My cynical view is that this is an intentional strategy by the Republicans. Sort of a variation on the agent provocateur theory – have an inside operative who pretends to be interested in solutions, but who really just wants to discredit the organization, or in these cases, derail reform.
It’s further evidence that the “lone Republican” strategy doesn’t work. Time and again, Democrats have ended up in a room with a single Republican who seemed willing to cut a deal. It was Olympia Snowe on health care, Bob Corker on financial regulation and Lindsey Graham on climate change. In every case, the final bill looked a lot like what that Republican helped negotiate. And in every single case, the Republican realized that he or she couldn’t get more support from their party and so they eventually bolted the effort.
If you think this has all been a cynical strategy, it’s been brilliantly successful. On the one hand, Republicans have had a major role in shaping these bills. On the other hand, they haven’t had to vote for these bills, and so they could cleanly campaign against legislation that a member of their party helped write. And as an added bonus, Democrats are stuck trying to defend a bill that their base doesn’t like very much and that’s thick with compromises that annoy political elites.
(click to continue reading Ezra Klein – Lindsey Graham and the failure of the ‘lone Republican’ theory.)
The sad part is that the Obama team and the Democrats keep falling for the same trick, hoping for bipartisanship, that elusive buzz-word. The flaw is that the 2008 election wasn’t about bipartisanship, it was about electing people who would change the direction of the country. We didn’t elect Republicans, we (mostly) elected Democrats, but now the Democrats are bending over backward trying to get Republicans to join in on the Bill of the Day1.Footnotes:
- whatever it is [↩]