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Seven Years Late, Media Elites Finally Acknowledge GOP’s Radical Ways

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Seven Years Late, Media Elites Finally Acknowledge GOP’s Radical Ways

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This article originally appeared on Media Matters

Now they tell us the Republican Party is to blame? That the Obama years haven’t been gummed up by Both Sides Are To Blame obstruction?

The truth is, anyone with clear vision recognized a long time ago that the GOP has transformed itself since 2009 into an increasingly radical political party, one built on complete and total obstruction. It’s a party designed to make governing difficult, if not impossible, and one that plotted seven years ago to shred decades of Beltway protocol and oppose every inch of Obama’s two terms. (“If he was for it, we had to be against it,” former Republican Ohio Sen. George Voinovich once explained.)

And for some of us, it didn’t take Donald Trump’s careening campaign to confirm the destructive state of the GOP. But if it’s the Trump circus that finally opens some pundits’ eyes, so be it.

Recently, Dan Balz, the senior political writer for the Washington Post, seemed to do just that while surveying the unfolding GOP wreckage as the party splinters over Trump’s rise. Balz specifically noted that four years ago political scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein examined the breakdown in American politics and zeroed in their blame squarely on Republicans.

“They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party — in particular its most hard-line faction — as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing,” Balz acknowledged.

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional,” Mann and Ornstein wrote in The Washington Post in 2012. “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”

They continued:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Tough stuff.

And what was the Beltway media’s response when Ornstein and Mann squarely blamed Republicans during an election year for purposefully making governing impossible? Media elites suddenly lost Mann and Ornstein’s number, as the duo’s television appearances and calls for quotes quickly dried up. So did much of the media’s interest in Mann and Ornstein’s prescient book.

“This was far too much for the mainstream press,” noted New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. “They couldn’t assimilate what Mann and Ornstein said AND maintain routines and assumptions that posited a rough symmetry between the two parties. (‘Both sides do it.’) It was too much dissonance. Too much wreckage. So they pushed it away.”

For anyone who still harbors the naïve notion that the political debates staged by the Beltway press represent freewheeling discussions where anything goes, the Mann/Ornstein episode helped shed some light on the fact that certain topics and analysis remain off limits for public debate for years — even topics that are accurate, fair and essential to understanding our government’s current dysfunction.

Mann and Ornstein stepped forward to accurately describe what was happening to the Republican Party and detailed the calamitous effect it had on our democracy, and the mainstream media turned away.

So committed was the pundit class to maintaining its safe narrative about “bipartisan gridlock” and Obama’s puzzling inability to find “middle ground” with Republicans (i.e. why doesn’t he just schmooze more?), the press was willing to ignore Mann and Ornstein’s solid, scholarly research in order to wish the problem away.

Quite predictably, that problem has only worsened since 2012, which is what Mann and Ornstein address in their latest offering, “It’s Even Worse Than It Was.”  

“It is the radicalization of the Republican party,” they recently wrote, “that has been the most significant and consequential change in American politics in recent decades.”

“The radicalization of the Republican party” — talk about the topic the Beltway press simply doesn’t want to dwell on, let alone acknowledge. Instead, the press has clung to its preferred narrative about how the GOP is filled with honest brokers who are waiting to work in good faith with the White House. Eager to maintain a political symmetry in which both sides are responsible for sparking conflict (i.e. center-right Republicans vs. center-left Democrats), the press effectively gave Republicans a pass and pretended their radical, obstructionist ways represented normal partisan pursuits. (They didn’t.)

Today’s Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP’s gun law obstruction, the Violence Against Women Act obstruction, the sequester obstruction, Supreme Court obstruction, minimum wage obstruction, 9/11 first responder obstruction, government shutdown obstruction, immigration reform obstruction, Chuck Hagel’s confirmation obstruction, Susan Rice secretary of state obstruction, paid leave obstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act obstruction, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees.

The 2014 obstruction of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was especially galling, as a single Republican senator blocked a vote on the crucial veterans bill.

At the time of the bill’s blockade, Media Matters noted that there was virtually no coverage of the radical obstructionism on CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS, as well as news blackouts in the nation’s six largest newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, and Chicago Tribune

In other words, the GOP’s radical brand of obstructionism not only doesn’t get highlighted as something notable, radical, and dangerous; it’s often met with a collective shrug as the press pretends these kind of nonstop impediments are commonplace.

