Why There’s No Bipartisanship

Today YLF observes that Republicans have made zero concessions on any legislation, whereas Democrats continue to water down bill after bill in a vain hope for “bipartisanship.”

This is a complaint liberals have been making for years now, ever since 2007 when the purple bipartisan fairies started flying around Congress promising peace and humptiness and ponies forever, if only we could all work together. Problem is, Republicans don’t budge, Democrats fold like lawnchairs, and the legislation we get is Republican in policy with a Democratic label attached to it. The result is Democrats look like Republicans and voters wonder what the difference between the two parties is. How this is supposed to help the Democratic Party is beyond me.

I normally don’t watch the Sunday bobblehead shows, but Mr. Beale had Meet The Press on yesterday morning (until my yelling at the television caused him to turn the TV off, that is).

Here’s the part that I saw:

REP. BOEHNER:  Well, I’ll give you an example.  Last year I told the president, you know, what–when we can be with you and when we agree with you, we will stand tall with you, as we did on Afghanistan, as we did on Iraq, as we did on things like teacher quality and a number of other areas.

Umm … I don’t think Rep. Boehner knows what “bipartisan” means. Standing with the president when you agree with him, oooh that’s really bold. Of course, this is a feature not a bug of Republican politicians, as I’ve observed before here (to the point where one “Republican strategist” even noted that if a healthcare bill is supported by Olympia Snowe “it’s not really bipartisan”).

And then there’s the second part of the Republican strategy that I think is really the key problem: robotically repeating lies about Democratic legislation to basically poison the discourse, making real bipartisanship impossible. I return to yesterday’s transcript, and Rep. Boehner’s quote:

But when it comes to, when it comes to health care, we could agree on a some commonsense steps to make our healthcare system work better.  But we are not going to put the government in charge of people’s health care. And, and it, it’s something that there’s a fundamental difference here. And most of America has already said no to this big government takeover.

Rep. Boehner referred to a “big government takeover of health care” or “government-run health care” six times in under two minutes. David Gregory never once called him on it.

It’s not true, not even close to true–believe me, I wish it were (I wrote about this back in November, for anyone who wants to know what “government run healthcare” really looks like). Yet Boehner delivered his Frank Luntz-approved “big government” mantra over and over and over again, like the good Republibot he is. It’s completely intentional, this repeating of scary words: repetition of certain key phrases and words is a Republican tactic to get their message ensconced in the public’s mind. I don’t know why Democrats never call them on it, but they don’t.

And I realize this is not news. We’ve all written about these framing tactics, how Republicans are instructed to repeat certain Frank Luntz-approved words in every television appearance until they are heard so often, people like David Gregory don’t even notice any more. Before long the Republican talking point becomes firmly ensconced in the American lexicon and a talking point is accepted as fact.

President Obama called the Republicans on this very tactic in his Q&A last week. It’s very telling that despite that, Rep. Boehner continued to do it, and David Gregory continued to ignore it.

Continuing with this tactic of mischaracterizing Democratic initiatives as super-scary far left Communist/Socialist fringe ideas basically assures us that bipartisanship will never, ever happen. Because when one party so thoroughly demonizes the other party’s ideas as something dangerous to the Republic, you’ve basically made it impossible for members of your own caucus to support anything from the other side.

In other words: when you repeatedly refer to a healthcare bill that is a giveaway to big insurance companies as “a government takeover of healthcare,” then you have made it impossible for an Olympia Snowe to support it. And they’ve also made it impossible for Blue Dog Democrats to support it, because the meme has been so thoroughly ensconced in the public’s mind that the lie has become fact.

Again: I do not understand why Democrats did not call Republicans on this “government takeover of health care” lie (or any of the other lies they’ve propagated, for that matter). President Obama finally called the Republicans on this last week but it should have been done at the very beginning of this debate. Because if you really want bipartisanship, you need to first agree on the facts. There can be no bipartisanship when you can’t even agree on the basic facts at hand.

I don’t know where this leaves us. I think voters are thoroughly sick of gridlock and partisan bickering, but waving a purple wand is not going to happen, either. The problems are bigger than just getting a couple Republican votes on a bill, or getting a couple of Republican ideas on a Democratic bill. The ways the parties operate has to change.


