Monday, December 31, 2007

Krugman's sense of partisanship

by shamanic

Paul Krugman takes a look at the different universes that Republican and Democratic candidates live in -- there's an amazing chasm there, truly -- but continues his attacks on Barack Obama with this opening line:
Yesterday The Times published a highly informative chart laying out the positions of the presidential candidates on major issues. It was, I’d argue, a useful reality check for those who believe that the next president can somehow usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation.
Krugman previously turned his guns full bore on Obama here, but with such sharp elbows coming out at the NYT, I think it's useful to consider what "bipartisan" might mean in the context of an Obama nomination.

I believe the GOP would hemorrhage voters if Obama faced Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee (my gut says it's one of the two, but we'll know in a month or so). Obama's coattails could sweep in a dramatic Democratic majority to augment the narrow one getting thrashed between the GOP minority and the 25% man right now.

Bipartisanship is a lot less necessary the closer you get to 60 Senate seats, and while Obama's agenda is hardly revolutionary, I think the general feeling about him is that he will work diligently and -- more importantly -- smartly to implement it, creating stakeholders out of disparate interests.

The GOP, in its current unusable form, could very well find itself finished. A new current of moderate Republican thinking would inevitably begin to rise, starting in the northeast where the GOP is all but dead and radiating out from there. The deathgrip that southern conservatives have on the party would eventually be supplanted. If the last decade has shown us anything, it's that America needs at least two strong parties, and what we have right now is a strengthening Democratic party and a mortally wounded GOP. It's not workable.

Contrast this with a Hillary Clinton candidacy and presidency. Republicans would rally against her, possibly losing the election, but they would take their seething anger with them and spill that familiar anti-Clinton bile for the years of her administration. Republicans could again feel that they're victims of some strange Arkansas-based conspiracy, and those in congress would throw roadblocks at every substantive piece of legislation they could find.

I'm not saying that congressional Republicans will come to heel if Obama is elected. I'm just saying that there will ultimately be fewer of them to resist. Hillary would help to keep the current ossified GOP strong for another four or eight years. Let's let it die its phoenix's death, and be reborn as a better party with workable ideas that can contribute again to the dialogue of the American polity.

That's the bipartisanship I'm looking for, and I know that Hillary Clinton can't deliver.

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