February 20, 2010

Two Notes on the Ultrapartisan Non-Partisan

Justin Katz

On the reflective claim that I'm as partisan as Bill Lynch: First, I'm not a partisan; I'm an ideologue. I call the Democrat Party the Party of Death because it is gladly the political home of advocates for the abortion industry and related causes (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research and right to die). Certain current candidates might be willing to testify that pro-abortion Republicans don't get a pass. Second, were I to run for Congress, my first declaration would definitely not be a call for an end to bipartisan rancor.

On the question of whether Lynch was kidding when he told school children that Democrats are the good guys and Republicans are the bad guys: The anecdote isn't relevant because Lynch was corrupting the minds of young Rhode Islanders; the anecdote is relevant because it so directly conforms with his comportment as Democrat Party chairman. The air has hardly settled around the lips of a local Republican who has chosen a word poorly when my emailbox has a statement from Lynch exaggerating that word to vicious degree.

To dismiss Lynch's quip on the grounds that it was a joke applies in only one of two ways: Either his parallel behavior as chairman has been wickedly cynical and evident of a deep contempt of the people whom his party claims to represent, or the joke was, as Don Roach suggests in the comments, "sarcasm laced with truth - or rather his belief that Republicans are the bad guys," in which case it wasn't the sort of joke that absolves the speaker of blame.

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RE: Ultrapartisan vs. Non-Partisan

I am not disturbed by the partisanship currently being displayed in Congress. The founders anticipated a "raucous" democracy. They also intended that much more be handled at the local/state level.

If we are unable to compromise on an idea, perhaps it is a bad idea.

Much is currently made of the fact that tiny Wyoming, for that matter Rhode Island, has as much clout in the Senate as does California. This is news? I think it has worked rather well to prevent the "tyranny of the majority".

"Politics is the art of compromise". I think this is more often an excuse for failure than a goal. I prefer Churchill's take "Compromise is the failure of leadership".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 20, 2010 10:17 AM

Joke that John McCain once told:
Q..Why is Chelsea Clinton so UGLY ?
A..Because Janet Reno is her Father

The Family Values Folks at AR can judge, if McCain's joke was more offensive than Mr Lynch's joke
I did not chose to use McCain's, Gorilla raped a women joke, because I find it too over the top, but folks can find it on google

Posted by: Jeff at February 20, 2010 1:51 PM

Jeff, whether McCain repeated that joke, or not, it has been around for an awful long time. It might be fair to say that Colombus was kicked in the ass by the Indians for telling that one.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 20, 2010 4:11 PM

Jeff, I Googled the "McCain" gorilla raped a woman joke. I think you are giving McCain too much credit as a humorist. When I first heard that joke, at least 30 years ago, the woman said to the doctor "it's been two days, he hasn't called or sent flowers". That one is another moldy, oldie.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 20, 2010 4:16 PM

Jeff-who is interested in your political correct sensibilities?

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 20, 2010 4:56 PM

Warrington Faust,

I am one who is disturbed by the partisanship being displayed in Congress. I agree that the founders believed that more should and would be handled at the local/state level but I even ‘raucous’ debate does not rise to the level of poisonous finger-pointing that is our culture of politics (and entertainment).

“If we are unable to compromise on an idea, perhaps it is a bad idea.”
---- There are some ideas/areas where compromise is not either not possible or ineffective. But in the context of legislating, I believe compromise is essential for any progress. My real beef is often the reason not to ‘compromise’ is more about perception than actual ideology. Keep in mind that legislators are not leaders, but representatives of the people. I believe ‘compromise’ or working with the other party to find areas of agreement is part of their job – just as compromise is involved in the success of a relationship. Simply put, I don’t believe compromise and leadership are mutually exclusive. I also think that media/entertainment has dramatically changed the political process from the days of Churchill.

I hadn’t heard about issues made of the small states having as much political clout as the bigger states. Had any of those who said that heard of the House of Representatives – the “other” side of Congress?

Posted by: msteven at February 20, 2010 10:50 PM


Before we can continue with this discussion, we have to decide what we are talking about. I am not sure the politicians understand "compromise" in the sense that we wish to.

I suspect "compromise", as currently understood, means "meet my price". In other words, I will oppose you if I don't get enough "pork". I think this was what the discussion about "ear marks" was all about. It is my understanding that some bills become so "pork" laden with extraneous expenditures that they cannot be voted for in good conscience. Unfortunatley, the names of the bills do not disclose the amount of "pork", and one must vote up or down on the entire bill. This can cause one to vote against a bill where you actually do approve of the named purpose. The answer to this seems to be "line item veto". This permits the President to veto the "pork" amendments separately, retainng the original purpose of the bill. If he could veto such matters, the "pork" would then have to be voted on separately, and publicly, by the Congress. The "line item veto" comes up periodically, but it never seems to go anywhere. I wonder why?

Until this happens, I will have difficulty descerning "principled opposition" from "meet my price".

"Keep in mind that legislators are not leaders, but representatives of the people." In every group there are "leaders" and followers. In Congress, I think this is chiefly determined by seniority and committee rank.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 21, 2010 1:40 AM

Warrington Faust

Yes, we are not referring to the same things by ‘compromise’. In the sense you refer to, I wholeheartedly agree that “meet my price” is not what I have in mind or something I support in anyway, I agree that there should be a line-item veto. My understandings of the reasons in opposition have to do too much Presidential power and not being in line with the Constitutional. I see both but believe they are outweighed by the pros of it.

My point was about compromise in the context of supporting legislating that does not meet 100% of ones list. In other words, “if you want my support then give me everything…” or even worse “…I like the idea but it will give your party ‘a win’ so I can’t do that.” Those are examples of the ‘partisans’ I oppose.

"Keep in mind that legislators are not leaders, but representatives of the people." In every group there are "leaders" and followers. In Congress, I think this is chiefly determined by seniority and committee rank.
--- True, my point is that even leaders in Congress are technically representatives of the people. I guess a distinction in the role between executives – be it in business or politics (i.e.: Mayor, Governor, President) and legislators or what one may call ‘worker-bees’. Although ideally there should be overlap.

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