Bipartisan Folly II: Follyball

By Brian Beutler

I was just privileged to hear John McCain lecture the Senate on the importance of bipartisanship. Two or three Republican senators, he argued, doesn’t make the bill bipartisan. And you know, he’s right. It isn’t. Also, you know what else isn’t bipartisan? His stimulus amendment, which roughly halves the size of the bill under consideration. Presumably if the numbers or rules in the Senate were different, and it had passed, he’d have urged President Obama to veto it.

But this is the sort of bluster Obama invited a couple weeks ago by placing bipartisan agreement on something of a par with effectiveness. We’ll never know what would have happened if he’d gone a different route, but if he’d insisted on a plan of a certain size and scope, and welcomed all members of congress to share in the success or failure of that plan, he’d have closed the doors on the McCains and the Collinses and the Nelsons of the Senate who are now riding to the rescue of bipartisanship and damaging the bill along the way. Maybe that wouldn’t have worked, but then we’d be no worse off than we are now.