The Tattered Banner Of Common Sense

by digby

Am I the only one who finds it interesting that partisanship is back in fashion now that the Republicans are acting like political kamikazees? After overdosing for months on the cotton candy dreams of post-partisan comity, gasbags everywhere are suddenly hailing ruthless obstructionism as completely natural and a sign of a healthy, principled democracy.

Here's Richard Cohen blithely discussing it as if he's been making the argument for years:

Gregg's turnabout was supposedly an embarrassment for the new Obama administration -- and I suppose it was. But it also was a moment of realism, of clarity, of an antidotal repudiation to all the gauzy talk about partisanship -- about how it is always pernicious and usually silly: games for the sake of games. What Gregg showed was that ideology matters, ideas count, beliefs divide -- and legitimately so -- and that he could go only so far and no further. He decided to be true to himself.

Something of the same has prevailed since the inauguration. Congressional Republicans have made a stand on the stimulus package, just as they did on the original bank bailout when they refused to accommodate a president of their own party, George W. Bush. These Republicans are as wrong as wrong can be, and history, I am sure, will mock them, but they were not elected by history, and they are impervious to mockery from the likes of me. They come from conservative districts, and they are voting as their people want them to. That's partisanship. It is also democracy.

The desire to think that political differences are manufactured and can be sweet-smiled into consensus is touching but unrealistic.

I don't actually disagree with that, but I am just a teensy bit skeptical of these villagers' sudden embrace of political warfare. After all, how many years have we been listening to these very same people lecture us about the virtues of "civility" and consensus in columns like this:

[S]ome of us cherish moderation, recoil from conspiracy theories and would like, if possible, to stick to the facts. We may dislike Bush's policies, but we do not vitriolically hate the man, think he stole the election or blame our own country for the crimes of Sept. 11. We are the proud Purples -- once the royal color, now the tattered banner of common sense.

But now that the rump Republicans are out of power and have called for jihad against the Democratic agenda during a time of crisis, hysterical partisanship is actually principled opposition and is to be celebrated. How convenient. I guess as long as they don't call Obama a bad word, it's all good.

By the way, Cohen has other ideas about Democrats sticking to principles, as you might have guessed. Like all villagers, his principles only derive from his own personal experience. Therefore (because he has a gay sister), he sees gay rights as a principle worth fighting for. Abortion, not so much. (Somerby amusingly characterized him as an aging roue who's changed his position because he can no longer get college girls pregnant. If you read the silly column, you'll understand why. Oy.)