tv [untitled] June 14, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT
captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 now i'm going to suggest a party can be extreme in three ways and i will discuss each -- tactics, ideology and rhetoric. first tactics and i should emphasize here tactics do depend on context. i posit the gop adopted a set of parliamentary tactics in a nonparliamentary system unlike a way we've seen before. purely oppositional and obstructionist, disdaining problem solving, defining its partisan adversary as the enemy and opposing positions often because of who is supporting them, not because of what is in them. the first evidence comes from the filibuster, let me put up a chart, which is now being applied in a fashion unseen in
all of previous american history. i don't have time to go over the history of the filibuster, much of it is in the book that i mentioned and makes a great holiday gift, but let me say that in the past, filibusters were used rarely for an issue of great national moment by a minority feeling intensely about them and willing to stop everything and throw themselves into making their point. now it is used routinely as a weapon of obstruction. cloture motions were roughly two a month in the 1970s, three a month in the 1980s. now there are two or more a week. i have to say to be sure that the minority has a point here, many cloture motions are filed prematurely. they're designed to shut off the minori minority's ability to debate an issue. that's true, and it's a chicken and egg question here but it doesn't explain multiple filibusters and bills and
nominations that garner unanimous or near unanimous support. the workers, homeowners and business assistance act, two filibusters, passed 98-0, took four days and seven full days of floor time, the credit cardholder's bill of rights, 90-5, seven days of floor time. the fraud enforcement and recovery act on mortgage and securities fraud, 92-4 on passage, six days of floor time, all done simply to stretch out the time frame and take the most precious commodity of the senate and block things from happening. the same has been true of nominations, the most prominent being court of appeals judge barbara milano keenan, 99-0 on a cloture vote, 99-0 confirmation but filibustered and delayed for weeks in a nomination that took many months before it came up and more striking on nominations, filibusters used for what we call the new nullification, also unprecedented, blocking people who are widely considered even by those opposing them as being
fully qualified and passing every vetting standard, but blocked for things like the consumer financial protection bureau, the center for medicare and medicaid services because the people blocking them don't like the laws that have been legally and constitutionally enacted and want to keep them from being implemented. now on tactics, if i had a lot of time i could go on to talk in detail about the debt limit used for the first time in history as a hostage to non-negotiable demands and now filling mitch mcconnell's prediction used apparently routinely for hostage taking. two other washington examples of extreme tactics, the gregg-conrad fiscal commission where people who had supported it and co-sponsored it voted against their own bill because they didn't want to give a victory to the other side, the same with the bennett-widen health reform bill. i emphasize these sorts of tactics are not simply limited to washington. earlier this year to pick one example there was a bill sent to pennsylvania governor tom
corbett to name a bridge after a local victim of the 9/11 attacks. the bridge was adopted by the pennsylvania house and senator and governor corbett refused to sign it even as he accepted all other comparable bills. why? because it was introduced by a democrat. these tactics have been i think succeed sunktly defined by richard murdock and said among many things i have a mindsight that says bipartisanship ought to consist of democrats coming to the republican point of view. now ideology n a larger sense, vote records and public opinions survey show what's happened ideologically to the two parties in congress and let me just quickly put up a couple of charts that show what's happened over time in congress to voting records for the senate and the house, and what you'll see is clearly the republicans in congress are the most
conservative that they have in our lifetimes and indeed perhaps more conservative than in a century. democratic party especially as it lost its southern democrats moved somewhat to the left but nowhere near as much. let me quote on this topic of ideology of maybe the most prominent and respected conservative intellectual, this conservatism would be unrecognizable to, for example, calvin coolidge, a sentimental conservative favorite who favored minimum wage laws and reagan who favored large scale government science research beyond just missile defense, recognize that quote t came from steve hayward. [ laughter ] the new republican party in congress voted recently to pick an example to kill the census bureau's annual american community survey and the economic census which has been used by businesses for a variety of vital purposes to establish
