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John Ridley Headshot

The Republican Bipartisan Myth

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Shangri-la and Brigadoon and Bipartisan. Three mythical places. One of which few Republicans have seemingly ever heard. Because if there is one thing we can take from the first weeks of the "New" Washington, it's that the (liberal) Democrats are incompetent (old news, really) and the Republicans are disingenuous when it comes to bipartisanship. Oh, sure, they talk up the swellness of President Obama every chance they get. And will continue to do so as long as his approval numbers are above fifty percent. But most GOPers tend to become like children who dance hysterically in a sandbox when it comes time to play with others.

Despite all the sit-downs Obama had with the Republicans -- apparently too many for Speaker Pelosi's tastes -- and despite the fact that the House version of the Stimulus Bill contained specific tax breaks for which the Republicans had asked -- though not to the degree they wished -- not a single GOPer would break ranks, step up and vote for the bill. A surprisingly "my way or the highway" attitude for the minority party whose eight years of good cogitating was a major factor in whipping America into the stellar fiscal shape we find ourselves.

When three Republican Senators voted for the Senate version of the bill -- Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Maine Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan M. Collins, who in particular worked tirelessly with moderate Dem Sen. Ben Nelson to try and reach a true bipartisan compromise -- they were immediately put on a "hit" list by the conservative National Republican Trust PAC. The PAC's executive director Scott Wheeler stated: "We just want to send a message that we're going to have a long institutional memory, and we're going to remind your constituents of what you did."

What they did? What'd they do? Vote for a bill that might ultimately not be big enough to get the country out of the worst economic mess most Americans have ever lived through? Wouldn't it be punishment enough to dis-invite them to some soirée held at South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson's whites-only country club? To be fair, Dawson resigned his membership to the Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia, SC last September. That was just a gratuitous dig I had to throw in because... I wouldn't have been allowed into the club to hand it to him personally. But to the point of Trust PAC's tactics; sure, it's not unusual for one political party to target another political party over a vote. But for a party to head hunt their own...?

And then, of course, there's Judd Gregg. Never mind that Gregg himself lobbied for the job of commerce secretary, never mind New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch making a deal to appoint Republican J. Bonnie Newman to Gregg's seat. When it came time to engage in the greater good, Gregg, in his own words, realized he could not be a "team player." Worse, working with the president he "couldn't be Judd Gregg." Political solipsism if ever there was. Gregg being something like the T.O. to the Senate.

Regardless of the Republicans' centrist deceptions, I would hope that Obama continues to rise above and reach out. Hopefully there will be others such as Specter, Snowe and Collins who put the people's work above myopic party ideology. But if nothing else, as the economy improves, President Obama's actions will serve to shame the lip servers of bipartisanship into taking up true residence.

For more perspective, visit www.thatminoritything.com.

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