A Brief GOP Romance

Obama Creates Bipartisanship -- In Opposition

Barack Obama had a dream -- to create a bipartisan paradise that would cut through the divisions of the last two decades. 

So much for that.  Consider the so-called post-inaugural honeymoon over. 

The $819 billion economic stimulus package sure created bipartisanship in the House on Wednesday -- in opposition.  Not one single Republican voted for this bill.

Zippo.  Nada.  A GOP donut. 

Indeed, Republicans picked up 11 Democratic votes. Not quite the bipartisanship we came to believe in. 

Honeymoon?  This is the political version of a bride coming down with a migraine on the wedding night and rebuffing her husband's romantic overtures.  "Not tonight, honey, your stimulus package is just too much for me." 

Sure, this legislation is still on track to become law eventually.  Democrats have the numbers. Still, the nature of the Senate is that the minority GOP has greater influence in getting more Republican-friendly changes into this huge spending bill. After the Senate votes, a "conference" (combined) version of each chamber's passed bills might entice some House Republicans to get on board for final passage -- but don't bet on it. 

The opposition voting overwhelming against a new president's economic plan is hardly unusual -- and a shutout isn't  unprecedented.  In 1993, minority Republicans unanimously opposed Bill Clinton's first budget.  But Clinton had won the presidency with only 43 percent of the vote -- and he had "reverse coattails":  Republicans picked up seats in the 1992 election.   Furthermore, the animosity between Clinton and Republicans then was already personal.

Today's House Republicans have warm things to say about President Obama personally (though that might be a just a wise political gambit).  But that's not going anywhere.  Today's House Republicans are now more viscerally and uniformly conservative than they  has been in -- perhaps forever.  The Northeastern moderates are extinct in the party on the House side (indeed, there is not one House GOPer Republican in New England).  While there might be a handful of pro-choice Republicans in the House, on the core issue of the moment, all of these Republicans have reverted to their fiscal conservative roots.  Why not? They don't have to support a profligate spending Republican president anymore.

Obama's honeymoon with the public -- and the media -- is not over. But one of his principal campaign goals has failed in its initial test: A more bipartisan Washington? Sure doesn't look like it.  An $819 billion wedding present is just too much for House Republicans to accept. 

Robert A. George is a New York writer.  He blogs at Ragged Thots and dabbles in stand-up comedy. 

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