It seams that Obama and Democrats want to redefine the word bipartisanship. Typically bipartisanship means that members of both parties come together and work on a bill to solve a problem, then the bill passes with wide support from both parties. I’ve always argued that Democrats thought that bipartisan meant that Republicans agree with Democrats, but Democrats never seem to have to agree with Republicans. The White House and Congressional Democrats want to further redefine what bipartisanship means. According to Slate Magazine:
For the last few weeks, Obama’s aides have argued that the traditional measure of bipartisanship—counting the number of Republicans voting on a bill sponsored by a Democrat or vice versa—is too limiting. Another way to measure bipartisanship is how many ideas from the opposition party are included in a bill. So even if no actual Republicans vote for a bill, that doesn’t mean it’s a partisan product: It could still contain some amount of Republican flavoring. Another measure of bipartisanship, argues Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is whether the president or Democrats have participated in good-faith negotiations.
The only problem with this new theory of “bipartisanship” is that it is complete bullcrap. Democrats are not working with Republicans, especially in the House. Pelosi has made a special point of locking the GOP out of negotiations and discussions on various bills (something she complained about bitterly when Republicans ran things). She has also used House rules to block the GOP from proposing amendments and alternate language to legislation. So, once again, bipartisan means “vote with us or you are being partisan” they never seem to be acting in a partisan way themselves.
The reason why this is such an issue now is that Democrats are desperately trying to pass the health care reform bill, but they are having difficulties getting any GOP support. They would very much like to have “bipartisan” support on this impending disaster because they know the GOP is going to run on this in 2010 and it could hurt so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats in close districts.
There is a funny quote from The Audacity of Hope, where Obama writes: “The majority party can begin every negotiation by asking for 100 percent of what it wants, go on to concede 10 percent, and then accuse any member of the minority party who fails to support the ‘compromise’ of being ‘obstructionist.’ For the minority party in such circumstances, ‘bipartisanship’ comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist.’ ”
When Obama wrote this, of course, he was in the minority party and this was an attempted slam and critique of how the GOP ran the Congress. Now that he is in charge, he seems to have forgotten all about this passage. So, now Obama and the Democrats just redefine what the words mean and they get what they want. But hey, “I won” Obama likes to remind us. Hard to argue with that.