Free Markets, Free People

What Bi-Partisanship Really Means

Especially in cases like this. Mark Knoller nails it:

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its “obstinacy” and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

Bingo. Spot on. So why, again, are the Republicans agreeing to this televised “bi-partisan” health care summit?

“At this late date, it is hard to see how bipartisanship is going to occur,” said Ron Pollack, the executive director of the healthcare reform activism group Families USA. “Quite frankly, I don’t understand how this dialogue is going to move the process forward other than by demonstrating that the opposition only cares to derail reform.”

Liberals see the summit as a chance for Obama to be seen responding directly to Republican critiques and for him to critique their ideas. “It isn’t going to change the prospects of passing reform,” said Richard Kirsh, national campaign manager of Healthcare for America Now, a union-affiliated activism organization. “It’ll be one more chance for people maybe to understand that Republicans have no ideas to actually solve the healthcare crisis.”

That last line is it’s purpose and, if it is anything like the performance at the Republican retreat, that will be the outcome. With the president saying he won’t reset the process or trash the present version of the bill, it should be obvious that this isn’t really about bi-partisanship or any desire to include the GOP or its ideas. It is a plan to embarrass them publicly and gain political points.

House Republicans are fresh from an encounter with the president at their retreat in Baltimore last month, where he garnered rave reviews for his performance taking questions from GOP lawmakers on live television.

“It may be that the president came off looking pretty good during the Republican retreat and maybe they think there is a political gain to be had from this. My side needs to plan very carefully for this,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas). “It’s a press event, not a policy event.”

Of course it is. So again, why has the GOP agreed to participate?

And, of course, the irony is that a process which has been entirely closed to the public, after a campaign promise of transparency, is now suddenly thrown open to the cameras? Yeah, no reason to be suspicious about that, is there?

The Republicans: Oz’s scarecrow of politics.



26 Responses to What Bi-Partisanship Really Means

  • Of course it is. So again, why has the GOP agreed to participate?

    Because establishment Republicans are lost. Totally, completely, probably irretrievably lost.

    They sold their souls for Washington power long ago. They bought into a facade of reality projected by relentless lobbyists and a mass media that is 95% in the tank for left liberalism. They allowed those entities to destroy whatever principles they had, and now they are a total vacuum; no principles, no clue, no strategy, no plan, and, I hope, no future.

    The rules have changed, and they have no idea why, what the new rules are, how to take advantage of the change, or anything else. They learned nothing from their mistakes from 1998-2006. Nothing.

    It’s bad enough that they have no principles to fall back on. But they can’t even play a political game right! They have even forgotten how to pretend to be vigorously in favor of small government

    I would very much like to think that they have a plan going in, one in which they expect to face up to Obama with clear principles and embarrass him in front of the cameras. But I know they don’t. That would require them to have rigorous principles that they are prepared to defend. Right now the only thing they’re trying to defend is their political offices.

    They think they can do that by business as usual because the Democrats are flailing so badly. The cowards.

  • the Republican retreat in Baltimore was billed as an Q&A with the President.  It essentially was a monologue with minor audience participation.  The President was invited, so the Republicans had to just sit there, for the most part, and take what they asked for.
    It’s real important that this meeting on health care reform not become a monologue.

  • I think the GOP is scared if they don’t attend, then they will look like hypocrites, and will be called “party of No” anyways..
    They should have countered with a round-table discussion of their plan, open to the president…

    • The trap is acknowledging they need a plan to justify their opposition.

      Its sufficient to say no to a bad unwanted plan. 

      Having an alternate plan that isn’t bad and pallettable would be a plus.  But they need to get out the message there is absolutely nothing wrong with opposing the plan as described.  Especially when its being ramrodded. 

    • They can choose between being the “party of No” or the “no party party”, because if they give in they’ll find themselves on the street.  They’re not at rock bottom yet, there’s still more than 1 of them left in office, so they can still be punished by their constituents.  They need to hold out, Obama can’t vote them in and out of office.

  • It is a “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t” moment in politics.  If they do not attend, obama can point to the world how the GOP is scared to face him on the issue and obstructionism is their only tactic.  If they do he intends, from his previous performance, to eviscerate the GOP no matter what they bring to the table becasue whatever the forum it is still his pulpit and he will bully his way through the session and claim victory.  Obama believes he will hold the day in any confrontation through force of his will and intellect.

