The Bipartisan Fiasco
Public support for the President’s stimulus package is fading fast. And the reason should be obvious to the people in his new Administration but clearly isn’t. The plan’s popularity is a victim of bipartisanism.
Obama was elected because of a single word: Change. The public wanted change. Big change in a host of fields. That was what everyone who listened to the public with anything like an open mind was hearing. But the perpetuators of conventional wisdom in Washington, in the Democratic Party and the media, somehow heard something else. What they heard was that what the public really wanted was more cooperation between Democrats and Republicans.
It should have been obvious, even to the conventional wisdom crowd after not a single Republican in the House supported a Democratic stimulus plan, that the Republicans didn’t want to play. They didn’t want to step aside and let the winners of the election govern freely. They certainly didn’t want to admit that they were the ones who brought about the present crisis with their economic nostrums, and that it was time for a genuinely new approach.
Once that became crystal clear, the Democrats in the Senate and White House should have shrugged and said: O.K. You want us to push things through the way you did during the first six years of the Bush Administration, fine. And then gotten the Democratic bill on the President’s desk pronto.
Whether going the bipartisan route in the Senate will make a slightly better stimulus package or not is questionable. What isn’t questionable is that by focusing on bipartisanship it has been the Republicans that have gotten almost all the airing in the media for their views and denunciations of the Democrats. An even graver loss to the Democrats and the country as a whole is the loss of people’s faith in firm, determined and decisive leadership from the White House.
Bipartisanism up. Leadership and the aura of real change down. Not a very good tradeoff in my book.