Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What We Want

The news channel talking heads and Republicans are saying we don't really want bipartisanship, and there may be something to that. At some level, "bipartisanship" means the other side agreeing with the side we support. But this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg suggested the term needs to be through further. He pointed out that Republican governors and numerous right-leaning business organizations supported the stimulus package. Does a measure have to get House and Senate Republicans' support to be bipartisan?

And I don't think voters want or expect easy agreement between Democrats and Republicans, but I suspect they're sick of the the reflexive "No" and tyranny of the minority.

Hertzberg was on MSNBC because of his provocative take on bipartisanship, which is well worth reading. I can give you the ending, but there's a lot of meat along the way that this doesn't hint at:

Fifty years ago, the civil-rights movement understood that nonviolence can be an effective weapon even if—or especially if—the other side refuses to follow suit. Obama has a similarly tough-minded understanding of the political uses of bipartisanship, which, even if it fails as a tactic for compromise, can succeed as a tonal strategy: once the other side makes itself appear intransigently, destructively partisan, the game is half won. Obama is learning to throw the ball harder. But it’s not Rovian hardball he’s playing. More like Gandhian hardball.

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