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Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2010

THE PARTIES ARE SUPPOSED TO DISAGREE.... I've never held House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in high regard. But I couldn't agree more with something he said this morning.

Despite White House overtures for congressional Republicans to work with Democrats, the top GOP official in the House said Sunday that such opportunities are limited.

"There aren't that many places where we can come together," House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."

Republicans were elected to stand by their principles, and those principles are different than the "leftist proposals" offered by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, Boehner said. [...]

"Leadership is about standing on your principles and opposing those policies that we believe are bad for the country," Boehner said.

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing (except the part about President Obama pushing "leftist proposals," which is a silly assessment).

While I didn't see the exchange, if this report is accurate, Boehner argued that Republicans intend to push their ideas, and oppose the policies they find offensive. The goal for congressional Republicans isn't to find "common ground" or "bipartisan solutions" with those they completely disagree with; their goal is to fight for what they believe in, opposing the majority's agenda.

The remarks should make it pretty clear that Republicans have no interest in working with Democrats on finding solutions to pressing policy challenges. But here's the thing that so often gets lost in the discourse: Republicans are the minority party, which means it's their job to oppose the majority's agenda.

"There aren't that many places where [the two parties] can come together"? Well, no, of course not. Democrats and Republicans perceive reality in entirely different ways, and advocate for wildly different solutions to various problems (they don't even agree on which problems exist).

But if Boehner's right about this -- and I believe he is -- then why in the world is it incumbent on the Democratic majority to work with Republicans to find "bipartisan" answers to every question? If Boehner has no intention of "coming together" with Dems in the middle -- a reasonable, albeit rigid, position -- why must the political establishment maintain the fiction that the governing majority is doing something awful unless they bring the discredited minority on board with every proposal?

Ron Brownstein noted recently:

We are operating in what amounts to a parliamentary system without majority rule, a formula for futility.

In some respects, it's even worse than that. In nearly all modern democracies, parties that win elections get a shot -- they're able to do what they want to do, putting their party platform to work. If the policies are effective and voters are satisfied, the parties are rewarded. If not, they're punished.

The job of the minority party (or minority parities) in modern democracies is not to stop the majority from governing. Indeed, the very idea is practically absurd. Rather, minority parties consider it their job to criticize the majority, tell the electorate how they'd be doing things better, and hope voters agree when the next election rolls around.

But we're dealing with expectations and procedural tools in the U.S. that are inherently foolish. We can elect one party to lead, and then give the minority party the ability to stop the majority from leading. Worse, the political establishment tells voters -- and the public agrees -- that the majority is doing something intrinsically wrong if they advance policies that the minority disagrees with.

Boehner left no doubt this morning that he and his party don't want to work with Democrats on shaping legislation. That's fine. But with that in mind, can we let go of the ridiculous notion that Democrats are on the wrong track unless Boehner likes their ideas? And more importantly, can we abandon the absurd procedures that allow a small minority party to prevent the legislative process from functioning?

Steve Benen 11:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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But if Boehner's right about this -- and I believe he is -- then why in the world is it incumbent on the Democratic majority to work with Republicans to find "bipartisan" answers to every question? If Boehner has no intention of "coming together" with Dems in the middle -- a reasonable, albeit rigid, position -- why must the political establishment maintain the fiction that the governing majority is doing something awful unless they bring the discredited minority on board with every proposal?

Shut up, that's why.

And I wanted to punch that Elmo-colored motherfucker in the throat ten times everytime he said "democrat" when he meant "democratic" and "government takeover of health care".

That he could repeat that "government takeover of health care" bullshit with zero pushback from Gregory just demonstrates how supremely fucked up our media is.

Posted by: calipgyian on January 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

It is amazing how much influence the minority has. It is insane that people who will not vote for a bill can get poison pills in the laws. Check this out from Matt Y.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/01/strange-tales-of-congressional-procedure.php

Posted by: cheflovesbeer on January 31, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

The "establishment" does this because the "establishment" -- I define as rich media types -- secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, favor Republican policies. They are not Democrats' friends.

Posted by: Bat of Moon on January 31, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think it needs to be remembered that a political majority (i.e. having more seats in Congress) does not always mean that your ideas are more popular (as the Democrats are finding out).

