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Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

OLYMPIAN HEIGHTS....You know, I really don't begrudge David Broder his fondness for bipartisanship. Hell, I'd like to see the tone in Washington ratcheted down a notch myself. But perhaps he ought to read his fellow columnist E.J. Dionne today:

Hand-wringing over extreme partisanship has become a popular cause among learned analysts. They operate from Olympian heights and strain for evenhandedness by issuing tut-tuts to all sides, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

But the evidence of recent days should settle the case: This administration has operated on the basis of a hyperpartisanship not seen in decades. Worse, the destroy-the-opposition, our-team-vs.-their-team approach has infected large parts of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

Dionne is a nice guy, so even here he understates the problem. One doesn't want to sound shrill, after all. But it's sound advice nonetheless. Unless you're willing to acknowledge what's actually happening at ground level, your writing isn't evenhanded, it's just out of touch.

For more, check out "Perverse Polarity" from our June 2004 issue.

Kevin Drum 11:59 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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The problem with Broder's bipartisanship is that its all style and no substance. A report could call for the rounding up and stomping of all weasels and if it comes from a bipartisan committee Broder will swoon.

Posted by: Rob on March 9, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know what was my favorite historical moment of bipartisanship? The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Communist and Nazis coming together, ironing out their differences in order to reach a common goal of partitioning Poland.

Posted by: Stefan on March 9, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

It started in 2000, when Gore didn't like the results of the election and went all the way to the Supreme Court to try to overturn them (Bush was the appellant in the Supreme Court case, but Gore initiated the litigation).

Then came 9/11, and elements of the left have been suggesting it was done by Israelis or Americans.

Then came Afghanistan, where liberals claimed American troops would get bogged down, quagmire, etc. Note that it turned out well, so we never hear about Afghanistan on the news any more.

Then, of course, Iraq. Liberals have been cheerleading the defeat of the US since day one.

So, yes, sometimes conservatives are a bit overdefensive and snippy. But can you blame them?

Posted by: American Hawk on March 9, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

So, yes, sometimes conservatives are a bit overdefensive and snippy. But can you blame them?

NO. Well said American Hawk. Well said.

Posted by: Al on March 9, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Unless you're willing to acknowledge what's actually happening at ground level, your writing isn't evenhanded, it's just out of touch.

Correct. Exactly.

The reluctance of so many writers, including Broder, to notice what Dionne has noticed, makes people wonder. Or more precisely, it makes many of us wonder just how deep Broder’s bias goes.

Because now we know for sure: he is biased against Democrats.

Posted by: jackohearts on March 9, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Broder's bi-partisanship schtick deserves today's "wanker" award. It's an elaborate kabuki dance to duck the hard questions. What the heck does it have to do with any practical reality?

Bi-partisanship can lead to disaster and has frequently. Iraq ended up with bi-partisan support, money in politics gets practical bi-partisan support, etc.

Column after column lauding people who mouth platitudes and haven't proposed anything useful appears to be more of an elaborate way to avoid the question: when was the last time Broder et al were prescient on any major issue? And when was the last time they made a really stupid prediction?

The first question is hard, I can't think of a good prediction. Nor can I think of any decent analysis from him in a long while. The second question is easy: the prediction of a coming Bush bounce was utterly baseless and laughable.

It's a lazy man's excuse for thinking. He likes just chat with his fellow out of touch old guys, and likes to think they add anything to the present.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 9, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Nice straw men, American Hawk. "elements of the left" and "liberals claimed".

When you are talking about "bipartisanship" you are talking about Democrats vs. Republicans.

Now, show me any elected Democrats or even any Democratic columnists or pundits who suggested it "was done by Israelis or Americans" or that we would be bogged down in Afganistan.

Posted by: DR on March 9, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

AH: It started in 2000, when Gore didn't like the results of the election and went all the way to the Supreme Court to try to overturn them (Bush was the appellant in the Supreme Court case, but Gore initiated the litigation).

Yes, pesky Democrats demanding a recount. You'd never catch Republicans doing that. Except, well, in Washington State.

Then came 9/11, and elements of the left have been suggesting it was done by Israelis or Americans.

Just goes to show there are lunatics everywhere. The "left" has never suggested anything of the kind.


Then came Afghanistan, where liberals claimed American troops would get bogged down, quagmire, etc. Note that it turned out well, so we never hear about Afghanistan on the news any more.

