Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute say what most of us outside the Beltway bubble have believed for years: namely that the problems with our current legislative morass in Washinton isn’t a bipartisan problem, but rather the fault of the GOP.
Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.
It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.
It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.
(click here to continue reading Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. – The Washington Post.)
Also not surprisingly, the Washington media is not that interested in discussing the topic. Liberal media, ha. Republican sycophants is more of an apt description.
Greg Sargent reports:
Last month, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein published an Op ed and a book making the extremely controversial argument that both parties aren’t equally to blame for what ails Washington. They argued that the GOP — by allowing extremists to roam free and by wielding the filibuster to achieve government dysfunction as a political end in itself — were demonstrably more culpable for creating what is approaching a crisis of governance.
It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. As Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum note, these are among the most quoted people in Washington — yet suddenly this latest topic is too hot for the talkers, or not deemed relevant at all.
I ran this thesis by Ornstein himself, and he confirmed that the book’s publicity people had tried to get the authors booked on the Sunday shows, with no success.
“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.’
Ornstein also noted another interesting point. Their thesis takes on the media for falling into a false equivalence mindset and maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.
(click here to continue reading Only one party’s to blame? Don’t tell the Sunday shows. – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.)