This is sure to make things better

James Fallows has a great post on why the machinery of Congress has ground to a grinding, screeching halt. He quotes an anonymous Hill staffer:
The way parliamentary parties maintain their discipline is straightforward. No candidate can run for office using the party label unless the party bestows that label upon him or her. And usually, the party itself and not the candidate raises and controls all the campaign funds. As every political scientist knows, the fact that in the U.S. any candidate can pick his or her own party label without needing anyone else's approval, and can also raise his or her own campaign funds, is why there cannot be and never really has been any sustained party discipline before -- even though it is a feature of parliamentary systems.

The GOP now maintains party discipline by the equivalent of a parliamentary party's tools: The GOP can effectively deny a candidate the party label (by running a more conservative GOP candidate against him or her), and the GOP can also provide the needed funds to the candidate of the party's choice. And every GOP member of Congress knows it. (Snowe and Collins may be immune, but that's about it.)

I've missed almost all the punditry this past week... but what I've seen seems almost like a lot of misleading fluff designed to fill the void that should follow an understanding of the foregoing, at least on the subject of 'why no bipartisanship?' There's really nothing more to be said about "why no bipartisanship," once one recognizes the GOP party discipline. On this issue, it's absolutely astounding to blame Obama or even the Congressional leadership (although Pelosi and Reid leave much to be desired otherwise). It's doubly astounding that the GOP did it once before, less perfectly, but with a very large reward for bad behavior in the form of the 1994 mid-term elections. Yet no one calls them on it effectively, and bad behavior seems about to be rewarded again. [emphasis in original]

Well, I think there's some blame to go around to Obama et al. The radio silence that greeted the Scott Brown win in Massachusetts (and the fact of that win, to begin with) while the Democrats in Congress ran for the hills was hardly the bold leadership I was hoping for.

That being said, I think the President spoke for a lot of us when he let the incredulity creep into his voice as he addressed the Republicans during the SOTU. (I did not see his address to the House GOP caucus, for the record.) I mean, really, GOP? You're going to filibuster everything?

So, of course what the country really needs right now is a GOP "purity test," watered down or otherwise. Because more rigid party-line voting is just what the doctor ordered.

I really, really hope one day we get rid of the filibuster. We can learn to live without it when we're in the minority, and it's being wielded irresponsibly to the detriment of our country.


  1. Let's try the gander sauce, waiter.

    "The Democrats can effectively deny a candidate the party label (by running a more liberal Democratic candidate against him or her), and the Democrats can also provide the needed funds to the candidate of the party's choice. And every Democratic member of Congress knows it."

    Hummm. Funny how it doesn't work out that way, isn't it?

    And the filibuster? The Rs don't filibuster everything, just the stuff that 70% of the voters detest and want stopped. Otherwise, the Ds could beat them over the head with it and surely peel off enough centrists to get to 60. After all, the idiot Bush managed to do whatever he wanted to do with fewer than 60 Rs his entire 2 terms. It couldn't be that Scary-smart is less talented at governing than the idiot Bush. Could it?

  2. Funny how what doesn't work out what way? I don't understand your point.

    As to your latter point, you and I both know that the Democrats were far more accomodating to Bush than the GOP is to Obama. Look at "No Child Left Behind" or the Patriot Act. True, much of that was craven obsequiousness after 9/11, but Bush got much more support from the minority than Obama is getting. It has nothing to do with talent.

  3. My point is that Fallows' purported party discipline mechanism works just as well for geese as ganders, although he doesn't appear to recognize this fact.

    The Dems were more accomodating to Bush because Bush wasn't trying to pass laws which most of the electorate do not support. It has nothing to do with the niceness of political parties. Rs can obstruct Obamacare because the People object to Obamacare; if Obamacare were popular, Ds would destroy obstructionists. Rs can obstruct insanity squared spending because the People object to insanity squared spending; if spending our way out of economic trouble were popular, Ds would destroy the objectionists.

    Mr. Bush, inarticulate as he was, did a far better job of persuading the country of his agenda than Pres. Obama. The proof of that pudding is in the eating. At least I didn't feel patronized in the Bush years, while Scary-smart thinks that he only needs to talk louder and slower to convince us.

