Keep in mind, "bipartisan" can mean different things. Calling a bill "bipartisan" could mean that all Democrats and all Republicans support it. Or it could mean that some Democrats and some Republicans support it (which would leave open the possibility that the opposition to the bill is similarly bipartisan).
But, beyond this, why should we care if something has bipartisan support? It's not like both parties can't be wrong at the same time, right? If "bipartisan" is so great, wouldn't "tripartisan" or "quadrapartisan" be even better?
The point is, just because both parties agree on something doesn't mean that what they're doing is right. (To say otherwise would be to make an appeal to popularity, or perhaps the "even my opponent agrees" fallacy.) And just because someone is know for trying to collaborate and compromise with his opponents doesn't mean the things he's wound up supporting via that behavior are good, either.
The fact that your opponent agrees with you on something doesn't make your position correct.
EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS
"Now we have to overcome some big challenges, I will admit that. First, too many of our representatives in Washington are in the grips of a failed economic theory called trickle down economics. Now, I do not doubt their sincerity. But it has been proven wrong again and again. But there still are people in Congress who insist on cutting taxes for the wealthy instead of investing in our future. They careen from one self- inflicted crisis to another. Shutting down the government, threatening to default on our national debt, refusing to make the common-sense investments that used to have broad bipartisan support, like rebuilding our roads and our bridges, our tunnels, our highways, our airports. Or investing in better education from zero through high school and college. … And if the evidence were there to support this ideology, I would have to acknowledge that. But we have seen the results. Twice now in the past 30 years, a Republican president has caused an economic mess and a Democratic president has had to come in and clean it up."-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 22, 2016.
Comment: There are lots of things going on here. Where has it been proven that so-called "trickle-down economics" is a failed policy? Where has this policy been tested rigorously – that is, against an otherwise-identical control group? Such experiments are difficult to craft, and almost never occur on a large scale. It may be true that there have been cases where trickle-down economics has been implemented and bad economic news has followed, but it's propter hoc reasoning to jump to the conclusion that the former caused the latter. Correlation isn't necessarily causation. (Perhaps the bad economic news would have been even worse without the trickle-down policies, it's impossible to know unless you set up a control group for comparison.) Also, who has proposed not investing in our future? Perhaps people have proposed tax cuts for the wealthy along with spending less on investment than Clinton supports, but is there anyone who has said we shouldn't spend any money on education or infrastructure? This sounds like a straw man she's setting up to knock over. Finally, Clinton also resorts to "common sense" rhetoric, as well as "bipartisan" rhetoric (if the Republicans aren't supporting common-sense investments, then how can they have bipartisan support?).
"I want to echo something that I heard my friend and former colleague Peter King saying as I was listening here. This is a moment for Republicans, Democrats and Independents to work together as one team. The American team. And it’s a time for statesmanship, not partisanship. I think that our fellow American citizens expect that."-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 13, 2016, referring to the Orlando nightclub shooting by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.
Comment: This is "unify the country" rhetoric, but what, exactly, are Americans supposed to unify on and not be partisan about? It's trivial to say that we should all be opposed to terrorism. Should we all unify on one plan to deal with terrorism, even if we don't all think it's the best plan? Without specifying this, how can she be sure that it's something all Americans want?
"All of this has been a political hit job from the beginning … Whether it’s the report being written in the State Department’s Office of Inspector General with the help of a former confidante of Chuck Grassley, at the same time Senator Grassley has been on a political crusade to hurt Hillary Clinton, or the final report of the discredited House Benghazi Committee, we will do as we have from the beginning: preempt, debunk and push back on these partisan lies."-- Political operative David Brock, as related in a May 25, 2016, story by Josh Gerstein in Politico. Brock's comments regarded the investigations surrounding the use of a private email server by Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her time as head of the State Department.