Because we have a two-party system rather than a multi-party system, many votes are cast against opposing candidates, rather than for a candidate you strongly support. The fact that the Democrats currently control both the presidency and Congress is in all likelihood reflective of the fact that they beenfited from a lot of anti-Bush and anti-Palin votes over the past four years rather than a lot of pro-Democratic feelings. Essentially, they may have gained power as the lesser of two evils, rather than by virtue of their ideas being popular in their own right.

Posted by: mfw13 on January 31, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is Obama's greatest failing (or, as Drum says, his blind spot). Continuing to be Charlie Brown, even when Lucy tells him she'll pull the football away.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on January 31, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

And taken to the extreme (as it has been in recent times), this arrangement politically benefits the party that is completely irresponsible and doesn't care if they render the country ungovernable, and hurts the one that is responsible and accepts that they should allow the country to be governed even if they don't win.

Posted by: Redshift on January 31, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

And I wanted to punch that Elmo-colored motherfucker in the throat ten times everytime he said "democrat" when he meant "democratic" and "government takeover of health care".

He does that because he knows it gets a rise out of people -- and it works.

So let's make a deal: when they stop saying "democrat" when they mean "democratic," I'll stop referring to the GOP as "tea-baggers."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on January 31, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Like much of what Boehner says, this, too, is a lie.

The Republicans are NOT standing by their principles, unless those principles can be simply stated as "obstruct Obama at all costs." We've just spent a year watching Obama, via Baucus and others, genuflecting toward GOP principles and adopting Republican provisions in legislation, only to see the authors of such provisions turn around to vote against them. They won't take "yes" for an answer. They just want to stop everything, and let the country and world go to hell, until the the next election cycle.

The GOP opposition is nihilistic, not noble.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 31, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, we shouldn't have to keep telling you it's an exaggeration to say: " ... minority party, which means it's their job to oppose the majority's agenda." No, their #1 job is the national interest. I don't expect their view of that to always or mostly equal Democrats, and most (?) of them aren't putting the NA first anyway (nor are enough Democrats), but obstruction as part of a "job" just makes for trouble. You like them being "the party of no"?! But you sure are right, it's not the Majority's job to accommodate them at every turn.

Posted by: neil b on January 31, 2010 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve..one word: polls

Obama and his DLC cadre in the White House are deliberately mis-reading polling data showing that "the people" want "bipartisanship."

Now, maybe it's all just kabuki--I hope like hell it is--because if Obama really thinks he's going to get any kind of bipartisanship going with the GOP he's either just stupid, or deluded.

I also think Rahm loves him some blue dogs, always has, he's one himself, and he's happy being an Eisenhower Republican.

I think Obama learned that getting along is better than a good fight. He could have learned it growing up in Hawaii, where consensus is prized above all other political attributes.

All I know is so far Rahm and Obama look like chumps, and it's hard to imagine that has been their intent.

Posted by: LL on January 31, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think it needs to be repeated as often as possible that the GOP saw no problem whatsoever with passing bills by getting "a majority of the majority" as Yoda wannabe Karl Rove used to say. NOW those flip-floppers insist that there has to be a supermajority to pass anything.

Sure the minority party should be opposed to the majority. But they should not have the power to stop the majority dead in its tracks. God knows the Democrat party never seemed to have that power when they held minority status.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on January 31, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Boehner is lying. The Thugs are not fighting for principles. Most of them are fighting for power and money. Unfortunately, the same can be said for a sizeable portion of the Dems (read "Blue Dog.")

Posted by: candideinnc on January 31, 2010 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

biggerbox is right.

Boehner should have been asked whether Republicans would agree with Democrats if the Democrats adopted Republican positions like cap-and-trade and lower taxes. He also should have been asked if Republicans would agree with Democrats if the Democrats put forward positions everybody agrees with such as allowing people with existing conditions to get insurance.

Boehner should have then been punched in the face for being a liar who hates America. Then somebody should have asked him whether the current monthly deficit is higher than last year's annual deficit.

Posted by: reino on January 31, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans were elected to stand by their principles, and those principles are different than the "leftist proposals" offered by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, Boehner said. [...]

