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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Silly Notion of Post Partisanship

If you want to create a spirited political debate, I suggest doing one of these two things. Tell a conservative that FDR's economic policies saved us from a perpetual depression. Also, tell a liberal that Ronald Reagan's economic policies saved us from Carter's stagflation and ushered in an era of economic growth. Here are two transcendant Presidential figures and yet nothing draws the ire of partisans than giving either any credit. It's in this context that I wonder about President Obama's proclamation that he will be post partisan. If Reagan and FDR didn't accomplish such a goal, how will he?

It is a confounding idea proposed by President Barack Obama. The idea that he will somehow be post partisan. This is one of those nice sounding concepts that's difficult to define, and in my opinion, impossible to attain. In his inauguration speech , here is what he said on the matter.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

Barack Obama is fond of saying that he wants to get beyond partisanship and do what works, what is right. It appears that President Barack Obama has fallen for the common fallacy of debate. There is a massive difference between thinking you are right and actually being right. President Obama should realize that if he does what he thinks is right that this will NOT make him special as member of the exclusive club of Commander in Chiefs. I hope that almost all decisions, if not all, were made by those before him by those that thought that particular decision was right.

Yet, just because he does what he thinks is right, this doesn't mean he will suddenly become post partisan. So far, in the first forty eight hours of his Presidency two issues have come to the forefront. The first is the issue of the stimulus package. This is a massive spending bill with tax credits masquerading as tax cuts. No real conservative would ever in their right mind support this stimulus package. Nor would any conservative with anything near a megaphone hold their tongue in criticizing it. There is absolutely nothing post partisan about this stimulus.

The second issue is the issue of GITMO and enhanced interrogations. He will try and end both. There is no hawkish GWOT thinker that thinks either is a good idea. Once again, no hawkish GWOT thinker with anything near a megaphone will mute their criticisms of the decision to close GITMO and end enhanced interrogations. So, what exactly is post partisan about this?

Ironically enough, if Barack Obama were to look for a post partisan model he need only look at his predecessor. President Bush supported tax cuts, free trade, but also a prescription drug benefit and a massive bailout. There's absolutely nothing about this set of ideas that is partisan. We can only assume that President Bush proposed all of these things because he thought they were the right thing to do. Isn't that post partisan? President Bush was one of the most socially conservative Presidents. Yet, his immigration policy was rather liberal. He proclaimed his intention to run a humble foreign policy only to do a 180 degree turnaround following 9/11. None of this was done on a purely partisan level. We can only believe that President Bush did all of these things together because he thought they were right. Yet, we don't think of President Bush as anything near post partisan.

So, President Obama has one of the most liberal voting record. He's proposed nothing but liberal ideals. Yet, he wants us to believe he's post partisan. It appears that to him post partisan means his decisions are right and anyone that disagrees is no longer post partisan. If that's the case, not only is it terribly arrogant to the point of hubris, but he will be in for a big surprise when he finds that partisan opponents to any of his decisions will not be muted.

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