Comment: Brock is using ad hominem reasoning. Even if it's true there are partisan motives behind the criticisms of Clinton, that doesn't mean the criticisms are false. What if we used the same reasoning against Clinton: "there are partisan motives behind the defense of Clinton, therefore the defense is false"?
"Three years ago, a bipartisan, commonsense bill would have required background checks for virtually everyone who buys a gun. Keep in mind, this policy was supported by some 90% of the American people. It was supported by a majority of NRA households. But the gun lobby mobilized against it. And the Senate blocked it."-- President Barack Obama, January 1, 2016, during the president's weekly address.
Comment: Obama is arguing for this legislation on the basis that it is bipartisan, common-sense, and has popular support.
""The rise of new media outlets in the Internet age has allowed regular Americans to get access to information that the mainstream press," conceals. You know, it's just as important what isn't reported as what is. It is my contention that busting up the Democrat Party monopoly and the mainstream media -- I do believe it's led to divisiveness, but it's not because of us. The divisiveness and the reason there is so much partisanship and mean-spirited, extreme rancor is all on the Democrats, if you ask me, and the media. They're the ones who have the monopoly. They're the ones that had their way. They're the ones that were in charge of everything the people of this country learned, and they were in charge of everything that was hidden from the American people."-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, October 26, 2015, reading from an October 20, 2015, Breitbart story on former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
Comment: Limbaugh is citing divisiveness and partisanship, explaining that they are bad because they amount to "mean-spirited, extreme rancor". He is resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature by saying that only Democrats – and not Republicans – are responsible for that rancor.
Donald Trump believes he will "absolutely" be a force for bipartisanship, but in an interview this weekend neither Republicans nor Democrats escaped a barrage of attacks from the GOP presidential candidate.-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, October 25, 2015, during interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, as related in a CNN story by Jeremy Diamond.
Trump flung criticism at politicians spanning the spectrum from presidential primary opponents Jeb Bush and Ben Carson to the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and the man he hopes to succeed, President Barack Obama, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that aired Sunday on "State of the Union."
And he lamented the House Select Committee on Benghazi's questioning of Clinton, a hearing he called "very partisan" that "hurts both parties" and "hurts the country."
"The level of hatred between Republicans and Democrats was unbelievable. The level of -- I've never seen anything like it," Trump said. "I'm going to unify. This country is totally divided. Barack Obama has divided this country unbelievably. And it's all, it's all hatred, what can I tell you. I've never seen anything like it...I've gotten along with Democrats and I've gotten along with Republicans. And I said, that's a good thing."
Tapper asked Trump if his presidency would result in an era of bipartisanship.
"I absolutely think so," he said, adding, "I will be a great unifier for our country."
Comment: This is "bipartisan" and "unify the country" rhetoric.
Obama described himself as not intrinsically partisan and said some members of his party have faulted him for not being partisan enough.-- President Barack Obama, October 10, 2015, as told by an AFP story.
"But I will tell you at this moment in history, the choices are stark. And facts, evidence and values are on our side. And the other side has gone off the deep end," Obama said.
Obama added: "And what you're witnessing in the House fight right now is that even deeply conservative folks are not considered ideologically pure enough and we would rather burn the House down than admit the possibility of democratic process that requires compromise."
Comment: Obama is contrasting himself with Republicans by saying that he is not partisan, and apparently saying that Republicans don't care about facts and evidence or values (which would be demonizing).
GUTHRIE: You mentioned your Republican rivals making hay of this.-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, October 5, 2015, during town hall event hosted by Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.
GUTHRIE: I have to ask you, if the tables were turned and it was Dick Cheney or Karl Rove who had a private e-mail account and a private server on which they conducted all their government business, would you be as understanding?
CLINTON: I would never have done that. Look at the situation they chose to exploit to go after me for political reasons, the death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the President to nominate him. There have been seven investigations led mostly by Republicans in the Congress, and they were non-partisan and they reached conclusions that, first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make. This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would have never done that, and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.