I agree with Steve that this is kind of a truism (aside from the "leftist" nonsense). It explains a lot, such as why there is no real attempt at bipartisanship. If you disagree on the fundamental idea of what the problems are, then the "how to fix it" becomes irrelevant. That's why all the republican energy is poured into the tactics of getting power back. Obama should expect it; there is nothing he can do short of adopting the republican agenda wholesale (and that probably wouldn't work either) that will not be answered with negative spin, screeching hysterics or rabble-rousing. It's a proven formula, and they have no intention of giving it up. Obama and the Democrats should adjust their tactics accordingly.

Posted by: DelCapslock on January 31, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK
The job of the minority party (or minority parities) in modern democracies is not to stop the majority from governing.

That's in a putative democracy. But the Republicans don't believe in democracy as such.

The Congressional GOP's present position is analogous to the Orleanists and Bonapartists in the French assemblies of the 19th century.

A royalist party in a parliament has no real interest in increasing its share of votes in that body, because they don't concede the legitimacy of the institution in the first place. They only want a rapid transition back to an absolutist monarchy, when the parliament, when it meets at all, is merely a debating society full of time-servers jockeying for titles, pensions, places at court and the granting of royal monopolies.

The weirdest transformation of political terminology hasn't been what happened to the word 'liberal' since John Stuart Mill -- it's what happened to the word 'republican'.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 31, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Does Boehner mean that the Democrats should not be the party of Wall Street any more? Good.

Posted by: freelunch on January 31, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Then it's the job of the majority party to stick by its principles, to sell its solutions to the people and, to make certain the people understand why we're in the mess we're in now. That's what the Democratic Party is NOT doing.

The irony of it all is that the Democratic party is implementing the minority party's agenda - budget freezes, automatic IRAs, bank bailouts, military tribunals instead of civilian trials, Medicare/Social Security-gutting commissions. All the minority has to do is sit back, say no, and watch their ideology take shape under this Democratic administration. This is conservative ideology that the republicans couldn't manage to pass when they were the majority. Now we know what Obama means when he talks about bipartisanship.

Posted by: CDW on January 31, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"their #1 job is the national interest" -neil b

Out here in the Real World we identify a problem: cross the river.

Then we come up with solutions: build a bridge, find a boat, swim.

While Washington is forming study groups, running issue ads, and asking the boat, bridge, and swim flipper lobbyists for money, we have already crossed the river and are discussing where to have for lunch. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 31, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's the Cons job to oppose? Sure. I'd love to see a spirited debate on differing proposals to implement HCR; instead, we get ridiculous hyperbole from the Right Wing and attempts to kill any HCR proposal. I'd love to see debate on the best ways to mitigate climate change; instead the Cons are global warming deniers. I love to see different ideas on how to implement a second stimulus directed at job creation; instead we get hypocritical Cons bashing the demonstrably successful first stimulus package nationally while in their districts they take credit for it.

It's not opposition that is the problem, it's where the Cons choose to draw the line that's the problem, and that they oppose everything for the sake of opposition.

Posted by: JWK on January 31, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

In nearly all modern democracies, parties that win elections get a shot -- they're able to do what they want to do, putting their party platform to work. If the policies are effective and voters are satisfied, the parties are rewarded. If not, they're punished.

Reread the previous post about Norman Ornstein. The Democrats have already done a great deal in 2009 without any Republican support. Yet most Americans now are skeptical that the effects have been good. Slight pluralities oppose each of the House and Senate health care bills. The Republican won in Massachusetts and 3 different Republicans lead Feingold in the polls in Wisconsin. Beau Biden has decided not to run for the Senate in Delaware. Slightly more people "Strongly Disapprove" of the job that Obama is doing that "Strongly Approve". It's looking like the voters hold the Democrats responsible for making things worse, and are threatening to vote them out of office.

If it is true that a lot of Democrats believe that they are about to get "punished" by their constituents, especially the Democrats in the "purple" districts, then it makes a lot of sense for them to stop marching in the same direction that has gotten them into this trouble. Democrats are not on the wrong track because Boehner doesn't like their ideas, but because their own constituents don't like their ideas.

We have a situation, I think, where both parties represent minorities of the voters, and so many elected representatives in both parties find that "gong nowhere" is better policy than following the leadership of either party in any particular direction. It may look to Democrats like they'll be as severely punished in 2010 elections as Republicans were punished in 2006 and 2008 elections.

