THE PLANK NOVEMBER 25, 2008
Ed Kilgore makes some typically smart points about just what exactly Obama might do to fulfill his pledge of bipartisanship. Hint: it might not involve keeping Gates at the Pentagon or finding some out-of-the-way cabinet post for the likes of Jim Leach.
There is, however, one form of "bipartisanship" that Bush never
took seriously, and that is very consistent with everything Barack
Obama has said on the subject. Back in 2001, I described it as an
This variety, typically used by incoming Presidents during
their "honeymoon" period, involves the aggressive, direct stimulation
of public opinion to push members of the opposing party, especially
those from states or districts where the President is popular, to come
across the line.
This is essentially bipartisanship (or if you wish,
post-partisanship) from the ground up, which reaches out to
rank-and-file Republicans and independents to mobilize support for big
national initiatives. I contrasted this with the "inside-out"
coalition--often known later as High Broderism--which involves
deal-cutting in Washington across party lines.
I raise this distinction partly because it's important in and of
itself, and also because it provides the essential context for the
decisions Obama makes on appointments. It's one thing to appoint
Republicans to positions as a signal that the new administration is
interested in a broader agenda of bipartisan deal-cutting in
Washington. It's another thing altogether to appoint a diverse team of
officials who are all pledged to implement a clear progressive agenda.
You have to imagine that the 10 million email addresses the Obama people now have in their system could help, uh, stimulate public opinion to bring reluctant Republicans to Obama's side. Then again, did Obama win many (or any) Congressional districts that are represented by a Republican other than Nebraska's 2nd?
Update: Reader MY emails to point out that this will be more of an issue in the Senate, where GOP votes are more necessary--and there you've got Sens Collins, Snowe, Burr, Specter,
Voinovich, Martinez, Lugar, Grassley, and Ensign all representing states Obama
Later Update: And, per TalkBacker kyoung, Judd Gregg.