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Obsessive Compulsive Bipartisanship Disease

By       Message David Sirota     Permalink
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Reprinted from Smirking Chimp

In the blogosphere, we've often discussed Washington's sick fetishization of bipartisanship. Whether it's pundits or politicians, the entire D.C. Establishment has made abundantly clear that it is first and foremost interested in bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake before it is interested in the ramifications of public policy. The logic (or, really, illogic) of this fetishization essentially posits that anything that can pass with bipartisan votes in Congress is good, and anything that can only pass with Democratic votes must be bad.*

There are numerous examples of this fetishization -- but none have been as blatant as what we see today from Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D). I would argue that the behavior exhibited in this New York Times article goes beyond fetishization and to Obsessive Compulsive Bipartisanship (OCB):

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, typically one of the hardest votes for Democratic leaders to corral, is looming as a particularly tough sell [on health care]. "At the end of the day, I want to see everything before I commit to anything," said Mr. Nelson, who added that he would have trouble backing a bill that did not have some Republican support. (emphasis added)

This is stunning, really. It's one thing for a legislator to talk in platitudes about pursuing policies that could create bipartisanship. It's quite another thing for a legislator to openly say his vote will be explicitly contingent on the votes of the other party irrespective of the policy he's voting on. The latter takes bipartisanship from a mere fetish to an obsessive compulsive fixation, as if the legislator was elected not to judge policy, write legislation or represent constituents, but to only hand out his vote if the other party hands out theirs.

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)
 

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