transportation routes, track inventories, police departments use to track crime, and just let me quote representative daniel webster who sponsored it of the survey, it's not scientific, it's a random survey. [ laughter ] you can see why he's not on the intelligence committee. [ laughter ] now i've got lots of other examples. of course examples on rhetoric that starts with alan west and move to many others, which we'll have to discuss during the rebuttal or other times. that's my eight minutes. >> right. well i want to begin by thanking alan grayson, bernie sanders and the democratic state senator in maine who recently said dick cheney should be executed for war crimes, those are the gifts that keep on giving but that's not really how i want to start this. the legend is told that when conquering roman general also return to their victory parades
in the bloulevards of rome they would place a slave behind him to wlis per in his ear "all glory is fleeting." norm is our slave at eei, although some might use a more contemporary word. does norm have naked pictures of arthur brooks, i say that wouldn't work because arthur works out. i tell him norm is a valuable presence around our hallways. he keeps us on our game. he prompts us not to confuse ideology with partisanship or let ideology because idiocy through laziness or complacency. in other words, norm makes all of us better here and sharper in our work, even if we sometimes mutter about his latest provocation when we leave the lunchro lunchroom. i admire much of norm's work, seeing that his interests in the unloved congress stems from his deep affection for the first
branch, his grief at thinking at broken and sincere, his worry about its future well-founded. his work here at aei on the continuity of government project urging us to take remedies against a worst case terror strike is of the highest value. in contrast to the continuity of government project i am less enamored of what i take to his continuity of liberalism project that emerges in the new book of "the washington post" and i read it and said it is worse than it looks. [ laughter ] though it does make a good holiday gift, i agree with that. now, there's no doubt that we live in a time of heightened polarization, making the task of governing immensely difficult. now observing this unstable equilibrium a distinguished political scientist made the following observation, "democrats and republicans are at the same time swaggering and uncertain, secure and paranoid, each side is confident in its
own hedgemonic domain but thrown off in stride to extend its popularity and control to each other's turf. each party is fearful it will make a mistake and lose its own empire not just for one term but for decades and each side is hopeful that it can finally capture its rightful, complete majority by forcing the other to make the fatal mistake but the result is passive/aggressive politics, the politics of avoiding blame. each side is so concerned about avoiding a mistake and so intent on tarring the opposition that taking risks is increasingly uncommon." i think that's a good analytical description of the scene today, correctly perceiving the fearful imtree of two parties and rightly assigning equal blame to both parties and this assessment comes from norm orenstein, writing back in 1990. what happened to this guy? i miss him. was his body snatched by pod people from planet man?
by the way, the title of that article where the words appeared was called "the permanent democratic congress." maybe there's some nostalgia at work. it seems like a golden age when as norm put it, "the republicans were reliably the chicago cubs of american politics." according to the hypothesis things have changed such that today republicans are an insurgent outlier in american politics, disproportionately responsible for the problems of government norm just described. they say our polarization has become asymmetric, or as they put it bluntly in "the post" it's the republicans' fault. now it's passing strange to call one of the political parties an outlier when it happens to be at its highest level in terms of elected officials nationwide in 0 years unless you're prepared to take the next step and suggest the american people have taken leave of their senses. some people on the left do that. it does not appear in norm's book, it's conspicuously absent. i will say one of the odd things about the book is that you
hardly notice the election of 2010 took place. moreover it has to be inconvenient for the manstein hypothesis that republicans didn't start winning majorities unless they began the self-conscious turn to extremism they went to before. i'll turn to the substance of extremism in a moment but i want to lay down a couple of markers. norm's charts are compelling on the surface and the book contains a catalogue of genuine republican embarrassments and hypocrisies. the data is susceptible to alternative organizations. is it true the part shanship is different in character than the partisanship that led tip o'neil, or the same position taken by hill democrats in george w. bush's second term when he proposed entitlement reform? is the republican harassment and obstruction of nominees no more frequent, is it fundamentally different than the way democrats
