AP Making Shit Up Again?

This is classic. The AP runs a piece titled "Bill Clinton: Don't ruin victory with partisanship," provides absolutely no quote from Clinton containing the word "partisanship" yet closes the article with this necessary observation:

His message brought the partisan crowd -- still reveling in the first Democratic presidential victory in Virginia since 1964 -- to its feet.

Yes, it was a partisan crowd, since it was the -- ya know -- Virginia Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner Clinton spoke at. The AP uses the term as a neutral descriptor but in today's environment, aided and abetted by certain prominent elected officials of both parties (aww, see, there's some bipartisanship for ya!) as well as articles such as this one from The AP, "partisan" and "partisanship" have become dirty words.

What did Bill Clinton actually warn against? Looks to me that it was more a warning not to let ideology get in the way of progress.

"We have won the great culture war that has divided America for 40 years," Clinton said at Virginia's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. "But before we celebrate too much, we have to realize that people hired us to lead."

He warned the state's party activists not to become so blinded by ideology that they abandon prudent governance. He also counseled caution among Democrats, particularly as the economic stimulus package heads toward a Senate vote Monday, urging the party to focus more on how to solve the problem rather than asking only how much it costs.

Anything about partisanship in there at all? I'd be curious to see a transcript of Clinton's speech to get a sense of what exactly he did say, but so far it looks like The AP is simply inventing a reason to continue the fascination with "bi-partisan" process stories.

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Marc Ambinder, without sourcing, speculates about Romney:

Czar Mitt

President Obama could do worse. Romney has a bad reputation among Congressional Democrats, so I can't imagine they'd cotton to this. In fact, it's highly unlikely. But what Romney, in a bipartisan fashion, was able to do in Massachusetts -- even with caveats -- is pretty much the same as what Obama wants to do on a national level. Karen Tumulty notes that Romney is the only American who can claim the provision of universal health care as a resume line. Didn't help him in the GOP too much, but that's another discussion. If Obama wanted to bring Romney into the cabinet, he'd have to balance him by appointing a pro-choicer to a top HHS post because there are so many controversial, sexuality-related programs in that department that apportion money.  The thinking here is that Romney would be the White House health care czar and that a Democrat -- Gov. Kitzhaber of Oregon, maybe -- would move over to Health and Human Services.


The notion that Obama would replace Daschle's White House spot with a Republican is a complete non-starter. Dead. Impossible.

Gregg at Commerce (a relatively benign spot) toed the line. But there's absolutely no way Democratic groups, Congressmen, voters, political-button salesmen, or domestic furry pets would stand for this.

The fact that a Washington political reporter like Ambinder would even float the idea, however, really helps distill the Beltway's near-fetishistic obsession with theatrical bipartisanship. I don't mean to get all David Sirota here, but wow. Romney? Seriously?

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Spare us the bipartisanship

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Before President Obama prostrateshimself at the altar of bipartisanship, he should consider that working with political opponents should be a means to an end - not an end in itself.

When someone calls for bipartisanship, I immediately wonder:  Is the person not able to argue for the idea on its own merits?   Bipartisanship has come to mean putting aside your political convictions, if you have any.  This usually leads to disastrous results.

  • Bipartisanship kick-started the war in Iraq. So strong was the call for bipartisanship that Democratic and Republican Senators were willing to ignore the report from the United Nations weapons inspector who reported that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. The Senate voted a lop-sided 77 to 23 to give President Bush the green light for an unnecessary war.  This was not unlike the bipartisan Senate support - only 2 nay votes -- for the Tonkin Gulf resolution President Johnson used to send Americans to die in another lost cause.

  • Bipartisanship produced the Patriot Act, which the Senate passed 98 to 1 shortly after 9/11. Members of both parties admitted they did not read the act they voted on, even though they were warned it took away civil liberties.  The need to show bipartisanship overtook their responsibility to uphold the Constitution, protect the rights of their constituents, or even the duty to know what they were enacting.

  • Bipartisanship became an alibi for Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House intelligence committees, and the leaders of each party, who remained silent for four years even though they knew the president was authorizing illegal wiretapping of American citizens.  When the New York Times uncovered the government eavesdropping without a warrant, the Democrats (Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Sens. Jay Rockefeller, and Harry Reid) who had known all along about the surveillance on American citizens feigned outrage -- a bit like the Vichy general in the film Casablanca who is "shocked" that there is gambling going on in the casino.   In Washington, this type of behavior is excused because it is done in the interests of bipartisanship.  It reminds me of the words of the late comedian George Carlin, who said "bipartisanship usually means that a larger than usual deception is being carried out."