Comment: First, notice that Clinton is answering a hypothetical question. Second, she is accusing Republicans of being partisan and exploiting the attack in Benghazi. She is doing this on the basis of remarks by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), on September 29, 2015. But, just because McCarthy says the investigation had a certain motive doesn't mean everyone else supporting the investigation had that same motive. More, just because there are sinister reasons for a certain course of action (e.g., investigating Clinton) doesn't mean there are no legitimate reasons for performing the same action; to suggest otherwise (as Clinton seems to be doing) is ad hominem reasoning.
SHARPTON: Let me raise another issue. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he said this week, quote -- I'm quoting him -- "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers Friday? What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping." That's the quote.-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, September 30, 2015, during an interview with Al Sharpton of MSNBC, concerning remarks made earlier by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
SHARPTON: You're expected to testify before the Benghazi Committee on October 22. What's your response to McCarthy's comments?
CLINTON: I have to tell you, I find them deeply distressing. I knew the ambassador that we lost in Benghazi. Along with him, we lost three other brave Americans who were representing us in a very dangerous part of the world. There have already been eight investigations in the Congress. One independent investigation. We have learned all we can learn about what we need to do to protect our diplomats and our other civilians and we need to be enforcing and implementing those changes, which is what I started and what Secretary Kerry has continued. So when I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country. We've had lots of different situations, as you know so well. We've had embassies run over. We've had them blown up under Ronald Reagan, under Bill Clinton. We've had lots of attacks where we lost Americans or foreigners working for America, under George W. Bush. We can go back and there's a wall in the State Department, there's a wall in the CIA where we lost those civilians we lost. It's never been turned into a partisan political battle by the majority in Congress the way the Republicans in this Congress have done. And I just wish that they would really start tending to the people's business, deal with the many problems that we face and figure out how we're going to move our country forward. You know, I -- I really regret the way that they have treated this serious matter.
Comment: Just because McCarthy says the investigation into Benghazi hurt Clinton's poll numbers doesn't mean that was the reason he supported the investigation. Even if it was the reason he supported the investigation, that doesn't mean other Republicans supported it for that reason. Finally, even if every Republican supported it for "political" reasons, that doesn't mean there are no good reasons for the investigation. Just because someone has bad reasons for performing a certain action doesn't prove there are no good reasons to perform that same action; it's ad hominem reasoning to conclude otherwise. McCarthy's remarks in no way dismiss the investigation as "partisanship" or "politicizing" or "negative politics".
U.S. foreign policy, once defined by a bipartisan spirit, has devolved into a game whose rules are plagued with loopholes and asterisks and the mistaken idea that political parties can "win" it. Today, on the anniversary of 9/11, Congress continues to play this winner-less game, more concerned with the political consequences of their Thursday vote (or non-vote, as it may be) than with national security itself. And this is where Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1947 and creator of the now famous phrase that "party politics must stop at the water's edge," would be so severely disappointed. The Iran nuclear deal is being used as a divisive political tool instead of grounds to unite these bitterly divided political parties.-- Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R-UT) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), September 11, 2015, from an article they co-wrote together.
Comment: Huntsman and Lieberman are faulting people for being partisan, divisive, and for politicizing foreign policy, suggesting they don't care about national security (a suggestion which amounts to demonizing). The quote from Vandenberg is often noted, but why shouldn't people disagree about foreign policy? How is everyone supposed to unite on foreign policy if they legitimately have different ideas about how to secure the country's security and interests?
"I think the fact that a majority of Republicans came out against the deal before it was even done, says something about the partisanship here that’s really at play. Look, we’re in an election year. We’re all well aware of that. But if you look at the undecided members of congress, the more they study it, the more they talk to experts, and scientists, secretary of energy Ernie Moniz, the more overwhelming support we get for this deal. So, look, the rally that’s about to take place on the Capitol speaks to the level of partisanship. They’re trying to score political points. What we’re focused on is implementing this deal, and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."-- State Department Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications Marie Harf, September 9, 2015. Harf was referring to a rally being held by opponents (many of them Republicans) to the Iranian nuclear deal.
