Several former members of Congress say that Washington’s political climate has become so hostile and poisonous over the past decade that it is undermining the government’s ability to deal with major problems facing the country.
Republicans and Democrats, they say that the level of political dialogue is the worst they have seen in many years, driven in large part by Democratic officials frustrated by a decade of political losses and the incendiary charges made by both parties to get their message heard above the din.
Well, how bad is it, really?
Timothy Roemer, the former Democratic congressman from Indiana who served on the September 11 commission and now heads the Center for National Policy, agrees. “There is not only a poisonous partisan attitude in Washington, but it seems to be paralyzing Congress from acting on some of the most important national security, economic and energy-related issues facing Americans,” he says. “It is more divisive than I have seen in my 20 years in Washington.”
Partisanship has apparently run so deep that our elected officials simply can’t do what we’ve elected them to do. The article gets something wrong, however:
The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, compared the treatment of al Qaeda prisoners by U.S. military interrogators to interrogators in Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet gulags and the death marches of Pol Pot in Cambodia.
Last week, White House adviser Karl Rove attacked Mr. Durbin for his remarks and accused Democrats of wanting “to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” in the wake of September 11 as President Bush prepared for war.
No, Karl Rove didn’t. He said liberals wanted to offer therapy and understanding, and several prominent Democrats took offense. Is the Democratic party admitting that it’s a left-liberal organization?
Some say the task of governing has simply become an exercise in “gotcha” politics:
“It takes two sides really to create the environment that we are in right now. Undoubtedly there is some deep frustration among Democrats, but there has also been an attitude in some Republican circles that bipartisanship isn’t required. But by and large, the Democrats, when they were the majority in the House, treated Republicans quite poorly.”
What to do? Is there a way for Democrats and Republicans to work together, or is it just too late?