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Grumpy Republicans

May 14, 2009

Timonthy Noah at Slate on the differences between Democrats and Republicans, both when they are in the majority and out:

It’s a familiar pattern. Republicans hounded Bill Clinton for six years over his failed investment years before in the Whitewater Development Corp. until an independent prosecutor concluded, four months before he left office, that he had committed no crime. Somehow this probe turned into an investigation of whether Clinton had lied under oath about being faithful to his wife. He had and was therefore impeached (but not convicted in the Senate). By contrast, Democrats did little more than grumble over evidence that George W. Bush benefited from inside information on a 1990 stock trade and that he effectively went AWOL in 1972 while serving in the Texas Air National Guard. When President Clinton submitted his first major domestic policy initiative to Congress—reform of the health care system—GOP strategist Bill Kristol famously urged congressional Republicans to reject any compromise “sight unseen.” As President Obama and Congress prepare to introduce their own health care reform bill, history is repeating itself: GOP strategist Frank Luntz has already coached congressional Republicans on scare tactics to oppose it. By contrast, when Bush fils submitted his first (and practically his only) major domestic policy initiative to Congress—the No Child Left Behind education reform—liberal Democrats like Rep. George Miller and Sen. Ted Kennedy pitched in to help pass it. During Clinton’s first term, then-House Minority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, declared to Democrats on the House floor that “your president is just not important to us.” I don’t recall Democrats ever suggesting that Dubya wasn’t their president either when he lacked a popular-vote plurality during his first term or when his approval ratings sank below 25 percent during his second.

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