Comment: Harf is accusing Republicans of being partisan. But there's nothing wrong, necessarily, about opposing the Iranian nuclear deal, even before all the details have been finalized (for instance, on the belief that Iran will not abide by the deal). By mentioning the upcoming presidential election, and saying that Republicans are trying to "score political points", Harf is accusing them of politicizing the issue as opposed to being concerned about whether Iran gets a nuclear weapon. In saying this, she is demonizing opponents of the deal.
Normally, when your main geopolitical rivals are shooting themselves in both feet, the military manual says step back and enjoy the show. But I take little comfort in watching China burning money and Russia burning food, because in today’s interdependent world we’re all affected. I also find no joy in it because we Americans, too, have started burning our most important source of competitive advantage — our pluralism. One of our two political parties has gone nuts and started following a pied piper of intolerance, named Donald Trump. … America’s greatest advantage is its pluralism: It can govern itself horizontally by its people of all colors and creeds forging social contracts to live together as equal citizens. But right now we’re messing around with that incredible asset. Yes, we must control our borders; it is the essence of sovereignty. It has been a failure of both our political parties that the Mexican-American border has been so porous. So I am for a high wall, but with a very big gate — one that legally lets in energetic low-skilled workers and the high-I.Q. risk-takers who have made our economy the envy of the world — and for legislation that provides a pathway for the millions of illegal immigrants already here to gain legal status and eventually citizenship. In June 2013, the Senate, including 14 Republicans, passed a bill that would do all that. But the extremists in the G.O.P. House refused to follow, so the bill stalled. And now we have Trump shamelessly exploiting this issue even more. He’s calling for an end to the 14th Amendment’s birthright principle, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born here, and also for a government program to round up all 11 million illegal immigrants and send them home — an utterly lunatic idea that Trump dismisses as a mere “management” problem. Like lemmings, many of the other G.O.P. presidential hopefuls just followed Trump over that cliff. This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one. Every era spews up a Joe McCarthy type who tries to thrive by dividing and frightening us, and today his name is Donald Trump.-- Pundit Thomas Friedman, August 26, 2016.
Comment: "Gone nuts" is "stupid" rhetoric. Friedman also engages in "extremists" and "exploiting" rhetoric. Friedman demonizes Trump's immigration plan as being racist (i.e., "nativism"), which is a distortion, given that it doesn't end legal immigration. Friedman also engages in "fear-mongering", "bipartisan", and "divisive" rhetoric.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz clashed with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Tuesday night over whether the Texas senator would deport immigrants who came to the United States illegally if their children were born in the country.-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), August 25, 2015, as related in a story by Nick Gass of Politico.
When Kelly pressed the Texas senator on what he would do as president, Cruz said that he’s “not playing the game” and declined to answer the question.
“What would President Cruz do? Do American citizen children of two illegal immigrants, who are born here, the children, get deported under a President Cruz?” Kelly asked.
Donald Trump, she said, “has answered that question explicitly.”
“Megyn, I get that that’s the question you want to ask,” Cruz said. “That’s also the question every mainstream media liberal journalist wants to ask.”
Asked whether it is an unfair question, Cruz said that it is “a distraction” from solving the issue.
“You know, it’s also the question that Barack Obama wants to focus on,” Cruz retorted.
“Why is it so hard? Why don’t you just say yes or no?” Kelly asked.
Cruz’s response: “Because, Megyn, we need to solve the problem. And the way you solve the problem is you focus where there’s bipartisan agreement first. Once we’ve secured the border, once we’ve proven we can do this, once we’ve stopped the Obama administration’s policy of releasing 104,000 violent criminal illegal aliens in one year. Once we’ve solved that problem, then we can have a debate, then we can have a conversation.”
