Monday, September 26, 2011

Its NOT politics as usual

Eric Boehlert has a great column demonstrating how the Republican obstructionism we're witnessing in the Obama era is definitely not politics as usual.

To demonstrate, he goes back to 1983 when Reagan was in his 3rd year as President, the Senate had a Republican majority, and the House was controlled by Democrats - the exact mirror of what we have now. There are other similarities as well. Like the fact that the economy was faltering and Reagan's approval ratings were in the 40's.

Boehlert found this summary of Congressional activity in the New York Times from August of that year.

Congress has gone on vacation after one of its most productive periods in recent history, and to this point, the 98th session of the nation's legislature could well be called ''the bipartisan consensus Congress.''

In a half-dozen major areas, from job legislation to the MX missile to Social Security, the lawmakers were able to succeed by seeking accommodations across party lines. They were also able to establish a decent, if occasionally rocky, relationship with the White House. So far this year, President Reagan has signed more than 60 bills and not used his veto once on a major issue.

The spirit of uneasy detente that has pervaded the Capitol was explained this way by Senator David Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat: ''The fact of life is, we're politicians, and we work within the parameters of what is achievable.''

When the Democrats were in exactly the same position as Republicans find themselves now, they worked for what was achievable rather than threaten the safety and security of the country in order to score political points against the President.

Boehlert rightly calls out the media for failing to provide this kind of historical analysis which demonstrates the unprecedented nature of the Republican sabotage of our government.

As Media Matters has noted for some time, much of the Beltway press corps refuses to put today's Republican obstructionism in any kind of historical context. Pundits and reporters watch the GOP universally reject White House initiatives with party-line votes and the press pretends it's normal. The press pretends that's how the game has always been played; that presidents have always found it virtually impossible to secure votes from the opposition party.

The press is spreading the lie that "they all do it." That's just not true. Its high time we called them out on it and make sure voters know exactly what the Republicans are up to.

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