Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Peggy Noonan Then. Peggy Noonan Now.

This post is due to sally at Eschaton comments, who noticed that Sally Noonan appears to have undergone a personality transplant between 2001 and this year. In 2001 she wrote on the Republican tax cuts:

This is the way it's supposed to be, with division sharp, clear and meaningful.

There are two parties, and each believes in different things. The Democrats don't want to cut federal taxes. They have their reasons. The Republicans want to cut taxes. They have their reasons too.


So it's all pretty clear and not at all murky. Whoever is right will triumph and be politically rewarded, and whoever isn't will not.

This is good. It's not "Tweedledum and Tweedledee," and it's not "There's not a dime's worth of difference between them." It's a choice, not an echo.

This year, however, Noonan's message on the stimulus package is rather different:

It looks like a win but feels like a loss.

The party-line vote in favor of the stimulus package could have been more, could have produced not only a more promising bill but marked the beginning of something new, not a postpartisan era (there will never be such a thing and never should be; the parties exist to fight through great political questions) but a more bipartisan one forced by crisis and marked by—well, let's call it seriousness.


It's a win because of the obvious headline: Nine days after inauguration, the new president achieves a major Congressional victory, House passage of an economic stimulus bill by a vote of 244-188. It wasn't even close. This is major.

But do you know anyone, Democrat or Republican, dancing in the street over this? You don't. Because most everyone knows it isn't a good bill, and knows that its failure to receive a single Republican vote, not one, suggests the old battle lines are hardening. Back to the Crips versus the Bloods. Not very inspiring.

I'm naturally aware of the political games that are being played here. Noonan is a Republican and she will always take a certain stance in her writing. But let's be honest, for a moment, and accept that Republicans want bipartisanship now only because they are in the minority.