The Republicans wanted to demonstrate some strength at the outset of this administration. They wanted to prove that they can maintain cohesion in opposition to things they truly oppose. It was important for them to send this message even though it was a discordant rejection of Obama's olive branch. They probably would have sought to send such a message on any major vote, so the stimulus wasn't necessarily the primary cause of their reaction. But there is something important about how the stimulus was put together that also helps explain Republican behavior. The stimulus package wasn't written using 'regular order' and did not come up through the committee and subcommittee process. There was a good reason for this...expediency. But that doesn't change the fact that the Republicans had no opportunity to influence the bill in committee.
A Republican party that added more than $30 trillion to the future debt in a time of boom has no credible answer but raw partisanship for opposing $800 billion in the swiftest downturn in employment since the Great Depression. That's the bottom line. The party that campaigned for eight years on the principle that "deficits don't matter" has no good faith standing to oppose a measure that provides the minimum to ensure some kind of bottom in the looming depression. To take their fiscal conservatism seriously at this point and in this crisis is to engage in some kind of instant amnesia. And to find a sliver of a reason in Gregg's own self-defense for his change of mind - except partisan pressure - is close to impossible. Bruce McQuain:
Apparently Sullivan can’t think of “legitimate debates to be had” concerning this awful bill. And you have to assume that he doesn’t consider putting this bill together without letting the Republicans participate as a party (not as the picked off three’) a cynical declaration of “total political war”.
You mean Obama never went to the Congress to talk to the House GOP? That he hasn't been relentless in including Republicans in the debate? That he didn't urge over $300 billion in tax cuts in the bill to assuage Republican feelings in the first place? Damon Linker:
Andrew Sullivan takes this as a sign that the GOP has gone to "war" with Obama, which implies that all the hysteria on the right side of the blogosphere is somehow contrived to help the GOP triumph in this war. That's one possibility. But here's another: The right may actually believe that they're witnessing the effective collapse of the Obama presidency less than month after it began. And if so, I wonder: What will these folks do when and if the polls show that Obama's approval ratings remain high? Will they then recognize how far out of synch they are with the mood of the country? Or will they burrow deeper into denial, indulging in endless fantasies of Obama's self-immolation?
Andrew Sullivanin his inimitable wayis claiming that the Gregg withdrawal is proof that the Republicans have “declared war” on Obama. Never mind the fact that other Cabinet nomineesat least, the ones that don’t have to withdraw from consideration because of obstacles like tax cheatinghave been receiving overwhelming support from both parties in Senate confirmation votes. Never mind that Sullivan’s “proof” for his assertion includes spin from an anonymous Democratic Hill staffer, and self-selecting reader comments on a Manchester Union-Leader article.
Some will quibble with how Sullivan words this, but it is indeed increasingly difficult to make an argument that the Republican party is acting in good faith with the White House and the American people as it continues to play to its base.
Most troubling: the tone for the party was set immediately by talk show Rush Limbaugh, who immediately threw down the gauntlet against cooperation with Obama (opening saying he wanted Obama to “fail” and alter trying to finesse the statement a bit)…and the party elite and base immediately fell into (all too familiar) lock step.
So is what Sullivan is predicting about to happen true? And, even more troubling, is this what the country is in for in the future?
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