Monday, April 18, 2011

Maybe Bipartisanship really Is Date Rape

By now, it should be obvious that Paul Ryan's budget--widely praised despite its Draconian cuts on long-standing programs people depend for their live upon, and have for decades--is far more an ideological rant than a serious macroeconomic and fiscal proposal. Since its release, Obama has defended the programs Ryan attacks, demanding that they be saved in essence. The Republican response to Obama, predictably, tries to deny him legitimacy in the debate, as neither willing to face reality as they define it, nor being appropriately civil. Seems that voicing an opinion differing from Republican orthodoxy is shrill. Paul Krugman, who has long been recognized as shrill wherever civilized tongues are spoken, calls them out today:

Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters.

All of which assumes that even Obama is correct in joining the regnant narrative placing the deficit at the very center of the nation's problems.

I'd argue that civity and frank disagreement can, in fact, coexist, and that people other than True Believers all know it. The distinction between, 'I disagree with you, holding, rather that .......... is the case and what should be done. Here are the facts, logic, history, economics and politics I used to reach those conclusions. What do you think?' and 'You fucking idiot' remains an important distinction. The 'Moi? They do it, too' defense, advanced against an accusation of incivility, won't wash. But, as many including yr. obdt. svt. have noted, a vain search for 'bipartisanship' clouding one's own positions in compromise after compromise with an opponent calling bipartisanship 'date rape' (Norquist) is bad politics and bad governance.

Obama going into 2012 will find himself fortunate in the timing of economic recovery, and in the astounding lack of plausible challengers. It'd be nice, too, were a stiff breeze from the left to fill his sails. He might even find himself enjoying it.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, most days Obama is the "fucking idiot" in question. Unless he spends the remainder of this year making up for lost time, that stiff breeze will be hard to find, if it shows up at all.

ProfWombat said...

Sure. I'd like to see Obama being shriller. The narrative of equal virtue/vice on either side needs to be questioned, as does the asymmetric assault on Obama's legitimacy.