Sunday, January 25, 2009


Republicans signaled Sunday that they would not be daunted by President Obama's soaring approval ratings, criticizing his proposed $825-billion economic stimulus plan, his strategy for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and his decision to exempt a top-ranking Pentagon appointee from new ethics rules.

Some of the sharpest criticism came from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the party's challenger to Obama in the election and the recipient of aggressive outreach as part of the new president's efforts to forge an image of bipartisanship.

Obama honored McCain on the eve of last week's inauguration with a bipartisan candlelight dinner, and he has solicited his former rival's advice on top appointments. McCain has returned the favor by pressing fellow Republicans to speedily confirm Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But Sunday, McCain had few kind words for Obama's initial moves as president. He called it "disingenuous" for the White House to impose new rules to limit the influence of lobbyists but immediately claim an exemption for William Lynn III, the nominee to be deputy Defense secretary, who has lobbied on behalf of defense contractor Raytheon Co.

The whole story.

I really hope all Obama's talk about bipartisanship was aimed more at the Beltway media hacks, and not the Republicans -- otherwise Obama is going to end up looking like a naive fool. Because the Republicans don't care about "bipartisanship," and sitting on a loyal, albeit rump, base that is geographically discrete, and with the backing of an extensive media support network, they don't have to. Getting anything done is going to require slugging it out -- it's the only game the Republicans play. Obama might score some style points with all his pretty talk, but he'd better be able to back it up with some hard punching when it comes down to it.

Interesting that when the Republicans ran the show, any hint of a lack of obedience on the part of the Democrats was met by a firestorm of demands for "bipartisanship," the word "obstructionism" was heard in every news story, and the "liberal" members of the punditocracy wrung their hands and predicted utter doom for the Democratic Party unless they shut up, sat down, and voted for whatever it was that the Republicans wanted. I haven't seen one prediction of doom for the Republicans, despite Obama's sky-high approval ratings, a disastrous economic picture created by Republican misrule that demands immediate attention, and the Republicans getting blown out in two consecutive elections, while their brand name is down there with Enron's. Bipartisanship sure is an odd word in Washington.