    The GOP has one way out – appoint a single spokesman for their cause to confront him on the issues and not allow him to dominate the proceedings.  The one question for this to work – is there one among them capable of holding his own and then some?

  • pedro would like to know who ees zee handsome hombre in the adverstisement near thees thread?  zee hombre’s name is ann coulter and he ees muy guapo.  gracias.

  • The GOP might be able to pull this off IF they can get it together and lay some good groundwork very quickly.  They’ve got a couple of weeks: that’s a long time in politics, and Imeme has given them an opening if they’ve got sense enough to use it.  Between now and then, they need to:

    1.  Pound home the message that they are attending to discuss health care reform, NOT sit and be hectored by the president; 

    2.  Relentlessly push their own ideas: at every press conference, every Sunday morning show, every blog posting, they need to point to a single document that details their plan to fix health care.  The message is, “We have a plan of our own that we’ve been trying to present for months.  The president has said he wants to hear ideas.  Well, here are our ideas, and we have been and remain ready to discuss them.”

    3.  Make it clear to Imeme that they are not going to show up for a dog and pony show that will have him doing most of the talking while they ask a few inaudible questions from off-camera.  Unless the White House agrees to a forum that will allow a full, fair airing of their views and ideas, they should make it clear that they will not show up;

    4.  Present their side of the history: they haven’t been the “Party of No”, they’ve been the party that’s been shut out.  Remind everybody of the rush of votes at Christmas.  Remind everybody of the budget games the dems have played in order to try to portray their various bills as “deficit neutral”.  Remind everybody of the backroom deals like the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase.  Remind everybody of the agreements Imeme cut with the insurance and drug companies.  Above all, remind people that, until last week, the GOP had no power to stop ANYTHING: the dems ran Congress.  The bills were stopped by DEMS, not the GOP.

    I like SShiell‘s idea of a single GOP rep; it makes it appear that the GOP speaks with one voice, which in turn stops this event turning into The Imeme Show.

    I think that the GOP can turn the tables on Imeme if they are smart.  Unfortunately, “smart” and “GOP” don’t really seem to belong in the same sentence.  It is interesting to me how many nominal conservatives / Republicans in the blogosphere share this opinion and are openly contemptuous of the GOP.  We’ll see in a couple of weeks if this contempt is well-deserved.

    • I would like to add that, while this event is being viewed as a probable slam-dunk for Imeme, I think it carries considerable risk for him.  His poll numbers are not good in large part because he is perceived as arrogant and a whining crybaby who blames all his problems on other people.  Note how his small SOTU bounce has disappeared; people are catching on to his games.  If all he does at the meeting is wag his finger, hector, and offer more empty phrases that amount to, “Give me what I want or I’ll call you bad names,” he’s not going to come out looking very good.

      Further, the tea party people are not going to be impressed by ANY process that doesn’t result pretty much in the Congress starting from scratch and coming up with something that won’t bust the budget.  Yeah, they’ll be angry at the GOP if that pack of morons goes along for the ride, but they certainly aren’t going to think any better of Imeme and the dems.  This underscores what may be a fundamental miscalculation on Imeme’s part: he is setting up a show to appeal to a very select audience, i.e. MiniTru.  But a lot of other people will be watching, and those people will be voting in November.  They will want to hear something substantive and won’t be satisfied with watching one side or the other just score debating points.

  • What ever happens the Republicans better make sure the cameras are rolling for every single minute and make sure news outlets that don’t “filter” the news are present. It will be hard to get any balanced reporting of the give and take but America should demand it (CSPAN solo camera maybe). In the end both sides are fooling themselves if they thing this will save their jobs come election time. By the way I noticed that Erb posted the other day. It still amazes me how someone can be so completely irrational and mentally stunted and profess to be an educator (so sad, I feel truly sorry for his students).

    • What ever happens the Republicans better make sure the cameras are rolling for every single minute and make sure news outlets that don’t “filter” the news are present.

      Wait a minute… just recently at the retreat, the entire episode was broadcast live on CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC.  There was no “filter.”
      In fact, the only outlet that actually cut away from the event was the GOP friendly FoxNews.  Now why would they do that?
      Btw, I noticed that Henke tries to make the point that since the GOP called for more of these, that they were the party of open government (LOL!!).  Obviously, McQ here thinks that such an open forum would be detrimental to his GOP sweethearts in Washington.
      Hmmm.  Interesting.

