First it was Maine’s senior Senator, Olympia Snowe, retiring because the atmosphere in Washington has become so toxic. Then it was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, criticizing his party for their intransigence. Now, it’s Missouri’s Senator Roy Blunt and former Representative Tom Davis of Virginia expressing their frustration with their party.
At the Reuters Washington Summit, Blunt was discussing the current state of affairs in Congress, “I’m bothered by our politics generally that suggest tha tif you don’t get exactly what you want, that’s somehow a failure.” He even had the audacity to use the “C” word banned from Republican vocabulary: compromise. Speaker Boehner gave up last year talking about compromises, using the term “common ground” to describe attempts to find a workable place between the Democrats and his own party extremists. Blunt admitted, “I could get in lots of trouble in the current environment saying I think we should have more compromise…[but] what I’ve said about that is what I believe – compromise is the price for living in a democracy.”
Like Jeb Bush, Blunt invoked the memory of Ronald Reagan, saying “The real strength of President Reagan was the ability to explain that if someone was your friend 85% of the time, they were not your enemy. Governing is never the choice between the perfect and the possible. It is always the choice between the possible and deciding you’d rather not get anything done. There are times that when the possible is so unacceptable that you’re better off saying, ‘I’d just rather walk away and start this fight another day.’ But most of time in a democracy accepting what is possible and coming back the next day and starting to work for what you couldn’t get is the way to get things done.” Gov. Bush noted that in today’s climate, President Reagan would not be comfortable in his own party.
Blunt has signed the infamous “Norquist No Tax” pledge, and will not say that he is willing to vote against the pledge. He still believes that we have a spending problem instead of a revenue problem. But he does agree that “Pledges would make compromise more difficult.”
Davis head the Republican Main Street Partnership, a centrist group, the kind of Republicans that Tea Partiers call RINOS – Republicans In Name Only. He faults the growing influence of both parties’ far wings for the gridlock. “You don’t get rewarded for compromise. You get punished for compromise.”
We certainly saw that during last year’s credit ceiling battle. President Obama and Speaker Boehner reached a compromise that the Democrats were comfortable with, but the Tea Party side of Republicans blocked the compromise. The final deal was even less favorable to the Tea Party than the one the President had agreed to.
While Blunt did not blame either party more than the other, he did note, “Only in recent politics of the country has compromise been seen as an evil as opposed to a positive.”
Nicely put, Senator. It’s a pity the far side of your party can’t understand that.