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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 23, 2006

 
Do The Right Thing

by digby


I'm glad to see someone with Paul Krugman's profile also making the case against going soft if the Democrats take over the congress. (I agree completely.)

I just heard poor little John Cornyn whining about the horrible mean partisanship of Nancy Pelosi, so they are already working themselves into a tantrum.

Krugman says:

Now that the Democrats are strongly favored to capture at least one house of Congress, they’re getting a lot of unsolicited advice, with many people urging them to walk and talk softly if they win.

I hope the Democrats don’t follow this advice — because it’s bad for their party and, more important, bad for the country. In the long run, it’s even bad for the cause of bipartisanship.

There are those who say that a confrontational stance will backfire politically on the Democrats. These are by and large the same people who told Democrats that attacking the Bush administration over Iraq would backfire in the midterm elections. Enough said.

Political considerations aside, American voters deserve to have their views represented in Congress. And according to opinion polls, most Americans are actually to the left of Congressional Democrats on issues such as health care.

In particular, the public wants politicians to stand up to corporate interests. This is clear from the latest Newsweek poll, which shows overwhelming public support for the agenda Nancy Pelosi has laid out for her first 100 hours if she becomes House speaker. The strongest support is for her plan to have Medicare negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, which is supported by 74 percent of Americans — and by 70 percent of Republicans!

What the make-nice crowd wants most of all is for the Democrats to forswear any investigations into the origins of the Iraq war and the cronyism and corruption that undermined it. But it’s very much in the national interest to find out what led to the greatest strategic blunder in American history, so that it won’t happen again.

What’s more, the public wants to know. A large majority of Americans believe both that invading Iraq was a mistake, and that the Bush administration deliberately misled us into war. And according to the Newsweek poll, 58 percent of Americans believe that investigating contracting in Iraq isn’t just a good idea, but a high priority; 52 percent believe the same about investigating the origins of the war.


I was struck by this too. There is an appetite for putting things right in Washington and that means that an accounting is due. Most adults understand that people must be responsible for their actions. Indeed, Republicans were the ones who used to make a fetish of it. Now that they have made a mess of things, not so much.


Why, then, should the Democrats hold back? Because, we’re told, the country needs less divisiveness. And I, too, would like to see a return to kinder, gentler politics. But that’s not something Democrats can achieve with a group hug and a chorus of “Kumbaya.”

The reason we have so much bitter partisanship these days is that that’s the way the radicals who have taken over the Republican Party want it. People like Grover Norquist, who once declared that “bipartisanship is another name for date rape,” push for a hard-right economic agenda; people like Karl Rove make that agenda politically feasible, even though it’s against the interests of most voters, by fostering polarization, using religion and national security as wedge issues.

As long as polarization is integral to the G.O.P.’s strategy, Democrats can’t do much, if anything, to narrow the partisan divide.

Even if they try to act in a bipartisan fashion, their opponents will find a way to divide the nation — which is what happened to the great surge of national unity after 9/11. One thing we might learn from investigations is the extent to which the Iraq war itself was motivated by the desire to have another wedge issue.

There are those who believe that the partisan gap can be bridged if the Democrats nominate an attractive presidential candidate who speaks in uplifting generalities. But they must have been living under a rock these past 15 or so years. Whoever the Democrats nominate will feel the full force of the Republican slime machine. And it doesn’t matter if conservatives have nice things to say about a Democrat now. Once the campaign gets serious, they’ll suddenly question his or her patriotism and discover previously unmentioned but grievous character flaws.


This is exactly correct. The chattering classes are all abuzz with the notion that now is the time to bind up the nation's wounds and work across the aisle. (I can't help but wonder why they didn't see the need for such rapproachment during the last decade of slash and burn GOP partisanship.) This pattern is well documented. They will continue to drain the treasury and play our their "movement" experiments and then have the democrats step up and clean up the messes they make until this is stopped. The conservative movment is a failure and it must not be allowed to govern this country anymore with its lies, debts and dangerous foreign policy.

We are confronting some very serious problems right now, only one of which is terrorism. The Republicans have destroyed our international reputation at the very time when we need global cooperation. And they have driven the nation itself into the ditch dividing the country with their polarizing wedge politics and blaming everyone but themselves for their failures.

The Democrats have to be the "grown-ups" yes. And one of the unpleasant tasks will be figuring out what went wrong, putting safeguards in place so the same things don't happen again and making people take responsibility for their actions. That is what adults do. Letting bygones be bygones and simply blathering on about how we all need to put the unpleasantness behind us and get along will not win the respect of the American people nor will it fix the problems this nation faces. (That, after all, is the indulgent mommy model that the Republicans have been using as a club to beat us over the head with for the last 30 years. No more.)

Now, politicians can make speeches about bipartisanship and sing kumbaaya all they want. I'm sure it is a very soothing tune. But the Democratic party had best not forget that the actions a Democratic majority takes in the next two years will determine if the American people can trust them to defend the nation and fix the mess going forward. It's very hard to see how that will happen if they capitualte to John Cornyn's whimpering about how mean and nasty they are.

The polls show that the American people are behind them and the world is behind them. For the good of the party, the good of the country and the good of the planet, they just have to tough out the criticism they will receive from the mincing GOP courtiers in the press and the blubbering, wailing Republicans, and Do. The. Right. Thing.



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