use the oversight process when they didn't agree with the policies the agencies were trying to promote? that extended on occasion to eliminating salaries and budget appropriations or cutting program funds for long established programs. we could waste time debating whose politicalical pers are more finely tuned to make the discriminations but it's futile to argue in a soldieral man mode. we can dispense with the balance sheet and move to the sneaky presumptions embedded in the hypothesis that witt near nothingless when the veil is torn away. take the view the democratic party is more ideologically centered and diverse and a status quo party "protective of the government's role as it developed over the course of the last century." it seems to me it doesn't take an extremist to say that's precisely the problem. let's see, let me see, the democratic party is the status
quo party until they get the opportunity to ratchet up the state in a big way, which has been the story of most of the last century, after which they sit back and protect the new status quo and republicans are supposed to be fine with this? this is base stealing that would astound ricky henderson. "the culture and ideological center of the republican party must change if u.s. democracy is to regain its health." this amounts to saying the republican party should return to its historic role as the last century playing the washington generals to the democratic party's harlem reformtrotters as i call them or a return to accommodating moderation that trampted eugene mccarthy to say the principal use of moderate republicans is to shoot the wounded after the battle is over. i suspect that the mannstein ideal of good government would be president david gergen. is the republican party extreme? i can only answer i certainly hope so. let us recall that the republican party began its life as an extremist party, dedicated
to the purpose of abolishing the twin relics of bar barism, plig know and slavery. the supreme court declared the republican party's platform to be unconstitutional. the republican party mannstein says oh well, i guess we should accommodate ourselves to the status quo. there's little reason or purpose for the republican party unless it acts with a new determination to call a decisive halt to the endless ratcheting expansion of centralized government power and reckless spendle. the hypothesis is successful in gaining prominent placements in "the post" and pro curing admiration from daily show audiences. i remind norm of one thing, all glory is fleeting. i timed out, see? >> okay, let me first say for the first minute and a half, steven, i don't disagree with a thing you said. [ laughter ] let me next say that i don't
know which is more disorienting to me, pictures naked pictures of arthur brooks or david gergen as president. they're both about on the same par. now let me move on to some of your arguments. when i wrote that piece in 1990 and by the way i noted at that point what would likely end the democratic majority that was then moving up towards 38 years would be a democratic president, and the counterpoint that would take place but things have changed since 1990, and indeed, many of the arguments i would make here and i want to go back to where i started that neither party is an angel here. both have often crossed lines, and done things that are deplorable. and i in the past have condemned the democrats for the way they handled the bourque presidential, excuse me, supreme court nomination, blocking miguel estrada, statements by people like alan west or cynthia mckinny.
steve wrote earlier when we singled out alan west who said you will recall that between 79 and 81 democrats in the house are members of the communist party, and he wrote, well, what about cynthia mckinny? i don't remember the democrats condemning her. so i just went back and looked -- [ alarm ] -- we have this faulty timer. and i got a whole bunch of newspaper and other clip willings, democratic leader condemns mckinny, democrats get distance from mckinny, so there are differences here on that front, but more significantly, is so much of this is a matter of degree and not kind but also some of the unprecedented things that i've mentioned. we want to look at blocking nominations, i can show you chart after chart of the number of nominations blocked compared to what we had in the reagan years and the swiftness with which executive and judicial
appointments went through. if we want to talk about cooperating with the president, instead of drawing lines in the dust, i look at just two points of comparison, when george w. bush came into the white house in a white house that was at that point in tatters almost, we had the most controversial election at least in our lifetimes, if not in american history, you had a president who had no coattails, 36 days to come in, facing an adversarial environment. it would have been easy for democrats to hold a dinner meeting on inaugural eve and say the way we can regain power is to stomp on his neck and never let up, vote against everything he wants and block him and his presidency will die aborning. they cooperated immediately on no child left behind with george miller and ted kennedy and that gave him a victory that established the legitimacy of his presidency, whether you like the substance or not.
