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Ear to the Ground

Frank Rich Blasts Bipartisanship

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Posted on Sep 28, 2011
Flickr / Anthony Baker

With an eye on the ruthlessly partisan strategies, tactics and proposed policies of the Republican contenders for the White House, former New York Times columnist Frank Rich assigns a poor grade to Obama’s efforts to reach across the aisle while Americans are driven mad by an economy in disrepair.

“Sometimes blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, and moms and dads cannot reconcile their differences,” he writes. “Sometimes the negotiations and compromises that are the crux of politics are nonoperative. This is one of those times. The other side has no interest in striking grand bargains or even small ones. It wants not so much to reform government, a worthy goal, as to auction off its parts and distribute the proceeds to its corporate backers.” —ARK

Frank Rich in New York Magazine:

As these elites see it, Obama must always hold his fire because we are perennially just one step away from the nirvana of national unity, no matter how glaring the evidence to the contrary. A classic example was a David Brooks column headlined “The Grand Bargain Lives!” published on July 22 of this year and predicting an Obama–John Boehner mind meld on a far-reaching debt-reduction deal. That same day, embarrassingly enough, those negotiations collapsed, with Obama complaining that Boehner hadn’t returned his calls and Boehner stating that “the deal was never reached, and was never really close.” Brooks, who also flogged the unheeded Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission as “the only way to realistically fix this problem,” has merely picked up where the Polonius of bipartisan Washington punditry, David Broder of the Washington Post, left off when he died in March. So beguiled was Broder after the “Gang of Fourteen” halted filibusters (temporarily) on judicial appointments that in 2007 he wrote that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell had “forged a personal relationship of unusual trust,” setting off a “powerful current toward consensus building” in the Senate.

This delusional faith in comity reached its apotheosis in the debt-ceiling showdown. With the reliable exception of Paul Krugman, who shuns Washington and calls centrism “the cult that is destroying America,” almost every Establishment observer in our own time bought into the magical thinking that the radical Republicans would never go so far as to risk a default of the American government. Only when the tea-party cabal in the House took Washington hostage did it fully dawn on the Beltway gentry that the country was in danger. But even now, Obama keeps being urged to make nice with the rebels so that he can woo independents, who, we’re constantly told, value bipartisanship every bit as much as the pundits do. The “all-important independent voters,” as the “Lexington” columnist at The Economist recycled the conventional wisdom earlier this month, “are said to be looking for a president who defuses partisan tensions, rather than inflaming them.” Said by whom? Mainly other Washington bloviators.

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By Jay - Ottawa, September 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The DNA of Yellow Dog Democrats tells them to blame just about everything that
goes wrong on the Republican Party.  Next, Yellow Dogs stick with the party’s
candidate, no matter how incompetent, or no matter how much he gratuitously
betrayed the millions who voted for him and for change.  What a pity to discover
that Frank Rich is a Yellow Dog Democrat.

The main problem of the past three years has not been the Republicans.

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By litlpeep, September 29, 2011 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Yes, he did blast Obama’s bipartisanship.  He did not blast bipartisanship in general; he blasted the radical partisanship of the right wing for Obama’s failed presidency.

That’s too bad.  Obama’s presidency failed for the same reason his former supporters no longer see in him anything worth supporting.

The failure is that absence of any conscience in President Obama.  It isn’t even that a president, in order to lead a great nation, sometime must make unconscionable compromises.  That is classical bipartisanship.

What we have seen is a failure of any bipartisanship in Obama; he has only supported the partisan extreme ideological economism of the radical right wingers.  That economism is no different from the rest of the radical right wing extremism.  Obama’s problem is he has too little political and intellectual and spiritual sophistication with which to integrate and find the central balance within the various extremisims, right, left, and off the charts.

In other words, Obama is not competent to preside.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a serious issue, except that no other democrats are willing to even try to replace Obama on the D ticket; and no Republican is even remotely (GWB could concievably have been remotely interested; he, like Obama, simply was incapable) interested in presiding.

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By LA_CC, September 29, 2011 at 1:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@keepyourheaddown - way to elevate the

The article is correct. One needs to look a bit
closer at the so-called Independents. These mostly
go to one side or the other. Apparently, they just
don’t like identifying with a particular political
party. On one hand, I don’t blame them for that -
as both suck.OTOH, both parties need to realize
this and stand their ground and let the chips fall
where they may. I think if the Dems had done more
of this, the country would be better off. Too bad
we had the triangulator, though the Rep probably
would have been worse. We need new energy in the
Dem party or a new, viable 3rd party.

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By poodfreemon, September 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lessons I’ve learned:

“All governments operate by myth, fraud and ultimately force.”

[If you could dedicate your full 100% allegiance right now, to what and/or
whom would you dedicate everything you’ve got, inside and out?]

“All governments are criminal networks, each with its own style.”

[How would you describe (and, please… name names) the criminality inherent
in American politics, in 100 words or less?]

[On a zero-to-ten scale how would you rate your Trust Factor regarding US
politicians at all levels, as a group?]

[We all know that nationalism is a “1984” mind game. We all know that the
word “politics” is a softening euphemism for the word “corruption.”]

“Nothing big gets accomplished on this planet without a little or a lot of

[Can you imagine Frank Rich and Matt Taibbi as the speech writers for Barack
Obama? Barack is one human being. He can’t do it alone. He has no desire to
win this battle by himself.]

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By Ed LaBonte, September 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

Obama is the Nevil Chamberlain of the American class war.

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By felicity, September 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Isn’t this a case of Democrats ‘hiding’ behind
Republicans?  Some, maybe a lot, of Democrats in
Congress are on the same political, economic and social
page as Republicans, can’t advertise same to their
supporters so they hide their sorry asses behind the
‘call’ for bipartisanship knowing full well that it’ll
happen when hell freezes over.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, September 28, 2011 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Bi Partisanship is just a euphemism for Double Cross…..

it’s a way to hide behind the sell-outs, cons, giveaways and out eight betrayals of those
that voted for the big O, in the sky.

Krugman is right they have gutted this country, now they want to break it’s bones to
make their bread…

With a police state and phony terror war, suppressing the peasants who are debt
farmers, serfs in a new feudalism, concocted of imaginary financial instruments.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, September 28, 2011 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Sometimes I believe partisanship is a bogus plan to dupe the public to create divisive separations instead of unity.

Far I could tell Obama held out the olive branch for the past three years and every time got kicked in the teeth, by the Republicans who have one goal, getting Obama out of office! Obama gets a poor grade for nativity by not calling the Republicans on their crap much earlier in his presidency, especially after what has happened in the Red States!

Politics seems a disgusting career, but I suppose it pays well and has some benefits?

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By keepyourheaddown, September 28, 2011 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Obama loses because he is a pussy…

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By keepyourheaddown, September 28, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Obama loses because he is an inexperienced pussy…

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