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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Re: “Bipartisanship” Benefits Them, Not Us

posted by on January 30 at 12:31 PM

Thanks for waiting till Wednesday, Erica, that was very courteous.

If you read Greenwald’s column, and I suggest you do, he decries the goofy “this country needs more bipartisanship” whining coming from surrogates for Bloomberg. I too think that whining is stupid, and should either be ignored or coopted. But what does this have to do with Obama?

First, Obama has apparently passed the smell test for being open to bipartisanship. An Obama-McCain contest still appears to be the one ballot that keeps Bloomberg out of the race. (In case you’ve forgotten, keeping the pro-gay-marriage Bloomberg out of the race benefits Democrats.)

Now let’s figure out what Obama means when he brags about his bipartisan record. Obama has demonstrated bipartisan leadership on the following happy fuzzy togetherness issues:

Avian flu preparedness

Meaningful ethics reform

Badly needed death penalty reforms in the Illinois State Senate

None of these bipartisan efforts is the least bit objectionable to progressive Ds. But you know what bipartisan effort should draw your ire? Hillary Clinton’s pandering cosponsorship of a bill to make flag-burning illegal.

You gotta be smart about bipartisanship—you gotta claim the mantle, but not cede the ground. Obama’s claiming, and it’s working; Clinton’s ceding, and it’s failing. Rhetoric is a beautiful thing.

RSS icon Comments


Please stop being sarcastic. It doesn't help the writing and seems unnecessarily defensive.

Posted by please | January 30, 2008 12:49 PM


also, if Obama is elected President and there's enough D's in the Senate to get anything done, he call talk Bipartisanship all day long while enacting a D agenda, just as Bush always acted as though it was bipartisan to have Lieberman stand next to him on stuff passed on otherwise party-line votes

Posted by bill | January 30, 2008 1:00 PM

Right on as always, Annie.

Posted by Fnarf | January 30, 2008 1:04 PM

Make sure ECB steps off the flag before you burn it.

Good post, Annie.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 30, 2008 1:08 PM

@2, Good point, Bill, and I'll be Mister Obama's coat-tails would be a lot longer than Ms Clinton's...

Posted by Andy Niable | January 30, 2008 1:11 PM

("bet", that is, not "be")

Posted by Andy Niable | January 30, 2008 1:12 PM

@1: No, I'm serious. ECB held fire yesterday while I got my section out the door. We play fair!

Posted by annie | January 30, 2008 1:22 PM

I didn't bother to respond on the original post (ECB seems to only reply to trolls and other slog writers, so why bother), but the funny thing is the right wing blogs say the exact same thing. "Bipartisanship is whatever the MSM wants" and "Bipartisanship means we surrender to the Dems" etc. They claim that bi-p is always worse for their side than the other.
The interesting thing is that when it's said on the right, it's usually heard (in my own personal experience, not claiming a study of the literature here) coming from the more hard-core, undebatable, closed-minded editors and bloggers, not those who actually want things done. Hmmm.

Posted by torrentprime | January 30, 2008 1:22 PM

Another thing: this is a feature of Clinton's campaign arguments that is really infuriating. It's right out of the Bush and Rove playbook, which they have adopted because they think you have to be dishonest in order to win. She is taking a positive feature of her opponent, and claiming that it's HERS; and claiming that her opponent embodies a negative that more closely resembles herself. If your opponent is a war hero, tag him "coward", "soft on defense". If your record is spotty, brag about it as if you were solid. It's this kind of thing that has some success on the ground, but poisons the whole debate and drives people away from both of you.

The plain fact is, Clinton in fact has absolutely ZERO success, in the course of all the experience she brags about, in achieving the kind of results she claims she'll be able to. While Obama DOES have a track record of doing exactly that.

Am I that I think politics can be better than that? Yes, I am. Am I right? Maybe not. Maybe Rovian tactics ARE necessary. That seems to be Clinton's, and Erica's, argument -- that soft platitudes won't survive against the wave of pure evil that's coming, that only by being ten times the bastard can you defeat the bastards. Maybe that's true. But I think many, many people are desirous of getting away from that kind of scorched earth politics.

Posted by Fnarf | January 30, 2008 1:22 PM

Well said Fnarf! I like the term "scorched earth politics".

Posted by Clint | January 30, 2008 1:34 PM

Oh, and I forgot one: nuclear non-proliferation, also with Lugar.

Posted by annie | January 30, 2008 1:41 PM

Good point, Fnarf.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 30, 2008 1:49 PM

Democrats don't have the stomach or the infrastructure to play as dirty as the Republicans.

The Republicans have been building this shit up for decades within traditional politics and in the media (Hello, right wing radio!). The Dems don't have the infrastructure of bat-shit crazies to attack the opposition. They also don't have tried and true methods of using candidates' strengths against them.

As Fnarf points out in #9, Clinton is using some of this against Obama, but I'm not counting on her using it against McCain. She and other Dems are novices at that kind of dirty politics. The Republicans are experts.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 30, 2008 1:56 PM

Nice, Fnarf. That's the story of this whole Dem runup to the election, and Obama's been playing this story the entire time: He's for moving on from the partisan attacks, and partisan attacks is what the name Clinton brings to mind. Hillary is trying to get away from that rhetorically and by showing her work in the Senate in the past 6 years, but her supporters (ECB) don't wanna let her.

Posted by NaFun | January 30, 2008 2:06 PM
You gotta be smart about bipartisanship—you gotta claim the mantle, but not cede the ground. Obama’s claiming, and it’s working

Annie gets it.

Preach on.

Posted by tsm | January 30, 2008 2:20 PM

Obama is starting to kick some serious butt, and indicating what a general election showdown with McCain might look like. Unless, of course, you prefer another round of "I voted for the war before I voted against it."

Posted by kk | January 30, 2008 2:37 PM

Good point, Annie.

I want to recommend Mark Schmitt's article on the "theory of change." Obama isn't naive about bipartisanship. If you believe Schmitt's analysis, anyway, it's a pretty sophisticated tactic on his part.

Posted by Frank | January 30, 2008 3:19 PM

Bloomberg? You mean Giuliani-lite? Let him get control of his drug-dealing, bridegroom killing police force first, before he tries for a more complex job.

Posted by Nicky Negative | January 30, 2008 3:42 PM

Remember, if you can't get a war started with lies, get some gullible media folks to pass on the lies for you, so that people feel comfortable voting for Red Bushies like McCain.

In the end, it's all about the permanent military bases and the ten to twenty years of useless war that fills your Red comrades pockets ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 30, 2008 4:30 PM

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