Friday, April 20, 2012

Congress not working? "Centrist" former VA Rep. Tom Davis has the "solution"


"Centrists," you see, aren't necessarily "moderates" -- ah!

by Ken

I wish I could be more rational about this astonishingly stupid op-ed served up in the Washington Post by former VA Rep. Tom Davis, "Voters can help cure poisonous partisanship." But the closer I looked, the more apoplectic it made me.

As a congressman from northern Virginia, Davis was by reputation a "centrist," and he clings to the label -- but explains that the "centrist" label has nothing to do with ideology.
By "centrists," I do not necessarily mean "moderates" but refer instead to members who are willing to work across the aisle to find common ground with partisan opponents to achieve tangible results. There are indeed still members of Congress who recognize that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good and that some incremental change can be preferable to no change.

And so, while he acknowledges that "the Republican Party has certainly become more conservative," this turns out to be of no consequence. First, you see because it's offset by the liberalization of the Democratic Party, which exists nowhere except in the itty-bitty brain of Tom D. How is it that the Democratic Party has become "more liberal" at the very time that its officeholding ranks have been reduced to a handful of actual liberals? And then, nothing seems to be the fault of conservatives, except in a plague-on-both-your-houses way, while these imaginary hordes of liberals seem to be screwing up everything.

Now if you wanted to say that the mainstreram of the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that conservative Democrats appear, relatively speaking, somewhat liberal, that's at least a defensible position. I would still argue it, but even if we accepted it, it makes nonsense of Tom D's basic argument.

He even anticipates the argument that no compromise is possible withi people whose brains are too defective to admit of any possibility of compromise, by telling us that in the good old days you didn't have to have compromise! --
because there were Republicans who held views to the left of some Democrats, and vice versa. Compromise wasn’t always needed because it’s not compromise if the position is already something you support. In today’s political environment, however, compromise is a prerequisite to accomplishing anything -- one need look no further than the votes to avoid the U.S. credit default last summer, to avoid a government shutdown or to prevent taxes from being raised on working families.

Man, does this guy even listen to what's coming out of his piehole?

Tom D can prove that the problem isn't the radicalization of the Republican Party. How? Well, you see, when Arlen Specter switched parties,
[his] decision was as much about political survival as about his beliefs. In his announcement, Specter conceded that he was unlikely to win a Republican primary and said that he was “unwilling” to have his “29-year record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.”

Yet more mainstream media reports focused on what Specter’s exit supposedly said about the GOP than on his electoral calculation. Journalists ate up Specter’s argument and likened centrist Republicans to dinosaurs -- politically extinct relics.

Nobody's going to catch me sticking up for the likes of Arlen Specter, but does Tommy D know anything, and I mean anything at all, about Arlen's reelection battle? How is it humanly possible for even the slimiest, stupidest, most dishonest bilge-dispenser to skip over what made it unlikely that he could win the Republican nomination for reelection? Do you have any inkling about that, Tommy Buttwipe? Don't you think that matters even a little? Does the name Pat Toomey (now Sen. Pat Toomey) mean any7thing to you? And which mainstream media didn't report this? Is our Tommy locked up in a basement somewhere with no access to actual information?

But you see, just as Arlen Specter's defection proves that there's nothing wrong with the Republican, so does Olympia Snowe's retirement -- because, you see, she didn't leave the party!
Note that Snowe did not say she was leaving the Republican Party because it has become too extreme. Nor did she say she was being forced out. She is not leaving the GOP; she’s leaving the Senate. And poisonous partisanship is a bipartisan problem.

"Gone are the days of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans," we're told. "Now the most liberal Republican in the Senate is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat." Sorry, Tommy, there are plenty of conservative Dems in the Senate -- just not if your standard of measurement for conservatism is, say, Saxby Chambliss or Jim Inhofe -- or Pat Toomey.

So the Democrats, those flaming extremist liberals, are pretty much useless. However, there is still, Tommy D is here to tell us, "a critical voting block" of "centrist Republicans" in the House. They just, um, don't ever vote "centrist." Hmm.

Well, Tommy D can explain that too. "The pressures faced by centrists in both parties are the result of several macro factors: campaign finance laws, balkanized media, and "the ideological sorting of the parties." There are actually some moderately interesting points made here, concerning pressures felt by GOP congressmen who may not be absolutely as extreme as their party's currently regnant most extreme elements (of which there's nary a mention).

This also explains, by the way, how it's become so difficult to do business in Congress. Okay. "The solution," says our Tom, "begins with voters sending to Washington more pragmatic, results-oriented members who are willing to compromise to get things done."

No, I think the solution, if there is one, has to start with understanding the problem.


From his "In the Loop" in the Washington Post:

Legroom for Cantor

Speaking of airplanes, two easily recognizable House members found themselves on a Delta flight Monday from Atlanta to Washington: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and civil rights icon John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Lewis, as he most always does, settled into a seat in coach class for the relatively short flight — an hour and 45 minutes — up from his district to Washington. Cantor, however, was sitting up front in business class.

We wondered about the trip and that minor indulgence and e-mailed Cantor’s office Wednesday afternoon but got no reply. They’ve been a tad busy these days with his small-business tax cut bill working its way to passage on the House floor.

We’ll let you know soon as we find out.

What, Al? You really expect Eric Cantor to fly coach? It is to laugh.

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At 10:50 PM, Anonymous me said...

the liberalization of the Democratic Party

Yeah, that's a good one all right. What planet did you say that asshole was from?

At 11:12 PM, Blogger John said...

Oh, indeed, "the perfect should not be the enemy of the good" ... brought to you directly from the N. Chamberlain Night School of Tough Negotiation.

John Puma

At 11:21 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Planet of the Centrists, I think that would be, me.

And John, so you've heard that before, about the perfect not being the enemy of the good?


At 12:43 AM, Blogger John said...


I realize that was probably a rhetorical question but ...

Yes, I've heard the "perfect/good" miserable platitude just a few hundred times as the "liberal" Dems traded places (?) with the radical reich to empower "big-government" to become the "quite visible hand of the market" by mandating a 20% (?) increase in big-insurance clientele.

This leads to two questions:

1) to whom, specifically, do we attribute the "perfect/good" dreck? I cannot sustain a search very long without being overcome by the need to puke violently.

2) how will the SCOTUS, Inc., handle its upcoming ACA ruling to maximally embarrass Obama without simultaneously annoying its corporate handlers?

In reference to the "handful of actual liberals" in congress I refer you to an interesting article by Glenn Greenwald on "villain rotation" among the Dems:

(Sorry if I have mentioned some or all of this before but, be warned, it may happen again!)

John Puma

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous me said...

Actually, I often agree with that platitude about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Not always, but often.

But it is being misused. It's intended to be a guide for people who are trying to get something accomplished. Instead, it's being used as an excuse by people who are trying to PREVENT things from being accomplished.

More goddamn word games, and the majority of people fall for it, as always. Deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid, and they never, ever learn.

Sometimes you just gotta agree with Churchill: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."


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