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Bill Clinton: Republicans on Automatic

Monday, February 16, 2009

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Partisanship, by the Bye

By Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker


Throughout the fortnight-long Battle of the Stimulus Package—the Capitol Hill confrontation that culminates this week in a signing ceremony for a historically unprecedented piece of legislation that will inject more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars’ worth of adrenaline into America’s fluttering economic heart—one question preoccupied commentators and observers, especially those desperate for relief from the daunting substance of the matter: was President Obama being “bipartisan” enough?

Some discussed the question calmly, others less so; but there was something like a consensus that if non-trivial numbers of Republican legislators failed to support the stimulus bill the fault, and the obloquy, would be Obama’s. “The bill will be judged a political success not simply if it becomes law, but if it’s deemed ‘bi-partisan,’ ” ABC’s “The Note” Web site warned. The Los Angeles Times, while calling the bill’s quick passage in the House of Representatives a “big legislative victory” for Obama, cautioned that “it was clear that his efforts so far had not delivered the post-partisan era that he called for in his inauguration address.” (The man had been in office for eight days—a tight schedule for era-delivering.) On the Senate floor, the remarks of Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, provided evidence that an age of perpetual political peace had not yet dawned. “This bill stinks!” Senator Graham exclaimed. And:
The process that’s led to this bill stinks! . . . There is no negotiation going on here! Nobody is negotiating! We’re making this up as we go! The polling numbers are scaring the hell out of everybody, and they’re in a panic! They’re running from one corner of the Capitol to the other to try to cobble votes together to lower the cost of the bill to say we solved the problem! This is not the way you spend a trillion dollars!
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