by tristero

Duncan says:
...Dems should've pushed the best plan that could pass the Senate instead of pushing some pointless fantasy about bipartisanship.
And Nate says:
But does it do the [Republican] party as a whole any good for having opposed the bill unanimously? With headlines like the one in the Associated Press, it's hard to imagine so. Their unanimous opposition reads as an emphatic rejection of the President and the President's attempts at "bipartisanship". And the President is very popular right now
I don't think, in either case, that is exactly what's going on. I think it's far more ominous than that. I think "be afraid, be very afraid" is the only attitude that makes sense of both Obama's call for bipartisanship - which is hardly pointless -and the GOP's refusal of same in the face of the president's popularity.

The rejection of bipartisanship by the Republicans should be perceived in terms of their long term strategy. They know that the depression has just begun. The worse is yet to come. How bad will it be? Far worse than anyone so far has imagined, and we've all imagined it as pretty bad. It will exceed our most extreme fantasies. (In fact, my father, who turns 100 next month (!) said this is shaping up as much worse than the thirties; I think he may be right.) The GOP knows that no feasible stimulus plan, no matter how large or well-crafted, can avert catastrophe. They intend to refuse to go along with anything Obama proposes, wait until disaster hits,and then - counting on the country's short memory span as well as the complicity of the media - blame Obama, Democrats, and liberalism for destroying the economy.

Obama also knows that economic disaster cannot be avoided and that it will be far worse than anything anyone alive - other than centenarians like my Dad - has ever seen; that's why his inaugural address was so grim. He also knows that no stimulus plan will work. And he knows he will be blamed for it when the misery adds up. Therefore, he is trying like hell to get the GOP to sign up, at least partially, for his proposal so he can spread the blame, This is after all, a time-honored political tactic, used by Bush, for example, to claim bipartisan authorization for the invasion of Iraq.

Since the GOP won't ever play - they're not stupid about their self-interest, after all - what is to be done? First, like Duncan, I think the Obama administration must propose the most responsible stimulus package they can, focused entirely on serious efforts to prop up the economy rather than appeasing the Republicans' special interests. Furthermore, they must propose legislation that protects as much as possible the middle class and the poor from the economic tsunami the Bush administration unleashed on this country and that has only begun to be felt. It may not work in staving off an economic collapse, but the crash will be so bad that any amelioration of its effects will be useful.

Naturally, Obama needs to take the high road and continue to call for "bipartisanship." But, as the GOP continuously refuses to go along, the Democratic party, and progressives, must attack on two fronts. First, they must accuse the GOP of lack of patriotism, of refusing to support the president in a time of extreme crisis. Second, they must never, not for a single news cycle, let the country forget that a Republican president, and a Republican legislature is to blame for the dreadful shape of the US economy.

Remember: as Limbaugh said, Republicans want the president and his policies to fail. Their refusal, to a person, to vote for the stimulus bill demonstrates that they expect the worst to happen no matter what is done. They intend fully to exploit that. Remember Carter's "maliaise" and Reagan's "morning in America?" Republicans see a repeat of that dynamic, but this time on steroids. That is why we must never let the country forget who wrecked the economy: George W. Bush, his Republican enablers in Congress, and the literally bankrupt philosophy of conservatism.