2010/08/06

Two columnists and their recommended solutions

Two very refreshing pieces today say a lot about all this bipartisan-y wunnerful goodness of being "above the fray" and "objective" and all that nonsense. A WaPo columnist asks another WaPo columnist, David Broder, about Broder's column on the dysfunctionality of the Senate. Sargent agrees with Broder that the Senate is dysfunctional. Broder quotes a Republican Senator to that effect:

"climate change joined immigration, job creation, food safety, pilot training, veterans' care, campaign finance, transportation security, labor law, mine safety, wildfire management, and scores of executive and judicial appointments on the list of matters that the world's greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing."

Okay, and Sargent notes that Broder blames:

Many forces -- from the money chase, to the party realignments, to the intrusiveness of 24-hour media -- have weakened the institutional bonds of that Senate. But it is the absence of the ethic embodied and enforced by its leaders that is most crippling.

But isn't there a more comprehensive, unified explanation? Could it be that Republicans have very consciously and deliberately adopted an explicit strategy:

...designed to deny Obama bipartisan cooperation solely to prevent Dems from winning major victories, and to grind the Senate to a halt to make Dems look like ineffective leaders.

It's certainly looked that way to me and many, many progressives from the very beginning of the 2008 Senate. Yet Broder refuses to leave his "above it all" bipartisan-y perch from which he looks down upon the unseemly fight in the Senate and tsk-tsks about the unseemingly-ness of it all. Broder never focuses blame on a specific party for the problem. He keeps it all very vague and very general. An interested citizen has absolutely no idea from Broder's piece if there are any fixes to the problems that he identifies.

Paul Krugman, on the other hand, examines the deficit reduction plan produced by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and tells readers why, exactly and in detail, Ryan's plan is wildly impractical and will never work. Krugman's point is quite clear: Never look to Republicans for wisdom on fiscal matters. Unlike Broder's column, Krugman's column gives interested citizens useful and practical guidance as to who they should listen to and/or vote for when it comes to fiscal policy.

Is Krugman wrong? Are Republicans making useful and serious contributions? Should citizens listen to the other side of the aisle? Republicans and other right-wingers and conservatives are certainly free to make these arguments, but Krugman does citizens a real service by starting off with a clear, factually argued foundation from which to examine the question. He doesn't just give us a vague, fuzzy picture from which all we do is throw up our hands and to declare that it's all hopeless.

These two columnists, Broder and Krugman, both examine political problems, but only one gives readers a clear idea of what to do about those problems.

Update: Digby fills us in on the other tricks that Ryan uses to appear to be a serious intellectual. Also, the lawyer/blogger Glenn Greenwald attacks the "muddled moderation" of the Obama Administration in their choice of the colorless, cautious careerist Elena Kagan as the new Supreme Court Justice (She was just recently approved for the position). Kagan doesn't move the Court very far to the right, but she unquestionably does move it a bit to the political right.

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