Whatever, I applaud your use of the term "punished."

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13: I think it needs to be remembered that a political majority (i.e. having more seats in Congress) does not always mean that your ideas are more popular (as the Democrats are finding out).

Especially when you remember the Schumer-Emanuel strategy in 2006 of electing conservative Democrats in Red (and Republican) districts.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

For what its worth, here's a little ditty from the BBC that calls into question the very notion that all the electorate really needs is a balanced MSM to tip the tide in favor of the Donkeys. Hey, just because I agree with progressive solutions doesn't mean I'm burying my head in the sand over why the hell the progressive message doesn't resonate. Maybe this idea has merit and maybe not.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8474611.stm

Posted by: Chopin on January 31, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Our country's only hope is that the wingnuts go into open rebellion while a Democrat is in the White House -- and the military stays loyal. Then we can exterminate the swine in Civil War II and do Reconstruction the way it should have been done in the first place.

The Republicans are a cancer that needs to be excised.

Just sayin'

Posted by: General Grant on January 31, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner got on and spewed the same old bullcrap talking points the President debunked on Friday. He acted like that never even happened.

After the 7 or 8 time he said "government takeover of healthcare" I thought for sure gregory would call him on that, but...I should have known better, that would have been expecting too much.

Posted by: Jilli on January 31, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
But as the president was quick to point out, with a 41st vote in the Senate and the ability to block legislation through filibuster come pressure on Republicans to share in the political risks of making hard choices. 'The responsibility to govern is now yours as well,' Mr. Obama said in his State of the Union speech, a message that was certainly heard by party leaders here in Honolulu.
If I'm reading you right Steve, you disagree with this statement. Instead, their goal is to fight for what they believe in, opposing the majority's agenda. Or are we left to use a variant of "rock, paper, scissors" to decide who bends first ? Of course, there always is the Italian model of government. Posted by: Neo on January 31, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

That would be fine as far as it goes, but Congress isn't a college seminar, it's a place where members of both parties are supposed to solve real problems and keep the abject sufferance to special interests at least to a tolerable minimum.

So, when the country suffers a complete meltdown, as we did with the financial crisis in 2008 where the low-tax, low-regulation, laissez faire regime that had dominated for 30 years came crashing down, intellectual honesty demanded that the party of free market fundamentalism go back and take a good hard look about the "principles" it once defended.

There is no evidence Republicans did any of that. Most of all they seemed to suggest it was almost entirely government's fault that Wall Street collapsed after 30 years of THE most Wall Street-friendly federal policies since the Roaring 20's. This then justified the neo-Reagan "government is the problem not the solution" kind of response we've seen from the GOP ever since.

I would have more respect for Republicans and their principles if they had subjected them to proper due diligence after the eight years of Republican disaster in government, but they haven't. Even after the Bush debacle, Republicans are still asking the American people to invest in their sub-prime ideas based on little more than faith.

Posted by: Ted Frier on January 31, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

The real problem with American politics is that the two parties do not agree on
1. What America's real problems are.
2. Whether it is even acceptable for government to attempt to solve America's problems.
3. What kind of social and power structure is appropriate for America.
4. Whether America should be led by authoritarian leaders and follow-the-leader followers or whether America should be a social democracy that works for the benefit of all Americans. This last one goes to the heart of how elections are run and who should be allowed to vote.

Given those disagreements, it is not going to be possible to reach bipartisan agreements in government policy.

Posted by: Rick B on January 31, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner left no doubt this morning that he and his party don't want to work with Democrats on shaping legislation.
====================

This has been absolutely clear for Obama's entire time in office, and I sure hope that the WH will begin to pick up on it sometime before 2012.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on January 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Chopin, the BBC article you link makes the good point that "stories always trump statistics, which means the politician with the best stories is going to win"

Obama's first order of business was to reframe the conservative story that has crippled the USA for the past 30 years, to make the conservatives the bad guys. But he hasn't even tried. He evidently believes that he is supposed to be POTUS for all Americans, even the Republicans who ran the USA for 8 years as a private club and who have no ideology worth salvaging. Trying to work with John Boehner & the Republicans is like trying to reform an alcoholic by sitting down at a bar and having a drink with him.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 31, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew, that is to be expected as the Republican party serves as a destructive hare group while the democratic party actually works for a living. Unfortunately, the fundamentals are not in the Republicans' favor, so once they accept and become comfortable with their minority status, the environment in DC will improve.

