Friday, March 6, 2009

More Personnel Issues

In comments yesterday, Dana Hunter left a hint about another personnel issue that President Obama is facing. In a word, it's pettiness:

Their stalled nominations serve as another reminder that Obama may find it difficult to live up to his campaign promise of changing the partisan culture in Washington.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada “was outrageous in abusing the Senate’s advise and consent powers,” said Tony Fratto, a former Bush spokesman. “So no one should be surprised if Senate Republicans follow the precedent he set.”

Obama’s Economy Team Lacks Top Aides as Senate Delays (Update1)

This has been a long-standing practice in the Senate. Reid hasn't been either exceptional nor particularly successful at it. In fact, he came in for a lot of criticism for not blocking some knuckledragger federal judges.

I've hit on this theme before, as have lots of others, but what is readily apparent here is that one party is playing the same partisan games now that it played last session, and the other is trying to get something done, despite disagreements both within their own ranks and with the opposition. In fact, the latter party has been entirely too accommodating (lots more where those came from). This New York Times article from last month tells a typical tale:

As Republicans confronted President Obama in another budget battle last week, their leadership included another new face: Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, who as the party’s chief vote wrangler is as responsible as anyone for the tough line the party has taken in this first legislative standoff with Mr. Obama. This battle has vaulted Mr. Cantor to the front lines of his party as it tries to recover from the losses of November.

As Republican whip, Mr. Cantor succeeded again on Friday in denying the White House the support of a single House Republican on the stimulus bill. That was a calculated challenge to the president, who, in his weekly address on Saturday, hailed the bill as “an ambitious plan at a time we badly need it.”


[I]t is Mr. Cantor who is pushing the party in a direction that Democrats, and some Republicans, say is risky: almost lock-step opposition to Mr. Obama’s economic plan. Democrats have already made clear that they intend to use those votes against Republicans in 2010, and sooner, with advertisements noting the middle-class tax cuts included in the bill.
In Gingrich Mold, a New Voice for Solid Republican Resistance

This is their strategy - simply to make anything the Obama Administration or Democrats in Congress try to do as difficult as possible. What is shocking is how unified they have been in that effort.

How is that working out for the GOP? Not well, according to just about any poll on the subject. Here's one example:
Image credit: Pollster

Now that the Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress, public approval has been climbing.

Here's another example:

After Barack Obama's first six weeks as president, the American public's attitudes about the two political parties couldn't be more different, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.

Despite the country's struggling economy and vocal opposition to some of his policies, President Obama's favorability rating is at an all-time high. Two-thirds feel hopeful about his leadership and six in 10 approve of the job he's doing in the White House.


By comparison, the Republican Party — which resisted Obama's recently passed stimulus plan and has criticized the spending in his budget — finds its favorability at an all-time low. It also receives most of the blame for the current partisanship in Washington and trails the Democrats by nearly 30 percentage points on the question of which party could best lead the nation out of recession.

Poll: Obama's Rating At All-time High

Dana has more examples. It's not a pretty picture. The only thing in the GOP's favor is that it's almost two more years until the next congressional election.

It would be one thing if this obstruction were based on some particular principle of government. If it were, there would be a particular pattern to the obstruction. Instead, it appears to be simply to make things as difficult as possible in general, so that the Republicans will look good in comparison.

At this point, it's not working out that way.

UPDATE: I forgot to point out Dana's article from this morning, which also provides examples of Republican obstructionism.


One Fly said...

They'll continue to do the same because it's all they have and when you have some Dems siding with them it's a even better deal for them to spin.

I see no change in this behavior by the right even though it may be hurting them. The result will be that legislation passed will be compromised considerably.

Cujo359 said...

I don't see it changing, either. It's what Rush Limbaugh and some of the other "thought leaders" of the Republican Party want right now. Every time someone takes on Limbaugh, they end up backing down. Until that particular pattern changes, I don't see anything else changing, either.