We only don't hear about Afghanistan if we have our heads up our butts. You should try reading a newspaper or watching something besides FoxNews. You know, that whole "resurgence of the Taliban" thing, and the US request for more troops from NATO. Little stuff.


Then, of course, Iraq. Liberals have been cheerleading the defeat of the US since day one.

Liberals have been pointing out the disastrous mistakes made by this administration. I suppose a loon might call that "cheerleading".

Posted by: Gummitch on March 9, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't the public to some degree expect and accept hyperpartisanship? Large percentages of people on both the left and right side of policy and social issues believe not only are their positions right but those of their opposition are VERY wrong. They want those wrong views quashed and destroyed, marginalized maximally. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control, the teaching of evolution as science and prayer in school all hardly lend themselves to bipartisan middle ground compromises. Incessantly chanting "Can't we all just get along?" is not going to work. I think on many issues the left feels conservatives are not just wrong but plainly insane for what they believe. The right reciprocates that sentiment. Get used to it.

Posted by: steve duncan on March 9, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Though Stefan arguably godwinned the thread, I have to admit I chuckled. So thanks for the historical analogy.

Posted by: jerry on March 9, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite form of hyper-partisanship is when you sell out your own voters in favor of special interest constituencies that pay you more. Consider it partisanship that privileges the powerful over the people (your people).

Hmmm....I wonder where I can find an example of this?

Posted by: choicer on March 9, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The last I looked most Republicans are still taking their daliy marching orders from Karl Rove. As long as they do, genuine bi-partisanship is impossible.

Bi-partisanship will break out only when party discipline weakens to the point that elected Republicans feel empowered to think for themselves.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 9, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

How does one reconcile these statements?

1) Hell, I'd like to see the tone in Washington ratcheted down a notch myself.

2) Unless you're willing to acknowledge what's actually happening at ground level, your writing isn't evenhanded, it's just out of touch.

When you worry about "sounding shrill"--a phrase I assume you employed as a gentle dig at Dionne but which describes a concern that regularly consumes you--you render yourself incapable of acknowledging what's actually happening at ground level. As Dionne notes, this is not some good-faith difference of opinion going on here. If you truly recognize what has been happening during this administration and the mood of the citizenry in response to it, fears of sounding shrill should not even hit your radar.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

bipartisanship n. the behavior of person or a Democrat when he or she rolls over and plays dead. For a Republican it means stooping so low as to not call your Democratic opponent a traitor or unpatriotic but just a person who wishes ill against the United States due to misguided judgment.

Posted by: gregor on March 9, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Then came Afghanistan, where liberals claimed American troops would get bogged down, quagmire, etc. Note that it turned out well, so we never hear about Afghanistan on the news any more.

From Radio Free Europe / Radio Free Liberty:

Friday, February 23, 2007
Afghanistan: Taliban Attacks Signal Start Of Spring Offensive

February 23, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Taliban fighters have launched a series of attacks this month across western, southern, and eastern Afghanistan -- signaling that their expected spring offensive is now under way.

NATO officials say the Taliban has concentrated forces in at least five southern and western provinces of Afghanistan -- Helmand, Kandahar, Farah, Uruzgan, and Ghor....

Posted by: Stefan on March 9, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

buford/choicer seems to be worrying quite a bit about Obama's influence. It's fun to watch.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderfully ironic is that the paragraph in Dionne's article where he starts his criticism of conservatives who are insisting upon an immediate pardon for Scooter Libby happens to be placed right next to a link to Charles Krauthammer's editorial insisting upon an immediate pardon for Scooter Libby.

Posted by: Fritz on March 9, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Just once it'd be nice to have a thread in which people don't snap like trouts at the worm of American Hawk's opening post. I think I just burned my own retinas rereading that metaphor.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

A report could call for the rounding up and stomping of all weasels and if it comes from a bipartisan committee Broder will swoon.

And then get stomped.

Posted by: Gregory on March 9, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, we just had Republican Senators and Congressmen calling Republican Prosecutors about investigations into Democrats. How can you get any more bi-partisan than that?

Posted by: tomeck on March 9, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

One of Broder's examples of bipartisanship among former Senators was how Dole and Daschle have now come up with a new farm bill. I'm sure THAT's been wisely crafted to satisfy the good of the whole country rather than certain special interests...

Posted by: george on March 9, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Hey shortstop: I like Barack. He's smart and tough and thoughtful and honest.

