The Last 100 Days
I’m referring, of course, to that of the GOP.
So much has been made of the Obama administration’s first 100 days that only Frank Rich of the NY Times has been chronicling the GOP’s final political death spiral during the same period of time.
Now that Mr. Obama is finally losing that new President smell and we’re taking down the bunting and cut ribbons from the three and a half month-long supermarket Grand Openings (gauging a presidency in its first 100 days is like appraising a marriage based solely on the honeymoon), we’re seeing the other side. And in the Limbaugh-led GOP’s hysterics over losing power we’re seeing not checks and balances or even “loyal but principled opposition” as much as mule-stubborn obstructionism. As Rich said, we need the GOP (Yes, believe it or not) even if no other reason than to act as a counterweight to an admirably ambitious if at times naïve Obama presidency.
Perhaps this is actually why Joe Biden said in the first days after the 2006 midterms that was the first political equivalent of the Night of Long Knives for the GOP that the Republican Party needed to get back up. We (myself included) jeered the future Vice President for saying that. But I think that then-Senator Biden was referring to checks and balances.
Instead of principled leadership, we’re just seeing more of the same clownishness that’s characterized the GOP and its hardcore constituency for at least the last 8+ years. We’ve heard threats of secession. We’ve seen Tea Parties in which the new President was called a “Socialist” and even “Hitler.” We’ve seen a completely united front opposing necessary legislation such as Dick Durbin’s homeowner’s relief bill and the $787 billion economic relief bill and stubborn lawsuits in Minnesota keeping the 100th Senator from the Senate a half a year after the election. And no one in sight remotely resembling a leader other than a confirmed drug addict who does a radio show out of his house.
The latter-day GOP reminds me of a Theater of the Absurd play that could’ve been written by Pirondello: Six Million Characters In Search of a Leader. With the way the Republican Party has been conducting itself, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they opposed even a safe, pragmatic nomination such as Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in the proud minority tradition of “loyal but principled opposition” solely in the interests of reigniting ideologies that are as anachronistic as the GOP itself.
What we’re seeing on Capitol Hill is a strange mixture of rigid organization on the part of the Democratic White House and the complete opposite on the Republican side, a party once notorious for its message and focus discipline. Nowadays, blind ideological opposition to progressive and necessary legislation is the closest thing the GOP has to discipline.
Party discipline to ideas is what the Democratic Party is showcasing under President Obama. Party discipline to ideology, while it may have worked for the GOP these past eight plus years, plainly does not work now and the sooner the Republicans understand this, the sooner they, too, will recover with the rest of the nation.