Blind eye to betrayal

Seven years ago, President-elect Bush promised after the Supreme Court handed him the presidency that he would work to heal a bitterly divided country: “I am optimistic that we can change the tone of Washington. I believe things happen for a reason, and I hope the long wait of the last five weeks will heighten a desire to move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of the recent past.”

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The city’s powerbrokers soaked up those sweet nothings and shivered in ecstasy. Of course the city expected its politicians to play tough, maybe even a little dirty. Politics is politics after all. But for the city’s self-styled powerbrokers, its permanent class, the likes of David Broder, did it all have to be so divisive? “We all want the same things,” they would argue. “We just disagree on how to get there.”

Therefore, a little “give” here, a dash of “take” there, and suddenly everything would work itself out and we’d have that culmination of the D.C. establishment ideal — the “compromise.”

Appealing? No doubt. But no matter what pretty words came out of Bush’s mouth about “uniting and not dividing,” it was never his intention to govern in that fashion. Not even the shock of Sept. 11, 2001, and a nation (and world) united in adversity could nudge the president toward a politics of conciliation and partnership. From the start, it became obvious that “compromise” meant “capitulating to Bush’s every whim.” And Democrats were happy to play along. They were simply too insecure in their electoral prospects and secret believers of Tom DeLay’s 2004 post-election edict that “the Republican Party is a permanent majority for the future of this country.”

As a result, there hasn’t been a single good-faith negotiating effort between Bush and Congress. Certainly not in the years when Republicans controlled both chambers — congressional Republicans have always been more than happy to give Bush everything he wanted with nary an objection so long as their earmarks were fully funded — and definitely not with the current Democratic Congress.

For seven years, Americans outside Washington observed Bush and his Republican allies break every single promise they ever made to the American people.

They haven’t captured Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. They haven’t accomplished our mission in Iraq. They haven’t guaranteed insurance for millions of poor children. They haven’t “defend[ed] the Constitution of the United States” from attacks on our civil liberties.

Meanwhile, Bush and his svengali Karl Rove consistently achieved new heights of hyperpartisanship — always quicker to demonize the opposition than to compromise. So in 2006, the nation struck back with a resounding message — unitary Republican control was no longer acceptable. A wave of new Democrats was elected to oppose the Bush Republican agenda. House Democrats won the national vote by a solid 54-46, while Senate Dems crushed their Republican rivals, 54-42.

But D.C. is a funny place. No one seems to have gotten that resounding message, certainly not Bush and the new Republican minority. More surprisingly, Democrats also failed to get the message. On issue after issue, the Democratic norm has been to capitulate to the slightest pressure from the GOP. And while the public has meted record-low approval ratings for this Congress in response, the lesson apparently remains unlearned.

Whether it’s Iraq funding or the Michael Mukasey confirmation, Democrats continue to give away the store without receiving any concessions in return. It’s a one-way street in a town that has ceded Article I of the Constitution for a unitary, non-compromising executive. The public is sick of this administration’s betrayals. Why aren’t Democrats?

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos .