Don’t miss Peter Robinson’s take-down of a piece in the Washington Post by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two veteran purveyors of Washington conventional wisdom. Mann and Ornstein fret that (you’ll never guess this) our politics are broken and that (don’t be shocked) this is the fault of Republicans. They write:
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.
But, as Peter points out, the positions advanced by the GOP are not ideological outliers. Republicans rode them to a resounding victory in 2010. Polls show that many of these positions continue to command more support than the contrary views of the Democrats. This is certainly true when it comes to the such key issues as Obamacare and, broadly speaking, budget deficits.
Meanwhile, Mann and Ornstein are oblivious to the irony of attacking a Party for “dismissing the legitimacy of its political opposition,” while denouncing that Party as an outlier that doesn’t care about facts, evidence, and science. It is the two veteran Washington think-tank denizens who are attempting to win a debate their side may be losing by declaring the other side to be the bad guys.
As for “scorn” of compromise, Mann and Ornstein overlook the fact that President Obama, needing no Republican congressional support to pass his initial agenda, did not seriously attempt to work with Republicans during his first two years. A Party that won’t reach across the aisle as far as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, as the Dems didn’t when it came to Obamacare, is no position to claim — or have others claim on its behalf –that the opposition’s intransigence is the root of the absence of compromise.
I’ll leave the last word to Peter Robinson:
For decades, Mann and Ornstein. . .have passed themselves off as above-the-fray, utterly impartial, interested not in ideology but in getting things done. Which is to say, of course, that they reflect, without the smallest flaw or distortion, the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party, both of which believe that ever-expanding government is simply the result of responsible governance.
Now here’s what’s interesting. During the very period Mann and Ornstein deride, the supposed crackpot and marginal GOP has captured the House of Representatives in one of the biggest electoral swings in congressional history, picked up seven seats in the Senate, and chosen to nominate Mitt Romney, who, even though in many ways a remarkably weak candidate, nevertheless is already virtually even with the Democratic incumbent in national polls.
Mann and Ornstein don’t have a problem with the GOP, in other words, they have a problem with the American people. “Shut up, sit down, and let people like us run the country.” That’s what Mann and Ornstein–and, again, the media and Democratic Party–have convinced themselves is the message, the responsible message, to carry into this election year.
STEVE adds: As I mention in the comments below, I’ll be debating Norm on his book on June 13 here in DC (first date we could arrange on the calendar for the both of us). Meanwhile, here I am cavorting with the enemy, whose red (perfect) sport coat is set on stun. I happened to run into Norm at Dulles airport earlier this week. Where you off to? I ask. “Brussels.” “Perfect place for you.”