As Obama works his way through his final year in office, at least pundits like Balz are highlighting that Mann and Ornstein (and yes, Media Matters) were right about the GOP and the asymmetrical blame the party deserves for trying to wreck our functioning government.

It’s never too late for truth telling.

 

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32 Comments

  1. RetDem March 30, 2016

    Thank you Eric!!!! Finally someone tells it like it is…the current GOPeers will wreck this country. Remember this when you vote for President, Senators, House members, and Governors in the 2016 election. The American people created this mess with their voting patterns (or stay at home non-voting patterns) in 2014 and earlier years. Only we can fix it. No matter what party you choose, make sure the person you vote for is sane, has the interest of ALL people in mind, and is totally opposite of the description of current Republicans described in this excellent article. Hate, racism and obstruction have no good purpose as principles to govern our country.

    Reply
    1. Dominick Vila March 30, 2016

      Excellent post!

      Reply
      1. bobby March 30, 2016

        I agree that this is an excellent post by RetDem but I would like to add one observation. I live in a subdivision of about 250 homes, on Federal holidays, especially the Fourth of July people do not recognize the founding of our Country or Constitution the way it was when I grew up, out of 250 homes there were four flags displayed outside. If you can’t even honor our Country one day a year why would you bother to vote, voting is more then a right it is a responsibility every American should be proud of.

        Reply
        1. Dominick Vila March 30, 2016

          In the days of selfies and materialism, expressions of patriotism seem to be limited to people wrapping themselves in the flag when it helps them achieve their specific goals.

          Reply
      2. RetDem March 30, 2016

        Thanks Dominick. And, all should notice, in the list of actions the Republicans have taken to solidify their politics of “obstruction,” the Government Shut Down championed by Ted Cruz is listed. Everyone is anti-Donald Trump…I think the false promises Cruz is spinning during his campaign makes him even worse and more scary as a POTUS. His “hate” and “racism” comes back to bite him every once in a while in media reports, but the GOPeers are all supporting “Lyin’ Ted.” Beware voters.

        Reply
  2. pisces63 March 30, 2016

    Something I have seen and known since Obama became president and called playing the race card when I brought it up. It’s about time. yet, one wonders where we would be if this had been reported from day one and cowardly hidden by the media. I have lost a lot of respect for them, big time.

    Reply
    1. RetDem March 30, 2016

      Agreed!!!! We know that some media outlets have not telling the truth (or the whole story) as their “modus operandi.” But, those outlets who claim to be non-biased have no excuse.

      Reply
  3. Eleanore Whitaker March 30, 2016

    When you’ve been a Republican as long as I was, you learn three major things about the GOP: 1. They are experts in double speak and 2. they know all they have to do to take over government is to “act as if” they ARE the ONLY government and 3? There is no low too low they won’t stoop to maintain control of government.

    But, look at the reasons why they are now in a pickle trying to maintain control. From the minute they finagled the 2000 election, they knew it was takeover time. So, Cheney handed Halliburton that pre-election promise of a no bid contract for a war in Iraq, the Republicans began their slash and burn and 2 major tax cuts that benefitted their rich cronies the most. Then, they figured out just how easy it is to FORCE Americans to keep them in power. All they had to do was get their corporate campaign donors to price gouge for 8 years and part of that profit would be a line item on every corporate budget earmarked for their favorite Republican politicians. It didn’t hurt either that their cronies on the SC managed to pull off the worst and most devastating to voters Citizens United..and how didn’t that BS that corporations are people hand over more control to control freak Republicans.

    What they didn’t bank on was a president unwilling to tolerate their spiteful, militant, control freak bullying. They just were not in his league when it came to strategizing.

    Now, their swan song is denying this president the right to a SC nominee..so they think.

    Reply
  4. Eleanore Whitaker March 30, 2016

    If this country was a banana Republic, the GOP might have gotten the ultimate results of takeover. As it is, they are on their way out and they know it. What will their next act of vengeance be? They’ll “act as if” Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House is the President no matter which candidate wins. Isn’t that why they got rid of Boehner? He tried and failed to be the President. So they put Ryan in his place hoping that snot nosed little attack dog would takeover.

