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Frank Rich: “Bipartisan Consensus In America Is As Unachievable Now As It Was After 1964”

September 26, 2011

This whole  article is rather long, but as we know from Frank Rich’s writing and analysis from the past, well worth the time.

Should Perry get the GOP nomination, he could capsize like Goldwater on Election Day. That’s the universal prediction of today’s Restons. But maybe he won’t. Perry would have a cratered economy to exploit, unlike Goldwater, who ran in a boom time when unemployment was under 6 percent and the GDP was up 5.8 percent from the previous year. Whatever Perry’s 2012 electoral fate, his lightning ascent is final proof, if any further is needed in the day of the tea-party GOP, that a bipartisan consensus in America is as unachievable now as it was after 1964. 

This is the harsh reality Obama has been way too slow to recognize. But in his post–Labor Day “Pass this jobs plan!” speech before Congress, the lip service he characteristically paid to both Republican and Democratic ideas gave way to an unmistakable preference for Democratic ideas. Soon to come were his “Buffett rule” for addressing the inequities of the Bush tax cuts and a threat to veto any budget without new tax revenues to go with spending cuts. When he tied it all up in a Rose Garden mini-tantrum pushing back against the usual cries of “class warfare,” it was enough to give one hope. No, not 2008 fired-up hope, but at least the trace memory of it. Should Obama not cave—always a big if with this president—he might have a serious shot at overcoming the huge burdens of a dark national mood and flatlined economy to win reelection.


For Obama to pull it out against a slick conservative populist like Perry—or some yet-undeclared Perry alternative who could still emerge to usurp him among the tea-party troops—he cannot revert to his usual ways. Yet as recently as Labor Day, the White House was sending the message, as the Times reported, that it would “rebrand the president as a pragmatic problem solver prepared to set aside ideology.” Rebrand? That is the Obama brand. Surely someone at even this White House must recognize that it is in danger of being recalled by voters because the country’s problems have not been solved.

Obama can’t change his DNA. He is by definition a conciliatory man of the middle: as a black man raised in white America, as a mediator among warring political factions at The Harvard Law Review, as a community organizer, as a child of divorce. But sometimes blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, and moms and dads cannot reconcile their differences. Sometimes the negotiations and compromises that are the crux of politics are nonoperative. This is one of those times. The other side has no interest in striking grand bargains or even small ones. It wants not so much to reform government, a worthy goal, as to auction off its parts and distribute the proceeds to its corporate backers. It’s a revolution beyond the one even Goldwater or Reagan imagined. They didn’t talk about seceding from the union.

  1. September 26, 2011 6:30 PM



  2. Lee permalink
    September 26, 2011 5:58 PM

    We let the Tea Party surge in 2010, giving the impression of a big “no confidence” vote on this president. If we want our quarterback making big plays, we have to put some players out there to defend him so he’s not ducking and weaving and losing yardage, not to mention getting tackled and injured to the point he may be taken out of the game. Big business is winning, they’ve got the money to out-compete us. To be competitive, we need to be out there running defense, then Obama will be stronger and we’ll be stronger. Wall Street and the Republicans are fine with our economy failing. They’ll make big money off it and be in stronger political positions by blaming it all on Obama. We’ll be hit so hard we’ll all have concussions. Regulations will be weakened, the rich will get richer, the rest of us will struggle with less than minimum wage, part-time, no benefit jobs. Blame Obama all you want. The fault lies with us.

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