Barack Obama and the Age of Post-Bipartisanship.
I never thought the Obama administration was the age of Aquarius but we're certainly living in the age of post-bipartisanship.
As far back as when he was just an exotic, appealing but still unlikely presidential nominee, President Barack Obama has called for transformative change through consensus, specifically bipartisan consensus. That immediately distinguished Mr. Obama from the previous administration, in which calamitous decisions appear to have been unilaterally made by someone who on several occasions wistfully wished that he was a dictator.
Indeed, the president's bewilderingly civil conduct toward congressional Republicans and even right wing pundits outside the sphere of policy-making would, in a non-Bizarro World, make preposterous any claims of Democratic partisanship on the part of the Obama administration.
Yet me live in Bizarro World. Hoarsely screamed accusations by House Minority Leader John Boehner of being locked out of the process is exactly what we're hearing.
Strenuously and vigorously forgotten is Obama having GOP lawmakers at the WH for drinks during his "charm offensive." Forgotten is the fact that the president honored his campaign promise to install and retain Republicans in his Cabinet. Forgotten is Mr. Obama retaining for the time being a moderate Republican such as Dr. Robert F. Gates as Defense Secretary. Forgotten is John Boehner telling his counterparts in the Senate to ignore Obama even before the president had a chance to speak with them.
Still fresh in peoples' minds is Judd Gregg, the second man tapped by Obama to be Commerce Secretary. Not enough hay is being made of two key facts:
1) Obama's admirably bipartisan but inexplicably clueless nomination of any Republican to head up what will almost surely become, in these economic Dark Ages, a more front and center and important department.
2) Likewise has it been glossed over that Gregg a) thought nothing at all of embarrassing an administration that had already had one olive branch after another torched by Gregg's party because b) Gregg could not relax his ideological rigidity and would rather go back to being an obscure, second-tier senator instead of taking a powerful cabinet post in the new administration, ergo c) leaving said suddenly more important cabinet position vacant even longer.
Gregg might as well have borrwoed John Ashcroft's Guy Hovis wig and belted out "I've Gotta Be Me."
As Frank Rich said the day before yesterday in "They Sure Showed That Obama", the vultures of the MSM had already begun circling over Obama's head no sooner than he'd taken his hand off Abe Lincoln's Bible. Despite the glaringly obvious second consecutive decimation in the ranks of the Congressional GOP, pundits politically left and right were already setting the Obama Political Death Watch on T minus four years and counting. Editorial offices in the NY Times and Washington Post were probably setting up pools trying to predict which would be Obama's fatal misstep: Would it be Gitmo? The stimulus bill?
That right wing worthy Peggy Noonan, in "Obama's Stimulus Stumble", as the title suggests, somehow portrayed the stimulus bill as both Obama's albatross and a phoenix for the GOP rising from their ashheap of history.
Unfortunately, this view isn't restricted to conservative columnists.
Yet one has to ask where this healthily skeptical media were when Bush detoured us from the war on terror to invade Iraq. Where was it when Bush decided to give out tax cuts to his wealthy base of Haves and Have Mores, starting a downward recessional spiral that could last, from nose to tail, a decade?
Where were the media when 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, after it was known that he'd blown off the now-infamous PDB of 8/6/01 entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike US" and how come the press wasn't more openly skeptical of him walking into that school on 9/11, knowing the first plane hit the tower, and then sitting there for seven minutes straight in stupefaction after Andy Card told him about the second plane?
And how come we all gave him an approval rating of 90% after the most catastrophic presidential failure ever?
The Republicans are like children who have been playing outside for hours. They whine and piss and moan when the grownups call them in to wash up for dinner. They're used to not being bossed around by the grownups. Yet instead of being firm with these children, the Democrats are coddling these people even as they kick them in the shin, even to the point of giving one of the juvenile friends an important chore in the house like paying the bills. Then the kid appointed for this very important, grownup job leaves before he does anything because he doesn't like the idea of his friend's parents telling him how to do it.
This is the Age of Post Bipartisanship. Maybe, as Frank Rich says, Obama can just check off the box next to it and move on. But sooner or later, we all have to because the GOP is dead and bloated.