Bob Higgins

“Bipartisanship” is not the Holy Grail

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on January 25, 2009

Harry Truman in a “bipartisan” moment with Lauren Bacall, a staunch liberal Democrat. This is about as “bipartisan as Harry got.”

Last week was exhilarating for Democrats and, judging by the international media, for people all over the planet who have suffered for nearly a decade from the misguided and often criminal policies of George Bush and his terribly inept administration.

The swearing in of Barack Obama and the departure of the Connecticut Cowboy from our public affairs was something long anticipated, and, after our long dark winter, as welcome as the return of springtime and birdsong, at least in these quarters.

The Republican smear machine however, wasted no time in cranking up to its full powers of bloviation. Their program of attacking nearly every move Obama made and every statement he uttered, began seconds after his swearing in and I’m sure will continue unabated in the immediate future. Here’s hoping that they are afforded every opportunity to quibble and obstruct, to grouse and whine, as a minority party for decades to come.

The moaning and squawking over the slightly bobbled recitation of the oath of office, a gaffe that was meaningless and easily ignored by people who have something other than chowder between their ears, was, in Republican circles, fanned into a twenty four hour cause celebre by the fulminating heads of Fox Noise and soon picked up on the other “open all night,” “all the news that fits,” networks.

The storm so roiled the calm in our national teapot that Obama’s advisers encouraged him to retake the oath, which he did in a private and sparsely attended ceremony in the White House a day later.

All seemed well with the republic until Glen Beck pointed out that Obama had not sworn the oath with his hand on a Bible,” I checked” Beck chirped, “We have never had a president sworn into office without a Bible,”

Beck’s research into the matter was apparently less than skin deep. Ali Frick at Think Progress quickly countered with this:

“Beck is simply wrong. As Slate recently reported, official records kept by the Architect of the Capitol show that Teddy Roosevelt did not use a Bible in 1901; and Lyndon Johnson is rumored to have used “a Catholic missal aboard Air Force One after Kennedy’s assassination.” According to his own letters, John Quincy Adams placed his hand on a constitutional law book rather than the Bible.”

Beck’s investigations didn’t include the “actual Constitution” which clearly states that no religious test for public office shall be required, thereby making the Bible, or any other religious text, token, amulet or magic charm unnecessary. It seems that the “Constitution” so often quoted in Beck’s parallel universe simply doesn’t contain an Article six.

The constitution and strict adherence to the rule of law seemed much on the minds of Republicans this past week, a surprising fact after eight years of their support of a President who famously referred to the document as “just a goddamn piece of paper” and spent much of his two sad terms trampling it underfoot with nearly unanimous republican complicity.

The party that hocked the future of our great grand children to the Chinese, set the world aflame and proved itself completely incapable of anything resembling competent governance during its twelve years of majority now seeks to instruct the new president, who hasn’t yet had time to sort out his new key ring, exactly how things ought to be run.

John Boehner in the House and his counterpart, Mitch McConnell, the replacement for Ted Stevens as the face of irascibility in the Senate, quickly assembled on deck a dozen or so other loose cannon to obstruct the disbursal of the next round of TARP funds and fight against Obama’s stimulus package. Forget the fact that they tripped all over themselves to approve the bailout of banks and brokers under the recent stewardship of jolly King George.

Following their obscene treatment of American automakers and labor they are now delaying the approval of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary because of her support for American Labor and, worse, her support of the “Employee Free Choice Act,” which corporate America is spending vast fortunes to defeat and I assume  Republicans are opposed to out of something more tangible than conservative principle.

They are the same old Republican Party, prowling the mall like jackals or perched buzzard like on the fences waiting for any opportunity to transfer public wealth to the ruling class, any chance to create greater disadvantage for the working class.

The landscape that Republicans envision when they speak of “America” is one far different than that seen by the average Democrat. I for instance see no beauty in long lines of the unemployed waiting for a job at minimum wage or less. To a Republican that is an idyllic image, warming to the heart.

Harry Truman once said:

The Republicans believe that the power of government should be used first of all to help the rich and the privileged in the country. With them, property, wealth, comes first. The Democrats believe that the power of government should be used to give the common man more protection and a chance to make a living. With us the people come first.

In my opinion Obama would be wise to ride his mandate, to maintain the strong cyber link to the body politic and use it to pressure the Democratic majority in the direction it would travel naturally were it not for the corrupting influence of corporate money. I would urge our new President to lose some of his zeal for the grail of “bipartisanship” and simply take his case to the people, and, like an old fashioned Democrat, govern in their name.

Harry also said this:

“I don’t like bipartisans. Whenever a fellow tells me he’s bipartisan, I know that he’s going to vote against me.”

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

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