Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Modern Republicans are Separatists and Divisionists

It started under Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and it lingers on today!

by Charlie Leck
Yesterday I wrote the following blog for publication today... BEFORE I watched the live Presidential Press Conference yesterday following the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. This seems to negate a few of the things I expressed worry about in this blog. At first blush this appears to be a huge step in the direction of bi-partisanship in the Congress. I hope this initiative from the White House works. If most of the Senators and Representatives set aside their egos and
self-interests, it will.

It’s odd to hear congressional Republicans complaining about the Democratic Party, under Polosi and Reed, ramroding things through Congress. ‘Ey what?

At least the House and Senate leaders have made an effort to bring Republicans into the legislative planning process. That’s more than Republicans were willing to do in those days under George W. Bush when they controlled Congress with an iron fist and kept Democrats completely out of the loop. They approved everything that George W. Bush wanted and killed anything he told them to kill.

Don’t have a short memory here! The Republicans from 2000 through 2008 ran the most partisan Congress in the history of the United States. They showed no shame about it. It was part of their political revolution planned by Karl Rove and supported by its main cheerleader, Vice President Dick Cheney.

Those Republicans not only didn’t invite Democrats to participate in legislative planning, they gave the minority leaders the proverbial finger. Don’t forget this.

Contrast it with the current Democratic style that has sought out and virtually pleaded for Republican input into the current wave of legislation designed to stimulate the economy.

The Republican response may as well be orchestrated and directed by Rush Limbaugh and his “I hope they fail” attitude.

Republican legislators offer no constructive in-put into turning America around. They sit back and wait for the collapse so they can blame this new administration.

I note two things about this approach:

  1. It’s a big gamble on the part of the Grand Old Party.
  2. Shame on them! They’re a disgrace!

What has happened to the concept of “the loyal opposition?” Sheryl Gay Stolberg, writing in the New York Times, calls that “old school.”

A new attitude was rung in under the House leadership of Newt Gingrich who waged yearly sessions in the House as if they were wars rather than a process of rational legislative planning. As a result of the Rove-Gingrich approach, any legislator who breaks with the ranks of the Party will pay a steep political price.

No representatives in the House voted with/for the Obama stimulus plan. In the Senate, three Republican Senators voted for/with the Democrats, including the two Senators from Maine, Olympia Snow and Susan Collins. The two are both considered centrists. Arlen Spector, the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania also voted for the bill. I think Spector clearly saw how his state voted this year in the Presidential election and he went with the will of the people. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of political price they may pay.

There’s no question but that Obama has to take some of the blame for the lack of Republican involvement. He clearly should have involved Republicans much earlier in the bill's drafting process.

Snowe is a particularly bright and wise Senator. So is Spector. Obama would be well served to court them and work with them and to regularly seek out their advice.

One of the great accomplishments of an Obama presidency could be a restoration of the concept of “the loyal opposition.” It’s something he’ll have to work diligently on.

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