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September 22, 2010


Eric Dashman

Nice post. When talking about whether Obama should or should not have sought bi-partisanship, I had 2 metaphoric notions come to mind. The first….American companies focus on quarterly results because their stock prices depend on same. If they took longer views and were willing to sacrifice short-term profits for longer-term growth, their stock prices would fall and they would be takeover targets. In other words, the environment in which they find themselves rewards the behavior that may ultimately be their own undoing. So it is with our 24x7 news cycles driven by technologies that are continuously in our face….no more 30 minute nightly news or 5 minute news breaks on the hour….no, it’s in your face continuously and encourages tabloid sensationalism, which begets political demagoguery, which to be frank is largely from the right but has a few moderately left leaning outlets (I hesitate to equate Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Savage, Michael Medved, Charles Krauthammer, William Krystal….you get the point….the numbers far outweigh from the right). Thus, the right wing with it’s massive deep pockets behind it and hypocrisy rooted in its DNA, can easily rouse the mob mentality that resides just beneath the veneer of civilization. This is especially true when times are tough for many and exacerbated by the ‘other’ in the White House. The former is true thoughtout the history of humankind on the earth; the latter fuel on the fire. A white Christian democrat in the White House would without doubt be under attack, but I doubt the vitriolic nature of it would be as acidic. Clinton, I know, but he was a special case in a special time.

As such, bipartisanship was never in the offing, and certainly should have been abandoned with the first shot across the bows by the Republicans of consequence. If Obama had shown a backbone with ruthlessness, at least 50% as strong as his opponents, he could have used it like my 2nd metaphoric thought……the man whose mule wouldn’t move and pull his wagon…..a man walked up and said he could make the mule move for $20. The owner forked over the money and the man took a large heavy stick, wound up and gave the mule a prodigious whack in the forehead. The owner was aghast and asked what he was doing, to which the man replied “I’m just getting his attention”. Once Obama had the attention and respect of the opposition (children need to both love and fear their parents), he would have been able to press bipartisanship with some degree of success. Instead, aloof and above the fray, he gave away the narrative to the well-financed angry voices on the radical far right.

Politics is a contact sport and Dems have been getting their butts kicked royally since the days of LBJ and Tip passed into history. You can’t bring a slingshot to a gun fight. You’re a big admirer of Jack Kennedy (need I say again that I’ve never been?), but Jack Kennedy, Bobbie Kennedy from Joe’s roots were ruthless themselves. In our story, nice guys finish last, and for Dems it’s always Ground Hog Day.

Daniel Dashman

My one dispute with your conclusions is that the affect of this election cycle will be 2 years long. I have seen this mistake made elsewhere. In fact this election in the states will have a 10 year affect upon federal elections. The state houses elected this cycle will re-draw the congressional districts in response to the 2010 census. This re-drawing will create impervious districts for the winning party thereby skewing our political representation for the next decade.

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