Many mysteries plague us regarding the press coverage of the Obama era, but one strikes me as central to our political predicament. Why, after everyone else has given it up, do members of the mainstream media persist in helping to hide—and therefore empower—the radicalization of the Republican Party?
The GOP strategy was clear from the start. Republicans, circa 2009,
were no longer interested in bipartisan solutions to America’s problems.
As then–Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told National Journal,
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President
Obama to be a one-term president.” Senator Jim DeMint famously promised
healthcare reform could be used to “break” Obama from day one. And that
was before the Tea Party even existed.
Part of the problem, for far too long, was that President Obama
collaborated in the charade. He was so invested in the notion that both
sides could just get along and legislate together that he couldn’t part
with the illusion he had helped to create. His communitarian rhetoric,
together with his compromise-in-advance legislative strategy, was always
oriented toward inclusiveness, consensus-building and, ultimately,
political passivity. As a result, Obama allowed the Republicans to
stymie his ability to act on behalf of most of his agenda, beginning
with the underfunded stimulus and carrying through with virtually every
single initiative he undertook throughout the first two years of his