democratic votes provided the margin for the tax cuts, like those that were a hallmark of the bush presidency. democrats saved the votes on the t.a.r.p. program, like it or not, that saved the bush presidency. now contrast that with what we now know from another brook, robert drapers about the meeting that took place with top republican leaders on inaugural eve in 2009, a president who came in with a 70% approval rating in the worst economy since the great depression, vote against everything and make the victories look so ugly it will delegitimize it all. i think that's a difference and you look at things like blocking nominations that are widely acceptable because you don't want bills to be implemented, that's a difference. now let me address for just a second the argument that you made to our colleague peter w walhisson made tom and i lost our marbles and how could it be extreme if it continues to win elections? let's think of some examples in history of parties that were
very extreme and won elections. peter is old enough to remember the 1930s. in fact he's very, very old. [ laughter ] he's perhaps our oldest colleague, but i could give you some examples from the '30s. parties win elections when people are unhappy. in our system, especially, elections get won and lost far more often because of the referendums on what's going on, bad economies bring bad elections. what republicans have learned from 1994 and 2010 is, if you make the process look awful, look even worse than it usually is, make it even worse than it looks, you may well win elections as people rebel against what they see as a party in power. that is a good thing, if you want to win elections. it is not a good thing if you want to solve problems and govern, and i think that's what's behind jeb bush, no raving liberal being upset about the direction in which his party is going.
>> the bush family hasn't gotten over losing in 1980 to reynaldus mag news and i'll leave it at that. i will martially agree a lot has changed since 1990. since the early '80s, people didn't crystallize their perception until the 1990s and it's this and came up in the fame us question in the debate of the republican candidates, would you take a tax deal that was $1 taxes for $10 of spending cuts and they all raised their hand no, and on the surface this is a preposterous idea. of course the right answer would be you can keep the $1 taxes, i'll take the $9 in spending cuts but no one had the wit to say that. why was that answer given by the field? well it was given because the history of the last 30 years, longer than that but since politics became closer is that these deals never work for republicans. they've seen this movie before, how many times did the republican charlie brown have to fall for the lucy and the
football trick? and that explains a lot of the ideological fervency that's much stronger than it was 25, 30 years ago, and i think it explains why you now see the rise of the tea party, which i do think is the republican analog of the anti-war movement in the democratic party, 35, 40 years ago. it's a very disruptive force, might even tear the party apart. we'll come back to all that. you mentioned the greg conrad commission. on the other hand i note the president walking away from the simpson-bowles commission. we can play tennis like this all day. i'll make this point and then we can stop and go to audience questions. piece of evidence about why i think the fundamental, not the, a fundamental problem is that the democratic party has never gotten over the presumption that they deserve to be the permanent ruling party in america. this explains some of the i think the symmetry of the ferocity of the political competition.
maybe the best example and this one is a little old but i think it captures it very well. 2004 election, remember all that, republicans extended their majorities, which they then held for ten years in the house and 8 1/2 years in the senate in that election, and remember that tom daschle was defeated, the majority leader in part because of the argument that he had been obstructionist to nominees, right? well, in comes harry reid as the new majority leader and the new york times asked for a comment from joe biden, who said this, "the idea the people are looking at harry to be a spokesperson of the democratic party, that's not a role all majority leaders have filled before." what did he say, majority leader? they hadn't been in a majority for ten years. it's joe biden but he is vice president. or diane feinstein who i like to call the queen mum of the democratic caucus who told "the times" in the same article, "if we keep going on this way we'll be a minority party." now this kind of presumption made perfect sense in 1955 or
1965 or even as late as 1985 to a certain extent. it really doesn't make sense after the 1990s, and so one of the things that you see this is subtext often in liberal writing and analysis of centrist writing even is that there's something unnatural about a republican majority, and i think this adds to the ferocity, quite properly so, in some respects to the republicans to say nope, we're not going to kick that football again. so let's bring stu back in. >> thanks, gentlemen. that was very civil, wasn't it? all right, now i'm supposed to take some questions but i thought that i would ask each of you one quick question to start off so i can figure out how to do this. and i'll just ask each of you, norm, i wonder how you'd respond to a political party that has nominated or is about to nominate mitt romney as his presidential nominee and four years earlier nominated john
mccain as his presidential nominee. how does that fit with your idea that this is such a bunch of crazy radicals, and that's part "a," and steve, i thought i'd ask you, to address the following point, that what might make the republicans radical in this day and age is their understanding or maybe norm might say their misunderstanding of the legislative process, that the nature of a legislature involves give and take and negotiation and compromise, and that if you listen to many republicans these days, compromise is a dirty word, and they seem unwilling to compromise, and if that's how they approach the nature of the legislative process, it undermines the institution, the fundamental nature of the institution. norm, why don't you start and then steve.
>> sure, and i think the best way to answer that is to look at what mccain and romney had to do to win nominations, and where they are. i worked a lot with john mccain, who has been through much of his career very conservative and a problem solver, somebody who looked for solutions on immigration, on climate change, on campaign finance and in other areas, and abandoned all of those positions as he moved forward to win a republican nomination. i look at a mitt romney who has taken a position on immigration that has made sheriff arpaio and russell pierce ecstatic and a position that i would view as extreme and outside the bounds of our normal politics, a candidate who openly embraces donald trump, who even george will calls a bloviating ignoramus but seems to go over the line in terms of some of the things he said. the his muss tests that have been taken and when i talked to
jon huntsman who couldn't even get traction in a presidential contest, partly because of his own missteps, but about the litmus test he views candidates now have to take. once you take the visions you hold them. i view mitt romney who is not just the etch-a-sketch guy but the chameleon but that doesn't matter. he will move into office if he assumes the presidency and basically be both bound to what he has plromised in the past bu also to a legislature moved far enough outside, includes budget and tax positions that seem to me go very far from what we have seen in the past, that would leave him at the edges, whatever his internal beliefs, if they exist. >> all right, steve? >> actually, i want to speak analytically about this. i think there's quite a bit to be said that the republican party, i'm not sure if it's not understanding the legislative process or isn't very good at
it. i have a couple thoughts on this. one is i think the republican party's ability to as a legislative party atrophy during the decades when they were out of power and during that period republicans succeeded in electing presidents starting with eisenhower and the nixon era, and even before that i think you could see the two parties had a slightly different character, somewhat related to their etiology and somewhat to their experience. republicans became a more executive minded party and the democrats became more legislative minded party, they're better at running congress, no question and republicans have yet to prove they're good as governing as a majority. this is sort of looking back a moment that had there been a way to organize or incite the tea party it would have happened earlier so in 2006 when tom d i delay says spending has been cut to the bone, the game was up, there's nothing left of conservative republicanism in running congress. they've become a favor factory
and steakment party maybe not even any better than the democratic party from a conservative point of view. so the big challenge for republicans if they can win, the only reason the gingrich years they had clinton as a foil, so they got some things done because that worked in opposition, but they have yet to prove that they can govern as a majority party even in a article amount tear sense or any other and that's a big test if they happen to win the election. >> we're going to go to questions. i remind people they can e-mail their questions to aei debates at aei.org or twitter at hash tag -- i've said it twice today, that's the most time i've said hash tags. >> your kids are so impressed. >> #aeidebates. we've had a number of good questions, let's start off this one and i'll add a p.s. what is the role of the tea party, and is it the reason or
how much of the reason at all that you think that the republicans are extreme and how do you think the tea party fits into the republican party and this whole question of extremism? why don't we have steve start. >> i already mentioned a little bit. i think the first time, maybe norm will correct me but a pretty substantial populist movement on the right. you never saw conservatives on the streets much over the years. they do lots of stuff but doing rallies the way the tea party did was unprecedented. >> they were all in the country clubs though. [ laughter ] kidding, sorry. >> there has to be a good joke about a country club riot. as i said i'll dilate the point a bill more, just as the new left and the anti-war movement and associated parts pushed the democratic party to the left in the '60s and '70s,