Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 22, 2010

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR FUTURE OBSTINACY.... I distinctly remember President Clinton's State of the Union address in 1995, just a few months after Republicans took back Congress. If anyone was wondering whether he'd be combative in the wake of a dreadful midterm cycle, Clinton quickly showed otherwise, insisting that the GOP-led Congress and the Democratic White House must "work together." All told, he used the word "together" 17 times in the speech.

Given the way the political winds are blowing, it's easy to imagine President Obama delivering a similar address early next year, trying to find areas of agreement and policies where compromise is possible.

With that in mind, Republicans are already laying the groundwork, making clear they have no intention of compromising with anyone.

The third-ranking Republican plans to tell an audience in Florida on Thursday that GOP congresses of yesteryear compromised "too much" -- a warning to Republicans who are signaling that they'd be willing to work with the Obama administration on some issues.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana, in a clear jab at a Wall Street Journal story that indicated the GOP would look to avoid gridlock, plans to say that "there can be no compromise that allows more borrowing, more spending, more deficits and more debt."

"Now, the last few days there has been some talk about how Republicans could avoid the 'mistakes' of 1995 by seeking compromise with this administration," according to an excerpt reported by the conservative blog Redstate. "The last Republican Congress didn't suffer from too little compromise, it suffered from too much."

Pence's remarks come the same week as Ken Buck (R), the extremist Senate candidate in Colorado, insisted that he'll refuse to cooperate with those he disagrees with if elected. "I think it's wrong to compromise your values to fit in with the social climate in Washington, D.C.," he said. "When it comes to spending, I'm not compromising. I don't care who, what, when or where, I'm not compromising."

The polling on this can be a little tricky, but I suspect much of the American mainstream -- especially self-identified "independents" -- likes the idea of policymakers from different parties finding areas of common ground and making compromises to advance solutions. I tend to think far too much is made of this -- I prefer policies with merit, whether they enjoy bipartisan support or not, and think it's a mistake to ignore the substantive differences between the parties -- but it still seems pretty clear that a huge chunk of the electorate, exasperated by partisan fights, can't imagine why Democratic and Republican leaders won't make concessions and reach agreements on key issues.

Which is why I think remarks like those from Pence and Buck are actually pretty important. Eleven days before Election Day, high-profile Republicans want Americans to know that a vote for the GOP is a vote against compromise, against bipartisan agreements, and against powerful officials working together with a sense of common purpose.

Is this the sort of message that resonates with voters?

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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"The last Republican Congress didn't suffer from too little compromise, it suffered from too much."

Conservatism can not fail, it can only be failed...

Here we go again.

Posted by: TonyB on October 22, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

The old adage was that 'oil and water don't mix.' I wonder how well 'oil and acid' will mix?

These people are corrosive to representative democracy.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Just a word to anyone who is like myself ' a small saver with an account at Edward Jones. They are listed per the NY Times as one of the companies donating to Edward Jones. I would like to mention the fact that Edward Jones convinced me to buy Wachovia stock awhile back, they said it was a wonderful investment, when it started to go down they told me to hold it, I lost most of my money - now I find out this about them. I would like to ask everyone to tell Edward Jones that all dems will be boycotting them!

Posted by: js on October 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Mike Pence.... plans to say that "there can be no compromise that allows more borrowing, more spending, more deficits and more debt."

Fantastic! So we're in agreement to raise top tier taxes and shut down the military industrial complex. Finally, an republican I can get behind.

SteveT suggested Senators put their money where their mouth is and each find $5 Billion in cuts in their own state.

I second, third, and fourth that sentiment.

Get to work slashing Indiana funding, Pence.

Posted by: BluePotSmokesBetter on October 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Correction above - Edward Jones donated to Chamber of Commerce.

Posted by: js on October 22, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Clinton did work with the RepuGs and helped pass the RepuG Welfare Reform bill, which created Work Force, an organization out of Rutgers, which transferred money from welfare recipients to a bloated bureaucracy whose main function is to spend money on retreats and seminars for their staff.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 22, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

All pols say they'll never compromise their principles when campaigning. Somehow, compromises still take place. It would be beyond hilarious if Speaker Boehner found himself needing Democratic votes just to pass things like Agriculture appropriations.

Posted by: JMG on October 22, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

It's the sort of message that resonates with die-hard Republicans, and turns off most other voters. Which is the point, and the new game plan. Repubs say they're not going to compromise anymore (even though they rarely did in the near-past), Dems (usually) say they will, and wind up looking like Republicans by watering down good policy to a ridiculous degree. Repubs turn arouns and slam Dems anyway, saying they're socialist, terrorist-appeasers, anti-American, etc. Voters in the mushy middle, leery of the GOP's tone but afraid to vote for Dems just in case the Repubs were right about them, stay home and don't vote. And then Republicans win.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 22, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody gives a shit about compromising, Steve. They say they do; they don't.

Posted by: gussie on October 22, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Our democracy has jumped the shark.

We stand on the precipice of a new era in our country's history when a majority of voters may actually elect to shut our government completely down. Not stop its current trends. Not move it in another direction. But simply stop it from accomplishing anything at all.

What's the quickest way to get to Canada?

Posted by: chrenson on October 22, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Following Rachael Madow on MSNBC last night, Lawrence O'Donnell on The Last Word interviewed his hand-picked panel of ex-congress critters who "solved" the budget mess in 3 days. They were Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Bob Packwood and John Danforth. The discussion was interesting and required spending cuts and revenue increases that would require compromises not possible in the current hostile congress environment. But it sure was nice watching grown ups discuss the problems. Sigh. I sure hope by the next congress Obama quits with the concept that compromise is giving Rethugs everything they want. And raising social security retirement age is NOT a compromise for the right. They WANT to do that.

Posted by: Chopin on October 22, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

The modern GOP only wants power...to make money for themselves. They have no intention on compromising on anything. They want it their way, period. Never has that been clearer than the first two years of Obama's Nazi Regime, when the GOP has stonewalled bills that in the past would have thrilled them, even in fact, bills actually written by GOPers.
If the GOP takes both majorities, there will be NO compromises with Dems, if they take the House, No compromises. If the Dems stay majority in both houses, NO compromises. None under any condition. It has to be the GOP way, or nothing...and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: T2 on October 22, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Steve, from where I sit...YES, it is with some voters...they are sure they are RIGHT about all things (sadly like some progressives as well) and so must stand firm in opposition to EVERYTHING...add to that a black man is president and the people of color are coming to take over and you have a fear that brings on VIOLENCE to (like Beck fears he must worry about Soros)protect themselves and their families from the DIFFERENT!!!

Posted by: Dancer on October 22, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Great, if Repubs control congress because the voters have signaled that they want no compromise, they should be delighted when Obama announces his intention to veto every single bill sent to him, down to the post office namings.

Posted by: short fuse on October 22, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

If obstructionism was an issue with voters, Republicans wouldn't be doing so well this cycle. I mean, it's not like these comments are anything new - they've been fighting compromise since Obama took office, tooth and nail, and now it looks like they are going to be rewarded for it with power.

It would be pretty to think that "the people" would be turned off by such tactics, but apparently that is not the case.

Posted by: biggerbox on October 22, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Here we go again. Voter regret in three, two, one NO! Not MY job...

Posted by: DougW on October 22, 2010 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans obstruct everything so nothing can be done. Then they campaign on the fact that the government hasnt done anything. The Democrats had their chance and blew it because of being weak in the knees.

Posted by: Jason on October 23, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK



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