It is as I predicted. Obama has offered the GOP their own proposals and they are lining up to reject them, not because they don’t like them, but because Obama offered them, and, as they have not been shy about stating, their main objective is to get him out of office. Anything that helps the country increases the difficulty of that objective, and so to help their cause, they cannot do what they are paid to do, which is serve the country. That is the broad effect of the power politics in which party needs trump public needs. We can still hope there are enough sincere, honest, moral, patriotic republicans in congress who do not subscribe to the party-first philosophy so clearly manifest at this moment.
` Perhaps the Democrats on the whole are no better. The party-first mentality seems endemic in Washington. But as for Obama himself, the critics cannot have it both ways. If he does not put party above the public need, if he assumes goodwill on the other side and seeks compromise, he is called naive. He is said to be “way over his head.” If he does not do these things, he is said to be catering to political interests—putting party above country. Damned either way when in fact he is either (as he is) a man willing to reach out to either party or annoy both parties in order to weave a mutually acceptable solution to intractable problems, or he is (as he is not) a typical politician.
It may be naïve to believe there is enough goodwill on the other side to get work done. But is there any other way to avoid the trap of party-first politics? I submit that there is not. It is cynical, illogical (and if you do it consciously and politically it is hypocritical) to criticize the president whether attempts compromise or whether he refuses to do so.
In his attempt to compromise, he puts himself in a position in which, because the other side will not compromise, he is forced to cave in to their position or do nothing. Boehner boasts he received 98% of what he asked for in the debt-ceiling circus. If he can have such success with Obama, why would he not support him in 2012? Would he get as much from a Republican president?
Obama needs to fight harder, to assume less goodwill on the part of the opposition, which has so blatantly asserted that it has no goodwill, no interest in goodwill, no interest in compromise, no interest in helping the country if that includes making the president look good to any voter. At the same time he cannot give up and retreat into party-first politics. That sort or cynicism would only further decay our already badly decayed political process. Every honest politician on either side has to assume goodwill on the other side even when it is naïve to do so, even when the other side has none to offer. Every true patriot has to back away from ideologically driven refusals to compromise. People who don’t believe in tax hikes must be willing to vote for them anyway. People who don’t wish to cut essential spending programs must be willing to cut them anyway.
The hurting family may have to choose between the air conditioner and the TV.