Comment: Cruz is evading the question, and he never actually answers it. He insists that we should first focus on areas of "bipartisan" agreement before we decide what would happen to the children of illegal immigrants who are U.S. citizens. But that doesn't mean he can't state what his preference would be to deal with that situation, even if his preference doesn't have bipartisan support. More, Cruz engages in "distraction" rhetoric. Finally, he tries to undermine Kelly's question (using guilt by association) by noting that "liberal" journalists want to ask the same question. This is ad hominem, however: just because liberals are posing the question, too, doesn't mean it's an unfair question.
"Unfortunately, we’re living through a time in American politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism, evaluated by headline-grabbing sound bites. And so before the ink was even dry on this deal -- before Congress even read it -- a majority of Republicans declared their virulent opposition. Lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into arm-chair nuclear scientists, disputing the assessments of experts like Secretary Moniz, challenging his findings, offering multiple -- and sometimes contradictory -- arguments about why Congress should reject this deal. But if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can get some traction. So let me address just a few of the arguments that have been made so far in opposition to this deal."-- President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015, speaking on the proposed deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: First, Obama is making it sound as if only opponents of the nuclear deal – and not supporters of it – had made up their minds ahead of time and were viewing the issue through a "partisan prism". That is, Obama is engaging in the "only my opponent" caricature. Second, Obama is making a flawed appeal to authority, dismissing the criticisms of people who aren't nuclear scientists. Just because a person isn't a nuclear expert doesn't mean they have no valid criticisms on nuclear topics. (Some of the criticism of the deal doesn't even rely on nuclear issues, it has to do with diplomatic matters, such as whether Iranian leaders are trustworthy.) Third, Obama says critics are offering "contradictory" arguments, suggesting hypocrisy. But, there's nothing hypocritical about one person offering one criticism, and a different person offering a logically contradictory one. Since Obama doesn't name who the critics are, how do we know they're being hypocritical and self-contradictory? Last, Obama is suggesting something akin to the "big lie" theory is at work with his critics, where repetition of a bad idea will give it credibility.
"There is something that is very evident from today's decision, which is maybe the most important thing post-2016 is the Court, and who sits on it. I want to talk a little bit about Scalia and the language he used in his dissenting opinion … the bitterness and the virtiol. At one point he was like, "this is unnatural interpretation from the law." And the phrase "SCOTUScare" really revealed a deeply partisan emotional core that informs Scalia's decision making."-- Pundit Alex Wagner, June 25, 2015, remarking on the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the King v Burwell case.
Comment: This is "partisan" rhetoric.
RUSH: Here's Ken in Miami. I'm glad you waited, sir. Great to have you on the program.-- A caller to the Rush Limbaugh show, June 1, 2015.
CALLER: The reason I called was that Republicans were elected to stop Obama. Obama publicly endorsed the USA Freedom Act, so shouldn't that be enough for the Republicans to be against it?
RUSH: Yeah. I feel your pain. The Republicans even acknowledged that they were elected to stop Obama, but then when they have the chance, they don't. Like in the trade deal. This transpacific partnership that still remains a big mystery. It's the Republicans that are gonna pull Obama -- it's caused me to be on the same page as Elizabeth Warren on this. Imagine how bad this thing must be. Actually, Elizabeth Warren's on the same page with me on this thing.
Comment: The caller is saying Republicans have a mandate to stop Obama – or, perhaps, that they have not mandate to NOT stop Obama. The caller also argues that Obama's support for the USA Freedom Act is cause to oppose it, which is something of a reverse appeal to authority (and still invalid reasoning). Limbaugh notes that he agrees with his opponents on the transpacific trade deal, but doesn't seem to use that as an "ad hostes" argument.
