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Thread: David Brooks - The Road Not Taken

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    David Brooks - The Road Not Taken

    [URL="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/opinion/19brooks.html?_r=1&hp"]www.nytimes.com[/URL]


    [QUOTE]
    Op-Ed Columnist

    The Road Not Taken

    By DAVID BROOKS
    Published: July 18, 2011


    Over the past months, Republicans enjoyed enormous advantages. Opinion polls showed that voters are eager to reduce the federal debt, and they want to do it mostly but not entirely through spending cuts.

    There was a Democratic president eager to move to the center. He floated certain ideas that would be normally unheard of from a Democrat. According to widespread reports, White House officials talked about raising the Medicare eligibility age, cutting Social Security by changing the inflation index, freezing domestic discretionary spending and offering to pre-empt the end of the Bush tax cuts in exchange for a broad tax-reform process.

    The Democratic offers were slippery, and President Obama didnít put them in writing. But John Boehner, the House speaker, thought they were serious. The liberal activists thought they were alarmingly serious. I can tell you from my reporting that White House officials took them seriously.

    The combined effect would have been to reduce the size of government by $3 trillion over a decade. Thatís a number roughly three times larger than the cost of the Obama health care law. It also would have brutally fractured the Democratic Party.

    But the Republican Party decided not to pursue this deal, or even seriously consider it. Instead what happened was this: Conservatives told themselves how steadfast they were being for a few weeks. Then morale crumbled.

    This week, Republicans will probably pass a balanced budget Constitutional amendment that has zero chance of becoming law. Then they may end up clinging to a no mŠs Senate compromise. This proposal would pocket cuts that have already been agreed on, and it would eliminate leverage for future cuts and make them less likely.

    It could be that this has been a glorious moment in Republican history. It could be that having persuaded independents that they are a prudent party, Republicans will sweep the next election. Controlling the White House and Congress, perhaps they will have the guts to cut Medicare unilaterally, reform the welfare state and herald in an era of conservative greatness.

    But itís much more likely that Republicans will come to regret this missed opportunity. So let us pause to identify the people who decided not to seize the chance to usher in the largest cut in the size of government in American history. They fall into a few categories:

    The Beltway Bandits. American conservatism now has a rich network of Washington interest groups adept at arousing elderly donors and attracting rich lobbying contracts. For example, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has been instrumental in every recent G.O.P. setback. He was a Newt Gingrich strategist in the 1990s, a major Jack Abramoff companion in the 2000s and he enforced the no-compromise orthodoxy that binds the party today.

    Norquist is the Zelig of Republican catastrophe. His method is always the same. He enforces rigid ultimatums that make governance, or even thinking, impossible.

    The Big Government Blowhards. The talk-radio jocks are not in the business of promoting conservative governance. They are in the business of building an audience by stroking the pleasure centers of their listeners.

    They mostly give pseudo Crispinís Day speeches to battalions of the like-minded from the safety of the conservative ghetto. To keep audience share, they need to portray politics as a cataclysmic, Manichaean struggle. A series of compromises that steadily advance conservative aims would muddy their story lines and be death to their ratings.

    The Show Horses. Republicans now have a group of political celebrities who are marvelously uninterested in actually producing results. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann produce tweets, not laws. They have created a climate in which purity is prized over practicality.

    The Permanent Campaigners. For many legislators, the purpose of being in Congress is not to pass laws. Itís to create clear contrasts you can take into the next election campaign. Itís not to take responsibility for the state of the country and make it better. Itís to pass responsibility onto the other party and force them to take as many difficult votes as possible.

    All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.

    Fortunately, there are still practical conservatives in the G.O.P., who believe in results, who believe in intelligent compromise. If people someday decide the events of the past weeks have been a debacle, then practical conservatives may regain control.
    [/QUOTE]

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    [QUOTE]The Democratic offers were slippery, and [B]President[/B] Obama didnít put them in writing.[/QUOTE]

    There is a leadership vacuum in Washington, DC and it starts at the top - the Oval Office at the White House. All ideas, good ones and bad ones, get sucked into this leadership vacuum hole.

    ďThe task of the [B]leader[/B] is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.Ē

    ~Henry Kissinger

    :jets17

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    [QUOTE=AlbanyJet;4064114]There is a leadership vacuum in Washington, DC and it starts at the top - the Oval Office at the White House. All ideas, good ones and bad ones, get sucked into this leadership vacuum hole.

    ďThe task of the [B]leader[/B] is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.Ē

    ~Henry Kissinger

    :jets17[/QUOTE]


    Stop using last months Republican speaking points. Obama reached across the table and the Tea Party reufused to meet him 35% of the way.

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    [QUOTE=Buster;4064116] Obama reached across the table and the Tea Party reufused to meet him 35% of the way.[/QUOTE]
    You're, uh, scolding someone for using "talking points"?

    Obama disregarded the will of the people when he (without an iota of bipartisanship) stuffed Obamacare down the people's throats. And he paid dearly for it.

    And despite appearances of "reaching across the table", this overture remains everything the Republican House stands against.

    And you know what? The public is behind the House on this one, too.

    I'm sorry but you clowns have been prematurely spiking the football - and you're not even in the red zone.

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    [QUOTE=sackdance;4064230]You're, uh, scolding someone for using "talking points"?

    Obama disregarded the will of the people when he (without an iota of bipartisanship) stuffed Obamacare down the people's throats. And he paid dearly for it.

    And despite appearances of "reaching across the table", this overture remains everything the Republican House stands against.

    And you know what? The public is behind the House on this one, too.

    I'm sorry but you clowns have been prematurely spiking the football - and you're not even in the red zone.[/QUOTE]

    I'm afraid you're not reading the polls. Most Americans are deadly afraid of the consequences for their personal lives with the hatchet in Washington swinging toward them. A beleagered middle class with declining property values, unstable or lost jobs, counting on social security and medicare, will not view further sacrifice with kindness. This stuff is always about what the other guy will sacrifice...

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    [QUOTE=sackdance;4064230]You're, uh, scolding someone for using "talking points"?

    Obama disregarded the will of the people when he (without an iota of bipartisanship) stuffed Obamacare down the people's throats. And he paid dearly for it.

    And despite appearances of "reaching across the table", this overture remains everything the Republican House stands against.

    And you know what? The public is behind the House on this one, too.

    I'm sorry but you clowns have been prematurely spiking the football - and you're not even in the red zone.[/QUOTE]

    The Polls show otherwise. A majority of Americans don't want SS and Medicare benefits touched which is a huge risk for the Democrats. A majority of Americans are for raising taxes on the rich to hold the line on benefits.

    The Tea Party Republicans in district after district are supporting pork barrel local issues, they have already been compromised by the reality that it's spending that gets you elected over decades not cuts. It's divided government that gets compromise and some fiscal responsibility not a one party philosophy that is continually undermined by the political reality that spending not cutting is how you survive in Congress for decades. We did well when Reagan was President with a Democratic Congress and Clinton was President with a Republican Congress. We are on the verge of a serious deal because of a divided government.

    The idea that Republicans or Democrats in control will be fiscally responsible is a pipe dream. The Tea Party served it's purpose by digging in and forcing the issue but they have shown that they are totally incapable of actually governing. The reality is mainstream Republicans and Democrats when faced with compromise are the ones who are going to craft a real deal that the country can live with.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 07-20-2011 at 08:11 AM.

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    [QUOTE=sackdance;4064230]
    You're, uh, scolding someone for using "talking points"?


    [/QUOTE]



    Yup.

    Especially when those talking points have stopped being a plausible argument.

    We all know the President and the House leadership have been meeting almost daily for weeks regarding this issue.

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