but sensing weakness, are far less so.

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