Commentary: Parties not following Obama's bipartisan lead

This editorial appeared in The Tri-City Herald. Americans yearn for bipartisanship

Free-lancing Democrats and tone-deaf Republicans are undermining the bipartisanship President Obama is striving so diligently to achieve.

Our own state is not immune. In fact, we're right in the middle of it.

The president has made high-profile efforts to change the "business-as-usual" attitude of politics in Washington, D.C.

Besides inviting Republican members of Congress to meet with him in formal settings, he's also been host to a cocktail party at the White House and will have Republican and Democratic legislators in Sunday for a Super Bowl party at the White House.

This is a new style of governing for the Beltway crowd.

But even as Obama pushes for bipartisanship – saying he is trying to govern for all Americans rather than just along party lines – the majority Democrats cling to old habits.

And Republicans are right in there with them, in predictable ways.

Associated Press writers Charles Babington and Liz Sidoti say House Republicans made a huge political gamble by unanimously opposing the massive stimulus spending bill before Congress.

The Republicans are betting that Obama's popularity will slacken, or even if it doesn't, voters will reward a party that makes principled stands for restrained spending and bigger tax cuts.

Their position is clear. The stimulus bill passed the House 244-188. The only bipartisanship appeared on the "no" side: 11 Democrats joined all the Republicans in voting against it.

As Babington and Sidoti pointed out, Republicans in Congress clearly signaled they are not cowed by Obama's victory, popularity or calls for a new era of bipartisanship.

Republicans particularly are annoyed by Democrats including in the package millions to be spent to help people stop smoking.

"Where's the economic stimulus in that?" they ask.

Good point.

But opposing the entire stimulus package because it includes some objectionable programs or because it excludes particular tax cuts leaves the GOP on shaky ground.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Tri-City Herald.