Political Animal


April 12, 2013 12:06 PM Hot Air

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t want to become a crank about this, but as someone whose job is to comment many times a day on developments in American politics, I think this sort of headline (above a story by Janet Hook for the Wall Street Journal) needs some full-scale mockery: “Bipartisan Breeze Wafts Through Congress.”

Hook’s hook, so to speak, is of course the Manchin-Toomey “compromise” on guns and the “Gang” activity on immigration reform. The former, as I argued yesterday, is a baby step in one chamber of Congress that may not survive a second filibuster, much less the House. The latter, which so far (again, in the Senate only) has produced a ramshackle framework full of tricks and triggers and deliberate obfuscation of its goals, isn’t even a baby step just yet, particularly when compared to the actual legislation proposed by George W. Bush years ago that is now considered satanic by a majority of Republicans.

Hook is honest enough to make it clear this “breeze” doesn’t extend to the big fiscal issues, though she does labor to read something into the occasional GOP treatment of the president’s Chained CPI proposal as an opening ante that might produce serious talks if he considers much bigger entitlement benefit cuts while dropping all this crazy talk about revenues. If she (and others celebrating the “new mood” in Congress) expanded their purview to issues like health care, they’d have to curb their enthusiasm further.

I’m not one of those progressives who opposes bipartisanship on principle, or thinks Democrats are in danger of losing “partisan differentiation” whenever they fail to match conservative savagery with their own. I just don’t see it much happening just yet. Pretending otherwise is much more likely to reduce rather than increase prospects for something real, which will require a mighty wind, not a “breeze,” blowing through a Republican Party that has taken to heart Grover Norquist’s famous maxim that “bipartisanship is another name for date rape.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Samuel Knight on April 12, 2013 12:18 PM:

    The same BS was also peddled in Post's political "news" section yesterday. Oh our law makers are working together like the days of yore! Isn't that wonderful! Blah, blah.

    This of course hides two simple facts:
    1) The days of yore were also the days of segregation, and the days when the US was massively richer than every other country so it could do almost anything it wanted anyway.
    2) The biggest change in US politics is that southern conservatives moved from D to GOP and more or less took over the GOP. The GOP tactics, propaganda, etc. are basically the same ones used in American South for centuries to maintain elite control - including the Southern gentility schtik.

    So why peddle this garbage?

    Because it's always easier to use some excuse that sounds plausible if you want to distract people. It's not our fault - it's the their fault. And the "we all need to be nice" story sounds plausible. And if you're comfortable slipping in the knife while speaking nice things - well go for it. Look at Southern history, like gone with the Wind - some of the most gentlemanly seeming folks were also riding with the KKK.

  • c u n d gulag on April 12, 2013 12:19 PM:

    Well, I suppose if a fart is loud and long enough, it might be confused for a breeze.

    So, I can certainly understand her inability to tell the difference, since what's coming out of our current political process stinks - which may lead to some confusion.

  • lou on April 12, 2013 12:51 PM:

    Problem with the DC brand of bipartisanship is that it works when it shouldn't and doesn't when it should. When the Wall Street Journal is pumping it, I should probably be reaching for the vaseline jar to ease the pain.

  • RaflW on April 13, 2013 12:01 AM:

    Many of the Villagers are so addicted to bipartisanship (and it's corollary, both-sides-do-it) that even two tiny, fragile green shoots signal a holy moment of resurrection.

    But this is by no means the second coming of an actual interest in governance form the GOP. See Obama, budget, and Greg Walden for starters.