The Limits To The Post Partisan Unity Schtick

In a rather ridiculous article, the WaPo front pages an opinion as news. The opinion forwarded is:

In his inaugural address, President Obama proclaimed "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics." It hasn't taken long for the recriminations to return -- or for the Obama administration to begin talking about the unwelcome "inheritance" of its predecessor.

. . . Upon entering the White House in 2001, Bush pinned the lackluster economy on his predecessor, using the "Clinton recession" to successfully argue in favor of tax cuts that won some Democratic support. But for Obama, who built his candidacy on a promise to rise above Washington's divisive partisan traditions -- winning over many independent voters and moderate Republicans in the process -- blaming his predecessor holds special risks.

This is particularly puerile nonsense. I remind the WaPo of one Bush 2000 phrase - "I am a uniter, not a divider." That said, Obama did engage in the post partisan unity schtick, thus inviting this nonsensical line of attack. More . .

At the end of the day, Republicans, either for political reasons or for principled reasons, are not going to agree with much of President Obama's agenda. It is ridiculous to expect that they will. We have two political parties for a reason. Did anyone really expect the Republicans to go along with the Obama agenda? If so, why? I've argued this point ad nauseum - the political fortunes of President Obama and the Democratic Party will lie in the results they achieve while in control of the Presidency and the Congress. The Republican Party stands in political ruins now because of the utter failure of the policies of President Bush and the Republican Congress during his Administration. Not because they were "partisan."

To the degree President Obama and Democrats are sniping at the mess they inherited, I believe it is mostly geared towards fighting the political fight for enacting his agenda. As the WaPo article notes:

Obama's more frequent and acid reminders that former president George W. Bush left behind a trillion-dollar budget deficit, a 14-month recession and a broken financial system have come at the same time Republicans have ramped up criticism that the current president's policies are compounding the nation's economic problems. . . . Obama has strengthened his rhetoric gradually. Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, said the administration's "sharpened language is a response to the Republican argument against Obama based on huge deficits and big spending."

Of course this was always going to end up here. Only silly people like this person quoted in the WaPo story could have thought otherwise:

"What the administration is involved in now is the politics of attribution," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. "Each week that goes by with falling job numbers and Republican criticism of the administration's flaws means falling approval ratings. What's the antidote? That the guilty party is George Bush." "The trick," Jacobs said, "is how do you shift blame to George Bush and retain any credibility on the idea that you are looking past partisan warfare? This looks like a doubling down on a very partisan approach."

Apparently Jacobs is a political scientist. I assume he has been studying the politics of some other country. "Doubling down?" There have been 44 President of the United States. At least 43 of them (I exempt George Washington) engaged in partisan politics. I hate this silly tsk-tsking.

Speaking for me only

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    My eyes were rolling at this article too, BTD (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kempis on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:22:07 PM EST
    "BTD: Did anyone really expect the Republicans to go along with the Obama agenda?"

    **Amazingly enough, I know some fairly smart people who talked themselves into believing that they would. The thinking went like this: in contrast to Hillary--who the GOP hates with a rabid passion--Obama is such a master at "new politics" (whatever that is) that Republicans, being mere mortals, will find his charms irresistible.

    What's alarming to me is how some people are only just now beginning to notice a disconnect between his rhetoric of post-partisan unity and his practice of contrast politics. As we've noted here for months and months, it's been there all along, since the Democratic primaries.

    Some said.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:31:07 PM EST
    that the Republicans wouldn't have any choice to go along with Obama.

    Yeesh.  Sure they fell in line for Bush - but you only have to look to Gore and Clinton to see what their standard reaction to Democrats is.

    We'd need a whole new brand of Republicans before the GOP breaks out the welcome wagon.


    I always thought that the plan... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by EL seattle on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:37:33 PM EST
    ... was to essentially convert a sizable number of the fickle voters who'd voted for Bush (or Perot) to the new Obama-led democratic party.

    The notion of bringing all republicans to the post-partisan party was never a serious plan (although it was maybe a hope or a dream whenever the campaign polls started to get really high for a day or two), but if about 5% of the middle ground voters could (can) be swayed to reliabily support the Obama side, that would provide a real mandate.

    At least, that's what I've thought their strategy was.  But fickle voters aren't easily converted for more than a week or two at a time, so it's going to be an ongoing challenge, I think.

    Sure. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Fabian on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:34:50 PM EST
    Was it politics or was it real?

    I've always thought it was politics, to be used as long as it's effective and dumped without apology the second it ceases to be useful.


    I think (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 12:43:47 PM EST
    It's a fair criticism of Obama.  I agree the post-partisan theme was schtick, but just as he campaigned on "no lobbyists in my administration" and "I have superior judgment" then he should be called out when his words don't match his actions.  Do I think he should play nice with the Republicans and be held to that campaign promise?  No, but then I would have told him that when he started spouting that nonsense at the beginning of his campaign.

