Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, double shame on you. Fool me three times—ok, you got me that time, but that’s the last time. Fool me four times—wow, i really thought you meant it this time. Fool my five times—ok, now I’m starting to think you’re doing it on purpose. Fool me six times…
In principle, I’m all for taking the high road, and trying to inculcate a better environment in politics. But at some point, when the folks you’re trying to work with continually fail to come through with their half, you’ve just got to recognize that compromise isn’t possible. What particularly baffles me about Obama’s behavior is that the Republicans aren’t even trying to fool him, as near as I can tell. It’s not like they’re doing a Bugs Bunny routine, and are so clever and quick-tongued that they’re tricking Obama with subtle stances or bait-n-switch positions. They’re more like the Tasmanian Devil, with all the subtlety and fury (and careful consideration) of a tornado, bent on destroying every piece of government that they can, and making no secret of it.
Obama’s no dummy, so is he just too much of an idealist? Does he think that he’s currying favor with the electorate by failing to get things done? Doesn’t he realize that passing half-assed bills in an effort to appease the GOP risks creating legislation that is destined to fail, and taints the actual idea at its core, when going all-out might have resulted in something that actually made a huge difference? He ends up pleasing no one, which is worse than pleasing half the people.
The noises I hear coming from the right are a lot less like “we’re interested in working with you, if you’ll meet us halfway” and a lot more like “our way or the highway”. When his political opponents repeatedly and consistently say “sure, let’s compromise: we’ll do it our way”, what makes Obama think there’s room for compromise? And when they repeatedly and consistently make it clear that they’d rather nothing got done than something that they don’t like got done, why even try to work with them? For that matter, we’re talking about a political party that would rather prevent even a policy they originally proposed from being enacted, if they think their opponents might somehow benefit from the enacting.
To quote Free To Be…You and Me: Some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without. It may be too late now, with a divided Congress, but I don’t understand why, after a couple months of disruption, Obama and the Democrats didn’t just say, “Fine, you’re not interested in helping us, we’ll just do our own thing,” have the courage of their convictions, and pass the bills they wanted.