OK, I know I’m outta here, but I just have to comment on something and then close with an open letter printed on Huffington Post from a lifelong Republican.
Today, the House passed so-called “Stimulus Bill” without a single Republican vote. This, despite the fact that the Democrats have courted input from all Republicans and have made concession after concession in an attempt to garner GOP supporters. Those efforts failed, and failed miserably.
The final $787 billion measure has been pared back from versions previously debated in order to attract support from three Senate GOP moderates _ Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Their help is essential to meeting a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, required to overcome a Republican objection that the bill adds to the deficit.
Today, a Facebook friend posted a letter from lightweight pundit Monica Crowley, stating that the Democrats’ bipartisanship efforts were shallow and that the GOP should just continue blocking everything that it can.
We should have known, fellow liberals. We should have known that at no time would the GOP ever consider having an honest debate about the issues. Bob Cesca lays out the whole scenario very well in this article. Rush Limbaugh is the de-facto head of the GOP right now. He is their most public voice, and all other GOP voices are currently echoing his daily talking points. How else do you explain the new head of the GOP, Michael Steele, going on television and claiming that the US Government has never created a single job? Sounds right up Limbaugh’s alley. I guess Steele has never mailed a letter.
And even though FOX News seemed like it was going to try to be a more “fair and balanced” network in the days after the election, it got caught by Media Matters passing off GOP talking points as legitimate news (an on-screen graphic reproduced a typo from the GOP press release).
You know, it’s really fine with me if the GOP adopts Limbaugh as its leader. It will just scare away any moderates in the party and the GOP will become an even smaller cult than it already is. But the Democrats should not be fooled again into thinking they can ever work with Republicans while the GOP is getting its talking points from right-wing radio. It’s just not going to happen, and the recent stimulus vote just reinforces that notion.
You might recall that Bill Clinton’s infamous deficit-addressing budget also received zero GOP votes back in 1993. On that spring night, GOP Senator Phil Gramm stood on the Senate floor and said, “I want to predict here tonight that if we adopt this bill the American economy is going to get weaker and not stronger, the deficit four years from today will be higher than it is today and not lower … When all is said and done, people will pay more taxes, the economy will create fewer jobs, the government will spend more money, and the American people will be worse off.”
We all know what happened — the surpluses that led to Bush’s 2001 tax cuts that sent us right back into a recession. If one thing has become clear over the last eight years, it’s that the GOP way of running the economy ruins the economy. We’ve tried the tax cut fix again and again. It just does not work.
So if this stimulus bill passes and puts America back on track again, I hope the American public remembers that it passed only because three GOP Senators — Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter — had the guts to stand against the GOP wall-of-obstruction and do what was best for the country.
Bipartisanship is dead. And perhaps it was never really alive, despite the Democrats’ attempts to revive it. NH Republican Senator Judd Gregg, after withdrawing his nomination for Commerce Secretary — a cabinet post in the Obama administration — noted that the GOP had no intent of ever going along with the stimulus bill, despite Democrats’ attempts at appeasing them by cutting it back significantly and including more tax cuts. But not only is the GOP not cooperating, it is sending out its minions to spread false news about the bill.
White House Chief-Of-Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, stated that the White House had lost control of the message on the Stimulus bill by overreaching toward bipartisanship. According to Emmanuel, White House officials “allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package.”
Given those statements, it is pretty clear that the White House will not make the same mistake again. It seems the lesson learned is that attempts at bipartisanship are done, even though the White House claims it will continue to court Republicans. The GOP totally and completely failed to cooperate in any meaningful manner toward getting something done together, and that’s the last time the White House will let the bipartisan message dominate any single issue.
In today’s Huffington Post, lifelong Republican and NY Times bestselling author Frank Schaeffer, writes an open letter to President Obama and explains why Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship are doomed to fail. I’ve reprinted it here below, because I think it’s extremely important. Here is the original link to the article.
America should remember this day, take the words below to heart, and remember which party is doing everything it can to stand in the way of America’s recovery. Good day.
Dear President Obama: I know that from time to time you read Huffington Post because you’ve written for it. As a Huffington Post reader you’ll know that no one on this web site has more faithfully supported your candidacy and now your presidency than me. As a former lifelong Republican, son of a co-founder of the Religious Right; my late evangelical leader father, Francis Schaeffer, I’m in a unique position to tell you a few things about the Republicans from inside perspective. (As you know I left that movement in the mid 1980s.)
The lack of cooperation you’re getting from the Republican Party will continue. You were right to indulge in a little bit of tokenism when you had to Pastor Rick Warren pray at your inauguration. But if you think that the Republicans in Congress and the Senate are going to do more than their utmost to obstruct everything you are and what you stand for you’re dreaming.
As someone who appeared numerous times on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, as someone for whom Jerry Falwell used to send his private jet to bring me to speak at his college, as an author who had James Dobson giveaway 150,000 copies of my one of my fundamentalist “books” allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican “center” for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes.
The Religious Right supply the kind of people who at McCain and Palin rallies were yelling things such as “kill him” about you. That’s the constituency to which your hand was extended when looking for compromise on your financial bailout bill.
There’s only one thing that makes sense for you now. Mr. President, you need to forget a bipartisan approach and get on with the business of governing by winning each battle. You will never be able to work with the Republicans because they hate you. Believe me, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are the norm not the exception. James Dobson and the rest are praying for you to fail. The neoconservatives are gnashing their teeth and waiting for you to “sell out Israel” or “show weakness” in Afghanistan, whatever, so they can declare you a traitor.
The problem is that when you deal with the Republican Party you’re talking to the polished characters in Washington. I wish you could see the hate e-mail’s that I have received over the last two years because I supported you, letters calling for God to kill me, telling me that I hate God because I supported you and that I am “an abortionist” and worse a “fag lover” because I’ve written that I believe that you will be a great president.
What those senators and congressmen are telling you is not what their rabid core constituents are telling them. Their loyalty is to a fundamentalist Christian ideology on the one hand and American exceptionalism of perpetual warfare and hatred and fear of the “other” on the other hand. Between the neoconservatives and evangelical Religious Right Republicans you have no friends.
The good news is that most Americans support you. And if you will just get in the face of the Republican Party and call their bluff you’ll be surprised how many individual ordinary Republicans will support you, not to mention the rest of us. America is sick of the Republicans.
The Democratic Party won for a reason: the Republicans failed and have taken us all down with them! You’re doing your presidency and America no favor by extending an open hand to the perpetually knotted fist of what has become the embittered lunatic fringe of our country. They would rather go down in flames than “compromise” their ideology.
As you showed us again at your press conference of Feb 9, you are a brilliant, articulate and decent man. Your Republican opponents are not decent people but ideologues bent on destroying you. To quote the biblical adage sir, don’t cast your pearls before swine.
– Frank Schaeffer