Monday, November 29, 2004

Flag Wavers

The Moose asks why the Speaker of the House of Representatives is putting narrow partisan interests before the national interest?

As the Moose has previously observed, the House Republicans have blocked the Senate passed Intelligence Reform bill because of the objections of two Committee Chairmen. However, this bill could easily pass the House with an alliance of Democratic and Republican votes. Yet, Speaker Hastert refuses to bring the bill to the floor for consideration because he will only adopt legislation with primarily Republican votes. As Ron Brownstein explains in today's Los Angeles Times,

As speaker, Hastert has placed the highest priority on maintaining unity in his caucus. One of his guiding principles has been that no bill should pass the House unless it has support not only from an overall majority but from a majority of Republicans. Call it the Hastert Rule.

While Hastert assigns a greater value to party unity than to national interest, there is no reason that President Bush should do the same. Unfortunately, the President has not exactly been a believer in removing partisan politics from national security. For example, W chose the partisan route by exploiting the legislation creating the Homeland Security Department as an issue in the 2002 campaign. In contrast, Brownstein notes that Clinton sacrificed party unity for the national interest in supporting the passage of both NAFTA and welfare reform.

Where is W.'s much celebrated courage when you need it?

Brownstein further points out that the President's support for the Hastert rule sets a dangerous precedent,

If Bush doesn't challenge the Hastert Rule now, the White House will reinforce a precedent that could haunt it later. It is difficult, for instance, to imagine almost any version of Bush's proposal to provide illegal immigrants temporary work visas that could win a majority of House Republicans. Will Bush give them a veto by allowing the House GOP leadership to shelve any bill that most of their members oppose?

Ever since 9/11, the Moose has been struck that the President has lacked any political imagination to expand his base beyond the narrow limitations set by the conservative elements of his party. Whether the issues are tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy or a genuine national service initiative, the President has never sought to build a unity politics of national greatness. That brief shining moment in the days and weeks after 9/11 was quickly lost as the President just urged Americans to "shop" and the Administration continued to pursue tax cuts even in the face of a war.

There is no reason to expect that W will eschew narrow partisanship in his second term. He has yet to challenge the Hastert Rule which mandates that the elephant comes before the flag.
-- Posted at 1:34 PM | Link to this post | Email this post