Republican obstructionism is not a matter of opinion
Welcome to Brad DeLong’s readers – it was a huge shock to open Google Reader and stumble across my own post. I’m not sure how clear my point was from the excerpt that Brad posted, so I want to clarify. That Mitch McConnell devised a strategy to block the Democratic agenda in January 2009 does not directly contradict Glenn Kessler’s point that his “one-term president” comments did not come until October 2010. Where Kessler goes astray is when he suggests that this somehow negates a Democratic talking point about Republican obstructionism. McConnell confirmed the strategy in 2010, but the plan was in motion before inaugaration day while the economic data was worsening by the day. Just because McConnell’s public statements came after Barack Obama “enacted many of his preferred policies” does not mean that the Republican leadership magically discovered this strategy in October 2010. Determining the facts surrounding this situation requires a little more investigative effort than Kessler is willing to put in.
Kessler implies that this is merely a fantasy of Barack Obama’s and that there is no way of verifying any part of this story beyond the simple timeline of a National Journal interview. This ignores the work of reporters (including – but not limited to – Michael Grunwald) who have worked hard to confirm and accurately portray the events surrounding the Obama adminstration’s efforts to fight the Great Recession and the Republican leadership’s efforts to make that as difficult as possible. As Grunwald points out, in the midst of the worst crash in 80 years, the Republican Party was devising a strategy not based on promoting the policies they thought were best for the country or improving the policies they thought were the worst, but on taking back power from the Democrats solely for the sake of taking back power from the Democrats.
We aren’t flying blind here. We don’t have to guess if Mitch McConnell was uncooperative all along or if it’s just a comforting story Barack Obama likes to tell himself. The consistent Republican obstructionism of the last (almost) four years is not a matter of opinion and it does not require interpretation or guesswork. The people involved in crafting this plan have consistently been quite open about their strategy.