Saturday, May 05, 2007

Go for it!

Greg Sargent thinks that the MSM (this time the WaPo) is misrepresenting public opinion. Who could have believed it?

In a front page Washington Post article today by Jonathan Weisman and Lyndsey Layton about how the Democratic Congress is faltering, the reporters quote Leon Panetta making the case that Dems had better watch out and not be too confrontational with the White House:

[...]

But let's put that aside and ask a larger question: Is it really true that the public is fed up with partisanship and "sick and tired of the fighting," as Panetta says, and as David Broder and Joe Lieberman keep lecturing?

No doubt one could dig up polls showing that people don't like generically defined "fighting" or "gridlock." But here's another way to look at this: The polls show clearly that the public strongly supports efforts by Dems to confront Bush both on Iraq and on corruption. Check out the numbers in this recent Pew poll:

Do you think Democratic leaders in Congress are going too far or not far enough in challenging George W. Bush's policies in Iraq, or are they handling this about right?

Too far 23%
Not far enough 40%
About right 30%
Don't know/Refused 7%

So 70% say that Dems are being appropriately or even insufficiently aggressive in challenging Bush. Multiple polls show that solid majorities back Dem efforts to end the war -- efforts which by nature are confrontational and basically partisan, since the GOP more or less (with a few exceptions) continues to back Bush's Iraq policies. What's more, multiple polls have also found that solid majorities support Dem efforts to probe GOP malfeasance -- also efforts which by nature are confrontational and partisan.

Bottom line: Asking whether the public opposes generic "partisanship" in the current environment is utterly meaningless. Here's the deal: Bush and the GOP are doing a bunch of things. The American people don't like those things, and want them changed. But Bush and the GOP just keep on doing them, anyway. So Dems are the ones now trying to force Bush and the GOP to change. In other words, the choice the public faces isn't between "fighting" and "gridlock" on the one hand, and "bipartisan cooperation" on the other. Rather, it's between (a) accepting the disastrous Bush/GOP status quo; and (b) backing Democratic efforts to change it. And the public supports the latter. Even though those efforts are partisan and confrontational. Is that really so hard to fathom?

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