Friday, June 15, 2012

Exploding political myths

Jonah Goldberg explodes the myth of the "good conservatives" which is just a rhetorical trick used by liberals to "romanticize and glorify conservatives from eras when they were least effective but most entertaining. Some like to cherry-pick positions from a completely different era so as to prove that holding that position today is centrist." Liberals like to pretend that they hold a fondness for dead or retired Republicans like Ronald Reagan or William F. Buckley but think that we're too comatose to remember how they derided those same men when they were at their peak.

And while we're exploding myths, Jay Cost explodes the myth of GOP intransigence being the reason why the atmosphere in Washington today is so hyper-partisan. He points out that Obama didn't make much of an effort to reach out to Republicans when he came into office. If he was going to get GOP members of Congress to support his agenda, he needed to compromise and make an effort to work with them. John McCain offered to work with him on immigration, but Obama blew him off. And when it came time to crafting his signature bills, he made no effort to bring Republicans into the effort.
So, Republican members will need a good reason to vote with a Democratic president, and Democratic members of Congress will need a good reason to vote against him.

This means that it is incumbent upon the president to work hard to attract support from the other side, to overcome the force that partisanship exerts against such deals. Obama did not do this at all. Instead, his White House adopted a thoroughly passive nature when it came to bipartisanship, and legislative craftsmanship in general. So, it should come as no surprise that they wound up with bills that satisfied the powers-that-be in the Democratic caucus, but failed to attract Republican votes.

What did the White House seriously expect? Did they honestly think they could let David Obey write the stimulus, George Miller write the health care bill, Henry Waxman write cap and trade, and Barney Frank write financial reform--and Republican support would magically develop?
As Cost points out, Obama could have chosen to work with moderate Republicans but he refused to get rid of the measures that were dealbreakers for them. He could have broken his huge bills into separate measures and passed each one separately, garnering GOP votes for measures that they could support.

But Obama didn't need to work with the Republicans when he had a filibuster-proof Senate and so he didn't. And now he wants to blame those same Republicans whom he disdained to work with earlier as the reason why he can't get things done today.

These myths keep cropping up and the MSM buy them whole. But it's hard to ignore the fact that the Democrats controlled everything for Obama's first year or that they crammed through measures that are increasingly unpopular today. Obama and the Democrats might want to ignore those inconvenient truths, but we don't need to.