Post-partisan amity: a one-way street?

The talking heads seem to think that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi need to make nice to the Republicans lest they sulk and obstruct. But there seems to be no equivalent pressure on the Republicans not to sulk and obstruct.

The Beltway consensus seems to be that Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress need to make nice to Republicans and not press for any legislation (e.g., card check) that will give them indigestion, because otherwise (1) Republicans will sulk and obstruct and (2) the voters will be unhappy that the promised post-partisan era hasn’t arrived.

Oddly, there’s no equivalent sense that the Republicans shouldn’t sulk and obstruct, as they’re currently doing on the stimulus, the Holder nomination, and seating Franken. From where I sit, they’re badly overplaying a very weak hand.

I’m not sure where the double standard comes from, but it seems to me that Obama and the Congressional leadership need to demonstrate to the GOP that, as cooperation will be beneficial, obstruction will be painful. Harry Reid’s decision to call a Sunday session in response to Tom Coburn’s latest antics is a good start. Here’s hoping that the White House is compiling a list of the key corporate backers of every Republican on the Hill, just to know where to apply the pressure if pressure is needed.

Some of my progressive friends are upset about Obama’s accommodating posture. But I suspect this may be more rope-a-dope. The more Obama looks reasonable, the more the voters will blame the Republicans when a confrontation arrives.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: