ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Change is coming, change you can count on.
That is the simple, central message from the two presidential nominating conventions held in Denver and St. Paul during the past two weeks.
Whether it is Barack Obama or John McCain going to the White House in January, the new president will understand that his mandate from the voters is to cleanse Washington of its excessive partisanship and attempt to break the gridlock that has prevailed on almost all the big issues.
The good news is that Obama and McCain, for different reasons, have about as good a prospect of achieving that change as any two politicians you could find.
McCain wasn't able to cleanse his own convention of its excessive partisanship. If he can't manage that feat in what's basically a political infomercial choreographed by his own people, then it's a safe bet he's not going to even try to 'break the gridlock' in Washington.Besides, even if McCain can 'break through the partisan gridlock,' his policies won't change anything: like it or not, his policies really are a Bush third term. What's the point of breaking the gridlock, just to do more of the same bad stuff?
And oddly enough, that's the sort of thing that actually matters to people. Broder may be interested in process, but people have tangible concerns they want addressed. Think they'll care if gridlock is broken, if the result is another big tax cut for the rich?
On the flip side, there's no guarantee that Obama will bring change, either, and only Rip van Broder, who's apparently slept through the past 20 years, has no idea why. Everyone else paying attention knows that 41 GOP Senators can, and likely will, sink Obama's legislative agenda, by refusing to let bills come to a vote.It's called 'blocking cloture,' and the GOP Senators are masters of the art. Next slow day, I'll have to write about cloture and filibusters, because the Dems don't have to take this stuff lying down, the way Harry Reid did these past two years; the question is whether Obama will be any better.
The fact that Broder doesn't even raise the issue of filibusters, but assumes that Obama's desire to bring change can somehow make it happen, shows just how out of touch the old man is. He's still very much frozen in the 1970s and 1980s, when neither side routinely blocked the other side's legislation from coming to a vote. Now that the GOP does so automatically, Broder can't acknowledge it, because it would involve acknowledging that the GOP is primarily to blame for obstruction and gridlock, and Hilzoy channels Broder to explain how that would throw the world out of balance. Read her.