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Hello, “blog” readers.  I’m David Broder, Dean of the Washington Press Corps and holder of the Vital Center Chair for Advanced Consensus Studies at the Institute of Moderation, and I’m filling in for Michael while he goes for his MRI.  Here’s my column for today:


The word this week is that leading Democrats are thinking about trying to pass health care reform without Republican support.  But if they remember their recent history, they’ll think twice before adopting the politics of rashness.

The year was 1993, and a charismatic outsider came to Washington with a plan for reform.  But not long after taking the oath of office, he embarked on a path of destruction that shredded the bipartisan comity this city had enjoyed for the previous twelve years.  By proposing a budget that increased taxes in a recession, Bill Clinton lost any hope of picking up support from across the aisle—and, sure enough, his budget passed by the narrowest of margins, with Al Gore, divisive as always, breaking a 50-50 tie in the Senate.  In the House, the “budget reconciliation” passed by a similarly unimpressive 219-213.

The rest, of course, is history.  Clinton’s budget bankrupted the Treasury, stifled growth, and led to massive unemployment, just as his critics claimed it would.  The “great leap backward,” as Newt Gingrich called it, returned America to the dark days of the late 1970s, with runaway inflation, skyrocketing crime, and disrespectful young people listening to their grungy “music.” Within a year, Americans turned on the man who had promised them “hope” but gave them only partisan warfare and gridlock, and Republicans took control of Congress after decades in the minority.  With them came a renewed, and badly needed, commitment to civility in national politics.

It is said that history repeats itself—louder the second time for those who weren’t listening.  The record is clear that “Democrat Only” bills are a recipe for disaster.  On a day when the nation mourns the passing of Ted Kennedy, Democrats would do well to heed the gracious words of John McCain: Kennedy, the lion of the Senate, “had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions.” Indeed, without Kennedy’s sense of bipartisan good will, we would not have the landmark No Child Left Behind Act today.  Now as in 1993, Democrats stand at a crossroads: they can play the kind of slash-and-burn politics that will turn America into a one-party state, or they can do the right thing—and make the right concessions.

Posted by on 08/26 at 08:56 AM
  1. Uncanny. Did you copy-and-paste this from a real column?

    Posted by  on  08/26  at  10:35 AM
  2. Hear, hear! If the Democrats unilaterally pass popular legislation that manages to solve a vexing problem, bipartisanship will be doomed. Think about the unintended consequences of such rash behavior – it could obliterate the Broder genre!

    Posted by  on  08/26  at  10:41 AM
  3. is there any way, in this ‘democratic’ country, someone could throw david broder onto teddy’s funeral pyre?

    and if so for broder, i have a list…

    Posted by neill  on  08/26  at  11:02 AM
  4. Excuse me, Michael, ... er, David, but I believe Rush Limbaugh was the one who said many times in 1993, “No nation ever prospered while raising taxes.” I think you need to give credit to this voice of reason for such a stellar prediction.

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  08/26  at  11:46 AM
  5. Writes itself, doesn’t it.

    Posted by Hattie  on  08/26  at  02:29 PM
  6. Poor David, you really have been in a Schiavo-like coma that long, haven’t you???

    Posted by  on  08/26  at  05:10 PM
  7. Yup, I can’t make it through the column here any more than when Broder’s work appears in WaPo.  Spot on.

    Posted by Jim  on  08/26  at  06:43 PM
  8. “had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions.”

    I wish this part were made up, but it’s an accurate quote.  What an enormous, mendacious, disembodied anus (h/t The Editors).

    Posted by  on  08/26  at  07:02 PM
  9. Something that gives me some solace from time to time: At some point in the future, Broder and everyone associated with the last 16 years of national political media will universally be treated as world historical asswipes, sycophants and purveyors of dangerous mistruths. I doubt that I will be alive to see it, but it will happen. We will all help make it happen; High Broderism and Broderella are good starts. Fine distinctions will be elided; there will be a lot of collateral reputational damage. Good*.

    * And I realize that the toadying mouthpieces like Broder are mere symptoms of deeper structural problems in the nature of modern media and our political discourse overall. But I aggressively reject any of the “deeper” analyses that relieve these fuckwits of their agency by assigning them the roles of mere pawns of some greater malevolence. Welcome to the world of future pariah, David. (And deep in your heart of hearts you know it’s coming, dontcha? I hope the quail with Karl was worth it.)

    Posted by  on  08/26  at  11:50 PM
  10. The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is you.

    Posted by  on  08/27  at  04:24 AM
  11. In fact I put them on double secret probation back in 1998. And yet just this year we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of asshattery SO profound and laughable that decorum prohibits listing them here.

    Posted by  on  08/27  at  08:56 AM
  12. In the wake of the passing of the Lion of the Senate we are reminded of another breed of Lyin’.

    Posted by  on  08/27  at  10:59 AM
  13. But I aggressively reject any of the “deeper” analyses that relieve these fuckwits of their agency by assigning them the roles of mere pawns of some greater malevolence

    Then again there really are pawns and puppets being played by some of the neo-feudal lords of capital. Okay, i agree that the “fuckwits” do choose their own roles, but only in relation to financial security (just further up the scale of wage slavery).

    Should, at any time in the coming semester/quarter/term, Mr Answer Man appear in this blogspace, i (a churlish cynical type) would like to know how the AMM/MSM (even da Broder) is able to lump together (as one and the very same): fascism, nazism, totalitarianism, stalinism, socialism, communism, democracy?  And then portray “that lump” as opposed to the blessings of: theocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, pure corporate governance, etc.?

    Posted by  on  08/27  at  06:35 PM
  14. I’ll be honest… there’s a lot of humor here, but mostly it just made me cry.

    Posted by  on  08/27  at  06:46 PM
  15. Larry David to play Broderella in upcoming film, Dude, Where’s my Bipartisanship? Soundtrack by Zamfir, master of the pan flute, which is totally more excellent than the zither.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  08/27  at  10:20 PM
  16. And I realize that the toadying mouthpieces like Broder are mere symptoms of deeper structural problems in the nature of modern media and our political discourse overall. But I aggressively reject any of the “deeper” analyses that relieve these fuckwits of their agency by assigning them the roles of mere pawns of some greater malevolence.

    You know, I just might have a post on this in the near future.  Something about how to think the “propaganda model” and the rare exceptions to it—with Larry David as Broderella!  Everybody wins.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/27  at  11:55 PM
  17. But if we are condemned to reliving Broderian history, perhaps we can at least look forward to some grungier “music.”

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  10:55 AM
  18. Hey Sven!  If it’s grungier music you want, I have a Friday post for you....

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:03 AM
  19. I aggressively reject any of the “deeper” analyses

    In attempting to simplify my rhetoric to the point of overstatement, I have overstated. To the extent that I understand it, I do agree that the propaganda model is among the most useful ways to frame the discussion. I set my ridicule and scorn within that framework. What I don’t like is the notion that all of the actors below the “kings of capital” are plug-compatible automatons not even worthy of scorn. At some level that is true (if David Broder were to fall in battle, an equally fatuous replacement would come to the fore), but then the “kings of capital” themselves are plug-compatible (it’s the SYSTEM, man!).

    Thus do I attempt to stay on any semblance of intellectual high ground. However, most of me doesn’t give a shit. These bastards have helped scare the shit out of me. Reptillian JP wants Broder to become such an overused symbol of media failure that he earns his own analogue to Godwin’s Law on the hypernet. Vengeful JP wants children to ask their parents at bedtime, “Tell me the one about how we almost lost our democracy again, tell me about Cokie and Timmeh and the evil talkers of faux moderation.”

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  09:46 AM
  20. Yeah, my analysis accepts most of the propaganda model too, with an extra heaping helping of scorn for individual Broders and Timmehs.  It’s how to think about the exceptions—like, among others, Matt Taibbi.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  12:42 PM
  21. Ah, those exceptions. For myself, I like to look at examples like the divergent career trajectories of William Greider and Broder to be. Up until the Reagan years they were both on basically the same path. Since then not so much.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  02:21 PM
  22. Not that one could “prove” beyond a shadow of a doubt, but methinks that there is something to be said about rock-n-roll in this formulation.  Both Greider and Taibbi have been enmeshed in the offices of Rolling Stone, certainly a bastion of non-Broderist thought (more so in the past than recently, but still it was the publishing home of Hunter S.).

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  06:45 AM
  23. However, for Greider I think the question is more what compelled him to make the highly unconventional move from the WaPo to Rolling Stone rather than the subsequent effect it had on him. I don’t know enough to really say, it was right about (just after?) he had done his seminal piece on David Stockman (later expanded into a book), a piece which in and of itself should have been sufficient to embarrass every intellectually honest conservative to shut up already about Reagan. It is worthwhile to read the short portraits of Broder and Greider in Timothy Crouse’s more-essential-than-ever The Boys on the Bus from the ‘72 campaign (there’s that pesky Rolling Stone being political again, sheesh). It does capture the differences in the two—Broder’s inherent conservatism and emphasis on moderation and stability come through— but one would not predict their later extreme divergence.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  09:30 AM
  24. The right concessions: Moon pies. They had them at the beach concession stand at Lake Macoma when I was 12.

    The wrong concessions: beef jerky. Ever.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  09:55 AM
  25. That’s the problem - we never learn from history.

    Posted by Shine  on  02/01  at  08:26 AM
  26. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Supreme Court.

    Posted by Joseph  on  04/12  at  06:33 PM





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