Is This All He Can Talk About???

2 comments January 25th, 2007at 07:17pm Posted by Eli

Oh, look. Broder’s going on about bipartisanship and civility again.

Despite the raging controversy over Iraq military policy, President Bush’s plea for bipartisan cooperation on the domestic agenda has a chance of success in the Senate. The reason has less to do with sympathy for the politically weakened chief executive than a dynamic that has gone largely unnoticed among the senators themselves.

Since the midterm election created a near-even balance in the Senate — 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans — serious efforts at cross-party communication have developed momentum.

Forty senators showed up on Jan. 9 for the first of a planned series of weekly 8 a.m. breakfasts designed to provide neutral ground where lawmakers of both parties can meet, rather than caucusing separately.

Yesterday, some 60 top Senate staffers of both parties held a similar breakfast session aimed at obliterating party lines and fostering personal relationships.

The core of the “Gang of 14” — the self-selected bipartisan caucus that negotiated the compromise on judicial filibusters and averted an explosion in the Senate in 2005 — has reconstituted itself as a “fire department” ready to douse other blazes.


The powerful current toward consensus-building flowing through the Senate has two sources. Politicians who were at home last autumn had their ears burned by constituents frustrated by the partisanship of the past Congress and its failure to act on issues of national concern. “The last election was a resounding repudiation of the status quo,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few Republican survivors in New England.

And senators themselves are weary of excessive partisanship. “All our time is spent in team meetings, playing petty kindergarten games about what we’re going to do to each other,” said Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, referring to the party caucuses.

Snowe and Alexander became ringleaders in two of the efforts to break down party barriers. Alexander teamed with Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, reelected as an independent Democrat, as co-hosts of the new Tuesday morning breakfasts for senators of both parties.

With senators seated at round tables of eight, and the seats alternating between Republicans and Democrats, the breakfasts feature five-minute briefings by a pair of senators from opposite parties on an issue about to reach the floor, followed by 20 minutes of discussion of that issue and a half-hour of general conversation. No votes are taken; no policy set. But senators, without staff, get to listen to each other and build personal bonds.

It’s so beautiful and sparkly! Personally, I think this is all bullshit, and Broder is a tool for getting a hard-on for anything that looks even remotely bipartisan. Bipartisanship and civility, while admirable ideals in the abstract, are used as Republican clubs in the real world. Any time Democrats or progressives stand up and say “This is wrong,” Republicans and their attack dogs accuse them of being partisan and uncivil. But when Bush, Cheney, or bipartisan paragon Joe Lieberman equate criticism of the war with treason, there’s hardly a whisper of protest outside the liberal blogosphere.

I also feel obliged to point out that alleged Republican moderates and mavericks like McCain and Lindsay Graham (Gang Of 14 members), Lamar Alexander (Lieberman’s Bipartisan Breakfast co-host), and Chuck Hagel (Mr. Principled Anti-War Voice Of Reason Guy) all voted to completely eliminate the minimum wage yesterday. Keep that in mind the next time you think they can ever be counted on to do the right thing.

As an aside, the minimum wage vote is like Dubai Ports World all over again: The Republicans whip up fears about Americans losing their jobs to immigrants (legal and il-) who work cheap, and then they vote to make it easier to pay them two bucks an hour? Brilliant.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


  • 1. Interrobang  |  January 26th, 2007 at 9:28 am

    As I like to say, keep in mind that these Republicans’ political guru, Grover Norquist likes to say, “Bipartisanship is date rape.”

    While it’s first and foremost the rapists’ responsibility to not rape, if you knew there was someone around who had a nasty habit of drugging their dates and f*cking them while they were unconscious, would you go out with them? Even supposing you lived in a small town, where all the adults in town were always saying, “Why don’t you go out with So-and-So? He’s so nice, and comes from such a good family…”

    Like, holy crap, already, Democrats. You’re dealing with the party of serial date-rapists, and you’re still answering the phone when they call on Friday afternoon?!

  • 2. Eli  |  January 26th, 2007 at 10:13 am

    As far as I’m concerned, the Democrats can socialize with them as much as they like, as long as they *never* forget that the Republicans are not their friends and will fuck them at the first available opportunity.

    The good news is, with the Democrats in charge of both chambers, it’s a lot harder for the Republicans to sabotage bills in committee. Still, best to never forget that they’re all snakes.

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