David Broder Parodies Himself. Again.

It’s normally not worth pointing out a Broderian column from the Broder himself, but for some reason today’s effort is a unique classic of the genre. Broder is examining why people hate Congress and concludes that, you guessed it, it’s because Republicans and Democrats don’t get along, and Barack Obama hasn’t delivered on his promise of post-partisanship:

But the partisanship on both sides was a turnoff to independents. They were the people who had taken Obama seriously when he said he wanted to move Washington beyond the recriminations of the George W. Bush years. Regardless of their views on health care — or the economy or education or anything else — they are turned off by the inability of both parties to overcome their parochial concerns and agree on steps to curb the joblessness and debt that are consuming the country.

There’s two parts of this paragraph that leave me downright angry. The first is the notion that Obama hasn’t moved Washington into the age of post-partisanship. It would be one thing to claim that Obama made a promise, explicitly or implicitly, that he couldn’t keep, but that’s not what Broder is doing. Rather Broder is laying the continued existence of partisanship in Washington at Obama’s feet, which is just absurd, especially coming the day after Obama announced his intention to open up more coastal area for oil exploration. Republicans, on the other hand, have opposed everything in basic lockstep, with individual members reversing past positions to do so and taking absurd stances along the way. The Republican Senate leader has even bragged about how he managed to keep his caucus in unanimous opposition for political ends. That Broder purports to care so much about bipartisanship yet never mentions this implies either that he is stuck in some strange paradox of his own making where he can’t even bring himself to point out that one party is more to blame for legislative gridlock than the other, or that he simply doesn’t pay much attention to what’s actually going on in government.

But even more than that, once again we see the fundamental Broderian assumption of the world; there is one universal Truth, and the existence of political parties functions solely as a barrier towards individuals acknowledging that. There’s no allowance whatsoever that people actually disagree, even fundamentally, about how to address policy questions, and that parties are a reflection of that. In Broder’s world, there’s simply no possibility that, at base, people just have irreconcileable differences about the fundamental issues affecting public policy. On jobs, for example, Democrats have accepted a basic Keynsian framework for how to respond to the recession that’s basically embraced by the vast majority of economists. Republicans, on the other hand, have come to embrace a pre-Depression view of the relationship of government to the economy, and reject the basic idea that the government can take affirmative action to spur economic growth and job creation, and will accept nothing except or beyond permanent tax cuts at the highest marginal rates. There’s absolutely no way to bridge these two views of how the government should respond to economic downturn, and a government that requires these two groups to agree to act is a government that will ultimately do nothing, because you can’t get these two sides to agree. The only answer is that one side, or at least a few members of one side, could agree to capitulate in the name of allowing some sort of action, and sign off on a plan they think is a mistake, but how unprincipled is that?

This is really expending much more mental energy on Broder than he’s worth, but it’s a useful reminder that the vaunted center, as represented by Broder, is actually nothing but an intellectually immature, ignorant, vapid set of nonsense. Broder doesn’t really believe anything (or know anything about public policy), so he just can’t imagine that other people have goals, beliefs, or ideas about matters of policy that will create real fault lines of uncrossable differences. But that’s just proof that Broder has a very narrow, very myopic view of the world, and doesn’t have the inclination to learn anything about actual policy debates. It would be comical, but important political journalists look up to this guy.

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