Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The beginning of the end of the myth of bipartisanship

It may not seem all that significant, at face value, but Rand Paul won the Republican Party nomination for the state of Kentucky in the Senate primary today. Rand Paul is not your garden variety Republican. Aside from being the son of another prominent Republican, Ron Paul, he is a member of a growing flock of Tea Party followers.

Combined with the miraculous victory of another Tea Partier, Scott Brown, who won the seat of legendary Massachusetts senator, Ted Kennedy, this is further proof that the President must now forget any illusions he may previously have had about a spirit of bipartisanship. It's safe to say that, with Rand Paul's victory today, the myth of bipartisanship has been officially laid to rest.

Should he choose to accept it, this is a chance for this President to grow his agenda in a direction that is not only more likely to win him reelection in two years but, more importantly, one that will safeguard those constitutional protections we still have left like a woman's right to choose, and affirmative action.

Whatever you might say about Elena Kagan, pro or con, one thing is clear. Her nomination, and near certain confirmation, makes it clear that this administration still believes it is dealing with moderates on the other side of the aisle, but guess what, Mr. President, whatever moderates there are left in the Republican Party are now hiding under their desks in fear of what the radical right wingnuts might be cooking up next.

After all, it was another right wingnut, Barry Goldwater, who laid the groundwork for the insanity that is trying to pass itself off as law in Arizona, and everybody knows who Barry Goldwater's biggest fan was--George W. Bush. How many more Goldwater moments can this country afford, Mr. President?

By not appointing a boldfaced progressive with a strong environmental track record, someone who has been outspoken on human rights, and defending habeas corpus, and one who doesn't think the First Amendment applies only to corporations, the President has missed one opportunity in his nomination of Elena Kagan who has managed to be amorphous enough not to be pinned down..

Today's Senate primary in Kentucky victory can be seen as good news if it makes a strong enough impression, and this President decides to take control of the steering wheel away from McChrystal and Gates, and steer us out of the quagmire in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which he's allowed himself to sink deeper in the name of bipartisan cooperation.

Give it up, Mr. President. You can't win this one. You've got to stand up for the things people elected you to stand up for like accountability, transparency, restoring the rule of law, insuring equal opportunity for all Americans, and not just for bankers. You've got to win back the middle class by bailing out the working class, and not Wall Street.

There can be no negotiating with thosewho cling to their dogma and their shotguns at the same time.

This is yet another opportunity this presidency cannot afford to miss.