Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 8, 2009

ONE-PARTY RULE.... There seems to be a few problems with Fred Hiatt's latest column.

For moderate voters clinging to some faith in government, the question over the past two decades of mostly two-party rule was: Can't Washington do anything?

Now, with one party pretty much in control, the question has become both more hopeful and more anxious: Will Washington do anything responsibly?

Actually, describing the past two decades as "mostly two-party rule" doesn't quite capture the Bush-Cheney era. In the four years spanning 2003 to 2006, Republicans ran the whole show. In Bush's first two years in office, there was a GOP majority in the House, and a narrowly divided Senate.

For that matter, asking whether Washington can "do anything" is also the wrong question to consider of the Bush-Cheney era. The problem wasn't constant gridlock, the problem was the policy agenda that the White House had very little trouble passing. Indeed, for the first six years of Bush's presidency, gridlock wasn't much of a problem at all -- the administration tended to get what it wanted. The result was a mess because those Republican policies didn't work.

Now Hiatt's worried about Democrats being irresponsible?

He added:

Now, it isn't easy being a responsible majority when much of your opposition won't even admit there's a problem (as in climate change) or remains less interested in solutions than in grist for 30-second commercials warning of higher taxes or socialized medicine. If it turns out this government can't fashion workable solutions and pay for them, it won't be the fault of Democrats alone. But let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Yes, let's hope, but let's also take a moment to note that the Democratic majority is dealing with a legislative dynamic never before seen in American history -- a congressional minority that has no qualms about filibustering practically every single measure that reaches the floor of the Senate.

Steve Benen 11:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments


GOP 2009: Calendar-Impaired For Freedom !

Posted by: mr. irony on June 8, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Prediction:

We will hear from 'superdestroyer' today, focused like a laser on the topic at hand. ;o)

Posted by: JTK on June 8, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

it's still hard for me to fathom how someone as stupid and ill-informed as fred hiatt has a significant job at the washington post. he (and his editorial page) lives entirely in a fantasy world....

Posted by: howard on June 8, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

plus, we have congressional republicans on record saying that they're not all that interested in "legislating." they'd rather be "communicating."

Posted by: dj spellchecka on June 8, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

In the four years spanning 2003 to 2006, Republicans ran the whole show. In Bush's first two years in office, there was a GOP majority in the House, and a narrowly divided Senate.

And in the years 2006-2008, the Democrats who were (supposedly) in charge of Congress allowed everything Bush wanted to pass because they were too busy hiding under their desks and soiling themselves at the mere thought of having a Republican talking point aimed in their direction.


Posted by: SteveT on June 8, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Considering the recent votes in the Senate on aiding homeowners in bankruptcy proceedings, the credit card sell-out, the vote for the canard called "Death Tax", I hadn't noticed we had a majority. More of a group comprised of a few who represent the citizens of the US, several who represent Big Pharma, Banking and Insurance, a couple who represent Wal*Mart and one who only represents that wonderful State of Arlen.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 8, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Fred Hiatt is simply a traitorous corporate shill spewing right wing alternate reality myths -- and hiring as many others as he can get away with to do the same.

WaPo is a lousy paper, too...

and it should stay off my lawn.

Posted by: neill on June 8, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I do remember the Democrats giving GWB a blank check on just about everything. This was not an unfair characterization, no matter how much some partisans wish that it were.

Hell, if I remember right the folks on this very site counseled them to do so. Not the same proprietor, of course, but most of the regulars. Well, this is what you get if you don't stand and fight. You're lumped in with the problem.

Posted by: soullite on June 8, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Every single what?

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on June 8, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hiatt's column is simple Beltway/right-wing projection and paranoia, nothing more.

Posted by: MVPOnline on June 8, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Indeed, for the first six years of Bush's presidency, gridlock wasn't much of a problem at all -- the administration tended to get what it wanted. "

I seem to remember that being the case for the last two years, as well.

Posted by: garnash on June 8, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

BillO the Arrogantone said, often, during the Shrub years, that he was sooooo concerned about the Democratic Party remaining viable. He, truly, believed in the two party system. What say now, BillO?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 8, 2009 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

But Hiatt really believes that he is a moderate and the editorial page is balanced.

