Barack Obama embarked on his historic first term as the President of the United States resolved to provide a bipartisan government that would represent all of the people of the United States. His resolve expressed itself in solid action, nominating several prominent members of the Republican Party to positions of responsibility in his government.
His ideal seems not to be bipartisanship as much as non-partisanship, and he is trusting to those Republicans that he nominated to subordinate their traditional partisan acrimony to a responsibility to the nation that they represent as members of the government. With the Republican Party of today, his trust, if not entirely misplaced, must be constantly monitored for renewed justification.
President Obama’s task is made much easier when the particular rival admitted to his team succeeds by sharing in, and contributing to, the President’s success. This is the principle that guided his nomination of Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State.
However, the modern Republican Party does not fit into that mold. This party, bereft of any idea that could suggest a reasonable way forward, simply measures its own success in inverse proportion to its adversaries’ failure. Their interest is in contributing to their adversaries’ failure; and they have no compunctions against using their adversaries’ virtues to assist in causing that failure.
This is why those Republicans who have been named to serve in Obama’s administration will need close scrutiny, particularly the Judd Gregg sort of conservatives. He has already demonstrated a reluctance to get in harness with the rest of the administration by resisting the President’s economic legislation after his nomination. I suspect that his confirmation as Secretary of Commerce will not bode anything good for the modification of egregiously damaging trade agreements unless he is cudgeled into supporting those measures.
The past eight years of Republican government have been an unmitigated disaster for the United States, but the Republicans do not see this as failure on their part. It is failure for their adversaries, who happen to be the People of the United States; consequently, Republicans see it as a success on their part.
Under George Bush and Dick Cheney, they very nearly completed the destruction of the economy, creating the sort of shock condition described by Naomi Klein in her book “The Shock Doctrine – The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. Now, Republicans in Congress have only to oppose any measures that might reverse the downward direction in which they have led.
That is why their noise machine is cranked up to eleven on a ten scale.
That is why truth, which is normally an alien concept to Republican operatives, has been overtly abandoned in favor of a top to bottom propaganda assault that does not contain a shadow of it.
That is why every Republican and their every apologist are heard drooling out the same scripted lines whenever they can elbow their way in front of a camera or a microphone.
That is why nearly all of the largely “center right” corporate press is bandwagon bounding to claim that “the honeymoon is over”, and “…doesn’t this guy know what he’s doing?”
That is why the last measures of the Bush administration were to push the nation closer to insolvency by giving a no strings attached gift of committing trillions of dollars to the very people who created this mess and could be least trusted to steward those funds responsibly.
That is why a union man who has the temerity to bargain collectively for a living wage is reviled by them at the same time that they scream bloody murder over a proposal to cap incompetent money men’s salaries at “only” half a million dollars per year.
That is why they keen about Obama’s proposal costing too much as their own proposal for tax cuts alone would cost more than three times as much over ten years; and it is why the song sounds so familiar. It is the same one we heard before we arrived here.
Then on top of it all, they have the gall to claim that they represent half of the people of the United States. They do not. Still they cow the Democratic majority into what they are fond of calling “compromise”, when it is actually the sort of one-sided demand made by a petulant child.
Their strategy is to cynically hand Obama an early defeat on major legislation in the hope that the stigma of that defeat will stick throughout his entire term, having a crippling effect. That is why they are threatening to filibuster the seating of Senator Al Franken. It is critical for the Republican Party to cling to any marginal edge for as long as they can to effect that strategy.