February 16th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

Partisanship, by the Bye

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/22/art.capitol.dome.cnn.jpg]
Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker

Throughout the fortnight-long Battle of the Stimulus Package—the Capitol Hill confrontation that culminates this week in a signing ceremony for a historically unprecedented piece of legislation that will inject more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars’ worth of adrenaline into America’s fluttering economic heart—one question preoccupied commentators and observers, especially those desperate for relief from the daunting substance of the matter: was President Obama being “bipartisan” enough?

Some discussed the question calmly, others less so; but there was something like a consensus that if non-trivial numbers of Republican legislators failed to support the stimulus bill the fault, and the obloquy, would be Obama’s. “The bill will be judged a political success not simply if it becomes law, but if it’s deemed ‘bi-partisan,’ ” ABC’s “The Note” Web site warned. The Los Angeles Times, while calling the bill’s quick passage in the House of Representatives a “big legislative victory” for Obama, cautioned that “it was clear that his efforts so far had not delivered the post-partisan era that he called for in his inauguration address.” (The man had been in office for eight days—a tight schedule for era-delivering.) On the Senate floor, the remarks of Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, provided evidence that an age of perpetual political peace had not yet dawned. “This bill stinks!” Senator Graham exclaimed. And:

The process that’s led to this bill stinks! . . . There is no negotiation going on here! Nobody is negotiating! We’re making this up as we go! The polling numbers are scaring the hell out of everybody, and they’re in a panic! They’re running from one corner of the Capitol to the other to try to cobble votes together to lower the cost of the bill to say we solved the problem! This is not the way you spend a trillion dollars!


Filed under: Democrats • Economy • First 100 Days • Raw Politics • Republicans
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Barbara in Boston

    I loved that commentary. Gandhian hardball, indeed. The Republicans are playing for short-term polls and Obama is going for long-term benefits to America. And the American public is going to know the difference.

    February 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Trish A

    The only pork in this Stimulus Bill is the Oinks the Repubs tried to push into it! Thankfully the Dems stood their ground. The Repub Party Leader needs his soother to stop his whining. Bait and Spin I guess! The Repubs are Masters at it. They're even foolish enough to believe after driving their Nation to the brink of disaster Americans will believe the Other Guys Did It! PA-THETH-IC. Repubs History in the Fiction Section at all US Local Bookstores!

    February 16, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  3. kaye

    Bipartisanship works when both sides are willing to talk, it doesn’t work when only one side is extending a hand and the GOP instead of shaking the hand responds with a slap in the face. They claim to be doing it because they are the “fiscally conservative” party. Yeah right.

    Where were these “fiscally conservative” repubs when they all voted to over 3 trillion dollars of Bush tax cuts, which he borrowed from the Chinese and gave to the wealthy? When they voted for a war that literally has bankrupted US? And other spendings that did nothing for the economy and the average worker? You know where, right behind Bush, cheering on as he looted the country.

    The fact is that this stimulus bill is not full of pork as the GOP insists on, that the republicans decided before the bill was introduced that they will oppose it no matter what is in it (remember the GOP memo that went out telling all the representatives to oppose the Obama stimulus bill?) that the 3 GOP who came on board did so because they were willing to talk and negotiate instead of voting on a party line, that McCain and the rest of the GOP refused to get in on the negotiations.

    Here is a FACT about what a “stimulus” plan is supposed to do? It is suppose to stimulate the economy, and how do you do that? By spending money which will start the flow of dollars in to the economy, people start buying stuff, businesses will sell their merchandise, which will have money and goods moving again. STIMULUS, get it? This is not happening only in US but around the world, all major economies have been hit (Canada, EU, Australia, Asia etc had to pass stimulus bills for the same reasons) even though the corruption and greed of the US market started the down ward spiral for the rest of the world.

