Andrew Sullivan’s War of Words Against The Republicans

Andrew Sullivan’s post yesterday which I quoted here has received a considerable amount of attention. Sullivan presents some of the responses in a follow up post here. I intentionally combined two quotes from Sullivan in my previous post and concentrated on the overall criticism of Republicans. If you look at the stimulus bill and/or the Judd Gregg fiasco alone then it would be easy to accuse Sullivan of hyperbole. Sullivan’s criticism makes more sense when looking at total Republican behavior. I bet Sullivan was considering more than the specific incidents when writing his view of the Republicans.

Among those who seem to appear to see it in this context are Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice:

Some will quibble with how Sullivan words this, but it is indeed increasingly difficult to make an argument that the Republican party is acting in good faith with the White House and the American people as it continues to play to its base.

Most troubling: the tone for the party was set immediately by talk show Rush Limbaugh, who immediately threw down the gauntlet against cooperation with Obama (opening saying he wanted Obama to “fail” and alter trying to finesse the statement a bit)…and the party elite and base immediately fell into (all too familiar) lock step.

So is what Sullivan is predicting about to happen true? And, even more troubling, is this what the country is in for in the future?

Joe also writes:

Prediction: if the stimulus and other policies help the economy in any way, the GOP will lose a big chunk of support from independent and younger voters. It can make gains in 2010 only if Obama fails — and each day developments suggest that not only are some in the party hoping he does, but some seem to be actively working for it.

It is one thing to oppose specific acts by Obama on principle, but many of us believe that the Republicans are opposing Obama’s acts purely because they want Obama to fail for partisan reasons, regardless of the harm this might do to the country. They believe that voters have such a limited memory that if things are bad they will vote Republican in the future, forgetting that in so many cases it was Republican policies which got us into our current mess.

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  1. 1
    Doug Mataconis says:

    It is one thing to oppose specific acts by Obama on principle, but many of us believe that the Republicans are opposing Obama’s acts purely because they want Obama to fail for partisan reasons, regardless of the harm this might do to the country.

    Then why is it that those of us who do oppose Obama’s plans on principle are being lumped in with the partisans ?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    Nobody is lumping you in with anyone. This is about the strategy of the Republican Party. As far as I know you are not responsible for setting Republican strategy. (If by chance you are, then we have to talk.)

  3. 3
    Doug Mataconis says:


    Yes, but isn’t it possible that at least some Republicans are opposing this on principle rather than politics ?

    The fact that some on the other side seem unwilling to admit that speaks volumes IMO

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    Again this is not about any one measure. Nobody is saying that some Republicans are not opposing any specific item on principle. We are talking about overall Republican strategy.

    “The fact that some on the other side seem unwilling to admit that speaks volumes IMO”

    You are attributing views to the other side which are not the actual views and arguing against a straw man argument of your own creation here.

  5. 5
    Doug Mataconis says:


    I guess I don’t see the distinction between principle and strategy. In some sense, principles will guide strategy (someone who opposes Obama and the Democrats’ vision of the role of government would obviously adopt a strategy of opposing it at every turn, no ?)

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    I would fear that someone who thinks that everything Obama does is wrong and that the best strategy is to stop him on everything is blinded by ideology/partisanship. Obama’s views transcend many of the old left/right divides. On many matters Obama’s views come far closer to traditional conservative views (before they turned into the far right authoritarian extremists they are today) than hardly any politicians currently around, and he is by are the most libertarian-leaning president we have had.

    Opposing the stimulus is one thing. The bill consists of many things which would go counter to Obama’s own views if not for the situation we are in today. There is valid grounds for debate over the best way to respond to the economic crisis, but I believe most Republicans are simply taking the approach of opposing whatever Obama does purely because it is proposed by a Democrat.

  7. 7
    Doug Mataconis says:


    There may well be issues that I will agree with President Obama on and support his efforts. On this one, though, I don’t and I think the only reasonable response is to make every effort to stop it.

    If that’s obstructionism, then make the most of it.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Again, as I’ve said multiple times, this is not about any one issue. Opposing the stimulus package on principle, or due to believing it is pragmatically the wrong response, is not being called obstructionism. You might be willing to support Obama in certain situations, but the Republicans are far less likely to, regardless of the merits of what he does.

  9. 9
    Wayne says:

    The Republicans are taking advantage of Obama’s anti-cynical approach of bringing back some semblance of bi-partisan governing.  But good faith only works with good people, and the intransigent Republicans are not good people. It’s time to shake the proverbial dust off of the feet.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:


    In some ways I think Obama outsmarted the Republicans on this. While he certainly wanted more Republican support in Congress, obtaining support from Republican members of Congress is not the primary reason for making attempts at bipartisanship. Obama’s victory came with the support of many independents and people who have voted Republican in the past.

    By taking the high road, Obama solidifies his support among these voters, while if he tried to replicate the Bush strategy of governing with 50% plus one he might have driven some of these voters away. By showing no interest in bipartisan governing, the Republicans are greatly reducing their chances of ever getting back the voters who left them in 2006 and 2008.

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