Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Those of us who came to Washington in 1993 to work for the Clinton administration, and who thought that we were going to be part of a centrist bipartisan governing coalition, were astonished to find not so--that we could not get a single Republican vote in the House or the Senate for policies--short-term fiscal stimulus in a recession, long-term deficit reduction, market-friendly health-care reform, non-punitive welfare reform, public safety--that were certainly less to the left of the technocratic good-government center than George H.W. Bush's policies that had picked up oodles of Democratic votes were to the right.
The gossip in the Treasury Department then was that Republican Senate Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) had explained what was going on to our boss Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen more-or-less like this:
Look: Clinton is not a legitimate president. 57% of the voters voted for a more conservative Texan. Only the fact that Perot really does not like Bush and did not drop out once he had made his policy point got your guy in. Minority presidents don't get to impose their policy priorities on the country. Our task now is not to help govern, but to demonstrate that a minority president like Clinton cannot legitimately govern--and when we demonstrate that Clinton cannot govern, we will get our majorities in 1994 and our majorities and the presidency in 1996 and things will be back to normal.
But the Washington Post did not notice that this was going on--or, rather, pretended that it did not notice.
And come 2009 the Republican Party adopted the same unified position--that their task was to show that Obama was not a legitimate president and could not govern. But why wasn't Obama a legitimate president? There was no Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, or William Rehnquist to put someone with minority support into the Oval Office. Well, they say, Obama is not a legitimate president because--CLANG!!!!
And now, finally, the Washington Post seems to have noticed--or, rather, appears to feel itself forced to recognize what it has been pretending for a generation not to notice--what is going on:
Washington Post Editorial Board: Republicans Have Failed America:
The Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will…. Fiscal responsibility isn’t even a topic. Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. That law, in case you've forgotten in the torrent of propaganda, is hardly revolutionary. It is an effort to extend health insurance to some of the 40 million or so people in this country who have none. It acts through the existing private-insurance market. Republicans tried to block its passage and failed; they hoped to have it declared unconstitutional and failed; and they did their best to toss Mr. Obama out of the White House after one term in order to strangle it in its cradle, and they failed again….
After months of refusing to confer with the Senate on a budget proposal, they have demanded a conference committee to keep the government funded for six weeks. They are rejecting a budget extension that includes limits on federal spending--the so-called sequester--that they insisted on and that Democrats oppose. In a particularly shabby piece of faux populism, their final proposal Monday night included a measure to deprive congressional aides, many of whom earn considerably less than the esteemed members, of the subsidy to purchase health insurance that employers routinely provide.
That measure was emblematic of Republicans’ heedlessness of the impact of their actions…. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and their colleagues may be in a difficult political position. Honestly, we don’t much care…
Nothing much wrong with the editorial, save for the fact that it comes in 2013 rather than in 1993.