Sunday, February 07, 2010

I Can Haz Broder Resignation Letr Naow?

James Fallows has a couple of posts up, "Why bipartisanship can't work: the expert view," and "More from the 'why bipartisanship can't work' guy," which are worth a read if you'd like a slap in the face from reality. They are mostly just reproduced emails from Fallows's source. Here's how the first one begins:

I got this note from someone with many decades' experience in national politics, about a discussion between two Congressmen over details of the stimulus bill:

"GOP member: 'I'd like this in the bill.'

"Dem member response: 'If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?'

"GOP member: 'You know I can't vote for the bill.'

"Dem member: 'Then why should we put it in the bill?'

"I witnessed this myself."

I wrote back saying, "Great story!" and got the response I quote below and after the jump. It is worth reading because its argument has the valuable quality of being obvious -- once it is pointed out. The emphasis is mine rather than in the original; it is to highlight a basic structural reality that has escaped most recent analysis of the "bipartisanship" challenge.

Read them both. U2 plz, Mr. Preznit.

And then maybe, just maybe, an idea, from Fallows: "Do we need another Turnip Day?"

(h/t: The Editors | title: vide)


HoboSpaceJunkie said...

Very interesting post, & thanks for the link to Fallows.

One thing goes unmentioned by Fallows or the other guy, though, and one that, for me, answers most of his questions.

Maybe the Democrats don't make an issue of the cloture problem, the GOP party discipline problem or simply their total intransigence because they don't really disagree all that much with the GOP.

It's hardly news that the ideological spectrum of elected officials in DC goes from the right of far right to a tiny bit left of far right.

How this helps Dems get re-elected, though, makes this explanation less than watertight, of course. But the only real difference today between the parties is rhetoric, not action.

Brendan said...

I agree, but not completely. Sure, the ConservaDems are people who in another age would certainly have been Republicans. And yes, due to the clout of money, many Dems vote and act differently from how they talk. And it is a perennial source of frustration to me, too, that the Dems won't spine up and fight for what they believe in.

Still, there are some fairly quantitative differences. Let's not take for granted that one side is decidedly pro-science, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-HCR, and at least somewhat concerned with problems like income inequality and hardships faced by the less fortunate, while the other is decidedly not. Let's not forget that most Dems in Congress have had no problem supporting the President's agenda -- we (and the media) tend largely to pay attention to the handful who don't.

Finally, another way to spin this is that the Dems are, in fact, a big tent party, and as such, you're not going to get lockstep discipline. That sucks in some ways, as does the reality that there are very few unabashed liberals in office. However, given that we can't have what we want, we do have to recognize the choice we have, and as much as it seems like not much of a choice some days, it really could be a whole lot worse.

Brendan said...

Same song, slightly different words, from Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog.