For Republicans, Obama can do no right. Ever.
Jon Chait had an excellent post yesterday ripping a Michael Gerson WaPo column to shreds -- actually, obliterating it to smithereens, but in a calm, collected way that revealed Gerson's usual partisan inanity and ignorance, even as he masquerades as one of the smarter Republican commentators these days.
Gerson, flailing about, criticized Obama for not doing enough to fix the economy, and to get it moving again. That's a debate worth having, perhaps, but the problem for Gerson, and Republicans generally, is that they don't quite know where to land: He hasn't done enough, but they don't really want him to do much, and what's more they've tried to block him at every turn (stimulus, auto bailout, etc.). Here's Chait summing up Gerson's ridiculously inconsistent argument:
Okay, so first Gerson has flayed Obama for failing to propose a major plan. Then he has argued that we shouldn't have a major plan because the deficit is too big. And yes, the deficit is pretty big, because the Bush administration spent eight years passing a series of major initiatives that were completely funded by debt. And yes, "prospects are poor" for passing a major new stimulus, because Republicans in Congress will never pass the actual Obama plan that Gerson won't acknowledge. In fact, unlike every Bush administration initiative ever, Obama's jobs plan is fully paid for over ten years. Now, it's not paid for in a way Republicans would like, but they would be free to propose other ways to offset the cost of a jobs plan if they so desire to pass something to address the economic crisis. Oddly, they do not.
Somewhere in the middle of writing his column, or possibly after submitting it to an editor, Gerson appears to have become vaguely aware that Obama has proposed an economic plan. So, after repeating his general claim that Obama has no economic plan, Gerson notes, as an aside, that he does have a plan but it's too small.
In other words, it doesn't matter what Obama does. To Republicans, it will always be wrong. Do too little on the economy, he should have done more. Do too much, he's being fiscally irresponsible. Do anything, actually, and Republicans will do everything in their power to stop him. And this applies to other issues as well, not just the economy. Remember how Republicans dismissed the mission to take out Osama bin Laden, saying it was an easy decision for which the president deserves no credit at all?
Basically, this is what disloyal, partisan opposition looks like. The Republican Party is out for itself and itself alone. It's not that it doesn't have it's own policy agenda -- it does, and it's a combination of Ayn Rand and theocracy -- it's that its approach to Obama is complete and utter obstructionism no matter what. Gerson's rambling and largely incoherent column, amounting to little more than throwing darts, just proves the point.