Posted by: Curm on June 8, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, the problem now is not the feckless Rethuglican minority. One good, "go ahead and filibuster what most constituents want, film at 11:00" should dispose of that "threat" right away. The problem, more than ever, is the Dums. When Sens. Bayh and Nelson, etc. are called MODERATE, you know you've gone through Harry Reid's looking glass. It's time to demand that Dums take a stand on principle (if they have any) and stop using the Rethugs for cover. Reid must go. And so must any other Dums who don't support Obama's admittedly too moderate agenda. It's really not that complex.

Posted by: Frak on June 8, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

If I'm ever tempted into the vulgar error of thinking I'm smart just because I went to Hahvahd, I just remind myself that Hiatt graduated the year after me. (And then I think about burning my diploma.)

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on June 8, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

frak, i just knew that someone would say "it's all harry reid's fault."

look, i'm all for replacing a number of the democrats in congress, but if you think that there is some magical formula by which harry reid (or anyone else, up to and including lyndon johnson in his days as majority leader) could induce evan bayh or ben nelson or mary landrieu or sundry others to become different people, you are imagining things.

the problem is not harry reid (although i personally don't care whether reid serves on or not)....

Posted by: howard on June 8, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hiatt's commentary has all the meaning and punch of unsweetened oatmeal.

The embedded assumption in Hiatt's statement is that with Democrats now in control it will be more difficult for government to act responsibly.

The Bush-Cheney administration set the standard for government irresponsibility for a very long time.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 8, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

There is much credence to the idea that there is a 3rd governing party to which leaders from both major parties are members...that is "the Money Party" and they are loyal to no man but only to wealth.

They attempt to control economic factors with highly paid lobbyists who keep senators as "pets on leashes". They have a basic 'understood' platform...profiteering and sustaining wealth... and all their members are well provided for even after leaving government service. Many go back and forth from the private sector to government service then back to the private sector again.

Most are conservative...if not all.

btw...if dems fail...if the economy tanks or even if we are attacked again...we will not go running back to conservative republicans who brought us our current disaster...they and their policies have been exposed as failure...why would we want to let them any where near government again. No, we would just get better dems or better reps willing to give the people what we have been demanding. We get angry but will not buy into the fear mongering of the republicans which is all they have to sell.

Simply put if a woman breaks up with her man because he has been molesting her children and then gets with a new man who eventually begins neglecting them, she will not break up with the 2nd man and then go running back to the 1st man again who had been molesting her children. Republicans are out...they are so desperate that now they are cultivating racists and fundamentalists and homophobes, just to regain power. Gingrich in church calling the ACLU ungodly "pagans"...even calling civil rights "ungodly". His glowing hypocrisy and irrelevance mean nothing when he is name calling others as pagans. How wretched these republican conservatives have become in their desperation. They would lie, steal and cheat for money and power counting on the depravity and ignorance of others to succeed.

Oh America, the hypocrisy of your so called saviors has doomed you.
"In the forest where the blind man sees, the faithful never need to know if your lying".-Bacon

Posted by: bjobotts on June 8, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Howard, @ 12:55--I agree that getting rid of Reid, however desirable, is not a solution in and of itself, but it would be a good start. I don't agree that Lyndon Johnson could get everyone in line in this Congress. He could and would have Evan's balls in a bag that he would pull out and show to Ben and Mary and anyone else who wasn't onboard. This is a guy that got Great Society legislation passed when racism wasn't something you just whispered about. He got what he wanted in Congress and as President. So no, I don't think it's impossible to do, just impossible for the spineless Dums we've got now who throw up their hands and whine about bipartisanship, and filibusters and so-called moderates blocking even Obama's policies (we're not even talking liberal policies here). No, I have nothing but contempt for all of them. Harry's just a start but, as I said, a good one. Durbin seems to be the only one with any guts at all.

Posted by: Frak on June 8, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK
the Democratic majority is dealing with a legislative dynamic never before seen in American history -- a congressional minority that has no qualms about filibustering practically every single measure that reaches the floor of the Senate.

Steve, you stopped a bit too early in your description of the "dynamic never before seen."

You should have added "and its own unwillingness to utilize its numerical advantage for fear of pissing off the other side."

Posted by: Mauimom on June 8, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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