Filed under bipartisanship, healthcare, media

30 responses to “Why There’s No Bipartisanship

  1. >SB said…"I do not understand why Democrats did not call Republicans on this ___________ (fill in the blank).Democrats ARE Republicans. Thats why. This is from the podium of…37°52'18s N / 122°16'18s W

  2. >Great post, again.I thought Pres. Obama got it right when he said something about both parties acting like there is a constant election cycle.Good Luck to us all.

  3. >SoBe, this is a problem I have been exploring for a long time. Borrowing from George Lakoff’s Moral Politics, conservatives and liberals use the metaphorical framing of “politics as family” to model their respective worldviews of the role of government. Here is preview of a article I have writing on the subject:“The strict father model describes a traditional nuclear family where the father has primary responsibility for support and protection … and primary authority to set rules of behavior and the power to impose those rules. Strict father morality assigns highest priority to hierarchy, a respect for and obedience to authority, and strict rules of conduct enforced by a system of rewards and punishments. In conservative political thought, self-reliance is the key to pursuing self-interest, through which the self-interest of all will be maximized. Thus, the operant concepts are: Self-reliance, self-discipline, industriousness, and respect for authority.In contrast, the nurturing parent model focuses on other priorities of family life: Empathy and love whose goal is to develop the potential for achievement and instill a sense of fulfillment in children. For the nurturing parent, the goal of infusing self-discipline and self-reliance in children can only be realized by taking care of them. The nurturing parent assigns the highest priority to empathy, without which one will have little empathy for others. Thus, the operant concepts are: Communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to family and community."Assuming the worldview of the "strict father" is built on hierarchy and a respect for and obedience to authority, one can assume that anyone who challenges that authority would make the "strict father" resentful and angry. If science challenges that authority, father will be angry. If any form of empirical knowledge challenges his authority, father will be angry."The "strict father" model explains why there is such a low tolerance for diversity and multiculturalism. And why there is almost no wiggle room for consensus or compromise in the political process.

  4. >Why should one side make "concessions" when there are deep fundamental differences.The Republicans are doing what their constitutents want. The Dems will be in for a big surprise if they don't start listening to theirs.Sadly Republican's will start acting a lot like Dems once they get power. Same shit, it just stinks a bit less than the alternative.

  5. >So Mike W I assume you are in favor of doing away with the filibuster, since Demorats were handed a clear majority in the last election, indicating that is what people want. Republicans may be listening to their constituents as you claim, but they are a minority and they are being obstructionist. So if you don't believe in compromise and bipartisanship then I guess you must believe in either a) gridlock, with nothing getting accomplished whatsoever; or b) majority rules, Republicans stick their thumbs in their mouths and go home.is that how our government is supposed to work? I don't think so.

  6. >Where's my humptiness?and in an unrelated note, my captcha is dinsight – what you can't have because of all the noise.

  7. >Option A. without it the majority could run roughshod over the minority.Republicans may be listening to their constituents as you claim, but they are a minority and they are being obstructionist.Really? Where have you been lately? Republicans aren't the only ones who don't want this healthcare mess.I didn't say I don't believe in compromise, only that there are times where compromise is neither possible nor preferable.

  8. >mikey's idea of compromise is undoubtedly that displayed by the Gingrich and Delay style of negotiation with the dems.As has been the case since this whole thing started, the GOP keeps saying that the dems have terrible ideas about how to do healthcare. they may well be right, however the dems at least HAVE ideas. All the GOPeebaggers have is fear and dishonesty.

  9. >Yes, the GOP considers the Dem's healthcare proposals "terrible" and seeks to prevent them from becoming law. That makes sense to me.I suppose you think they should just roll over and let the Liberals do whatever they want?Your simple, juvenile name-calling is a sad alternative to a reasoned argument Demo.

  10. >The Dems think the Health-care bill is crap too, hence why even with a super-majority they haven't passed it yet, and they go ape-shit when a Republican like Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, will change their vote.The only reason why you guys NEED republican votes is because so many DEMOCRATS won't vote for this turd.And somehow it's all about "Republican Opposition" which is essentially superfluous in a Supermajority.Sorry, the Democrats are a fractured party is the only reason why this piss-poor bill that nobody's read isn't going through.And thank goodness for that!

