The Atlantic’s James Fallows has an interesting take on why bipartisanship can’t work. He starts with this anecdote:
I got this note from someone with many decades’ experience in national politics, about a discussion between two Congressmen over details of the stimulus bill:
“GOP member: ‘I’d like this in the bill.’
“Dem member response: ‘If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?’
“GOP member: ‘You know I can’t vote for the bill.’
“Dem member: ‘Then why should we put it in the bill?’
Bipartisanship is a grand goal and part of a democratic ideal. But it simply does not work when one party refuses to play along — in this case, when the party in the minority votes against bills in a monolithic bloc. We can exhort the Democrats all we want to foster cooperation, but after Massachusetts, Republicans smell blood; they’ll be even less inclined to engage in any give-and-take when they’ve been so effective at no-no-no.
As a side note, I loved the point Doris Kearns Goodwin made about filibusters to Jon Stewart last week. (More at the jump.)
Goodwin urged Democrats to call Republicans’ bluff; just let them filibuster:
DKG: Let them filibuster. You realize how great they’re going to look, these Republicans, trying not to go to the bathroom. When Strom Thurmond was filibustering for 24 hours, he took a steam bath to get all the liquids out of him so he wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. Finally he had to go, and the filibuster was broken. So let them try it. …
JS: … Apparently 80 or 85 percent of all legislation is filibustered. Is that at an historic high?
DKG: No, this is definitely an historic high that’s going on. For the civil rights act in 1964, they filibustered for 57 days. And finally the country got up in arms, and they broke the filibuster. So that’s what I’m saying: Let them do it. Let them do it. They go there and they read their recipes, they tell about their women, they talk about whatever’s on their mind. They’re going to look like jerks.