Obama, the GOP, and the Myth of Post-Partisanship

Some ideological lines are simply unbreakable.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Well, President Obama is barely into his second week in office and his flimflam promise of post-partisanship has shown itself to be the campaign lie it always seemed to many of us to be. The veiled myth of post-partisanship was revealed as the curtain was pulled back on the House vote on the stimulus package yesterday: The bill passed with no Republican support. That, even after Mr. Obama tossed women's health aside and caved into Republican demands to cut out hundreds of millions of dollars to provide birth control to low-income women.

If Mr. Obama's definition of post-partisanship is a more cordial, less harsh atmosphere in which to discuss partisan disagreements, then certainly he's done better on that front than President Bush. That's not only because he's reached out to Republicans, it's also because he's governing, or attempting to govern, or wants to be seen as governing, from the center. Bush governed from the extreme right with a "Democrats begone" attitude.

A blogger at TalkingPointsMemo spins out the possibility that post-partisanship does not equate to bipartisanship. Call me crazy, but that's what I envisioned it to be—the ability of one magnanimous leader to bring together two sets of pugilistic brats:

After all, there are some Republicans who are not neo-cons and may be up for trying some new approaches in foreign policy, even some Republicans who may get on board with healthcare reform if they can be convinced it's not socialism. But if there's one thing every single elected Republican agrees on—indeed, the only principle the Republican party has left—it's that government is bad, tax cuts are good. So essentially, right out of the box, Obama is asking them to compromise on a bill that, at its core, goes against their one bedrock principle.

In order for partisanship to exit the political system, all voters would have to toe the same party line and set the same agenda. That won't happen. Even in the midst of a recession that threatens to extend into Depression territory.