by Max Brantley
Ernie Dumas this week provides a little historical perspective on the rigid partisanship that defines debate in Washington and Little Rock. It's not new by any means.
But Dumas goes on to make the case that the motives today make the outcome worse. In Washington, it's no longer so much a philosophical debate about what's best for the country but how the Republicans in Congress can ensure that President Obama fails.
The voting rules as dictated by Republicans now prevent a vote in either house on any matter that the party’s extremists do not want a vote on. Sixty percent of the Senate must consent to any important vote. The operative rule in the House of Representatives is that no vote will occur unless a bare majority of Republicans — 118 Republicans in a membership of 435—wants it to. Never has the House been so undemocratic. Thus another year will pass without Congress making it possible for millions of underwater homeowners to refinance their mortgages and rejoin the economic mainstream, which would be a huge shot for the languid economy.
No part of the president’s program will get a vote. In his state of the union address, the president begged Congress just to vote. Vote no and defeat the bills and nominations if you please, but just vote, he said. But that would suggest that the country was on a glide path to safety. Mustn’t happen.
The Affordable Care Act and any of its parts must not succeed. The worst of all possible outcomes is that a large majority will come to see it as a very good thing. What if they should begin to say, “I still hate the dusky fellow with the Middle Eastern name, but who misled us about his health- care thing?”
Thus, a minority in the Arkansas legislature who were elected on campaigns to oppose Obama and Obamacare will prevent more than 215,000 poor working families from getting health insurance and stop billions of dollars in health-care assistance at the state line.
Routine cabinet appointments, including a conservative Republican war hero as defense secretary, are blocked or delayed so that the administration seems in perpetual disarray. A fiscal cliff, such as the prospect of the country not paying the bills run up by prior Republican governments, must always lie ahead so that uncertainty hangs over the
economy and the financial sector.
If the economy is growing robustly, the deficit coming down, medical inflation plunging and the government running smoothly, people might get the wrong idea about Obama.
In the end you have to frame in a word they love but hate in this context. Is this really patriotic?