You cannot paint a house green…

By , 30 September, 2008, 1 Comment

and then complain about the color.

But that’s exactly what conservative Republicans are doing on talking head shows this week. Over and over again, when asked to explain how the bailout bill self-imploded yesterday, they cite “partisan bickering.” Frankly, I’m with Gail Collins on partisanship: it’s just part of the process. But even if you think, as did George Washington, that parties are a great evil, the phrase just doesn’t apply here.

Let’s review:
Bailout proposed by REPUBLICANS Paulson and Bernanke.
Bailout revised via negotiations with top Senate DEMOCRATS.
Revised bill supported by REPUBLICAN President Bush.
Passed by Senate DEMOCRATS and REPUBLICANS.
Dies in the House, 40 DEMOCRATS, 130 REPUBLICANS vote “no.”

The tension here, between supporters and opponents of the bill, has less to do with party allegiance than it does with who’s up for reelection: CNN reported today than 2/3 of “no” votes came from members in contested races this November. Despite the frozen credit markets and concerns about jobs and home loans, the plan just hadn’t won over most voters.

And if there IS an ideological line to be drawn between those who were for and against this bill, it’s not between Democrats and Republicans, but between conservative Republicans in the House (who made up the lion’s share of naysayers) and moderates in the Senate/the Executive agencies (who proposed and drafted the bill). Having brought DOWN a bipartisan bill by breaking with their own party, Congressional Republicans are now blaming partisan differences for the collapse of the plan.

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Here’s what infuriates me most about this tactic. “Partisan bickering” is code for a belief that the governmental process is general is more of a problem than a solution to Main Street woes, and thus (as these conservatives belief) that we should reduce the size of government. To sabotage that process when it IS working, just so that you can claim on the talk show circuit that the process DOESN’T work is a cheap, base political ploy. In fact, it’s partisan politics.

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