In today’s WSJ, McCain’s Vote Should Trouble Obama
Only a month ago, with Mr. Obama holding a dinner in Mr. McCain’s honor, it wasn’t hard to imagine the two coming together on the big challenges facing our nation. But now Mr. McCain has come out strongly against the stimulus in a spirited dissent suggesting that the whole process was a “bad beginning” for someone who promised a new spirit of bipartisanship. That ought to give White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pause, if only because it wasn’t all that long ago that Barack Obama was speaking the same way.
In a passage from his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he sounds like a Republican complaining about the stimulus. “Genuine bipartisanship,” he wrote, “assumes an honest process of give-and-take, and that the quality of the compromise is measured by how well it serves some agreed-upon goal, whether better schools or lower deficits. This in turn assumes that the majority will be constrained — by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate — to negotiate in good faith.
“For the minority party in such circumstances, ‘bipartisanship’ comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist.'”
That’s all well and fine but now there are a number of things in play:
1. When Obama wrote those words, he and the Democrats were not in the White House. Much easier for people to preach bipartisanship when they aren’t.
3. Then there’s the toxicity of the “stimulus” itself. The Republicans like McCain who sincerely believe this bill will not stimulate the economy – and might tank the economy – are not going to vote for it as the bill stands now. Any kind of honest bipartisan negotiation would have taken time and openness, which clearly wasn’t going to happen.
Ergo, the steamrolling.
The WSJ asks,
Now that he’s got his bill, it will be instructive to see if he will be held to that standard by an “exacting” press corps he says is essential to ensuring that a ruling party negotiates in good faith.
I don’t expect them to.