DUSTY RHOADES: So This Is What You Call 'Bipartisan Cooperation'?
Poor Eric Cantor. Poor Honorable John McCain. Poor Lindsey Graham. It seems those awful Democrats aren't being nice enough to them.
Cantor, the House minority whip, recently released a statement expressing his disappointment that those big old meanies in the Democratic Congress weren't playing nice.
"President Obama promised to put an end to the petty politics that have come to dominate Washington," Cantor sniveled. "Yet today, that message is threatened as the White House and their allies are making political threats rather than crafting a bipartisan economic stimulus plan." (You'd think a guy with a cool title like "whip" wouldn't be so petulant.)
Honorable John was even more dismayed: "It was a bad beginning because it wasn't what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people, that we would sit down together." Graham, who's on the Senate Banking Committee, whined to ABC News that those bad old Democrats "rammed [the stimulus bill] through the House" after starting out "with the idea, 'We won, we write the bill.'"
I suppose I can understand their pique. After all, during hearings over the stimulus plan, a Democratic committee chairman actually closed down debate by shutting off Republicans' microphones, walking off the podium, and turning the lights off in the hearing room.
Then there was the hearing where the Democratic chairman actually called the Capitol police to have the Republicans removed from the hearing room. And who can forget the snide and condescending statement by the Democratic Rules Committee chairman that the "Republicans are just crying because they're losing on policy debates about job creation"?
Oh, wait. Did I say all those things were done by Democrats? Silly me. Those were actually stunts pulled by the Republican leadership back in the days when the Republicans were in the majority. How soon they forget. Or maybe they think we're so dumb that we'll forget.
Actually, the more you look at it, "hope the American people are so dumb they'll forget the last eight years" seems to be exactly the current Republican strategy. How else can you explain the Republican "plan" to resurrect the economy, which is basically nothing but tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts?
They're apparently hoping and praying that nobody will ask the question, "If tax cuts alone will save the economy, how'd we get into this mess after eight years of Bush tax cuts?" Or maybe they think we're so dumb we'll blame two years of a Democratic-controlled Congress and ignore the fact that that Congress didn't repeal those tax cuts that were supposed to be so great for the economy.
It would also explain the Republican glorification of ignorance and amateurism, which finds its most common expression in bitter denunciations of anyone who shows any sign of being informed or intelligent as an "elitist" and a rhetorical style that consists mainly of variations on "you think you're pretty smart, don't you?"
Rep. Cantor still insists that the Republicans are "committed to working with President Obama to find real economic solutions." Oh, really? You mean the way the Republicans demanded concessions in the stimulus bill, the Democrats agreed to them, and every single one of the Republicans in the House voted against the bill anyway?
You mean the way President Obama came to Capitol Hill to confer with Republicans on the bill, and Minority leader John Boehner announced before he'd even gotten there that he'd instructed the Republican caucus to vote against it?
You mean the way Republican Sen. Judd Gregg claimed he'd be interested in the job of commerce secretary, got a commitment that the Democratic governor of New Hampshire would appoint only a Republican in his place, then withdrew his nomination like a jerky high school kid yanking away an offered handshake and yelling "PSYCH!" That's your idea of "commitment to working with President Obama"? This is like saying Lucy is committed to working with Charlie Brown to kick the ball.
Despite it all, President Obama has said he intends to keep working on the whole bipartisanship thing. "The president is always going to reach out to people of both parties," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Washington Post. "That's what he's always wanted. He wants a lot of ideas."
So it looks like this will be Obama's pattern for a while: Reach out a hand, get it slapped aside, get his agenda passed anyway, then have the Republicans whine and cry about being left out. Personally, I think it makes Obama look like he's being played for a chump. But then, I'm willing to admit the possibility that a black guy with an Arab-sounding name who managed to confound the conventional wisdom, beat the presumptive nominee of his party and go on to get elected president may just be smarter than me.
And unlike the Republicans, I don't see that as a downside.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.
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