10 February 2009

Bewildering Pursuit of Bipartisanship

President Obama has been attempting to convince Republican members of the Senate to support his "stimulus package". He has not been dissuaded in his effort despite the fact that no Republicans in the House of Representatives succumbed to his pleas for support. His efforts beg the obvious question: Why bother?

Due to his victory in November, Obama claimed a mandate for change as he sees fit. To further bolster this claim, his supporters point to the increase in the Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress. Democrats have no need to beseech Republicans in the Senate. The numbers reveal the reality of the balance of power. Even if eight Democratic senators defect and oppose this legislation, the administration still has the winning card, a vice presidential casting of the tie-breaking vote, up its collective sleeve.

So what is the true purpose of attempts to lure some Republicans on board this ship? It will cruise up Pennsylvania Avenue whether or not the minority party helps unfurl the sails or tries to drop the anchor. No flimsy "spirit of bipartisanship" argument will not pass the "smell test". Politicians who reach the lofty status of membership in Congress or the Presidency have not achieved such powerful positions by gratuitously helping their opponents without some quid pro quo or ulterior motive in mind.

Since the Republicans find themselves in a debilitated minority status, only one explanation for the Democrats' efforts in seduction would make sense. Republican support for the bill, even if only a token gesture by those labeled as "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only) would give Obama and his party some reassurance. Those Republican votes would be deployed as cover when the economy further collapses following passage of the pork-laden package. Republicans' efforts to blame the anticipated continual economic decline on this bill would face a counterattacking salvo of "Republicans supported the bill too!" if any of their membership voted in favor of it. Even though those retorts would lack credibility since the bill was not Republican-originated nor widely favored among their members, that will not dissuade Democrats and their allies from screaming that refrain early and often.

If the Republicans have any hope of changing the current power distribution in the mid-term elections, they must differentiate themselves from Democrats. Unanimity in dissension, even if ultimately futile, will not go unnoticed by fiscal conservatives. Craven catering to further expansion of socialist welfare agenda would merely convince past supporters of Republicans that George Wallace was right: "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties."

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