Is Republican Opposition Cracking?

Some in the Senate break to support DADT repeal, New Start, and more

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Now that a handful of Republican Senators have broken with their party's to support President Obama's tax cut plan, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the New START disarmament treaty, some pundits are calling it the Obama comeback. But there's another possible, though not mutually exclusive, explanation others are offering: maybe the GOP's once firm opposition to all things Obama is starting to crack. As Senator Lindsey Graham put it, "When it's all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch." Here's their case for--and the case against--the notion that we're seeing cracks in the GOP "obstructionist" armor.

  • When Bills Are Likely to Pass, GOP Splinters  Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias tweets: "GOP pro-START bandwagoning is telling about the real dynamics in congress. 'Beat Obama' unites GOP. When that's off the table, disagreement on underlying merits surfaces."
  • Current GOP Moderates Afraid of Incoming Tea Partiers  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein asks "why the Republicans didn't just drag their feet and let things expire and then come back to everything in 2011, when they'll have more allies in the Senate and control of the House?" He suggests perhaps "there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010. These legislators knew they had to stick with McConnell before the election, as you can't win back the majority by handing the president lots of legislative accomplishments." Thus, the strong opposition up until now. Yet "the incumbent--and the outgoing--Republicans know that the fact that Republicans will have more power in 2011 doesn't necessarily mean that they'll use that power to pass sensible legislation."
  • Has Too Much Obstructionism Backfired?  The New Republic's Jonathan Chait says that the "strategy of obstructionism is very useful for Republicans, but the sheer brazenness of it isn't--most Americans think Obama wants to compromise with Republicans, but that Republicans don't want to compromise with him. That (accurate) perception is going to give Obama a stronger hand both in his dealings with the GOP and in his 2012 run."
  • Wrong: These Bills Were Always Likely to Pass  "Anyone who thinks the Democratic wins of the lame duck bode well for future wins is not paying attention," Slate's David Weigel sighs. "The reason Democrats are able to pass START, DADT, etc in the lame duck is that they are not particularly controversial bills. They are all popular, and they would have passed in September if Democrats had managed time better."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.