Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of disunion.

Watched the State of the Union address last night, as I'm sure many of you did. It saddens me deeply that even Obama's long and eloquent section on the unprecedented importance of non-partisanship at this juncture in American life would be attacked, later, in a totally partisan manner: The Dems applauded it, the Republicans tore it to shreds. I guess none of them has much appreciation of irony.

We have to get past this notion of politics-as-Super Bowl, where you root for your team and I root for mine, and all that matters is which team wins, and thus there's no hope (nor even any real reason) for conciliation on either side. If we don't defeat that, it will defeat us.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've read a lot of books about the presidents, founding fathers and various politicians in the U.S. What is going on with Obama now, and bush and Clinton before him, is rather weak.

Politics in the U.S. has always been dirty, brutal, divisive, and corrupt. Nothing has changed; no new trails are being blazed here.

Anonymous said...

Well put, Steve!

Markus said...

Guru Watch? I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Markus, I second that.

NormDPlume said...

Everybody wants partisanship to end when they want their pet projects to pass. Bush the Lesser begged for an end to partisanship when he wanted to privatize Social security, and Obama wants and end to partisanship for Socialized Medicine.

Pleas for ending partisanship is just Washingtonspeak for "Let me have my way, damnit!"

Steve Salerno said...

I don't agree, Norm. And I think that to make such a statement amid the climate we now see in Washington bespeaks, well, some extremely partisan thinking on your part. In and of itself, a call for an end to partisanship is a neutral thing; it doesn't have an agenda. And if the call to end partisanship is occurring in the context of Obama's plan to engineer universal health coverage and other Democratic "reforms," let's not forget that the man was sent to D.C. (along with the rest of the national Democratic ticket at the time) with a mandate. What they wanted done, should've been done: We should've had socialized everything by now, plus maybe a ban on guns and the rest of it, and see how it all worked out. And then if it doesn't work, kick the bastards out and start over. But to fight the man tooth and nail over every comma and semi-colon, and then in effect scream "See? The liberal-Democratic agenda just isn't what the nation wants or needs!"...that's some pretty dirty pool, in my opinion.

NormDPlume said...

Steve:

Partisanship is part of politics, and now "your guy" is tasting it. The climate we now see in Washington is nothing new: why else were Justices Alito, Roberts and Thomas the epicenter of such contentious approval hearings? They were branded as "extremists" even though their records were rather unoffensive.

The truth is politicians are better at their jobs when they act in opposition as opposed to leadership positions. The republicans of the 1990s proved they couldn't lead a three-car funeral procession, and Pelosi and Reid are proving just as inept and corrupt.

Obama's mandate expired, he squandered his political capital early, and is now a one-termer. The election for the Kennedy seat has proven that Americans prefer gridlock.

Steve Salerno said...

Norm, you're basically using a variant of the Sean Hannity technique here, which works as follows: I bring up a Democratic nominee who's having trouble getting Congressional approval, you bring up Bork; I bring up some sticky situation in which a GOP pol finds himself, you bring up Chappaquiddick.

Why can't we just take a stand on fairness and nonpartisanship that applies to all? (Oh, wait, excuse me, I'm being insufficiently cynical and fatalistic...)

Cosmic Connie said...

Amen, Steve, on the need for nonpartisanship. I hardly ever write about politics on my own blog but was inspired by events around the "State of Disunion.
http://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2010/01/this-is-your-brain-on-politix.html

NormDPlume said...

"Why can't we just take a stand on fairness and nonpartisanship that applies to all?"

First, nonpartisanship is not related to "fairness". Both parties were nonpartisan and in support of slavery and denying women the vote in 1800; but it wasn't very fair at all.
Second, nonpartisanship is a very rare condition in a two-party system when it comes to new legislation and amending the rules of power.

Steve Salerno said...

Norm: I was proposing fairness and nonpartisanship as two separate things.

And when I say nonpartisanship, I'm not referring to genuine disagreements over policy, which two different parties would be expected to have. I'm using the phrase in its most current sense, which is, "If you say it, then by definition I hate it." If Obama were to come out tomorrow and say the sky is blue, the GOP would disagree vehemently and accuse him of trying to hijack American democracy. In fairness, the likes of Pelosi and Schumer do the same. Everything today is about positioning yourself for the next election cycle and/or playing to an audience (and the two are, of course, related).

What happened to the Statesmen, who support a given idea or action because they honestly believe it's the right thing to do?

Anonymous said...

'What happened to the Statesmen, who support a given idea or action because they honestly believe it's the right thing to do?'

Mass media. Politicians have now to play to the mass media rather than taking the elitist position of being a grand statesman who decides what is the right thing for others and the pursues it, often without letting the masses know what is being pursued. Let's have more partisanship in our two party system, not less.

RevRon's Rants said...

The worst thing about our political process having devolved into a "candy mint vs. breath mint" argument is that the mint never gets eaten, and is never afforded the opportunity to improve our lives. Nothing gets done save for posturing.

Perhaps it's about time to replace the party of yes and the party of no with a party of perhaps. Or no party at all...