The political quote of the day comes from Andrew Sullivan:
This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.
Some will quibble with how Sullivan words this, but it is indeed increasingly difficult to make an argument that the Republican party is acting in good faith with the White House and the American people as it continues to play to its base.
Most troubling: the tone for the party was set immediately by talk show Rush Limbaugh, who immediately threw down the gauntlet against cooperation with Obama (opening saying he wanted Obama to “fail” and alter trying to finesse the statement a bit)…and the party elite and base immediately fell into (all too familiar) lock step.
So is what Sullivan is predicting about to happen true? And, even more troubling, is this what the country is in for in the future?
(1) Continue to pursue bipartisanship, a noble goal and it will indeed take a while to change old patterns, just as psychologists will tell you that it’s hard to change patterns in dysfunctional families and abusive relationships.
(2) Continue to pursue bipartisanship but be prepared every step of the way with a readied plan to pull out all stops to use public opinion to shore up a coalition of Democrats, a narrow margin of independents and some Republicans. Keep working to increase clout and use it.
(3) Go back to the George Bush model of relying mostly on the the party’s base.
Number Two would be the wisest course. Has Team Obama gone back and revisited what happened to Bill Clinton after his election when he found himself under steady attack by a GOP resistance? It’s clear that it can no longer be assumed that there will be meaningful cooperation from the GOP with Obama and that a political jiu jitsu move will be used where if he won’t go along with their demands he’ll be accused of not really wanting bipartisanship and being a partisan hack.
Prediction: if the stimulus and other policies help the economy in any way, the GOP will lose a big chunk of support from independent and younger voters. It can make gains in 2010 only if Obama fails — and each day developments suggest that not only are some in the party hoping he does, but some seem to be actively working for it.
But is it a slam dunk that the compromise version of the stimulus plan will pass? Apparently not, due to Ted Kennedy’s absence…
Cartoon by RJ Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch
The above cartoon is copyrighted and licensed to appear on TMV. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.
(FOOTNOTE: I am traveling between now and Sunday and will be posting little until Monday.)
UPDATE: Read Andrew Malcolm’s take on the day’s events and what comes next for Gregg.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.