Welcome to the real America, Frank Bruni. Where have you been all this time?
One of our two major political parties is hostage to an extreme subgroup that won’t brook compromise, values theatrical protests over actual governing and is adolescent in its ideological vanity.
... Republicans ... have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.
Bravo, Frank -- although I'm not sure this makes up for the many, many times Bruni told us that toxic partisanship is a two-way street in America and Both Sides Do It.
And while there was slander aplenty in our politics past, it wasn’t amplified quite as loudly or spread quite as ferociously as it is by the fight club of today’s hyped-up news outlets, many of which run on the adrenaline of insults and recruit partisan voices to beckon partisan audiences. Turning to Fox News or the Daily Caller, unshakable conservatives can marinate in their contempt for liberals. Turning to MSNBC or the Daily Kos, unshakable liberals can repay the favor.
And of course extreme campaign spending has contributed to extreme partisanship, the left seeing little merit or valor in just about anyone on the right, the right seeing the whole world with a tunnel vision that’s extremely eerie. The deficit of comity has led to the imminent spending cuts known as sequestration, which is an extreme answer to Congress’s failure to agree on a course of moderation.
We have a financial arms race, which leads to a barrage of negative attack ads, which turn an already incendiary partisanship positively sulfurous.
There’s a lot of that all-good, all-bad, Manichaean thinking out there, abetted by the altered news-media landscape, in which the id of Twitter eclipses the superego of traditional journalism; subjective riffs outnumber objective reports; and the blogosphere and cable-news landscape are more heavily forested on the right and the left than in the middle, so sadly denuded.
Even today, Bruni can't quite drop this line of argument:
I’m not saying that the Republican Party alone has wing nuts, disrupters, brats. Too often that’s the impression left by journalists ruing the G.O.P.’s unruly ways.
But Democrats over recent years haven’t been bedeviled by internal dissent and rendered dysfunctional to the extent that Republicans have. They’ve kept something of a lid on things and maintained a semblance of order.
Yeah, Bruni clearly isn't quite ready to give up on the notion that excessive partisanship is the fault of Democrats as much as Republicans. So I assume it won't be long before he's back to telling us that Hillary Clinton is the real villain, "a symbol of intense partisan warfare," or that defenders of President Obama are the real dividers:
President Obama stumbles or falls and is pardoned by all-or-nothing partisans on the grounds that he’s not George W. Bush. Those same partisans wave off any naysaying about his foreign policy by bringing up the invasion of Iraq. And the bungled rollout of Obamacare? A mere wisp of inconvenience in comparison with the botched response to Hurricane Katrina. Everything’s relative.
Yeah, that Frank Bruni will be back before we know it. But John Boehner has been compelled to fall on his sword, Donald Trump is leading the GOP field, and the fact that one party is doing more harm to our politics than the other is something Bruni recognizes -- at least for one day.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog