Monday, August 08, 2011

Narratives that aren't true are bad narratives.

Kevin Drum, predictably, didn't care for Drew Westen's piece about Obama.
The problem isn't that Obama didn't have a story. He did, and he told it pretty well. His story was one about the dysfunctional partisanship destroying Washington and how to move beyond it. You might not like that story, but it was there. And while it obviously didn't succeed in moving the needle on partisanship, it did allow Obama to produce a pretty decent set of legislative achievements. As much as two years of anti-conservative stemwinders would have thrilled me, I doubt they would have produced anywhere near as much.
Uh, what?

One, dysfunctional partisanship, in fact, was not the root cause of most of our big problems. Indeed, it's the opposite: if Democrats had been more partisan about the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq War -- we would be in much better shape today. Also, Glass-Steagall was repealed in a very bipartisan manner, with Bill Clinton signing Phil Gramm's bill at the end of his presidency, and the Rubinites applauding.

Furthermore, it wasn't this story that produced a bunch of bills. What produced the bunch of bills was huge Democratic margins in both houses. Republicans unanimously voted against the stimulus in the House, and they unanimously rejected the Affordable Care Act.

Then they were able to use their partisan opposition as proof (and this argument is echoed by people like McMegan) that Obama broke his promise to be "bi-partisan."

So, not only was the narrative not true, it blew up in his face. You can't be "post-partisan" when the other side insists on being partisan.

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