Where did we go wrong?  The word partisan took on darker connotations in the late 1980s and early `90s when Newt Gingrich showed Republicans that they could regain entrance to the halls of power through the doorway of the politics of personal destruction.  Instead of engaging in partisan debates on issues, Gingrich made partisanship synonymous with character assassination.

This page in the Republican handbook was practiced with gusto by President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft and many others in the Bush administration.  The vice president, in particular, often accused any Democrat who disagreed with him as helping terrorists.  After hearing these attacks for 8 years, Americans decided that the administration was a one-trick act.  Eventually they got bored and annoyed with the act.

Possibly in reaction to the Bush years, the public embraced Obama's non-belligerent personal style.   By being too cool to personally attack others, he gives people confidence that he can run the country better than those who relied on name-calling and fear-baiting to stay in power.

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NH-Sen & MN-Sen: Bipartisanship

As Josh Orton pointed out here earlier today, Democratic Governor John Lynch has released a statement making clear that he will appoint a Republican rather than a Democrat to fill the vacancy created should Democratic President Barack Obama name Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary.

That's right.  Not only is our Democratic President willing to put another Republican in his Cabinet (making three, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - I recall hearing today, but I have not confirmed, that three members of the opposing Party in the Cabinet at the same time is the most since FDR's first term!), but the Democratic Governor is willing to meet the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, despite the fact that the President, the Governor, and the clear political trend in New Hampshire is Democratic.

Democrats are bending over backwards to embody the spirit of bipartisanship to which Republicans in the Senate only exploit and pay lip-service.  Why do I say this, and what does this have to do with MN-Sen (though you've probably guessed by now)?

Minnesota only has one seated U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.  Norm Coleman's term expired last month, and Senator-elect Al Franken's seating is held up by Coleman's frivolous, foot-dragging, evidence-free lawsuit, which has featured apparently-doctored evidence by Coleman as well as notoriously dud witnesses and lies regarding cherry-picked voters.

There is state law in Minnesota that the Governor and Secretary of State cannot sign an election certificate if there is an election contest underway.  Fine.  Coleman has blocked Senator-elect Franken's election certification.  Whoopie for him.

Still, no one debates that the ultimate arbiter for the Senate race, as dictated by Section 5 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is the U.S. Senate (and that federal Constitutional law trumps state policy).  Further, there is precedent - very recent precedent, at that - of provisionally seating an uncertified-but-clearly-victorious Senate candidate while an election challenge was underway: Senator Mary Landrieu's first Senate victory in 1996, a provisional seating supported by Republicans (emphasis added by me):

There is, moreover, historical precedent for seating Franken on a temporary basis. In 1996, Mary Landrieu won the Louisiana Senate seat in a hotly contested race. But her opponent, State Representative Woody Jenkins, alleged that massive election fraud had contributed to his defeat. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate agreed to look into the charges but allowed Landrieu to serve in the interim, pending investigation. The Rules Committee ultimately discovered that Jenkins had coached and paid witnesses to testify, thus discrediting his complaints of corruption and securing Landrieu's place in the Senate.

That was then.  This is now:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has warned Democrats not to try to seat Al Franken any time soon, and he predicts the legal process will take at least a month to unfold, meaning the Senate may be stuck with 99 members well into February.

In an unusual move, Kyl went to the Senate floor this morning to lay out all the reasons why the Minnesota Senate election remains unresolved, and he listed Sen. Norm Coleman's arguments before the Minnesota courts. Coleman's election lawsuit contends there are newly discovered ballots, missing ballots, wrongly rejected absentee ballots and double counting of votes.

An election was held.  A manual recount was undertaken.  Contested ballots were reviewed one-by-one by an independent panel.  Independent local election officials then reviewed absentee ballots to determine which were properly rejected and which should be counted.  After every possible review was conducted, Al Franken led by 225 votes and the results were certified by the independent Canvassing Board (not to be confused with an election certificate).  Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman has been unable to provide any hard evidence at all that confirms any wrongdoing in the election or any misconduct or miscounting that would move the result substantively in his favor.  Norm Coleman lost, notwithstanding Jon Kyl's parroting of Coleman's political talking points on the Senate floor.  But he is contesting.  Fine.  He is availing himself of the legal system (that his Party would seek to curtail others' access to through so-called "tort reform," but that's another story).

