Obama’s “Bipartisanship”–yer doin it wrong

When President Obama uses the word “bipartisanship” what he really means is for Republicans to sit down, shut up and wait while the Democrats write the bill, and then for Republicans to vote to enact the bill.  He uses it like a club to try to shame a few idiot Republicans such as Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe or Scott Brown to vote for the bill. 

I found an excellant article via Real Clear Politics written by Scott Hennessy which compares and contrasts how George W. Bush successfully enacted legislation with bipartisan support with how Obama, Pelosi and Reid failing to do so now.  Mr. Hennessy worked for President Bush for six plus years and knows what he is talking about.  I’m quoting extensively from his article, not so readers don’t have to read his article, but to entice them to go read the entire article.   If I just cited the title, “What can President Obama learn from President Bush’s bipartisan success?” you might think “boring” and not go read it.  Excellant article.  Here are some of his points:

“….President Obama needs to learn each of these lessons if he wants to succeed as President Bush did.

  • President Obama explains that his proposals include (modified versions of) Republican ideas.  That’s not how you bring the other party on board.  You can end up at the same place by bringing members of the other party into the room and negotiating with them.  Then they (in this case, Republicans) have ownership of the compromises and are more likely to support the final product.  The way you get someone to agree is by bringing him into the room and negotiating with him (or her).  Make the other guy feel like he got a win.
  • For a year he tried to enact legislation by relying on a universe of 60 votes from which he needed 60.  That’s nearly impossible to do on any important issue, especially when you simultaneously provoke the other 40 to stand firm by shutting them out.
  • On health care he undercut Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, whose bipartisan “Gang of Six” had the best chance to negotiate the core of a bipartisan compromise.  Recently Leader Reid blew up a Baucus-Grassley deal on the jobs bill, further poisoning the water for any potential future bipartisan efforts.  No Senate Republican can now have confidence that any Democratic committee chairman has the authority to negotiate a binding deal.  Why should Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham enter into bipartisan cap-and-trade negotiations after he saw what Reid did to Baucus-Grassley?
  • ….
  • The traditional legislative process [John Doe’s note: as opposed to behind closed doors with only your own party members]  creates legitimacy within the halls of Congress.  Committee markups, bipartisan negotiations, open amendment processes, and traditional open conferences are processes that create predictability, order, and a sense of fair play.  It is much easier to cultivate members of the minority party when they perceive you are playing by the rules.  Team Obama and their allies repeatedly try to bypass the rules, creating new substantive products behind closed doors and relying upon nontraditional legislative processes.  This undermines both public confidence and the minority’s willingness to play ball.  If Senator Reid were to allow floor amendments to be offered to major legislation, even amendments he might lose, he might not face quite so many filibusters and failed cloture votes….”

Excellant read, with nifty charts and written in a non-partisan vieewpoint.  Go check it out!

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