Saturday, February 14, 2009

Republicans are patting themselves on the back for not voting for the stimulus bill.

The modern Republican party is truly beyond me. I cannot truly believe that so many people elected to public office can be so small minded and self centered. Yes, sure, I know there are going to be many, many areas where Republicans and Democrats disagree with each other. But there really has to be a time when they stop playing games and work to find common areas where both parties can come together and help this county. And this would seem to be one of those times. See this post on the finanacial crisis.

But no. Republicans are bound and deteremined to be “the opposition party” both in name and spirit. Anything the Democrats want to do is either bad, so they must oppose it, or else it might actually be good and if it works, that would be good for the Democrats, and they must oppose it as well. They have pretty much admitted that is their mindset these days. The last two elections have taught them absolutely nothing.

I must give President Obama a lot of credit for trying to get bipartisan support for this stimulus bill. There are many good reasons what that, in principle, would be a good thing to do. But the Republicans, after they initially made some hopeful signals, reverted to their true form. Zero votes from the House Republicans, three votes from Senate Republicans. And they are congratulating themselves on this! Michael Steele, the new leader of the Republican party, said “The big fat goose egg you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful!” They are congratulating themselves for this, and are going around making statements like, “I hope the White House learned their lesson!”

You know what? I think that the White House may have indeed learned their lesson. However, it’s not the one that the Republicans may have desired. I found this quote from a post at Washington Monthly.

Advisers concluded that they allowed the measure of bipartisanship to be defined as winning Republican votes rather than bringing civility to the debate, distracting attention from what have otherwise been major legislative victories. Although Mr. Obama vowed to keep reaching out to Republicans, advisers now believe the environment will probably not change in coming months.

Rather than forging broad consensus with Republicans, the Obama advisers said they would have to narrow their ambitions and look for discrete areas where they might build temporary coalitions based on regional interests rather than party, as on energy legislation. They said they would also turn to Republican governors for support -- a tactic that showed promise during the debate over the economic package -- even if they found few Republican allies in Washington.

So, what it looks like to me has happened is that the Republicans shot themselves in the foot on this one. And it took them all of three weeks as the minority party! They are proud of trying to scuttle a measure that around 65 percent of the country wants! They have cut themselves out of future deliberations on controversial issues. The working assumption by President Obama might now be that Republicans are going to obstruct anything that he wants to accomplish, so might as well go around them. Truthfully, this is the advice that many progessive bloggers and columnists have been giving Obama since Day One. But it looks like he may have learned his lesson the hard way.

The Republicans may have also learned a hard lesson. However, I am thinking that the current crop of Republicans, except for a tiny minority, has such rock hard heads that absolutely nothing is going to soak in. Such will be the next four years, and most likely, eight. They appear, to me, to be working tirelessly to make themselves irrelevant. But, as long as they can feel all righteous and indignant while doing so, I guess that's all they want.

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