The Liberal Myth of Republican Obstructionism

E.J. Dionne’s column in The Washington Post this past Monday decried not racism, a tradition he most masterfully practices, but that other boogeyman of the Democrats: Republican obstructionism. For the record, Mr. Dionne is one of the Post’s more confused writers.

He whines:

“Republicans decided to do all they could to make the president unsuccessful. Their not-so-subliminal message has been: We will make the country ungovernable unless you hand us every bit of legislative, executive and judicial power so we can do what we want.”

Like I said: confused.

Does Dionne forget that when Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress in January 1995, President Clinton moderated himself accordingly, bringing himself back towards the center in order get things done and be, at least compared to Obama, a successful president? Does Dionne forget that when Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress in January 2007, President Bush moderated himself accordingly, bringing himself back towards the center in order to get things done and be, at least compared to Obama, a successful president? (I note here that the Democrats’ takeover of Congress in 2007 coincides with when the economy started to tank. Make of that what you will.)

In order to believe that Republicans are preventing President Obama from being a successful president, Dionne must be writing under the pretense that Obama is already a centrist who cannot further moderate himself. (I’ll say it again: confused.) But, following the progression of logic, to say that Obama has been prevented from being successful is necessarily to say that he has been a failure. So I’ll concede this point to Dionne: Obama has failed.

But in what way were Republicans obstructing President Obama’s dreams for his “fundamental transformation” of America when, for his first two years, Democrats controlled the House, Democrats controlled the Senate, and Democrats had a fair stack-up in the Supreme Court? Obama could have lobbied for and signed virtually anything he wanted to for his entire first two years. And now that Republicans currently control one-half of one-third of the government, Democrats blame Republicans for blocking progress. While the House is busy passing bills, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) doesn’t even allow those bills to be brought up for a vote in his side of the chamber. What do we call this if not obstruction? Methinks the Democrats give Republicans too much credit. Either that or Republicans are just that astonishingly and unprecedentedly effective.

E.J. Dionne also asks in his column, “Will [Republicans] be open to compromise on the budget?”

I have a better question: Will Democrats even pass a budget? It is their constitutional duty to do so and yet they have managed to evade that responsibility for three years now. In light of this, I have a compromise, Dionne, since your side doesn’t even know what a budget looks like: the Senate gets to go three full years without any budget to speak of, and for the fourth year, the Senate signs whatever budget the House gives it. It’s a retroactive compromise. Deal?