Republicans sure have been saying "No" a lot in the first few days of the Obama administration. "Nay" to the fiscal stimulus package. "Nein" to an extension of the analog television signal. "Ummm, no" to various and select Cabinet positions, either via vote or through intentional delaying tactics.
President "Consensus" H. Obama even rankled some Democrats by meeting with key GOP leaders to discuss his fiscal stimulus package, and aggravated others by including additional tax cuts, a Republican stalwart idea, at the expense of infrastructure spending, in an attempt to gain minority support for his initiative. In the end, not one Republican House member voted for the fiscal stimulus. Zero. Nada.
Some Dems are squawking that since they are the party in power, controlling the Congress and White House, Obama should not have given away key Democratic stimulus items while including GOP tax giveaways that would have a marginal effect (at best) at stimulating the economy. Instead, the Dems parrot, they should push through their agenda and the heck with the Republicans. They lost.
That approach is wrongheaded in several ways, and serves to point out some key differences between the Democrat's governing model of the past, and the Obama model of the present.
While unsuccessful on the stimulus package, Obama's effort to reach out to the GOP accomplished several important items. First, it demonstrated that he was serious about bipartisanship and listening to all sides, exactly as he said during his campaign that he would govern. This builds credibility that's two-fold; the American public is witness to a politician doing what he said he would do, even if it means angering some in his own party, and for those Republicans who might be considering bipartisanship (if there are any left - I'll cover that in a minute), it demonstrates a willingness to listen and incorporate ideas from across the political spectrum.
Secondly, Obama's approach seems honest and reasoned. He put together a plan, shopped it to both sides, took (and included) feedback, then let the final vote tell the story. Obama doesn't need to hold a presser to point his finger and accuse the House GOP members of not working and playing well with others - the big fat zero in their vote column speaks volumes. Republicans seldom agree on anything, even if raised by their side, so having absolutely no "yea" votes shows there's more at work here than Republicans representing the views of their constituents. Americans are already seeing the GOP vote as unreasonable, more like how things were done in the past than a vision for the future.
Certainly, having Malkin, Hannity, and Limbaugh frothing at the mouth while using the distasteful metaphor "bending over and grabbing your ankles" only serves to remind us that the party voting "no" is the one that spent the last eight years rogering us royally, and when we kicked them out of bed, they've decided to pay us back by throwing down obstacles to hinder our ability to get back on our feet.
It reminds me a little of Jason Alexander's attorney character in Pretty Woman, Phillip Stuckey, who, upon discovering that Vivian is a street walker, tries to make her feel cheap while pointing out that she doesn't really belong, all the while suggesting that perhaps they could also get together for some tawdry extracurricular activity, because while she may be a whore, Edward seems to like her, wink wink.
I'm beginning to think those kind of Republicans are all that's left. Some of the more moderate GOP members of the House and Senate have retired or been tossed out, leaving behind this core group of conservative idealogical kamikaze pilots who would rather crash their planes on the deck rather than compromising. They are digging in for a protracted battle, the resultant voting metrics to be used in campaign strategy and attack ads to demonstrate their conservative chops.
Problem is, that doesn't solve our current problems, but I don't think the GOP has really ever been concerned with fixing what ails everyday America. And this is where Obama's approach is a classic boxing strategy. Make the effort, reach across party lines, and be inclusive, while pushing through the agenda as promised, letting the chips fall where they may. If Obama's plan works, people will know who was responsible, and who wasn't.
That means the only hope Republicans have is if the economy stays sour and they can point to their "nay" votes. GOP success is predicated on America failing, and I'm kicking myself for underestimating the depths of evil to which these twits will delve in order to advance their narrow views.
I hope President Obama continues to push and prod everyone to work together, because this country could do some amazing things if everyone was working toward a common goal. Don't let the naysayers dictate direction, but don't shut them out, either. In the end, the political career they save may be their own.