Independents' Cock-Eyed Optimism

by Michelle Cottle | August 21, 2009

This bit from The Note about Obama's health care struggles caught my eye:

Can partisan war make it work? "There's also a limit to how effective this strategy can be," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported on "Good Morning America" Friday. "Independents liked Obama because they thought he was going to break this partisan gridlock -- not intensify it."

Really? Did any group really vote for Obama seriously thinking that he was going to be able to pass major, system-restructuring legislation by defusing the hyperpartisanship that has--thanks to, among other neat tricks, shameless congressional gerrymandering--become a structural part of our federal government? 

I'm not doubting George. I think he's probably right. I'm just always surprised by how many people seem to believe that partisanship--not to mention deep ideological differences-is something that can be brushed back by a soothing, well-intentioned leader.

With an issue as fraught as health care, Obama can pass sweeping reform, or he can be a bipartisan bridge builder. He cannot do both.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/independents-cock-eyed-optimism