No, on Friday, really, really famous and really, really respected Washington based political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann (with a book out next week) took the pages of the Washington Post to inform us all of what their forty years (each) of experience has led them to conclude. "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition." There you have it folks. It's the Republicans fault.
I urge you to read the whole article. What fascinates is the easy/breezy way that the two present their "studying Washington politics and Congress..." as if it is, in fact, fact. And because one of the criticisms they levy against Republicans is a rejection of logic and science, well of course, then any objection to what they write must rightly then simply be a manifestation of the same Republican pathology that caused all this mess. Get it?
This kind of (il)logic is familiar to anyone who spends time around liberals, who tend to present their views as if ideology were non-existent and whatever it is they think springs solely from the font of reasonable, logical policy-making. Again-this sets up and feeds their accompanying view that any objections thereto are in fact SOLELY ideological, and without basis in logic, a practice I believe Jonah Goldberg treats in his upcoming book "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas" (which goes on sale 1 May).
Ornstein and Mann lay it out in such a reasonable manner that there cannot possibly be any objection. If one objects by pointing out that the Democratic Party has been captured by its baser fringe, that it has in fact moved as far left as the Republicans have moved right--we get this: "The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post." And how do we know this is true? Why, because they SAY it is true, and they are not ideological--therefore, they must be right. The complete disappearance of a pro-life wing of the Democratic Party? Nah. Not evidence. The embrace of the the "Occupy" movement by the leadership of the Party? Nah. Not evidence. The savagery of the opposition to George W. Bush? Dismissed thusly: "No doubt, Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking." Eight years of venom against GWB is elsewhere sloughed off as "Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics. But these tendencies do not routinely veer outside the normal bounds of robust politics. If anything, under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quo party. They are centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures."
So when Democrats do it, it is within the bounds of robust politics, especially when their "status quo" approach of being "...centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures." is---and I stress it once again--so damn REASONABLE and RATIONAL. Please read this once again, friends. Is the Democratic Party you know willing to (reluctantly or otherwise) revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits? Where is that happening? Please, someone--anyone, give me that information. The very same newspaper that published this heap of steaming dung masquerading as scholarship published an insider's view of the great debt compromise breakdown last Summer between Speaker Boehner and the President--which ultimately broke down NOT because of Republican intransigence but because of the President's cowardice toward his own, unready to compromise, ideologically emboldened base by taking $800B in new revenue vs. $1.2T. Presumably Mann and Ornstein "missed" this one in their forty years of study and research into the nature of the current logjam.
Nowhere in this treatment of the ideologically unhinged Republican Party is there even a shred of discussion about what it is the two sides are fighting about, what it is that is at stake. What Mann and Ornstein dismiss as "...fiscal pressures..." is more to the point, the bankrupting of a great country. What Mann and Ornstein dismiss as ideologically driven objections to reasonable and sensible programs to provide healthcare and other entitlements is--in the view of Republicans--continuing to dig when you are already in an abyss of debt. The President ran on criticizing GWB for running up $5T in debt in eight years, only to equal that number in a third of the time--and not a peep from our wizened old think tankers, Ornstein and Mann. It isn't WHAT they are objecting to that has them so riled up, it is the WAY they object. So damn unreasonable. So inconvenient.
Update: Yet another--and better done--disputation of Mann and Ornstein.