  4. Puh-leeze. Bush did nothing of the sort. He had the support of the country because some horrible men flew planes into buildings, and the country was scared shitless. Then he invaded Iraq for no good reason, and demanded that we respect his right to do whatever he damn well pleased in a "time of war." Indeed, his apparatchiks and goons viciously attacked the patriotism of anyone who dared question him.

    Please. Bush's political methods made me want to puke, and don't sell me a bill of goods about his political skills.

  5. he invaded Iraq for no good reason

    Puh-leeze. You may not think the reasons were good, but there were reasons. He would not have carried Congress (Rs didn't have 60 votes, remember) without some plausible reasons.

    Speaking of goons attacking the patriotism of political opponents, what do you think of Sen. Lincoln, Dem, saying "I think it is sad they choose to do that. I think it is un-American and disrespectful." Henry Waxman, Dem, "It appears the Republican Party leadership in Congress has made a decision that they want to deny President Obama success, which means, in my mind, they are rooting against the country as well." Obama's head at the CIA, Leon Panetta, "[about Cheney's criticism] he's wishing this country would be attacked again, to make his point." Obama's team is just as bad. The Ds are just as willing to smear opponents as the Rs. A pox on both parties.

    In fact, the media smears opponents of Obama as well, here's the NYT's Frank Rich "If Reid can serve as the face of Democratic fecklessness in the Senate, then John McCain epitomizes the unpatriotic opposition." Eugene Robinson, WaPo, "Why, oh why, do conservatices hate America so?" Ed Schultz, MSNBC, "The attack on President Obama trying to get the Olympics is about the most un-American thing I think I've ever seen." Cynthia Hardy, MSNBC, "[Regarding Joe Wilson] what you get is this blatant disregard for the office of the Presidency, which is extremely un-American." Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, "But they're trying to delegitimize him any way they can, be as disrespectful, not just to him but to the office, as they can, and to my mind, to be actually what I would call unpatriotic in their approach." I can't recall the MSM doing that in Bush's terms.

    Obama's political methods make me want to puke, too, so I can understand where you are coming from. I think Bush kicks Obama's butt every day of the week and twice on Sunday when it comes to political skill. IMHO, YMMV.

  6. You call the basis for the invasion of Iraq whatever you want, John. "Reasons" works for you. I prefer "lies."

    And nothing, not one thing the Democrats have done, comes within a country mile of what the GOP did to Max Cleland.

    Re: the media, save your protests. Yes, there are plenty of liberal pro-Obama partisans out there. Do I even need to turn your attention to Fox News, Limbaugh, etc? Let's call it a wash.

    Finally, you think Bush kicks Obama's ass? Free country, man. You and I will have to agree to disagree on that one.

  7. hate to disagree Dan, or Fallows, or whoever but in NJ the Governor was a political moderate elected in spite of the Club for Greed folks. (you should have seen the lunatic they endorsed, he got clobbered) You might be right in the deep south only the purest of the pure get the nod, but when they try that elsewhere it backfires time and again. As to the NY Congressional race, one it also backfired, and two, there was no primary. If there had been one the Republican would likely have won. And Scott Brown is pro-choice who accepts gay marriage, not exactly up there on the purity test either. What is killing the Republicans is that they lost all the seats that moderate Republicans held, leaving only hard red districts safe.


  8. Sorry, didn't finish my thought, since only hard red districts are represented, people think that is all there is of the party, but Republicans are not completely stupid. They nominated a man who was on John Kerry's short list for VP because they thought he could win, not because they agreed with him. They will likely do that in 2012. Think Romney.

    As to this little pissing match with gj (who thinks substituting Democrats in place of Republicans is any kind of rebuttal) what you do best is stay above that kind of fray. I couldn't do anything but roll my eyes at that quote of his. Yes, sure gj, Democrats are famous for ensuring party discipline. As Will Rogers said "I don`'t belong to any organized political party, I am a Democrat." He is still right.


  9. By the way GJ per your other posting, Obama can't get rid of DADT, it is Federal Law US Code Title 10 Subtitle G Section 654. Please, please, please stop with the utter ignorance. It can only be repealed by Congress. Learn something about American government and law for once.