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Susan Estrich
10 Feb 2016
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Date Night


This year, for the State of the Union address, Democrats and Republicans (those who can find "dates," anyway) will be sitting together. It is supposed to be a signal to the nation of bipartisanship — at least the kind that allows people from opposite parties, as we used to do decades ago, to put their differences aside at the end of the day.

Don't believe it.

This congressional date night is not the beginning of a long-term relationship. It's a one-night stand.

All it means is that when there is partisan applause (and there will be), it won't come just from one side of the room.

This is the third year in which the two parties are "dating" for the State of the Union. I don't know anyone of either party who would suggest that the past two years have seen a rise in bipartisanship.

That doesn't mean that individual Democrats and Republicans aren't working together. They are, in critical respects. Democrats in the Senate need a handful of Republicans to avoid a filibuster. Democrats in the House need a few dozen Republicans to comfortably pass whatever the Democrats plus a handful pass in the Senate.

So, yes, there are individuals crossing the aisle and creating majorities, but it is precisely because the two parties are not working together that we have this new kind of individual bipartisanship.

As a Democrat, I can say it's fine with me.

As a firm believer in the two-party system, in civil discourse and political respect, in moderation over extremism, it might not be so fine.

On Fox News last weekend, I was asked about the split in the Republican Party, between ideological true believers and moderate pragmatists — or, if you prefer, between "true Republicans" and _"Republicans in Name Only" (a.k.a. RINOs).

When I spent every waking hour in politics, I was definitely a "true Democrat," and I know all the lines about if you have two Democratic (or Republican) Parties, why wouldn't people want to vote for the real one.

I understand the frustration of ideological activists who are asked to support policies they disagree with and people who have given them the back of their hand on the grounds that winning is all that matters. When you're in the trenches, principles matter — sometimes more than a "victory" for someone who shares only your party affiliation.

But losing is even less fun. What changed on the Democratic side was that even people like me got tired of losing and became more ready to accept a candidate we disagreed with but who could win. It certainly helped that, in cultural terms, Bill and Hillary Clinton — educated on the East Coast, tested on the George McGovern campaign, public interest lawyer-types — seemed far more like the ideologues, at least socially speaking, than most Southern moderates.

But make no mistake: Bill Clinton was one of the founders of the Democratic Leadership Council, which we used to disparagingly call the "White Boys Caucus" because of its stated intent to counter the power of all those other caucuses inside the Democratic Party. And by the time Barack Obama came along, demographics had changed in this country to the point that the middle, which had been moving rightward, was moving leftward again.

Believe me, Mitt Romney would have won in Reagan's America. But it's not Reagan's America anymore.

I got one or two nasty emails last week when I made those points on Fox and suggested that the only way Republicans are going to achieve power (and win more elections) is if they stop making that circle and firing inward, and recognize that the country has changed. If they don't, they won't win.

"Who are you to give advice to Republicans?" one woman demanded. The answer is just this: Been there. Done that. You have to kiss a lot of frogs on your way to the altar. And maybe what Republicans really need right now is not Democratic "dates" but Republican ones.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



6 Comments | Post Comment
Bipartisanship to Susan and other libs like her means Republicans putting aside their principles and joining ranks to accomplish the 'common good'. That's a 'one party system' - a dictatorship. Thanks, but no thanks.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Oldtimer
Fri Feb 8, 2013 5:16 AM
Bipartisian ideas are sometimes scarier than single party bills. Bipartisian just means both parties agree on how to screw the people. What issues can these clowns in Washington agree on? Drones, global police state, warrentless wiretaps, and telling corperations to fork over information on us citizens to name a few. This guys are of the same mind on many issues. They are already one party in many aspects. Susan is just argueing semantics.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Feb 8, 2013 6:35 AM
Date night ? Let's think about that. What's worse than a one night stand. How about being stood up completely?

Being stood up completely is what happened to our Ambassador and three other brave Americans in Benghazi.

Correction being stood up and murdered as a result of being stood up, is what happened.

We learn from Panetta that their "date" the one that was charged with their ultimate safety and security, aka Barry the absent, Barry the AWOL , Barry the couldn't care less about American lives, really stood them up, was wholly absent during the whole attack, made no calls to Panetta after their one 5 pm previously scheduled routine call, made no attempt to ascertain the situation of Panetta but yet could find time to make political calls.

We also learn that billary was likewise entirely AWOL. To paraphrase her testimony What difference does it make why four American were killed or what the circumstances were?

And now we have the America hating, liar, thief of honor, "hero" of Winter Soldier, and world class kept man living off the wealth created by another as SOS.
The admin is rotten from top to bottom.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Feb 8, 2013 8:53 AM
Re: joseph wright
This administration is unAmerican if not antiAmerican!
Comment: #4
Posted by: Oldtimer
Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:46 AM

Date Rape Night on the Hill. What a joke.

Comment: #5
Posted by: SusansMirror
Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:29 PM
Re: SusansMirror

No its a sleazy, degenerate, amoral swingers club, presided over by the most corrupt sob ever, save that the only entity that will get royally screwed will be the Republic.
Comment: #6
Posted by: joseph wright
Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:40 AM
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