Now he just has to get in line with the one issue that will do the most for social justice. Then he'll have my vote, my donation, my toil, and my loud endorsement.

Posted by: choicer on March 9, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

WATCH THE MONKEY

Posted by: Gandalf on March 9, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Another cogent analysis by Kevin Drum. Like every issue Kevin Drum brilliantly analyzes, he manages to come to the same conclusion: "It's Bush's fault! It's always Bush's fault!"

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on March 9, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

That's a shame, since there are plenty of good people in both. Still, the tendency to subordinate principles to win short-term victories and cover up for the administration is, alas, rampant on the right.

No kidding. Even longtime Senators who should be defending their house's prerogatives played ball, irrespective of whether they're "good people." For example, despite his obviously lukewarm support for John Bolton, Dick Lugar kept mumblingthat "the President deserved to have his choice confirmed," as if the Senate were merely a rubber-stamp. Of course with Republicans like Lugar in charge, it was. Throw in Specter's stands as a tower of Jello-O against Bush's shredding of the Constitution, plus the other GOP veterans falling to their knees before the neophyte Boy King, and it makes you wonder what Rove had on 'em.

If they roll over for the Bush/Rove machine, who gives a good Goddamn whether they're "good people"?

Posted by: Gregory on March 9, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, pesky Democrats demanding a recount. You'd never catch Republicans doing that. Except, well, in Washington State."

[sarcasm]
Oh come on, washington state was much more suspicious.

In washington state the highest official overseeing the election was a republican, and said it was fine and the minor count changes upon recounts were nothing out of the ordinary while in florida the highest official overseeing the election was a republican and bush's state campaign manager.

In washington state the mixed appointement state supreme court found unanimously against the republican party in all the court cases while in florida the majority republican state supreme court found in favor of the democrats with only some republican appointees finding for the republicans and the US supreme court found in favor of the republicans with only republican appointed judges (4/5 appointed by Bush's father) in the one vote majority and two republican appointees in the minority.

In washington state no significant wrongdoing was found in later investigations (a few illegal votes, mostly old people casting votes for recently dead relatives) while in florida multiple instances of massive voter registration fraud on the part of republican officials was found despite a much closer result in washington.

In washington the election went very smoothly and mostly used the most accurate and verifiable election technology (optical scan ballots, though many of them were mail in and thus ridiculously insecure), while florida experienced a very large number of technical problems and long lines at polls in heavily democratic districts.

In washington state media reports of the recount proceedings indicated that the republican party engaged in a deliberate campaign to create the appearrance of problems by challenging far more ballots than necessary in king county (the largest and most democratic county in the state with 28% of the entire state's population), in florida media reports of the recount proceedings indicated tha the republican party engaged in a deliberate campaign to interrupt the recounts by bussing in protesters from out of state to violently demonstrate at counting places.

In washington state republican house member doc hastings pressured the republican us attorney to investigate the election, but he never made any such investigation public and was asked to resign soon after. In florida a few minor investigations happened, but investigation into purging voter registrations was ended after florida updated thier registration laws.
[/sarcasm]

Posted by: jefff on March 9, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop - agreed. Today's is just beyond silly anyway. Still, I appreciate his efforts - who else here does a better job of pointing out the total (and hilarious) bankruptcy of the right better than Hawk? Even his name's a parody. He's like our version of Borat. Sorry, I mean Ann Coulter.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 9, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

He's a decent parody, DH. Just hate to see all other conversation cease when he arrives.

choicer: If I wrongly lumped you with buford, I do apologize.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

To quote Clarence Thomas, from a speech a couple of years ago, the problem with modern political discourse is the conservatives are too civil. No shit; he really said that.

DH Walker: (Hawk)'s like our version of Borat. Sorry, I mean Ann Coulter.

So Borat is Coulter with a mustache (and vice versa)?

Posted by: anandine on March 9, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: jefff

You, too? I'm a jefff as well.

We're great.

Posted by: Gummitch on March 9, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Anandine: Well, cut Thomas a break. He's correct that not every single right-wing pundit is openly calling for the murder of everyone they disagree with.

And the only difference between Sascha Baron Cohen and Ann Coulter is that Coulter uses her real name and has (so far) never broken character. What I love about her is that she totally sets up her readers/fans to lose in any debate they wind up having by filling their heads with outright lies and obvious BS. And she takes (a lot of) money from them on top of it. And just like in that rodeo scene from the movie, she gets all kinds of people to reveal themselves as total morons when they agree with her. Her shtick is brilliant.

Hawk has the shamelessness down pat, but I think he needs to work on his originality. What keeps Coulter in the news is that she keeps coming up with new batshit crazy things to say. Hawk's posts are just stale, unfortunately.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 9, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

When Hitler and Stalin engaged in bipartisanship to carve up Poland, many journalists did not automatically consider that a good thing.

Posted by: Brojo on March 9, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should not be auditioning for the role of Chamberlain. Until the republic party has been gutted of the cancer rotting it and ,in the process, destroying the country militarliy, economically, diplomatically, even spiritually, that party can be given no quarter. They would not respect it anyway.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on March 9, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bill O'Reilly claims to be an Independent - If he was in government, he then could work in a menage au troispartisan manner. Loofahs all around.

Posted by: stupid git on March 9, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

So long as a high profile operative of one party can dismiss bipartisanship as "date rape", and have nobody in his party blink an eye, let alone chastise him for such a remark, the other party would be well advised to never approach the bipartisan table without being well armed and prepared to do battle.

Just my opinion of course.

Posted by: majun on March 9, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think part of Broder's problem is that he is treating today as if it were decades past when he was more active and involved in the political process than he is nowadays as a pundit. While I happen to share Broder's preference for bipartisanship and respectful disagreement I also know that once in an period of hyperpartisanship being practiced by one side (and it IS the GOP that has been the driving force behind this level of partisanship, especially once Bush43 came to power but really can be fairly traced to 1994 and the so called Republican revolution and the way the GOP Congress reshaped K Street and set off on witch-hunts to bring down Clinton since they could not beat him at the ballot box) to try and maintain this attitude is no better than surrender. Now, one can be aggressive and hard hitting without being offensively rude in the manner of Coulter, Malkin and the shrill chorus they love to whip up into frenzies at the drop of a pin. That is what I have tried to do here since I came here. I doubt anyone here would say I am bi-partisan nor weak in my arguments with the fanatics/zealots of movement conservativism but I refuse to fight them with the same vulgarity that they clearly consider de rigueur.

This is something that has been obvious for several years now, and I have to agree with those that argue KD is being timid by worrying about sounding "shrill" when he does nothing more than point out harsh reality. Broder is at best disconnected from reality and living in a past or worse he is biased against Dems for whatever reason (could be fear of the right's attack machine to being a true believer himself, I am not a telepath and do not try to pretend I am) and his punditry has been of little to no use over the past several years because of that. At least Dionne seems to be waking up to the reality, even if it did take the events of the past weeks to finally appear to convince him that what Dems have been saying for years about the GOP and the way they operate is true, especially in the case of Bushco. Hopefully he is just the leading edge within the so called "liberal" Mainstream Media to recognize this, but given their past track records I am not exactly hopeful alas. We shall see how it goes, but at least there is a lot more hard evidence thanks to the Libby trial and the firings of federal prosecutors for what look to be clearly political reasons by the Administration and a Dem controlled Congress willing to do real hearings into these betrayals of America by these power mad hyperpartisan hypocritical traitors to the American Constitution.

Posted by: Scotian on March 9, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think that duelling should be legalized for Politicians. Pistols. Swords. Whatever. Put it on pay-per-view. I'd love to see Pelosi chasing Cheney around an arena, red-faced, huffing and puffing, swinging a mace-and-chain. She wouldn't even have to score a hit.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on March 9, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

This administration has operated on the basis of a hyperpartisanship not seen in decades

The tax cuts and the prescription drug bill had almost no Democratic support. NCLB, the Iraq invasion and subsequent funding, the energy bill, the spending bills, the partial tort reform and partial debt reform all had substantial Democratic backing.

When Clinton had a Democratic congress he got the tax increase by 1 vote in the House, with almost no Republican support. After that, he didn't have a Democratic majority so he had to be less partisan. Yet still he vetoed the tax cuts of 1999 and 2000 that had majority support in House and Senate.

Republicans in the Senate were a little more generous toward Clinton's Supreme Court nominee than Democrats were towards Bush's, but not that much.

In effect, Bush and his Republican majority were a little more partisan than Clinton and his short-lived Democratic majority.