  11. >Weer'd – Leave it to SoBeale and Demo to ignore reality and blame it on the EVIL Republicans.We wouldn't want them to stray from the standard meme and engage in actual rational thought now would we

  12. >mikey and Weer'd Beard:Lay out your plan–oh, wait, you don't have one. You're both perfectly happy with your healthcare situation so fuck everybody else. Yup, that's GOP thinkin', for sure.

  13. >I'm forgetting: Which Purple Centrist Unicorn said this summer that any healthcare plan had to get, what 80 Senate votes, to be really bipartisan?And, WB, whatever healthcare plan you're on, I want to huff some of it.

  14. >I think we hurt their feelings, Mike!Also note their aggressive and smarmy response. With a super majority a Republican solution should be irrelevant. But they forget that ultra-leftist radicals like themselves are dividers, and Democrats that actually listen to their constituency, and reality don't take well to their blind, and radical opinions.That's why you guys can't accomplish anything, and frankly, I'm very pleased with that.

  15. >No kidding Weer'd – Notice that both responses were essentially nonsense. Neither one addressed what you or I said in our comments.It's unbelievably stupid to blame it on the Republicans when the Dems could pass stuff WITHOUT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTE.If they can't get something passed they've got no one to blame but themselves. Then again, I am unsurprised that folks so averse to personal responsibility would blame the Republicans.

  16. >They can ALWAYS blame somebody else, because they don't care if they make sense on not!

  17. >Like I said, boys, you have no plan.If you had a plan we would certrainly have heard of it by now. I'm fairly certain that you two clowns would consider St. Ronnie the Miscommunicator as a radical leftist. Have fun teabagging with each other.

  18. Jim

    >Demo – feel free to read up on the GOP proposals for healthcare: http://www.gop.gov/solutions/healthcareNow you may not like their solutions, but don't continue with the lie that they have not proposed solutions.

  19. >Jim – Don't bother. Demo won't read it. He has an aversion to facts. His beliefs trump all facts.In his mind it's the Republican's fault no matter what reality is, and they have no plan because he says they don't, facts be damned!

  20. >I'm not a registered Republican Demo, so who is this "you" about whom you speak?

  21. >Certainly not the brightest bulb on the tree…but at least he doesn't make any attempts to hide it.

  22. >Agreed Weer'd. I have no problem getting him to bury himself with his own words. He does it mostly on his own, all I do is guide him along & hand him the shovel.

  23. >Jim:Thanks for the heads up, is it in chalk on the sidewalk or crayon on grocery bags?mikey:You, who just loves to take others to task for not coming up with "facts" never seem to be able to come up with any yourself on any subject other than guns.How's your "Gays'n'guns" blog coming along?

  24. >Where are your facts here Demo? Still don't have any I see…..

  25. >Where are your facts proving that it's all the fault of the EVIL REPUBLICANS Demo?Oh wait, you have none. Just spouting off BS talking points like you usually do.

  26. >mikey:You still haven't answered the question I've been asking you pretty much every day for over a month. Why is it that it only matters that YOUR questions be answered? Is it because when you get caught in a lie you can't bear top admit it?The GOP has done nothing except be obstructionists in the current debate on healthcare. If you and your idiot friends think that the GOP is out to make life better for you–or even keep it from getting worse. In any case, I asked you for YOUR ideas. I doubt that you have any, if they don't involve your particular obsession.

  27. >How's your "Gays'n'guns" blog coming along?Oh I have answered it Demo, but I never claimed to have a "gays & guns" blog, so I couldn't tell you how that non-existent blog is coming along.

  28. >Demo – This is about healthcare. The American people DO NOT WANT what Obama & his cronies want to push through. Republicans (and blue dog Dems) are being obstructionist because that's what their constitutents want.

  29. >mikey:Is this part of your job–sowing disinformation for the GOP–the sneaking back onto blog posts up to a couple of weeks after someone else has left a comment and dropping one or your bons mal there?And, no you didn't answer the question about why you lied about supporting gay rights as much as gun rights–hence my question about when we will be seeing you retract that statment, or start a "Gays'n'Gunz" blog? C'mon, mikey, be a mensch.

  30. >I don't know Demo, you and Sobeale have a penchant for spreading lies and information. Perhaps you're paid by the Dems to do so?