    February 16, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Wardell

    WAKEUP AMERICA, bi-part what,COUNTRY FIRST, remember that, we spent billions in iraq ,one hundred thousand, contractors in a war zone, are you kidding me, flat beds of american dollars, thrown around like footballs,and we are told that it could not be keepup with because a war was going on,the republican party over saw this, NO HEARINGS, now it's time for the GREAT AMERICAN COVER UP,the bait and switch game,at least the democrats are trying to help the everyday person, and not just BIG BUSINESS, the market doesn't care about you, only those at the top, and that's what republicans are trying to protect,AIG, had to pay GOLDMAN SACHS, who are the BIG investors at Goldman, I bet you will never,ever KNOW. ASK Phil Graham, who called someone a bunch of wieners, WHO headed the SEC, a REPUBLICAN, can you say COVER-UP,no real investigations,why the republicans had control,man "THIS IS BIG", where is the MONEY, ask the republicans, at least the democrats are trying to give the little man and woman, a piece of the great american pie, republicans don't want that , they call it socialism, a bunch of CRAP, help the democrats TRY, to save OUR country, we're going down fast. WAKE-UP AMERICA. Now we have to beg China,a communist country,who was the first president to go to China?, a republican,guess who" TRICKY DICK, NIXON",God help us, and God bless you ALL.

    February 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  5. Bill Skeat -- Athens, WV

    Two comments–

    1. All those Republican members in Congress and Governors who said Obama's stimuls package is a bad deal for America, should refuse the money for their states. As Republicans, they should have the integrity to say no to receiving this money. But wait, what was I thinking, using Republicans and integrity in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

    2. Do these guys hate Obama so much that they didn't think about the position they would find themselves in if the stimulus package works, even just a little bit?

    February 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  6. Natalie Newman

    Please, stop with the second-guessing, already! You critics of the stimulus bill who propose to have the answers- YOU DON'T! I agree that one does not resolve money issues with money. The underlying cause of the problem(of which there are many) must be addressed instead. However, you had 2 years to run for presidential office if you had had the solution to this crisis-YOU DIDN'T! The reality is that no one has the answers, neither the president nor his financial advisors, to lead us out of this financial disaster. The best we can do is make an educated guess and prayer. If you are not on your knees by now then you simply do not get it.


    February 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  7. earle,florida

    You answered all your questions correctly but failed miserably to elaborate the treacherous attitude these,"Obstructionist Republicans" have in themselves, with absolutely no regard for the," Republic of America" (their selfishness is irreprehensible) they represent,....JMHO

    February 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  8. Mac, Houston

    This bill was more about policy than it was stimulus. Big political grab.

    It is a sad time for our country.

    February 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  9. Linda

    Sen Graham represents a state with one of the highest levels of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and states that receive more federal funds than they send back to the federal government. If he's so opposed to this package, as is the S.C. governor, then I suggest they opt out and not take any funds. The Republicans knew this stimulus package was coming, President Obama called for any suggestions or ideas on what it should contain, and yet the only thing the Republicans could come up with is criticism and tax cuts for the wealthy. Then again, their Presidential nominee stated just months ago as we were already in crisis that our economy was fundamentally strong.
    I hope with few exceptions that this bunch of hypocritical, unpatriotic politicians all go down in flames in their next re-elections.

    February 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  10. sharon, cape breton

    Just wondering.... How many Republicans realize just how much of a mess they left the Obama administration to deal with. How many of those same Republicans actually tried to "cross over to the other side" and asked how they could help to clean it up. Tearing into the process isn't doing anything but making more people confused and scared. I think it's time for everyone involved to drop the "politics" and start doing there jobs. The deal is done. Bring the confidence back to the people of your country and thereby doing so the world.

    February 16, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  11. Cindy

    There was no bipartisanship on this bill. It was my way or the highway on this thing. No one knows what will make our economy recover. In my opinion they should have done a bit of both sides ideas just to be on the safe side. Instead we got a bill full of crap put in as payback for getting Obama elected.

    If Obama were truly serious on working with everyone he would have had meetings with them all and not just three Reps who are moderates and have always voted the Dem way. Instead he didn't...he shut the rest out. How was that being bipartisan?


    February 16, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  12. Isabel Abreu, Brazil

    President Obama took the view, what to do bipartisan government is complicated!

    The opposition is always opposition, mainly in country like US, where political parties are so well defined!

    February 16, 2009 at 11:44 am |

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