Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Independents Day

David Brooks thinks that John McCain and Barack Obama appeal to the independents more than the party faithful.

The central issue in this election is the crisis of leadership. Voters are reacting against partisan gridlock. Obama and McCain both offer ways to end this gridlock. Obama wants us to rise above it by rediscovering our commonalities. McCain hopes smash it with fierce honesty and independent action.

Let me remind Mr. Brooks that the crisis of leadership that he bemoans has come solely at the hands of the party to which he belongs. Instead of a bold vision of commonalities and fierce honesty, we’ve had partisan jihad as a matter of policy from the Republicans on Capitol Hill — remember Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay? — and the White House — remember Karl Rove? Is it any wonder that independent voters have had enough and are willing to support two candidates who represent just about everything that the last seven years does not?

And no, I won’t fall for the tired old saw from the righties that the Democrats are just as much to blame. That’s a false equivalence and while it may mollify some to say that both sides are equally at fault, it’s not true and the people who say that know that it is not true.

I agree with Mr. Brooks that it is good to have such candidates in the race and attempting to broaden the reach of both parties and do battle against the partisanship for the sake of short-term political gain. I might give him a little more credit, however, if he hadn’t spent most of the last seven years enabling the partisans and coming way late to the realization of the damage it has done. It wouldn’t have the appearance that what he’s realized is that that GOP is in a crash dive and he’s bailing out before it truly craters.