    Reply
    1. fuzzball March 30, 2016

      Bush even said it would be easier if there was a dictatorship and he would be the dictator.

      Reply
  5. fuzzball March 30, 2016

    I have been saying this for years. The GOP/right-wing hates the youth, elderly, poor, middle class, American jobs, environment, peace, women, minorities, immigrants. and most importantly the Constitution. They profess to be true Christians and yet they act as if they were possessed by Satan himself. They say they protect the State of Israel but never let a Jew into their country clubs or condo associations. It is a toss up to who hates America more Islamic radicals or the GOP. Both feel that they must destroy it and recreate it in their own image.

    Reply
  6. Otto T. Goat March 30, 2016

    When Democrats can’t get their way on everything it’s a “breakdown in governing”.

    Reply
    1. dpaano March 30, 2016

      And when the Republicans are called out for their actions, silence prevails!!!

      Reply
    2. Lisztman March 30, 2016

      Sorry, Goat. There’s this thing in a two-party (or any-party, for that matter) called “compromise”. The word I remember from roughly fourth grade was “logrolling” — you give a bit, I give a bit, for the common good, so as to reach a mutually acceptable result. That word in there is “acceptable”. Not “ideal”.

      Go back to the highlighted obstructionism paragraph in the article. The one that says Republicans defy all historic norms…

      You’ll note that in every single enumerated case, the administration offered a solution to a problem. Ideal? Probably not (no I’m not privy to the details). But did the GOP leadership offer to sit down and discuss the matter? No. Many times, no. Their preferred means of “government” was to present their position and — “Take it or leave it.”

      There’s no such thing as Democrats trying to “get their way on everything.” It’s called Democrats bringing up issues that need to be discussed — and something needs to be done. The GOP answer is always “Nah. Things are fine as they are.” That, to me, sounds like “getting their way on everything.”

      Reply
    3. timmfr30 March 30, 2016

      sip sip lizard

      Reply
    4. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

      you’re a Holocaust denier.

      Reply
      1. Otto T. Goat March 31, 2016

        Why do you say that?

        Reply
        1. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

          Because you are a Holocaust denier.

          Reply
          1. Otto T. Goat March 31, 2016

            My grandfather was in a concentration camp.

            Reply
          2. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

            Not a Nazi one, or you wouldn’t be a Holocaust denier.

            Reply
          3. Otto T. Goat March 31, 2016

            He was a guard.

            Reply
          4. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

            Ah, so you’re just following in the family footsteps. Weird how you are a Holocaust denier though.

            Reply
          5. Otto T. Goat March 31, 2016

            After the war he sold his collection of gold teeth and moved to Argentina, where he started a goat ranch with some friends.

            Reply
          6. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

            Watching you attempt what passes for “comedy” among Republicans is almost as painful as watching you attempt to argue, actual Nazi guy who is a Holocaust denier.

            Reply
          7. Otto T. Goat March 31, 2016

            You hate jokes, despite being one. Maybe that’s why you hate them?

            Reply
          8. Mr Corrections March 31, 2016

            I don’t hate jokes, although I get that you are unable to comprehend any emotion except hate.

            Reply
  7. dpaano March 30, 2016

    Truer words were never spoken!!! Of course the GOP won’t discuss this because THEY are the ones to blame for all the problems with our government today…..this is the group that the American people need to be angry with, NOT President Obama!!!

    Reply
  8. drbloor March 30, 2016

    It won’t be over until someone drives a stake through Ron Fournier’s heart.

    Reply
  9. kimbanyc March 31, 2016

    Quite simply Republicans are nothing more than domestic terrorists

    Reply
  10. Bill April 3, 2016

    Its about time, I’ve watched this for years, will our News wake up now?

    Reply
  11. jointerjohn April 3, 2016

    The right wing’s propensity for “divine guidance” complex and today’s latest version of manifest destiny is behind this madness they pursue. Nothing in the history of man has been so destructive as “god is on my side” egomaniacal thinking.

    Reply
  12. jay d jeffries April 6, 2016

    If you havent been following the REPUBLICANS versus President Obama you were not watching very closely?

    Reply

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