Attempting to label the Republican party as the “Party of No” label is a silly and ill-advised political strategy. It’s one that even President Obama has backed off on, claiming he never said it and isn’t suggesting people go on repeating it anyhow. That hasn’t stopped his minions from repeating the message here and in other venues with cut-n-paste troll spam. The following two examples (hat tip The Corner) show just what a difference a few years makes.
Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics has discovered that Obama’s views on unpopular programs and congressional “obstructionism” were much different way back in … 2005. Speaking about privatized Social Security, then-Senator Obama said:
“I mean, the fact of the matter is, is the president has been on his 60-day tour, and everywhere he goes the numbers just get worse. The American people have essentially voted on this proposal and really what you have is a situation now where I think that the president and the Republican Congress are going to need to figure out a way to save face and — and step back a little bit. And if — if they let go of their egos — listen, I’ve been on the other side of this where — particularly with my wife. (laughter) Where I’ve gotten in an argument and then at some point in the argument it dawns on me, you know what, I’m wrong on this one and it’s — it’s — it’s irritating, it’s frustrating. You don’t want to admit it, and so to the extent that we can provide the president with a graceful mechanism to — to say we’re sorry, Dear, then I think that would be — that would be helpful.”
Contrast that with some of his more recent statements which either ignore public sentiment or claim poor polling of health care is only the result of negative Republican messaging.
For more amusing then-and-now shenanigans go read Megan McCardle at the Atlantic where she contrasts two NYT editorials. From 2005:
So when Congressional Republican leaders tell the president that Social Security private accounts are a nonstarter, they are conveying the informed views of their constituents.
Mr. Bush has reacted by railing against Democrats for obstruction — as if Democrats are duty-bound to breathe life into his agenda and, even sillier, as if opposing a plan that the people do not want is an illegitimate tactic for an opposition party.And now:
Recent polls show that the public is divided, with more opposing the bills than favoring them. The negatives have been driven up by critics’ distortions about a supposed government takeover of medicine and the tawdry deal-making necessary to win 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
Follow the link above as McCardle has a lot more quoted and the 180 done by the NYT is just humorous.
So to be clear, when President Bush kept pushing privatized Social Security and it clearly was unpopular with the public, he should just drop it and not blame minority Democrats in the Congress for being obstructionists. But now, when President Obama keeps pushing socialized medicine–excuse me health care reform–and it is clearly unpopular with the public, he doesn’t want to drop it and accuses the minority Republicans in Congress for being obstructionists. Well, he did promise change…
These are definitely examples of what happens when people turn politics into a Us vs. Them contest instead of thinking about the issues and the will of the people being governed. Changing your view on what is acceptable conduct based on the players involved or the issue being “discussed” doesn’t lead to rationale arguments or civil public discourse.