"It's also essential that we strengthen families and communities, and that means we have to finally, once and for all fix our immigration system. … it is at heart a family issue at heart, and if we claim we are for families, we have to pull together and resolve the outstanding issues around our broken immigration system. The American people support comprehensive immigration reform, not just because it's the right thing to do, and it is, but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengthens our country. That's why we can't wait any longer. We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship. Now, this is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side. Make no mistakes, today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status. … I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put DREAMers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation."-- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), May 5, 2015.
Comment: Clinton is using "Americans want", "code words", and "partisan" rhetoric. Is it really the case that you can't support families without also supporting Clinton's immigration reform proposal? It seems like demonizing to suggest that people who disagree with her proposal are not in favor of families.
"The broader point, though, is not one specific law. It's, do we have a structure in place that allows enforcement of laws that, not only does the overwhelming number of Americans already agree with, but for which a lot of blood and sweat and tears was shed for us to secure. This is not a partisan issue. Historically, Republicans were at least as important as Democrats in achieving. Back then, there were a lot of Democrats who were the ones who were opposed to it. And Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush signed reauthorizations of this. This is something that should transcend party. This has to do with whether or not we believe in the basic notions of self-government upon which so much of our other rights and freedoms depend."-- President Barack Obama, during interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, posted March 8, 2015. The remarks concern Obama's support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
Comment: This is "politicizing" or perhaps "bipartisan" rhetoric. Just because there has been bipartisan support from something in the past doesn't mean there has to be now. There is a legitimate debate about how the VRA should apply to southern states 50 years after the end of segregation. It's demonizing to suggest that opponents of reauthorizing the VRA could only have crassly political motives, or are somehow opposed to the basic notions of self-government.
"In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan."-- President Barack Obama, January 20, 2015, during the 2015 State of the Union address.
Comment: This remark is along the lines of "ideological" or "common sense" or "bipartisan" rhetoric. Partisanship is a result of disagreements about what ideas are practical or not. Does anyone support ideas that they think are impractical?
Examples from 2014.
"Personalities matter. This president has a chance as he did in ‘09 to come in and say 'I’m going to sit down and work with you. We’re going to be bipartisan, we’re going to put the country first', or he has a chance to do what he did in ’09, which is say, 'I’m going to write a stimulus package with only Democrats and ram it through unread'. He can continue down the road he’s on right now. He -- he guarantees a permanent war because everybody on the right at every level sooner or later is going to get sick of it."-- Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), December 9, 2012, on NBC's "Meet the Press".
Comment: Gingrich is indulging in many kinds of rhetoric here: "bipartisan" rhetoric, patriotism rhetoric (how is Obama not putting the country first?), and "war" rhetoric.
"Again and again, the first term revealed Obama’s idea of bipartisanship: Dissenters are unpatriotic and must surrender. Compromise is a one-way street for him. As polarizing and ineffective as that approach was, he was rewarded with four more years. A different man might see that as a mulligan -- a second chance to get it right. Not Obama. His behavior now is even more troubling. That he’s willing to risk sending the economy back into recession and killing even more jobs leads me to believe his second term will be far more radical than the first. A stranger to humility, he thinks re-election confers a blank check. His demand that spending cuts and entitlement reform be put off, while Republicans give him the tax hikes and the stimulus he wants, suggests he’s not serious about facing the mountain of debt."-- Columnist Michael Goodwin, December 2, 2012.
Comment: Goodwin is complaining that President Barack Obama's idea of bipartisanship is wanting? Is that true? Has Obama called dissent unpatriotic and treated compromise as a one-way street? Goodwin is also accusing Obama of being divisive (by calling him "polarizing"), and indulging in "radical" rhetoric. In addition, he says Obama thinks he has a limitless mandate as a result of re-election, and that Obama is not "serious" about our debt problems. All this combines to create an unflattering caricature of Obama. Goodwin can criticize Obama's positions without resorting to this name-calling and demonizing.
