George Will does a pretty good job today of shredding some of their sillier assertions:
Although the people promising to make No Labels into a national scold are dissatisfied with the tone of politics, they are pleased as punch with themselves. If self-approval were butter, they could spread it across America, if it were bread. They might cover the country with sanctimony as they "overthrow the tyranny of hyper-partisanship."
But Bloomberg, addressing the No Labels confabulation, spoke truth to powerlessness: "It’s not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised or wants a lot of the things we are advocating." Just so. Whatever their defects, America’s political parties are marvelously sensitive market mechanisms, measuring every tremor of the electorate’s moods.
But the truly funny thing to me about the entire premise of the group is that a very close approximation of what they are advocating was already tried – by George W. Bush.
W was the guy who “reached across the aisle” to Ted Kennedy to federalize education. He was the one who “accomplished things” by expanding the welfare state via Medicare Rx. He even signed campaign reform legislation that was intended to limit those who “who recklessly demonize their opponents”, though it was later ruled so out of bounds that it was declared unconstitutional.
His tone towards Democrats was mostly moderate, much more so than Obama’s tone when berating Republicans and other opponents. W didn’t pander to his base very often. He was the model of political civility.
His reward? He was demonized by the left as stupid, mean, and equivalent to Hitler.*
That’s why the No Labels’ threats to form citizens’ groups to “carefully monitor the conduct of their elected representatives” are laughable. Republicans have been treated to a detailed object lesson in exactly what works and what doesn’t when trying to work with today’s left. Attempting to compromise with them gives ground while getting nothing of consequence in return, and results in spittle-flecked leftist rage in the bargain.
To simple minded politicians wrapped up in the Beltway bubble, compromising to “get things done” gives an illusion of progress. But it’s just an illusion. It’s akin to having shared control of the rudder so that they get to help choose which side of the waterfall to plunge off of. It does nothing to reverse the course away from the waterfall, and wastes whatever time and resources we still have to do that.
Many such simple minded fools, in both parties, were removed in the last election. That happened despite the fact that the Tea Party movement is new, inexperienced, and doesn’t have deep pockets to draw on. The Tea Partiers went up against the professional and veteran political organizers and rabble rousers of the left, funded by folks like Soros, and in many cases kicked their butts.
So now the Democrats are left with Barney Franks types, from districts so mired in partisan Democratic politics that they would elect a shrill, nasty, Democrat whose demonstrated incompetence helped facilitate the subprime crisis. If you believe in limited government, or even if you just think we better do something quick before the debt bomb explodes, good luck “finding common ground” with such people.
The Republicans have been put on notice that back-scratching with those leftist Democrats is probably going to get them a well-funded, passionate primary challenge. If Mike Castle can get beat by Christine O’Donnell, they know they are not safe with politics as usual. So we’re likely to see more polarized politics rather than less – and as George Will points out, that’s a good thing.
I look forward to hearing about all those “citizens’ groups in every state and congressional district”. Or rather, I look forward to not hearing about them, because just like the aborted Coffee Party movement, well-intentioned fools will volunteer to be organizers, and then find only two or three left-leaning pros at their organizational meeting. They will then grouse to their spouse about how “nobody cares about bringing moderation and civility to politics” and go back to watching MS-NBC.
(*) No Labels co-founder Frum ought to know this. He worked in the Bush White House. But he’s either too simple-minded to draw the obvious conclusions, or such a publicity whore that he couldn’t resist the opportunity to trumpet his reasonableness in the pages of the Washington Post. Or both.
If you don’t have any principles it’s pretty easy to “get things done”. You just compromise on everything, never take a stand and presto, you have a mess of epic proportions.
That seems to be exactly what this latest astroturf project called “No Labels” is all about. No more “hyperpartisanship”. “Let’s get things done!”
On display at their roll out was the “Who’s Who” of the mushy middle:
And its speakers—who ranged from Republican moderates like ex-Virginia Rep. Tom Davis to liberal Democrats like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—sang the praises of cooperation and compromise.
But the only Republicans present at Columbia University’s modern, square Alfred Lerner Hall seemed to be those who had recently lost primary races, such as South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, or former Republicans like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No other senior elected Republican officials were in attendance, though a range of Democrats were present, some of them seeming a bit mystified by the bipartisan cast of the event, like the reliably liberal Gillibrand, and others whose clashes with unions – like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Newark Mayor Cory Booker – have put some distance between them and their parties.
One little ironic note – one of the co-founders, John Avlon is the author of a book called "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Most who’ve spent more than a day in the blogosphere know that "wingnuts" is a lefty euphemism for just about anyone on the right they disagree with. The right uses "moonbats" in the same way. I’m sure Mr. Avalon, who was a Rudi Giuliani staffer, was just using the term, uh, "interchangeably" (*cough, cough*). And if so, one can only assume he’s referring to the fringe which actually believes in something enough to fight for it messing up the "No Labels" group’s "compromise till you drop/let’s get things done" mantra. Or is it "compromise till we’re broke". Oh, wait …
And, as the POLITICO notes, what few Republicans were there were losers in their most recent attempt at gaining public office.
Any guess as to why?
Last and certainly not least (well, except in most rating books) the event was hosted by MSNBC which has been looking for its own sort of "tea party" org to which it can hitch it’s wagon.
The events were moderated by MSNBC personalities Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Dylan Ratigan, and Michael Smerconish. If Fox News seemed to be associated with the Tea Party, then No Labels was an MSNBC affair.
Bingo. If you can’t beat them at the same game, play the game on astroturf.
Yup – in today’s world standing and fighting for your principles is called "hyperpartisanship" and the mushy middle just isn’t going to stand for it anymore. And if you don’t quit it, they’re just going to have to call you names, stomp their feet and hold their breath. Oh, and sing their new anthem at you.
Meanwhile some t-shirt designs shown at the opening rally appear to have been ripped off without permission. Compromise that.