It has to kill Mort Kondracke to admit this, so give him a round of applause for manning up on the (virtual) pages of Real Clear Politics. The executive editor of Roll Call doesn’t usually give Rush Limbaugh credit for much of anything, which readers can note when Kondracke refers to Rush as an “arch-polarizer.” But Kondracke credits Rush with providing more bipartisanship to the debate over the stimulus than the supposed Post-Partisan-in-Chief at the White House:
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Rush Limbaugh actually has (or had) a good idea on the stimulus. Or, at least the germ of one.
On his radio show Jan. 26 and in the Wall Street Journal Jan. 29, America’s arch-polarizer — amazingly enough — proposed the outlines of a reasonable bipartisan stimulus package of both spending and tax cuts. …
The proposal was couched, of course, in Limbaugh’s customary disdain for government spending (“porkulus”) and disparagement of Democratic Party motives, but it contained a genuinely bipartisan idea. …
But, if Obama truly wanted to establish a post-partisan atmosphere in Washington, he would have not only met and had cocktails with Republicans, but would have given them a real say in drafting the stimulus.
Mort’s a little late — I wrote almost the same thing two weeks ago, when Rush launched his proposal — but he’s starting to come to the right conclusions. Rush actually proposed that Democrats and Republicans work together on a package that would allow them both to try their preferred policies in addressing the recession. Instead of an all-or-nothing bill, the American public could have seen a compromise that would have garnered some support from nearly everyone on portions of the bill, making the final version a lot more palatable, and certainly a lot less controversial.
In an $800 billion package, one might think there would have been room for this approach. But no — Nancy Pelosi insisted on drafting the bill within her tight clique. Barack Obama provided only a showy Bipartisan Tea while telling Republicans that since they lost, they had no say in how the bill would get drafted. Obama went on national TV to demonize the GOP for balking at a bill in which they had no input, which avoided regular order in both chambers of Congress to limit amendments, and which eventually finished in a sleazy, closed-door, back-room meeting, literally.
Kondracke doesn’t quite make it all the way to the right conclusion, though. In this episode, the supposed “arch-polarizer” had the right idea for bipartisanship, as Kondracke admits. What does that say about Obama, Pelosi, and Reid? He speaks about the need for some “humility” on the part of Democratic leaders, but fails to state the obvious: Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are the hyperpartisans in Washington. Rush’s proposal and the Democratic reaction made that crystal clear.
Somewhere, Rush is laughing and enjoying a cigar. Well played.