Anyone who's spent any time reading the work of David "Dean of the White House Press Corps" Broder knows that he places a higher priority on the ability of legislators to achieve bipartisan comity than he does on the ability of legislators to actually craft good legislation. His big problem with the health care reform bill was that it failed to avoid the budget reconciliation process and was thus not covered in enough bipartisanship sauce to avoid the "inevitable vagaries" of the "shakedown period," whatever that is.
And when legislators fail to get along, he tends to blame both sides, no matter where the balance of breakdown rationally lies. Lets recall that when the Senate failed to create its own deficit reduction commission, Broder inexplicably called out Democratic "committee chairmen" as a responsible party, despite the fact that ten of the sixteen Democratic committee chairmen in the Senate voted for the commission.
Well, via Greg Sargent, it seems that Broder might be waking up to the fact that the breakdown in legislative discourse might be more one-sided than he previously believed. He clearly doesn't want to believe it, but at the end of a long lamentation on his typical themes (an "admirably candid" Mitch McConnell says the Senate is functioning just fine, thank you very much!), he finally gets around to this:
McConnell said he could foresee alliances with Obama on trade issues, on development of nuclear power and electric vehicles, and, most important, on disciplining the federal budget.
But then he threw a curve by endorsing the idea that the 14th Amendment guarantee of U.S. citizenship to every child born in this country, whatever the child's parentage, should be examined in congressional hearings. That is a radical change, freighted with emotional baggage, and if this is an example of what it would mean to have more Republicans on Capitol Hill, watch out.
It took the weird debate over tweaking the Fourteenth Amendment to awake Broder to the "radical changes" bubbling up on the right, that are "freighted with emotional baggage?" Welcome to August of last year, Mr. Broder!
By contrast, let's check in with Representative Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), recently ousted from his seat in Congress for the crime of not being radical-and-freighted-with-emotional-baggage enough:
Inglis, a conservative Republican from a state so red you worry it might set itself on fire, used to go after Bill Clinton with everything he had. But these days he comes up an even better American than a Republican, speaking his own mind, refusing to join a chorus of idiots and call Obama his enemy, or an enemy of the state. Inglis' state or anybody else's.
"I figured out early in the race I was taking a risk by being unwilling to call the President a socialist," Inglis says. "I'd get asked a question and they'd all wait to see if I'd use the word - socialist - they were throwing around. I wouldn't. Because I don't think that's what he is.
"To call him a socialist is to demean the office and stir up a passion that we need to be calming, rather than constantly stirring up."
Listen to the guy. He doesn't sound like some sore loser. Instead, Bob Inglis sounds like the ignored conscience of an increasingly crackpot party.
If you read Broder, you'd think these weird passions were emerging. But they are clearly culminating, and having a distorting effect across the political landscape. (See also Senator Bob Bennett, ousted for being reasonable.)
Mitch McConnell comes to the Senate's defense [Washington Post]
Republican Party starts to kill its own: S.C. Rep. Bob Inglis ousted for not hating Obama enough [New York Daily News]