Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quotes of the Day: Pelosi and Kerry on partisanship and the stimulus package

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Nancy Pelosi: "I didn't come here to be partisan, I didn't come here to be bipartisan. I came here, as did my colleagues, to be nonpartisan, to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest."

John Kerry: "If Republicans aren't prepared to vote for it, I don't think we should be giving up things, where I think the money can be spent more effectively. If they're not going to vote for it, let's go with a plan that we think is going to work."

They're both right. It's all fine and dandy to talk about bipartisanship, about crossing the aisle, and about seeking compromise -- and I respect Obama for reaching out to Republicans -- but what's the point if the other side isn't willing to play along?

There may be good partisan political reasons why the House Republicans voted against the stimulus package, as Slate's Christopher Beam noted today, but the fact is that they all did. And so with the GOP playing politics, and doing what is or at least what seems to be in its own self-interest, it's time for the Democrats to do what's right for the country without regard for some vaguely mandatory bipartisanship, that is, without having to (or even desiring to, for appearance's sake) secure Republican support beyond what may at a minimum be required (i.e., to block a filibuster in the Senate). Yes, that may still mean reaching out to Republicans, to the few who aren't wedded to ideological extremism and narrow self-interest, but above it means developing the best stimulus package possible.

There is risk involved -- the stimulus package is not overwhelmingly popular and may not even work -- but with leadership comes responsibility, a responsibility, as Pelosi put it, "to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest," even in the face of risk, and certainly in a time of crisis.

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