Another bipartisan disaster was the automatic inflation indexing of federal support payments agreed by Nixon and the Democratic Congress.

Posted by: spider on March 9, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Now, one can be aggressive and hard hitting without being offensively rude in the manner of Coulter, Malkin and the shrill chorus they love to whip up into frenzies at the drop of a pin.

Too bad you missed the discussions of Amanda Marcotte.

And there's this:

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0309-35.htm

Don't miss the article on the "slaves" harvesting sugar cane; slaves that have migrated hundreds of kilometers to find work. Really, do they have to call them slaves?

Posted by: spider on March 9, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

It was sweet to see Dionne publish a slam so obviously aimed at Old Broder.

As Krugman once said, if liberals said the earth was round, and the conservatives said it was flat, the MSM headline would read, "Shape of Earth: Views Differ." That's Broderism in a nutshell.

Posted by: RT on March 9, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

That's it. Godwin's law has to be changed to cover Communists/Lenin/Trotsky/Stalin as well. Why is is acceptable for one side of the political aisle to be compared with soviet russia, but unacceptable for the other side to be compared with nazi germany.

Both comparisons meet Godwin's tenet that they cheapen pertinent uses of the comparison - as shown above in mhr's adolescent resorting to trollish overly-general ad hominems.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on March 9, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Despite what you hear from the Sierra Club, Kerry and his Democratic cohorts have never aligned themselves in opposition to the interests of the oil cartels."

Posted by: Brojo on March 9, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

"spider": Really, do they have to call them slaves?

Indeed, what's in a name?

(rolling eyes...)

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bi-partanship is dead. The democrats just don't know it. Democrats beleiving otherwise simply play into republican hands. It is not necessary to be vulgar or impolite, but it is necessary for the democratic party to advance its agenda using the same tactics as have been used successfully by the republican party: fear, patriotism, religion- remember none of the politicians espousing the foregoing actually believe it, they just want to get re-elected.

Posted by: Out on Bond on March 9, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

RoyalBlue - I don't think the problem here is drawing comparisons between modern political points of view and those of the past. The problem is MHR's hilariously uninformed and grotesquely simplistic conceptions of the things he's talking about. We can learn from German Nazism, Italian Fascism, and Soviet Bolshevism (and Stalinism), and how those things represent strains of human nature that we're still contending with today. But it's obvious that that MHR has never met an actual liberal in his entire life - or is so rock-stupid that this is actually how he interprets what he doesn't understand. Maybe if he got out of his mom's basement on occasion, he wouldn't be all goofed up on modelling glue fumes. Who knows? But the problem isn't the comparisons - the problem is knowing what the hell you're talking about in the first place. Garbage-in, garbage-out and all that.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 9, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Another cogent analysis by Kevin Drum. Like every issue Kevin Drum brilliantly analyzes, he manages to come to the same conclusion: "It's Bush's fault! It's always Bush's fault!"-Frequency Kenneth

Well,FK, 99% of us here think that, yes, it's Bush's
fault. So thinks the majority of Americans, the
world, all those who have passed on and those yet
to be born. It's all Bush's fault. Get with the program.

Posted by: Alan on March 9, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

spider:

I am sure you can point out/quote me somewhere saying that there was not harsh/offensive language used by some within the left ranging across the spectrum from centrist to hard left, otherwise your point makes no sense. Also, the name you mentioned didn't ring a bell with me showing far less of a high profile than those of Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and a whole hose of reinforcing voices of the clearly hard core right. So the equivalency you were trying to argue existed does not and so the comparison and the rebuttal it was a part of fails on its face. Sorry but you are going to have to do much better than that before you catch me out. It can be done but you have to work for it as I tend to be fairly careful about not just knowing the surface of the facts I use but their contexts, backgrounds, and many if not all their linkages to other facts. I freely admit I can get myself a little jumbled at times and mix things up, but then I am human and make no pretenses of being otherwise with all the frailties that come with it.

As to your equating the levels of partisanship between the Clinton and Bush43 years (and yes I noted you are talking about when both Pres and Congress are controlled by the same party), again nice try but doesn't hold up to deeper scrutiny. For one thing you are completely ignoring how "9/11/ changed everything" both in terms of the political bludgeon it gave the GOP over the Dems and in terms of practical reality where the American people were genuinely hit with a level of fear not felt like this since Pearl Harbour. However, instead of channeling/grounding it this Administration and GOP Congress chose to enhance and sustain that fear because of how powerful a political weapon it was, it was for example the theme of the 2002 midterms, the 2004 general elections, and indeed the 2006 midterms although this time it worked against the GOP since Iraq had become too heavy a failure to be glossed over by the President and GOP as they did in 2004 (although with the help of slime like the Rove created/directed SBVfT).

The degree of partisanship in the past six years by the GOP and Bush is something beyond anything I had ever seen by either side prior to that in over 30 years of close attention to American federal politics. This is something that calling hyperpartisanship is potentially an understatement and it was the core of the Rovian approach to politics, which is what has guided the GOP in the last three elections. To try and claim that there is and rough equivalency in partisanship and the sources of it in those two periods is to ignore that elephant in the room. Not to mention the partisan witch-hunts the GOP Congress went on after they took power in 1994, and the latitude they gave Ken Starr not to mention the way they breathlessly would trumpet the latest "revelation" leaked out of Starr's office (a regular daily occurrence for years, unlike Fitzgerald who acted the way a prosecutor investigating suspected criminal misdeeds is supposed to act especially when in his case there actually were those although one can argue the original Whitewater investigation had some basis if not the strongest to start from but where it ended up was nowhere near that field, not even in the same continent really) as a basis for opposing whatever Clinton wanted to do.

Bush on the other hand is going to face investigations precisely because he ran the most secretive and most heavy handed Presidency aided by the same descriptioned GOP Congress with only an 18 months break from just before 9/11/01 to the 2002 midterms with the Dems taking a sliver majority of the Senate. Yet I wager you will see it as no different than the way the GOP acted in the 90s despite everything that has happened already, including the criminal conviction on perjury and obstruction by one of the four most powerful men in the American Presidency, the clear pattern of intelligence manipulation to actual fabrication for the basis to invade Iraq, the broad based surveillance unsupervised of the American people, etc.

So I am sorry spider you still fail to make a good argument here to support your contention that there is not much of a difference overall between the two periods. Anyone not already emotionally invested in maintaining the viability of the GOP over the near term let alone the longer term would see that is absurd, it is not like this was a secret all through the years it was practiced, no the GOP big shots like Delay, Hastert, Rove, Reed, Norquist, etc all bragged about it and how their strategies relied on this hyperpartisan approach to politics. The K Street project was an excellent example of that framework being put in place from the beginning of the GOP House in the 90s. No one on the GOP side was at all shy about explaining quite openly why they were doing what they were doing, they wanted to cut off the Dems access to lobbyist money and even from becoming lobbyists thereby making only GOP voices and those the GOP wanted to be heard able to influence the Congress, and once Bush came to Office this kicked into full gear in stripping away one of the main levelers that had previously existed when the Congress and Presidency was held by the same party all but guaranteeing GOP dominance for the long term. Indeed, if Bushco had not been so incompetent along with far reaching and the GOP Congress had not been so slavish in following him right up to the last midterm this could well have lasted a lot longer before it finally collapsed. It is the irony of authoritarian setups that the very extremes they allow one to act also makes one far more blind to seeing the signs of trouble/danger that can destroy you even right when they are on top of you. Until it is a open authoritarian society instead of the transition the GOP and Bush particularly have taken America that is, once the transformation is mostly complete then alas things become very different indeed and the minority no longer is considered patriotic loyal citizens of the nation but instead of nothing but traitors and seditious by nature and therefore must be monitored closely to incarcerated (or worse) without further questioning nor oversight (the tools for which already exist thanks to the last six years of Bush and the GOP, there were not many left to put in place before a full coup could have taken place using some attack as a pretext).

You do not appear to recognize the danger that the GOP and Bushco particularly have exposed America to, you are far more at risk of becoming a true dictatorship/tyranny than I ever would have thought you could go, and if the midterms had not turned out the way they did things would be far worse than they are now by 2008, possibly too far to be stopped. Even now you are not out of the woods. I know this likely seems overblown rhetoric to you and that is the most dangerous thing of all. Totalitarianist takeover of democracies are invariably preceded by and indeed significantly aid that takeover with the "it can't happen her/to us" mentality. It can happen anywhere if people do not take the potential for it seriously, especially in democracies where rights are hard won and easily lost/surrendered, especially in the name of fear/national security. The Cold War was a far worse threat than the "war on terrorism" will ever be, and it did not require anywhere near the same sacrifice of dissent, right of association, privacy and so on that we have seen from Bushco and the GOP since 9/11/01. Look at the prosecutors fired recently thanks to something the WH slipped into the Patriot Act last year with the aid of the GOP Congress, that is one example among many that have been done in the quiet of night and are buried in gooblygook language so that the average person simply can't follow it or understand it well enough without expert aid to recognize the threat/dangers those changes represent. Not until after the fact that is, and by then it is generally too late to do anything about it. That is why it is so dangerous.

Posted by: Scotian on March 9, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Exhibit A: remember the "ebonics" controversy? The Oakland, CA, school board wanted to start including black dialects in language classes. Conservatives erupted, and Republican congressmen introduced bills to cut Federal funds to Oakland. They backed down.

Shortly afterwards, the state of Kansas voted to remove evolution from their science curriculum and teach creationism instead. Liberals erupted. But how many motions were made to cut Federal aid to Kansas? Take a guess.

Exhibit B: how many movies have been made showing the less-than-admirable behavior of Jack and/or Jackie Kennedy? It's a long list. How many times have liberals complained? But when a TV movie tried to show Ronald Reagan as anything except a shining knight, conservatives organized a boycott and pulled it off the air.

Exhibit C: Tell a liberal that most CEOs contribute to the Republican party and they'll say, "Yeah, of course they do, so what?" But tell a conservative that most unions contribute to Democrats and they will introduce legislation to limit political contributions by unions.

Liberals might say mean things about conservatives, but at bottom, liberals live and let live. Conservatives can't just disagree with liberals, they have to insist that they're wrong and show that they're evil.

Posted by: wally on March 9, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK
remember the "ebonics" controversy? The Oakland, CA, school board wanted to start including black dialects in language classes.


More specifically, the Oakland, CA, school board in fact wanted to recognize that what is also referred to, more verbosely, as "African American Vernacular English" is a distinct and regular dialect, rather than just "bad English", and that instructing students so that they would acquire standard English skills who had that dialect as their primary language required recognizing that and understanding the structural differences between it and standard English.

The Republican objection was to recognizing objective, demonstrable fact and adapting policy based on those observed facts. Or maybe it was just to designing effective methods for teaching standard English to black students.

But your points about the difference in the Republican and Democratic responses is on point. OTOH, carrying through with the threats in either case would have served the fundamental right-wing goal of destroying public education, at least in the targetted area. For Republicans, it was win:win -- either prevent recognizing or adapting to facts in public education so as to make it effective, or defund it outright. For Democrats, it wouldn't be win:win to threaten to defund.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberals might say mean things about conservatives, but at bottom, liberals live and let live. Conservatives can't just disagree with liberals, they have to insist that they're wrong and show that they're evil."

Posted by: wally on March 9, 2007 at 6:38 PM

As a generalization with the inherent limitations of a generalization this one is alas particularly accurate. Indeed, in many ways it sums up the two fundamentally different approaches taken by each side, and it is the willingness to "live and let live" that has been most used against liberals in America by the conservatives. To liberals such actions seem dictatorial and unreasonable especially since "live and let live" is in many ways the underlying theme of the American Constitution. It allows for Americans of various religious beliefs to "live and let live" in a communal society without religious infringement and/or the government dictating what religious beliefs are acceptable or worse what religious beliefs alone are allowable or even mandatory and the rest illegal. This is equally true on the non-religious belief side of the equation and it is one of the things movement conservativism has been most dedicated to destroying and Bushco and his lackey GOP Congress went a longs ways to putting that into practice.

It is no longer possible for liberals to simply "live and let live", until those that refuse to follow such are defeated and discredited for the frauds that they are. They do not represent what America has always stood for; no they represent what America has traditionally opposed. It was liberals and liberal thinking that created America and it is those liberal beliefs regarding freedom, individual rights and the right of the individual to say whatever they think no matter how offensive that America was most revered for. Indeed, it is also why the revulsion globally to what Bush and the GOP have done these last six years is so strong, not only is America becoming a tyrant/dictator but the citizens appear comfortable with that change (that was the message the 2004 election results sent out, and why Americans and not just America are losing popularity globally, something not traditionally the case usually when the American government's policies cause decreased popularity it does not spread to the citizenry) instead of opposing him/it.

Liberals must fight back, but they must do so without becoming that which they despise, never an easy task, but something I believe the inherent flexible mindset required to be a true liberal (whatever your particular flavour of it may be) makes that feasible. What the GOP have done may be a way to have massive power for a time but the costs that come from it are extreme, antithetical to the beliefs/traditions America was founded on and developed over the years and at heart a betrayal of that history/heritage IMHO. Is that truly where most liberals want to see America be? I rather doubt it, so they must defeat not just the party, not just the movement, but the mentality of total war/control politics itself and restore the importance of disagreeing without becoming disagreeable AND that of "live and let live" that once defined America and was at the heart of the fire that made her that shining beacon of hope/light it was once seen as and hopefully may yet again (although it will take time and some painful retrospection before that happens thanks to the damage already done).

Posted by: Scotian on March 9, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Dionne:

Now will you get off my back, Somerby?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on March 9, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Also, the name you mentioned didn't ring a bell with me showing far less of a high profile than those of Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and a whole hose of reinforcing voices of the clearly hard core right. So the equivalency you were trying to argue existed does not and so the comparison and the rebuttal it was a part of fails on its face.

Amanda Marcotte had been hired by John Edwards to manage his campaign web page.

Posted by: spider on March 9, 2007 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to add: liberals lobbied Edwards to have him keep Marcotte on his staff. conservatives have written to the organizers of CPAC to recommend that Coulter not be invited back.

Posted by: spider on March 9, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

some liberal usages of Coulteresque language, with links:

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCommentary.asp?Page=/Commentary/archive/200703/COM20070309a.html

Posted by: spider on March 9, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

David Broder's partisan armchair pundit tactics sez....

So Bush is going to get a raise in the polls?

FBI admits abuse of Patriot Act
MSN Money - 1 hour ago
The Bush administration misused its authority and improperly obtained personal information about people in the US on hundreds of occasions, according to a report released by a US Justice Department watchdog.

For Bush and our Preznut Cheney, it just gets worse and worse.

Thank you Patrich Fitzgerald.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 9, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

The press better F---ing hope the Libby doesn't get a pardon.

The press may cheer, the American public most certainly will NOT.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 9, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bipartisanism is impossible because this administration cannot be trusted.
Democrats are continually betrayed by this administration and their cronies. All that mutual respect at the January state of the union address and then, wow, they smack Pelosi at the first chance.
Example of hyper-partisanism and the duplicitousness of the administration:
As Media Matters for America previously noted, the Bush administration has a pattern of purporting to take the high road during controversies while surrogates smear political targets.
Example:
The AP article noted that "Republicans are taking issue with the size of the plane Pelosi would need to fly in to reach her hometown of San Francisco without refueling," but that Tony Snow defended Pelosi on February 8, stating, "This is a silly story and I think it's been unfair to the speaker." The AP article further noted that, contrary to Republicans' suggestions:

Snow on Thursday said the negotiations over Pelosi's transport have been conducted solely by the House sergeant-at-arms and the Pentagon, with no direct involvement by the speaker or her office -- or the White House.

But, the AP did not report that around the same time Snow was "defend[ing] Pelosi against Republican criticism," the RNC was issuing a press release attacking her. Under the banner "Pelosi Power Trip," the press release accuses " 'Non-Stop' Nancy" of "[s]eek[ing]" a "flight of fancy." The RNC further accused Pelosi of "want[ing] [a] non-stop military aircraft for herself, staff, family, and other members in California Delegation;" of requesting a plane that "includes [a] private bed, entertainment center, and costs $22,000 per hour to operate;" and of "go[ing] beyond what prior Speakers requested."

The RNC is currently chaired by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who was reportedly recruited by Bush to fill the position.

This is why bipartisan involvement will never work. The Bushies have their surrogates doing their dirty work.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 9, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

David Broder: context-free since 198?.

Posted by: jm on March 9, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

The thread may be dead, but another example recently: Jim Zumbo has been the guns editor for Outdoor Life magazine for more than 40 years, and an NRA member. Recently on his blog, he said that he didn't like hunters using military weapons to go after small game, and then referred to them as "terrorist" weapons.

For that, he was fired from his job and lost his television contract. His entire career is over, thanks to the NRA and the second amendment fanatics who will not permit the slightest dissent.

Turn the tables: if a liberal leader of a hangun control group came out and said that he owned shotguns and like to go hunting, would liberals unite to bury him?

Posted by: wally on March 11, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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