In desperately clinging to the myth that votes were widely double-counted, the Coleman camp repeats the concept "one man, one vote." In the U.S. Senate, every state gets two Senators, two votes.  However, in the meantime, Minnesota only has one Senator.  Because of Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit and the Senate GOP's lack of that bipartisan spirit that they trumpet when it serves their ends, Minnesotans have only half of the representation and half of the avenues to constituent service in the U.S. Senate that every other citizen of the other 49 U.S. states has.

The U.S. Constitution is on Al Franken's side.  Republican-supported Senate precedent is on Al Franken's side.  And bipartisanship is on Al Franken's side.  Just as our Democratic President has seen fit to name a Republican Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and New Hampshire's Democratic Governor has seen fit to honor the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, it only seems fitting that Republican Senators ought to allow the (Constitutionally-supported and precedent-supported) provisional seating of Senator-elect Al Franken while Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit runs its course so that Minnesotans can enjoy full representation in the U.S. Senate once again.  It's good for Minnesota.  It's good for bipartisanship.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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That's the number of House Republicans who voted for the stimulus bill, despite the best efforts of a Democratic president to water it down for them. Is this how we're going to spend the next four years?

The Republicans aren't going away and they aren't going to change. I don't care how many Michael Steeles they trot out to "put a new face on the party". They're wedded to a right-wing, trickle-down ideology because 1) their base demands it 2) it's lucrative and 3) its simplemindedness makes it a powerful campaign tool--in the right circumstances.

This is not a good year to be a Republican, yet Barack Obama insists on giving them credibility. (If he really thinks the GOP is brimming with good ideas, we're in big trouble.) On substantive terms, getting more Republican votes than are absolutely necessary is going to make virtually all legislation worse. That's just a fact. So the only justification for pandering to them has to be that it's part of a long-term political strategy.

Does Obama believe that spending quality time with John Boehner is going to pave the way for a grand, bipartisan compromise on health care or anything else? That doesn't pass the laugh test.

Maybe he thinks "going the extra mile" will make the GOP look obstructionist and strengthen his hand with the public. That might happen, but he'd better not be counting on Wolf Blitzer to hammer home the message. At Think Progress, they're complaining about continued Republican dominance of the cable news guest list. Duh! What do they expect? Barack Obama has made bipartisanship the lodestar of his presidency. (As if the corporate media needs any more incentive than it already has to prop up Republicans!)

Then there's the outsized influence of David Axelrod, Obama's uber-Rove. His job in the White House is to prepare for 2012. Here's how I see his political calculus:

"I'd rather not have to re-invent the wheel. We won with a feel-good campaign in 2008, and my client has a nice-guy image worth its weight in votes. So--where do we stand today? For the foreseeable future--don't bring up foreign policy!--elections will be won or lost on the economy. But here's the thing--to a great extent, this recession will end when it ends. We might be able to ameliorate its awfulness, but how much credit will we get for our efforts? What's the difference between 9% unemployment and 8.5% unemployment? Barack is still going to get hammered. Is it worth it to fight for better policies and risk alienating the media? They're so touchy when it comes to their precious bipartisanship. In this case, half a loaf is way better than a whole loaf. After all, the world will still need us in 2013."

Does Obama see it like this? Who knows. But he certainly hasn't embraced the James Carville strategy--which I endorse--of throwing your drowning opponent an anvil.

It's going to take a long time to clean up the mess in this country. Politics needs to be about something. Democrats need to set the terms of the debate. They need to be clear about their solutions while attempting--respectfully--to highlight an unbroken line of Republican failure stretching from Hoover to Reagan to Bush to Boehner. They need to discredit--respectfully--the GOP and its policies the way the right-wing discredited the New Deal. (They can leave the vicious name-calling to the blogosphere. I'm more than happy to do my part.)

Of course, presidents may have their own priorities. That's why Obama needs to be pressured.

From my blog-- http:://www.sternlywordedletters.blogspot.co m

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