Yesterday I read this column by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post regarding the odd phenomenon of Bush hatred, which I have addressed earlier in my blog. The Post published it as a companion piece to another, more thoughtful column from Robert Samuelson (which demonstrates the Post’s long-standing effort to be editorially fair, something we should all applaud). Unlike Samuelson, who sees the same irrationality of the fringe behind both Bush hatred and Clinton hatred, Dionne argued that Bush hatred is rational and legitimately springs from Bush’s refusal to be “bipartisan”:
It’s hard to think of any other president who has gone so quickly from being so unifying to being so divisive. There was hardly a soul this side of Noam Chomsky who didn’t support Bush for some time after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and didn’t support the war on the Taliban in Afghanistan. Even Democrats who never conceded that Bush had legitimately won the 2000 election wanted to give Bush a chance to lead the country out of crisis.
So what went wrong? Unrequited bipartisanship. Implicitly, the Democrats expected that the new situation would produce a new Bush, less partisan and less ideological. For a few months after the attacks, that was the Bush who showed up to work every day. He and the Democrats did a lot of business together, and the country seemed happy.
While I had intended to write on this topic yesterday, Power Line beat me to it, asking for an answer as to why someone so benighted is still afforded column space in a major broadsheet. On the issue of bipartisanship, Deacon notes:
What about Dionne’s claim that Bush responded with “unrequited partisanship” and “bold conservative policies?” Dionne cites two such policies — tax cuts and the war with Iraq. Tax cuts may seem “bold” to Dionne, but they are a staple of Republican economic policy and something that candidate Bush had promised. Of course, Bush could have backed away from his promise, as his father did. But, as in the case of his father, that would have been less a gesture of bipartisanship than an act of political suicide. To Dionne and the Democrats for whom he speaks, the two things are same.
Not to mention the fact that the tax cuts are working to revive the economy. GDP grew at an annualized rate of 8.2% in the last quarter, the best growth seen in 20 years, and inflation is under control. Jobless claims are down to the level that Bush inherited on Inauguration Day. Those are the reasons Bush was elected in the first place, and Dionne’s complaint is that he didn’t cave in to the party which has made itself a minority by failing to listen to the electorate, which is tired of ever-increasing taxes being used to redistribute wealth. If anything, the 2002 elections should have reinforced this principle, since the Democrats and Republicans both made them into a referendum on Bush’s policies.
Dionne’s claim that the Democrats offered true bipartisanship is laughable, as Deacon again points out:
The overall Democratic response to 9/11 was as partisan as it could have been given the political dynamics of the time. They seized upon the need for immigration reform to promote actions that had nothing to do with keeping terrorists out, and everything to do with promoting their long-term immigration agenda. They seized upon the need for improved security to push for a huge new bureaucracy and then resisted attempts to allow the president to efficiently manage that bureaucracy, thereby placing their pro-union agenda ahead of the national security. Nor was Dionne’s alleged one-way era of good feeling accompanied by any cessation of Democratc hostilities against Bush’s judicial nominees, including those endorsed by Dionne’s own liberal newspaper.
Further, on the subject of Iraq, the Democrats blatantly changed positions on American policy established under the Clinton administration, which insisted that not only did Iraq indisputably possess WMDs, but that Saddam Hussein was a clear threat to the US and that “regime change” was the explicit policy of the US regarding Iraq. This policy, enacted in 1998, had clear bipartisan support and a number of speeches given by Democrats with names like Daschle, Kennedy, Kerry, and a host of others spoke out for action which would result in Saddam’s removal, with or without the UN’s involvement, including a Democratic governor named Howard Dean. Only in 2002 did that rhetoric turn completely around into Bush’s “unilateralism” and “cowboy” approach to foreign policy.
Read Deacon’s entire post at Power Line. Dionne writes well but has become so estranged from reality that he may be entering Ted Rall territory soon, and the Post needs to decide whether they will subsidize the journey.
UPDATE: aS Deacon notes, Hugh Hewitt was first to address this story, writing this yesterday morning:
Jeesh. Do you suppose Dionne actually believes this stuff or just feels that he has to feed his increasingly out-of-touch audience? Skip over Hillary on the floor of the Senate holding up the New York Post with “Bush Knew” as its headline, or Patrick Leahy’s and Chuck Schumer’s hostage-taking smear machine at Judiciary, or any of a hundred other examples of bitter partisanship on the left that began when Al Gore withdrew his concession and continued unbroken from November 2000 until today. Dionne is free to ignore the obvious as long as he wants to. His self-delusion, if genuine, doesn’t change a thing. Dionne can prattle on about tax cuts for the rich until a 45 state landslide fueled by a booming economy rolls home next November.
Read Hugh’s post too, if you haven’t already. It’s highly entertaining as well as enlightening.