Saturday, June 14, 2008

Partisan Hackery Rules

I realize that the litany of woes emanating from the Bush Administration sometimes seems never-ending, but high on the list of horribles is the elevation of partisanship as the guiding governing principle from the "Uniter not Divider" in Chief.

I also find it interesting that Scott McClellan's recent comments that the Bush Administration was run as though it was a in a permanent campaign mode, rather than being guided by policy, has received such a surprised reaction. After all, as far back as 2003, John DiIlulio said precisely the same thing, with little reaction from the media or the public.

As I noted some time ago in Remembrance of Things Lost:

This is an Administration that rules solely by politics, so a united America would be contrary to its interests. Ex-White House official, John DiIlulio's words, in Ron Suskind January 2003 article, in Why Are These Men Laughing? still describes it best:
"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
That may, in fact, be the biggest failure (out of many) that will be the legacy of the Bush Administration. To have squandered the goodwill of its people and many in the world in support of its own policial agenda, to have co-opted 9/11 for partisan political purposes, which has furthered the extreme divisions in the country (and the rest of the world) perpetrated by the Republican party.
And so, after 7 plus years of partisan politics ruling the White House, it can't be a surprise that the disease has infected Congress -- and the Supreme Court. David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers notes, in Partisanship prevails in Congress, while U.S. problems go unsolved:
Congress is spending these opening weeks of the general-election campaign trying to score points with voters by forcing partisan opponents to cast embarrassing votes — and doing virtually nothing to ease the nation's economic, energy or foreign crises.

Political posturing is hardly unknown at the Capitol, but since lawmakers returned from their Memorial Day recess June 3, Republicans have halted Democrats' efforts to tackle the gasoline price crisis, Democrats have turned back a Republican bid to find common ground on help for the unemployed and the two sides are deadlocked on funding the Iraq war.

"Things are bad," said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. "Politics is the focus this year, not policy."

Just in time to prove this point, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham assailed the Supreme Court's ruling that habeas corpus didn't go down with the towers on 9/11. McClatchy reported on Graham's outrage in the recent case, in Graham: Amend Constitution to overturn court's ruling:
A dejected Sen. Lindsey Graham blasted the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday on Guantanamo Bay detainees, calling it 'dangerous and irresponsible.'

* * * *
The Supreme Court repudiated Graham in a 5-4 decision, ruling that the 270 alleged terrorists being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba have a constitutional right to challenge their detentions in federal courts.
So what' Graham's solution? To waste more time by introducing a constitutional amendment, which everyone knows will go nowhere. However, it will be a useful political tool for the GOP, and that's what governance under the Bush years is all about. Pander to the base.

(Cartoon via Bruce Plante, Tulsa World)

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