    I only wish the WaPo would hold him more accountable on the "transparency" part of his campaign promises.

    How is saying you inherited it partisan? (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:27:22 PM EST
    Was the economy in a mess or was it not when President Obama took office?  

    This is absurd upon belief.

    I was never a fan of post partisanship. Pointing out the facts is not partisanship. Whatever happened to the GOP mantra of taking responsibility. Whiners!


    It's obviously partisan (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:29:40 PM EST
    and rather silly to deny it.

    that it is TRUE does not make it not partisan.


    And reality has a well-known liberal bias (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:01:03 PM EST
    as well all know

    Precisely (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:05:22 PM EST
    Or as Truman said "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."



    Wait a minute! (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Upstart Crow on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:05:15 PM EST
    He didn't just fly in from a remote star to help us solve this problem. He was a senator for four years! He had a ringside seat! Surely he can't be surprised by what he's finding!

    Can he show us a history of how he opposed the decisions that led into this mess?  

    Otherwise, HE looks like the whiner.


    You're right (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jbindc on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:08:30 PM EST
    I meant he shouldn't keep whining.

    Must use preview before hitting post.


    Yes (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:47:03 PM EST
    But frankly Obama and all his talking heads telling me that the economy was a mess 50 times a day does nothing.  We all KNOW the economy was a mess, but he told us he wanted the job to fix it and now he's got the job - SO FIX IT ALREADY.  He should keep whining that it wasn't his fault.  I don't care whose fault it was.

    Good plan- tell Obama to snap his fingers (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 01:54:02 PM EST
    and fix the problem pronto!

    Hey (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 02:09:23 PM EST
    He said he wanted the job and could fix it.  So do it.

    Good thing you didn't live and work in an era (none / 0) (#17)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 08:13:39 AM EST
    before cell phones, microwaves and faxes.  I want it and I want it NOW!.

    Oy vey.


    I find it interesting... (none / 0) (#18)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:15:19 PM EST
    ...that those who are the first (and loudest) to decry Obama for being "The One" are also the same people that expect him to be a miracle worker with supernatural powers and fix all of our many problems with a wave of his hand.

    And then hide behind the silly "well he wanted the job" bs.  


    I find it interesting (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:24:11 PM EST
    that those who praise Obama as being a different kind of politician and said he was going to bring change to Washington are the same people who also continue to make excuses for his mistakes and missteps and lack of planning.

    And then hide behind the silly "he hasn't been in office that long." bs.


    Is that a fact? (none / 0) (#20)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:36:33 PM EST
    Please provide proof of such "praise" on my part.  

    You're the one that is on a mission to paint him as a some sort of gigantic failure--someone who can never do anything right, ever.  But yet expect him to have cured all of the World's ills the minute he got into office.

    I recognize that he, like all of us, is a fallible human.  Not some sort of a diety.  Mistakes and missteps are part of the package.  


    wait just one minute here! (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 03:11:11 AM EST
    bush was only in the oval office for, at best, two weeks, three tops, until obama was inaugurated.

    i know this to be a fact, because bill clinton was president from jan. 1993, until dec. 31, 2008. the democratic congress managed to toss the 22nd amendment, before the republicans took the majorities in nov. 1994.

    just ask any republican, they'll be happy to explain how everything that's happened, negatively, in the past 8 years, is bill or hillary clinton's fault.

    Fix it (none / 0) (#16)
    by maddog on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 07:56:33 AM EST
    I find it extremely funny that many are saying that this is the same thing Bush did.  Or this is the same thing the republicans did.  Obama was suppose to be above all that.  He was the new kind of politician.  Hope and change and all that.

    Imagine getting hired to fix a company and daily going to the BOD and saying this is really a mess that the previous guy gave me.  It would wear thin pretty quickly.  Same thing here.

    Nobody expects a miracle... (none / 0) (#21)
    by DancingOpossum on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 08:26:31 AM EST
    ...or the Spanish Inquisition.

    But yet expect him to have cured all of the World's ills the minute he got into office.

    Nobody reasonable expects that. But he and his supporters vehemently insisted that his utter lack of experience was no problem because of his superior judgment, blinding intellect, and Svengali-like ability to charm others into seeing things his way.

    He knew the economy was in trouble well before he took office, right? He knew what he was walking into -- maybe not the gigantic size of the catastrophe but he knew it was a catastrophe. Yet he wanted the job--not only wanted it but ran a down and dirty campaign to get it, cheated and lied and stole to get it. Oh he wanted it, all right, and did everything he could to get it, so why didn't he have a plan in place for when he got it? The other candidates did (regardless of the merits of their respective plans), why didn't he? Why doesn't he now?