It's really hard to characterize the kind of greeting that The President must have gotten from the (all-White) House Republican Caucus, whom he addressed the other day to try to garner some-- some...any at all-- Republican support for his massive ecnomic stimulus package, and so he listened politely, proposed removing some family planning expenditures and hearing them out on more tax cuts (for the super-rich)... and, unsuprisingly, if you ask me... he got reaction similar to that received by Sheriff Bart.
More specifically, the over $800 billion stimulus package passed the House with 11 Democrats voting against it and not a single Republican voting for it. This strikes me as Sheriff Bart's greeting. The message is quite loud, and quite clear. Gentlemen (and Michele Bachman)... you have made yourselves clear.
Things may well be a bit different in the Senate where the Republicans have, at least in theory, a filibuster if all 41 can hold the line, and where just a few weeks ago, The President and the Vice-President and the Secretaries of State and Interior were all colleagues in that august body... maybe the Republicans in the Senate will see the value in trying to reach out to The President on something "easy" so they can build some capital to do business on something that's "not so easy." But then again, maybe not.
It seems maybe not, indeed, as the Republicans seem to insist on no quarter on something that the Republicans regard as a core value-- not punishing criminality by high government officials (as long as they are Republicans, of course)... to wit, the Rev. Moon's paper claims that Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri was promised by nominee for attorney general Eric Holder that if confirmed Holder would absolutely not investigate or prosecute any member of the Bush Administration for torture, war crimes, or anything else... meanwhile, Josh Marshall's TPM is reporting that, in fact, an aide to Holder denies this. Could this be a signal for "filibuster coming"... absent such a promise? Well...
My point is simply that the stimulus package seems politically "easy": the economy is in shambles, the public is demanding that the Government "fix it"... and hence, something is on offer, in short order. There is no real principled opposition to the stimulus-- simply a crass, political one, consistent with Rush Limbaugh's stated desire that he wishes Obama to fail, just to vindicate his own hateful existence. (If this keeps up, an appropriate meme would be to question Limbaugh-- clearly the new leader of the Republican Party-- and the rest of his party on their patriotism... because surely, if "Obama fails," then our economy will fail, and our ability to be an international bully that national greatness conservatives seem to cream over will be gone too... we just won't be able to afford to keep troops and aircraft carriers everywhere. So Rush... why do you hate America? Boehner... who do you hate our troops?)
Which means, of course, that if the pattern is set that there is simply no point in The President even trying to work with the Republicans, he will stop trying. As he should, of course, immediately. And this most especially means investigating, and as appropriate, prosecuting, members of the Bush Administration for torture and war crimes, because the Republicans have made it clear there is no value in trying to appease them or horse-trade or cooperate with them on anything, whether "easy" or otherwise.
There is just no there there. President Obama would be working with a headless rump of a receding regional party taking its cues from a drug-addict millionaire demogogue whose power base is millions of disgruntled males who, to paraphrase Thomas Frank, rather than rail at the forces keeping them in penury or other misery, behave as if they were the mob storming the Bastille to demand more power for the aristocracy. In short-- there's nothing rational to talk about, and no one rational to talk with. The Republicans have decided that they are the "just say no" party now... or more accurately... the this party.
And so to my college classmate The President... on the subject of bipartisanship... I cannot urge you in strong enough terms... just say no.
Update: Al Giordano sees a method to what others might see as The President's madness, to wit, a Macchiavellian grandmaster move of setting up the Republicans to look unreasonable from the outset, a position which The President can exploit down the road for later massive partisan advantage, if the Republicans fall into the trap of slapping away Obama's outstretched hand... bait which they appear to have taken...