Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's wrong with Thomas Frank?

He'd rather have good policy than bipartisanship. (h/t Balloon Juice)

For the Beltway commentariat, however, transcending partisanship is the most meaningful of issues, more important, one senses, than the economic problems that trouble those people at town-hall meetings. "Nothing was more central to [Obama's] victory last fall than his claim that he could break the partisan gridlock in Washington," wrote the Washington Post's David Broder a few weeks ago, in an altogether typical expression of media perceptions.

The way I remember it, the No. 1 issue in the election was the collapsing economy, followed at some distance by the Iraq war. On both of these questions, Mr. Obama prevailed because he was the candidate who promised most convincingly to reverse Republican policies -- not because he planned to meet the GOP halfway across the charred ruins of American prosperity.


It is supposed to be high-minded stuff, this longing for a bipartisan golden age. But in some ways it is the most cynical stance possible. It takes no idea seriously, since everything is up for compromise. The role of the political parties is merely to cancel each other out, so that only the glorious centrists remain, triangulating majestically between obnoxious extremes.


Does anyone in the media commentariate realize that the "golden age" of bipartisanship (the 1950's and 1960's?) was a function of the schizophrenic New Deal coalition, which pitted conservative Democrats from the confederate states of America against more moderate Democrats and Republicans from the North, and since then the golden era of bipartisanship there has been a regional and ideological realignment of the parties?