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At Last: Obama Succeeds At Bipartisan Approach

The House of Representatives appropriated $37B for more war by a vote of 308 to 114. It is the composition of the 114 nays that is interesting.102 of them are Democrats. Of the 308 ayes there were more Republicans than Democtats. It would appear that he has finally achieved his bipartisan dream.

Admittedly not all of the 102 Democratic no votes were a ringing anti-war statement. Some were just having a temper tantrum because domestic spending spending (trivial things like teacher’s jobs) had been stripped from the bill to make the Republicans happy. Hey, you know bipartisanship comes with a price. However, the vote was taken against the backdrop of the Wikileaks disclosure and rising public disgruntlement with the state of affairs in Afghanistan.

This voting pattern suggest some similarities to the coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats that sustained the escalation of the Vietnam war during the last two years of LBJ’s administration. It ultimately lead to a fundamental split in the Democratic party. It was a split that really wasn’t healed. They were simply bailed out by the scandal of Watergate.

There are several reasons to be uncertain as to whether we will see broad political upheavals over Afghanistan comparable to the riffs that occured over Vietnam. We lack the emotional energy of a generation of middle class young men facing the draft and their families. However, the US is in a much more fundamentally weakened economic position than it was in the 1960s.

Lyndon Baines Johnson left a mixed legacy. His accomplishments in civil rights and the great society programs were the last hurrah of the new deal tradition. His obsessive and desperate attempts to prove his national security manhood provide a very contradictory image, particularly for those of us who can remember it from marching in the streets. So far Obama is proving to be less confusing and complex. He’s actively pushing and funding foreign military adventures, while settling for mostly rhetoric on the domestic front.

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Richard Lyon

Richard Lyon

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