People have been right to criticize the Republicans and their political posturing and obstructionism. Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, and others were right to openly mock the way Republicans have seemingly overnight changed their views on historic planks of their platform just because Obama was putting forward those ideas. Obama was correct to plead with them with calm, reasoned explanations on how they were politically shooting themselves in the foot in the long term and freezing the work that needed to get done in this country. It was right to speak of Republican Senators that had absurd and asinine holds on Obama’s nominations as holding the government “hostage”. In short, it has been right to describe Republicans as “obstructionist”, and not for principle, but for politics. I personally resonate more with historic “conservative” visions of the government, but I have been disgusted by the abhorrent politicking that Republicans have been doing merely in the name of re-election. As Obama put it, far more concerned with their own job security than ours.
We have been right to cry out, editorialize, mock, rally against, be shocked by, and call for the end of these Republican political antics that have no basis in reason, discourse, or benefit to the American people or process.
But, how should we respond when those we disagree with “come back to the fold” a bit? What do we do when they finally relent their madness for the sake of principle? When reasoned discourse sways them a bit more toward sanity? We do not respond, I contend, in the way that the Huffington Post did with a recent Politico article that they aggregated at HuffPost did. As shown in the picture above, this article was the major banner front page article at HuffPost all last night. I think this is just as shameful and just as much of an example of trying to win political points at the expense of political progress as anything the Republicans did.
The article, by Mike Allen of Politico, tells the story of how after Obama talked to Republican leadership, mainly Mitch McConnell, they removed the hold they had over many of the 60+ nominations, thereby allowing 27 confirmations to occur in one session. They relented. The responded appropriately to the reasoned words of Obama. They acted responsibly in light of their childish antics being exposed. They finally put the priorities of the American people in the right place, even if it was in the briefest of moments. They should be treated with grace. They should be applauded. They should be encouraged to continue this trend to get more done. They should be given the respect they deserve for doing even the little bit they have done.
But no. Allen writes: “Democrats say that McConnell blinked. Republicans contend that the list [of approved nominees] shows they’re not obstructionist.” The Huffington Post takes this quote and build an entire sensationalist gloat by plastering the phrase “GOP Blinks” accompanied by dopey-looking pictures of Mitch McConnell all over their site last night. This perpetuates a certain kind of “we were right, you were wrong”-type atmosphere that does not invite further progress by the GOP. McConnell should be praised and thanked for stopping at least some of the political games. True, the nominees were only released from their hold in a deal to keep Obama from doing recess appointments, and they still have holds on nearly 40 more nominees, but this is still a start. It should be lauded.
Many times, when we are in an argument and we at some point realize we are wrong, that twist of pride we feel in our stomachs isn’t so much over being wrong, but rather over the potential gloating and derision that may follow from our opponent. This can cause stalemates to last infinitely longer than needed. If the Huffington Post was as interested in civil discourse and progress as they seem to be, they would continue to mock and call out when politicians don’t act in our best interest, but would begin to applaud and act with gratitude toward them when they did act in our best interest. This would be the kind of reporting that would serve the purpose of the media.
So, in short, be biased — don’t hide it. But give credit where credit is due. This is the heart of true diplomacy.