There seems to be a niggling doubt creeping into Republican public comments on the narrative of themselves as the obstructionist party of ‘no.’ While it was pointed out recently that the Republican base is quite happy with this tactic it appears that some incumbents are having second thoughts as to how this increasingly widespread perception is playing out in their own constituencies, though it is still pretty thin on the ground:
Congressional Republicans are divided on how to change the public’s perception that they are not working with President Barack Obama.
According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted earlier this month, 58 percent of the 1,004 respondents said Republicans have not reached out enough to Obama.
Molly K Hooper – Republicans divided on how to counter ‘party of no’ reputation in poll The Hill 14 Feb 10
Divided is good. And though it seems to be taking a while to sink in, it appears that the fallout from Obama’s performance in Maryland is proving slightly radioactive to public opinion and Republican strategy. At least in the House. There even seems to be some traction elsewhere:
In a blow to Republican insistence that they have played a non-obstructionist role in slowing down the Democratic legislative agenda, one of the GOP’s senior senators acknowledged on Sunday that his party had gone too far in holding up presidential nominees.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the blanket hold that his colleague, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), placed last week on all of President Obama’s nominees “wrong.”
Sam Stein – Richard Shelby Was ‘Wrong’ To Place Blanket Hold On Obama Nominees Huffington Post 14 Feb
It’s very encouraging to see increasingly conflicted messages emerging from the usually lockstep Republicans.
An example of obstructionism thwarted emerged around Republican opposition to repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which the Obama administration mooted recently. Taking an ambivalent stance, they risk tacitly positioning themselves against the current decision makers in the US military. This is new territory for Republicans and many must have felt they had gotten into the weeds:
The conundrum facing all of these Republican leaders is simple: coming out against the repeal of the DADT policy now would represent a de facto admission that the opinions of the military brass never really mattered in the first place.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly support the repeal. In fact, in a widely observed reversal yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that he was “disappointed” in Mullen’s testimony, and expressed concerns that overturning DADT at a time of “immense hardship for our armed services” would be problematic.
This despite the fact that he once declared that: “the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.”
Sam Stein – Mullen Testimony On DADT Puts Senior Republicans In A Bind Huffington Post 3 Feb 10
It seems increasingly clear that the White House and progressive pundits sense an opportunity here. The ‘ribbon cutting’ narrative in Obama’s question-and-answer session has reappeared on several occasions since:
A heated exchange took place during NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow accused Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) of hypocrisy for railing against a spending bill in public while touting its benefits in his home district.
Appearing alongside each other during a panel session, Maddow pivoted from a discussion on job creation to note that Schock had appeared at an event on Friday touting a grant program that he had voted against.
Sam Stein – Rachel Maddow Stuns Rep. Aaron Schock By Calling Out His Spending Hypocrisy Huffington Post 14 Feb 10
If that is ‘stunning’ then so be it. The upshot? So far business as usual:
WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats’ initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters.
The filibuster strategy “makes the Senate dysfunctional,” said Mark Strand, the president of the Congressional Institute, a nonpartisan research group. That, in turn, blocks the Obama administration’s agenda, but it also sours public opinion on Washington, with polls showing clear public disdain for Congress in particular. Republicans think voters will reward them for that in November.
David Lightman – Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything to win in November? McClatchy 12 Feb 10
Though there seem to be some early, if not particularly significant, defections:
GOP Sen. Bob Corker said he “absolutely” would be willing to buck his party to pass a bill cracking down on financial market abuses and creating new rules to prevent firms from becoming “too big to fail.”
The Tennessean, who is in the middle of his first Senate term, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut, announced Thursday that they would negotiate the wide-ranging legislation. The move came after Dodd reached an impasse with the panel’s top Republican.
Corker, in an interview to run on C-SPAN on Sunday, suggested the regulatory overhaul discussions on Capitol Hill have not always been in good faith. “Do you want to get to ‘yes’ or do you want to get to ‘no’ as quickly as possible?” Corker said, suggesting he believes he and Dodd can craft legislation that receives “overwhelming” support from members of both parties.
Michael Crittenden – Corker: Willing to Be Sole GOP Vote on Financial Overhaul WSJ 12 Feb 10
One wonders if it is worth holding the health care reform vote for a period to let this narrative take firm hold. It certainly seems to be a message that the mainstream media have gotten their teeth into and so worth pushing at all levels. One may be forgiven for supposing we are on to something here.