Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Senator McConnell Leads Republican Obstructionism

The futility of bipartisanship was made clear in the New York Times' profile of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell's strategy of obstructionism was in place well before President Obama tried reaching across the aisle:

Before the health care fight, before the economic stimulus package, before President Obama even took office, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, had a strategy for his party: use his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation.

Republicans embraced it. Democrats denounced it as rank obstructionism. Either way, it has led the two parties, as much as any other factor, to where they are right now. Republicans are monolithically against the health care legislation, leaving the president and his party executing parliamentary back flips to get it passed, conservatives revived, liberals wondering what happened.

McConnell himself emphasizes staying "together" as a "team" in order to say no to the Democrats on issue after issue:

“It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out,” Mr. McConnell said about the health legislation in an interview, suggesting that even minimal Republican support could sway the public. “It’s either bipartisan or it isn’t.”

Mr. McConnell said the unity was essential in dealing with Democrats on “things like the budget, national security and then ultimately, obviously, health care.”

... In meeting after meeting in the Capitol, Mr. McConnell...urged his colleagues to keep playing “team ball.”

After Democrats realized that they had no Republican support and decided upon reconciliation to pass health care reform, they were criticized by Republicans–even though the latter have used reconciliation plenty of times. In any event, bipartisanship with the Party of No is, as Paul Krugman recently wrote, "a foolish dream."

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