The only reason the republican party acts as it does is because they delude themselves into thinking they can retake the majority. When they give up that possibility, they will settle down.

Posted by: Tyro on January 31, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

"There aren't that many places where we can come together," House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."

unfortunately this includes the idea that an Administration should be able to get its qualified job appointments a timely "up or down" confirmation vote so that the Administraton can give the American people a functioning government.

Why does the GOP hate the American people?

Posted by: andy on January 31, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think Rick B has it right. The Republican's opposition is more fundamental than disagreement about mere policies. It's stems from a radical view of the nature of our society and how we govern ourselves. Republicans don't disagree with normal people about how to solve the health care crisis; they simply don't think there is one, or if one exists, it's not a problem government can or should attempt to solve.

Posted by: jrw on January 31, 2010 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't say the parties are "supposed to disagree." The parties are supposed to work from some kind of principles; and if that causes them to disagree, they should disagree.

Problem is, the Republicans seem to disagree for the mere sake of disagreeing. And this relates to the fact that they appear to have no particular principles. (Not that the Dems are exemplary in this regard either.)

Posted by: Mike on January 31, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you are getting closer to the real problem with how this current Congress operates.

"Leadership is about standing on your principles and opposing those policies that we believe are bad for the country,". If you agree with that, as you indicate, then you must disagree with Obama everytime he talks about bipartisanship.

Of course when the president says he is seeking bipartisanship, ipso facto, you have what Brownstein says is "a formula for futility" since it's now a "parliamentary system without majority rule".

Which was caused by Obama. Not the Republicans.

Everytime Obama says bipartisanship is a legitimate goal, he's really saying that majority rules are irrelevant. Which is profoundly anti-democratic. That's your (our) guy, not the Republicans.

To the commenters who want to blame the Republicans, it's as Rick B. wrote. There's a fundamental disagreement as to what's the problems and solutions.

But if you want to wail about the Republicans being "obstructionist" or not "solving problems" then the very first thing you should be doing is asking why do normal majority rules not apply in Obama-land like they do in EVERY OTHER DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD. Republicans are only empowered so long as Obama keeps his hands clean.

Bush used
a) recess appointments
and b) reconciliation

Obama does neither. Why is that exactly?

Posted by: Observer on January 31, 2010 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

"But here's the thing that so often gets lost in the discourse: Republicans are the minority party, which means it's their job to oppose the majority's agenda."

I totally disagree with that assumption. It is an elected official's job to represent the best interests of his electorate, not to do things like deny them access to health care or jobs or quality public education simply becasue they are the minority party and the majority party wants what's best for their own electorate; like health care and jobs and quality public educations.

The Republicans are behaving like a bratty three year old who breaks the toy his baby brother is playing with simply becasue his baby brother is enjoying the toy.

Posted by: Marnie on January 31, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I am old-fashioned and was taught that the political parties have their differences, yes. But, when doing the job they were elected to do, they are supposed to do what is best for their constituents--and, also do what is best for our country. Keeping millions of Americans from having affordable health care is NOT good for the country. Not in any way. And, what you just described is two parties always at loggerheads (a sort of east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet). This is not good for the country. Reasonable people can agree on things; the twain can meet ocassionally. Unreasonable people cannot. The Republicans have become totally unreasonable and seem to have lost all sense of what is good for the country. And, that is what Democrats really need to get out in the open--the years between 2000 and 2008 were the worst years for this country. Little was done by politicians to do what was right for the country.

Posted by: Bonnie on January 31, 2010 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Pass the Damn Healthcare Bill! Within three months almost everybody will find out that it is a bipartisan compromise, and the Republican game will be over.

They have no plan for America. They borrow and spend and under them, the middle class is falling behind.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on January 31, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

this just highlights what rational people have known and been saying for 2 years now: obama's bipartisanship schtick is utter crap and has been used to completely blow his unique opportunity to implement real change in America.

Posted by: pluege on January 31, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

tyro: Unfortunately, the fundamentals are not in the Republicans' favor, so once they accept and become comfortable with their minority status, the environment in DC will improve.

That might have been true of the Republicans in Washington, but out on the hustings there are lots of Republican challengers who believe that they can, as Scott Brown did, defeat Democrats in their districts.


It is early in the election cycle, and if the economy comes roaring back by election day then the chances of the Democrats will be considerably enhanced.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2010 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing (except the part about President Obama pushing "leftist proposals," which is a silly assessment).

You're also overlooking this line.

Republicans were elected to stand by their principles...

The Republicans just unanimously voted against pay-go in the Senate after having complained about the deficit ever since Obama was sworn into office. Birth certificats, flag lapel pins, impeachments, etc. these have nothing to do with real principles. The only principle that the elected Republicans have is to regain power by making Obama and the Democrats look bad. There really nothing else there.

And more importantly, can we abandon the absurd procedures that allow a small minority party to prevent the legislative process from functioning?

Hell no! While it's a little ways away until 2012, it's way too probable that Republicans will have both chambers of Congress plus perhaps the Presidency after that election. Giving up the filibuster would be suicide.

Posted by: blank on January 31, 2010 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

What them Dem's are missing, is an attack dog like Clinton had in Carville. Someone who advances the WH agenda and stays on point, one who would call their objections of holding the KSM trials in US courts as their disbelief in the American court system. Are they now afraid of a justice system they have pump full of 700 club university half wits like Goodling? Instead of saying they are obstructing for political gain, say they are putting political gain ahead of Americas prosperity.

Posted by: Michigander on January 31, 2010 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans' have a reason for obstructing the Democrats' agenda. Their plan for the looting of the treasury and bankrupting of America hasn't been totally accomplished yet. Judging by the times they sat on their hands during the State of the Union address, they oppose the middle class getting any tax breaks, bankers paying fees to pay the gov't back and to avoid excesses, and shipping jobs overseas. They represent corporations and have no loyalty to this country, only to profits. If the gov't fails to govern it affirms their meme about the gov't always being bad. If the gov't collapses, they rip away social security and medicare, which they hate. We can all go back to the "golden" era of robber barons, just like they want. They believe deep down that the average American is stupid and not worthy of determining how we want to be governed and are easily manipulated to achieve their goals. Unfortunately they are right about the second part.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on February 1, 2010 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

I always assumed Obama wasn't trying to reach out to the R-hacks in Washington but rather was addressing the suckers who voted for them.

Posted by: Bob M on February 1, 2010 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

I just can't fall for this "loyal opposition" crap. These people were elected to solve national problems with the interests of their constituents in mind. Reflexively opposing the party in power (which isn't really known a the time of the election anyway) is not what Congressionals are supposed to be doing with their constituent's mandate.

Boehner et al are essentially saying "FU" to their constituents and looking after the interests of their club instead. That's not democracy, that's taking Wall Street's "too big to fail" concept and turning it into "too big to care" once they get elected.

I don't mind there being two differing schools of political thought in American politics. It's the petty and wanton destruction based on club affiliation and the contrariness to the interests of those that put them in office that I can't stand.

Posted by: petorado on February 1, 2010 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

One needs no more evidence of Matthew Marler's bad faith than his chortling over the effect Republicans' constant and ongoing dishonesty has had in the polls. No doubt his pipe dreams of Republican electoral success are strongly influenced by his craving their sweet, sweet tax cuts, regardless of the damage their policies cause this nation.

Shame on you, Marler.

Posted by: Gregory on February 1, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Left out this time (but mentioned in other Political Animal entries) was the observation that opposition to issues, leftist or otherwise, was composed of both parties.

Blue Dog Dems oppose large scale economic stimulus with Republicans (who do not want the economy to recover until they are in power to take credit.)

Moderate Republicans would join Democrats in opposing infringement on women's rights not to reproduce against their will or the right of misguided, disgruntled protesters from burning flags for the sake of preserving ALL speech.

The first instance still holds.
Party membership has never before automatically meant Democratic issue opposition.

Thank Tom DeLay for the radicalization of his party.

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Good comment Posted by: petorado on February 1, 2010 at 1:37 AM

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