Friday, October 12, 2012
Reaching across the aisle
In college I was taught to be suspicious of a similarity of two situations if the differences between them outweighed the similarities. Let's compare Obama after 2010 with Romney as Governor of Massachusetts.
Mitt Romney faced a legislature in which 87 percent of the members were Democrats. He didn't have to deal with the Republicans at all. If he and the Democrats could agree on doing something, it would be done. Republicans played no part in the operation of the government. He could ignore the Republicans completely. There was no need to "reach across the aisle."
Barack Obama faced a House of Representatives with a Republican majority. The Democrats had a majority in the Senate but not enough to squelch a filibuster. The Senate and the House often disagreed on legislation. In addition, Mr. Obama faced a Republican Party that was devoted to making sure he didn't get reelected in 2012. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, stated as much publicly and often. Republicans were not interested in cooperation or compromise in the interest of getting anything done about the economy. Mr. Obama tried "reaching across the aisle" but accomplished nothing except to have his hand bitten.
The argument in favor of Mr. Romney comes down to "he's a Republican and Republicans in Congress will cooperate with him."
Most of the commentary I've seen or heard in print or on the air is based on assuming that both political parties are equally to blame for the gridlock. I don't accept that facile substitute for analysis. I heard Mr. McConnell speak those words: "Make sure he's a one-term President."