Today Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com joins the pushback against Republican critics of the president’s alleged abandonment of “bipartisanship” and pursuit of “polarization,” a subject I wrote about last week. One problem with the theory, Nate suggests, is that GOPers haven’t exactly been making good-faith efforts to compromise:
If there is a credible case to be made that the Republicans — or at least the House Republicans — started out with any intentions of compromising, I have yet to see it. Instead, the House Republicans voted as a near-uniform block against issues as trivial as a bill to delay the date of the digital TV changeover. Not only have they not compromised, but they never seemed to have any intention to do so.
But Nate then raises a more pertinent question: what, exactly, would the critics have Obama do? Abandon his own agenda in favor of theirs?
What isn’t clear to me, however, is what exactly folks like [Jay] Cost would have liked the Administration to have done differently. Obama pressed hard — although with some hiccups — on the stimulus package, but its magnitude was less than what many liberals were hoping for. He is attempting to push forward, through his budget, issues like health care and cap-and-trade, but these things were at the core of his positioning throughout the primaries and general election.
Meanwhile, Obama has angered the left on a number of issues ranging from the decision to have Rick Warren give the invocation at the inaugural, to the bank bailout, to his abortive attempt to name Judd Gregg as his commerce secretary, to his appointment of Larry Summers, to his committing additional troops to Afghanistan, to his position on state secrets. Obama has also come in for some liberal fire for his purported lack of urgency on issues like the Employee Free Choice Act and repealing the ban on openly gay troops in the military.
The bottom line is that a lot of the conservative carping about Obama’s “partisanship” is so disingenuous that its authors are exhibiting a lot of chutzpah in accusing the president of dishonesty about his intentions.
UPCATEGORY: Democratic Strategist
I disagree strongly with Jay’s analysis of Obama and polarization, but he’s being entirely straightforward in his arguments.