Bipartisanship is just another word for big lie one-party rule.
As patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, bipartisanship is the last refuge of the partisan. For Sunday’s vote on the Senate health care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore a light purple suit, literally wrapping herself in the color of bipartisanship. Rep. David Obey, who was presiding, wore a purple necktie, as President Obama did during his State of the Union address. Pelosi spoke of the 200 Republican amendments included in the bill that everyone knows doesn’t contain a single major Republican idea.
The health care reform bill was a partisan Democrat smorgasbord of taxes, regulations and entitlement. There was nothing bipartisan about it, but there the Democrats were, wearing their purple and attacking Republicans for uniformly opposing the bill that didn’t have any Republican votes because it didn’t earn any.
It was a sign of how surreal American politics has become. Stagecraft and spin trump facts; symbolism and rhetoric trump truth. Though 34 Democrats voted against the bill, making opposition to it the only bipartisan act of the day, anyone absorbing the theatrics might be misled, as intended, into thinking that the majority was acting out of a spirit of bipartisan unity while the minority was stewing, recalcitrant, in its own hate and bile.
Campaigning in New Hampshire in October of 2007, Sen. Obama said, “We’re not going to pass universal health care with a, with a 50-plus-one strategy.” Ah, the old, bipartisan Obama Americans thought they were electing. If only they’d gotten that guy as president instead of Mr. “I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.”
That’s what Obama told House Republican Whip Eric Cantor in January of 2009 when Republicans objected to parts of the stimulus bill. That would be the “bipartisan” stimulus bill that, like the health care bill, seemed written expressly to irritate Republicans.
“Both at the state legislative level and at the federal legislative level, I have always been able to work together with Republicans to find compromise and to find common ground,” Obama said during the campaign, selling himself as one who will compromise with Republicans, not ram through legislation they oppose, not treat them as the enemy.
Endorsing Obama in the New Hampshire primary, the Valley News wrote, “Ultimately, though, the case for Obama is not just what he proposes to do but how he proposes to do it…. He seeks reconciliation — at home and abroad — and steps forward, ready to speak a language of common understanding.”
That was the myth Obama manufactured because he thought it gave him an advantage over Hillary Clinton and would play well in a general election. Clinton opted to cast herself as a liberal fighter against evil Republicans. Obama outflanked her by campaigning as a unifier who would bring America together by ending petty partisan games in Washington.
“He will be a real uniter, not just in words,” one New Hampshire voter, seduced by the rhetoric, said just weeks before the primary. Though Obama’s myth-making didn’t win a majority of New Hampshire Democrats, it did win a majority of Americans. They really believed it.
But that doesn’t change fact that that Obama is, in fact, highly partisan. He could buy Prince’s entire wardrobe and sing “Purple Rain” at the Super Bowl halftime show and that wouldn’t make him any less blue. Theatrics and rhetoric don’t make one bipartisan; actually reaching out to the other side and working to craft legislation that incorporates opposition ideas does. How does the health care bill fare by that score?
Well, as Greg Sargent pointed out yesterday, Social Security and Medicare both passed with bipartisan support in Congress; Obamacare didn’t.
Obama and Pelosi blame that on GOP obstructionism. But the GOP was obstructionist because the Democrats’ attitude was, “I won. So, I think on that one, I trump you.” The majority didn’t reach out to the minority or work in good faith to incorporate minority party ideas to craft a middle-of-the-road bill. As a result, the public erupted in opposition, too. The latest health care poll, conducted by CNN over the weekend, shows that 59 percent of Americans oppose the bill and only 39 percent support it. Is 60 percent of the American public being obstructionist, too? No; like Republicans, they’re angry at being ignored.
The promise of a post-partisan America unified by Obama’s gentle, inclusive leadership had about as much chance of coming true as Darth Vader’s promise to rule the universe hand-in-hand with Luke. It was always a fantasy, a Jedi mind trick played on the entire country at once.
And Obama’s still trying to play it. His rhetoric remains sweet and seductive, his speech laced with talk of unity and togetherness. But his actions are dividing the country. They show that he doesn’t really care about unifying the nation or ending business as usual in Washington. Judging by his actions, his one and only priority is to build permanent public monuments to himself by expanding the welfare state to control every area of life that it doesn’t already control. He’s already got health care. What’s next?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?