      • Wait a minute… just recently at the retreat, the entire episode was broadcast live on CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC.  There was no “filter.”

        That was a photo-op, not a discussion.
        And did you notice how the polite Repub’s had to endure CryBama’s tantrum. They still adhere to decorum, even if TAO can slam people at the SOTU when they can’t fire back.
        Just the usual thuggery, like you, Pogue.

        • Just the usual thuggery, like you, Pogue.

          Like me, huh?
          First of all, you have every opportunity to fire back.  And secondly, I’m not the one who started this conversation with an insult…  You did.
          But let us look at your comment anyway.
          You call Obama a crybaby and me a thug.  That’s pretty much it.
          Good work…  Sharpshooter (!?!)

      • Politics Pogue – that’s all this is. It is about press not policy. I have no problem with the entire process being televised and I agree with Jon on that, but this isn’t about the process or policy – this is about trying to make a political point. And I certainly wouldn’t be a party of that if I was the object of the “point”.

        • Riddle me this, McQ:
          You say that the GOP shouldn’t participate.  You say the country is with the GOP regarding this health care bill, you say that the Brown election proves that this bill has no public support, you also say that this president has no leadership capabilities… yet despite all that, you say, “Don’t confront the president on this issue.  You’ll look like fools.”
          Well I don’t get it.  Just recently you suggested,

          It is high time for Congressional Republicans to grow a thick skin and a spine, quit worrying about what Democrats and the media will say about them and embrace the “No”. Sack up, guys.  Be proud to be that party.

          So which is it?  Should they, “grow a spine” and “quit worrying about what the media would say.”?
          Or maybe its just that you believe Obama is a trap-spider just laying in wait.  Ready to pounce on these timid, toothless, unsuspecting republicans just looking out for what’s best for the country.
          You suggested that they, “sack up.”  I didn’t think that meant that they should put their sacks up their ass.
          But whatever.

          • “Sacking up” would be saying “no”. There’s nothing to be gained here because it is clear this is not being done in good faith (Obama won’t drop this bill the public hates and include the GOP is a real bipartisan way – from the beginning). Growing a spine would be a statement saying that.

          • “yet despite all that, you say, “Don’t confront the president on this issue.  You’ll look like fools.”
            Well I don’t get it.”

            Obviously you have more confidence in the Rep. leadership than either McQ or I do. here is an old saying, ‘you can’t beat something with nothing’. I believe that applies here. 

  • If the GOP participates, they’d best come loaded for bear.

    It wouldn’t look good if they back out, but it will look even worse if they let the President dominate and set the agenda.  They’d best come with a long list of proposals, and be prepared to defend themselves against the lies he’ll repeat about how those ideas have been tried, or are already in the plan (e.g. like the tort reform one).  And they’d best come prepared to attack the current bills, point by point, and highlighting all the backdoor deals.

    This shouldn’t look like bipartisan cooperation, this should look like an honest debate.  And they shouldn’t stand on any ceremony or decorum … be polite, be professional, but blast him with both barrels.  He should leave regreting he ever walked in the door.

    • This shouldn’t look like bipartisan cooperation, this should look like an honest debate.  And they shouldn’t stand on any ceremony or decorum … be polite, be professional, but blast him with both barrels.  He should leave regreting he ever walked in the door.

      That would be great.  And that’s what I thought McQ wanted them to do when he told them to “grow a spine.”
      Instead, it is suggested that the republicans tuck-tail and run.  Wouldn’t want to be seen taking the president head on.  Live and in living color.

      • There’s a difference between “growing a spine” and being stupid about something (which you know but are willing to ignore to be provocative). Willingly walking into an ambush set up for political purposes is stupid.

        If there’s something to be gained in living color, go for it – but this is “embarrass the GOP”, something that’s not hard to do and in which they’re apparently willing to participate. But it won’t change anything.

      • Ah Pogue, you know a set up when you see it.  Would you walk into it knowing you were going to lose?  (I share the ancestral genes that might encourage that sort of behavior…but why should the Republicans do it?)
        Given an unbiased media…well…if the media were unbiased Obama wouldn’t have called the meeting in the first place (given an unbiased media, the chances are very high he wouldn’t be in a position, as Senator of Illinois, to call it….)