The Best Politics Is Good Policy
Atrios cuts to the heart of the stimulus bill debate:
I actually hope every Republican votes against the stimulus package, and I hope that instead of trying to please them the Obama team comes up with what they think the right package will be. The Republicans should lay out a competing vision, which won’t pass because they aren’t in charge. Then, 2 and 4 years from now voters can judge the results and if they aren’t pretty they’ll know who to blame and decide that the competing vision would have been a better one.
But I disagree with him on this:
With bipartisanship you’ll not only get a compromise that sucks, when it’s time to throw the bums out no one will be quite sure which party should be blamed. Then what new candidates do is just run against some generic "Washington."
Democrats have the presidency and big majorities. Instead of hiding behind the spread-the-blame-around tactic, they should announce their vision and run with it.
Republicans had large numbers of Democrats join them on key votes for their policies over the last 8 years. It didn’t save them in ’06 or ’08. It can help in a marginal election, as it did when Kerry was hamstrung by his pro-war vote in 2004, but if a real disaster occurs, you’re sunk. The party in charge gets the blame or the credit for how the country is doing.
If Bush had won the Iraq war in 6 months, set up a compliant semi-democratic government in Iraq, driven oil back down to $20 and had a good economy, Republicans would have won in 08, no matter how many Democrats signed on to the Iraq war, tax cuts and other Bush policies.
The best politics is always good policy. Turn the economy around and no one will care how many Republicans voted for Obama’s bills. Fail to turn the economy around and, well, no one will care how many Republicans voted for Obama’s bills.
Results matter. All else is spin.