"The President has said he wants a so-called balanced approach to solve this crisis. But what he proposed this week was a classic bait and switch on the American people -- a tax increase double the size of what he campaigned on, billions of dollars in new stimulus spending and an unlimited, unchecked authority to borrow from the Chinese. Maybe I missed it but I don’t recall him asking for any of that during the presidential campaign. These ideas are so radical that they have already been rejected on a bipartisan basis by Congress."-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT), December 1, 2012, during the weekly GOP address.
Comment: Hatch is claiming that Obama has no mandate to enact certain policies, because they are not the policies Obama campaigned on. Also, he is indulging in "radicalism" rhetoric. Finally, he is engaging in "bipartisan" rhetoric, apparently arguing that ideas that have been rejected on a bipartisan basis are radical and wrong.
"[I]n the case of immigration -- an issue of great concern to Latinos -- a bipartisan roadmap is good politics and great policy. Bringing the country together around a common-sense immigration process is not a bridge too far. In fact, while partisan politics dominated the national debate, faith, law enforcement and business leaders have worked with immigrant leaders across the political spectrum to forge a new consensus on immigrants and America."-- Immigration advocate Ali Noorani, November 8, 2012.
Comment: Noorani is using "bipartisan" and "common-sense" rhetoric, here. He doesn't seem to be making the mistake of arguing that immigration reform is good because it is bipartisan. However, he doesn't specify what counts as "common-sense" immigration policy. Everyone is in favor of common-sense -- that's a platitude -- but what is common-sense when it comes to immigration policy?
ROMNEY: America's going to come back. And for that to happen, we're going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We've got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back. And we'll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.-- Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), October 22, 2012, during the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, FL, between Romney and President Barack Obama.
Comment: Romney is indulging in "bipartisan" rhetoric, here, but not in the sense of arguing that bipartisan = good. Rather, he's making the claim that it's difficult to get anything done without bipartisan cooperation, therefore having a record of bipartisanship is a virtue. However, Romney doesn't make any mention of rebuking incivility -- in particular, from his own party and his own campaign -- which would probably be one of the most effective ways to encourage bipartisan behavior.
ROMNEY: Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation, and it’s referred to as a -- as an assault weapon ban, but it had at the signing of the bill both the pro-gun and the anti- gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted. There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that hadn’t previously been available and so forth. So it was a mutually agreed upon piece of legislation. That’s what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that’s -- that’s gridlocked. We haven’t had -- we haven’t -- we haven’t -- we haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work on a bipartisan basis.-- Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), October 16, 2012, during the second presidential debate in Hempstead, NY, between Romney and President Barack Obama.
Comment: Romney is essentially indulging in "bipartisan" rhetoric by pointing out that pro-gun and anti-gun groups collaborated on legislation. Why is that good? How does their collaboration guarantee that the content of the legislation was good?
OBAMA: Now, we’ve got to make sure that we do it in a smart way and a comprehensive way and we make the legal system better. But when we make this into a divisive political issue, and when we don’t have bipartisan support -- I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done. We have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all. And it’s time for them to get serious on it. This used to be a bipartisan issue.-- President Barack Obama, October 16, 2012, during the second presidential debate in Hempstead, NY, between Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
Comment: First, Obama frequently touts his immigration reform proposals as "comprehensive", though one man's "comprehensive legislation" is another man's "holding one thing hostage for another" legislation. Second, Obama is indulging in "unify the country" rhetoric by accusing others of turning immigration into a "divisive" issue. Third, Obama is indulging in "bipartisan" rhetoric. Bipartisan ideas aren't necessarily good ones, after all. Finally, what counts as being "serious" about immigration (or any other issue, for that matter)? What is the proof, for instance, that Obama has been serious about immigration?
RADDATZ: "You have refused -- and, again -- to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut [proposed by Romney-Ryan]. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?"-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden.
RYAN: "Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. … look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that. What we’re saying is, here’s our framework. Lower tax rates 20 percent. We raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation … so we can lower tax rates across the board. Now, here’s why I’m saying this. What we’re saying is, here’s the framework … We want to work with Congress -- we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this."
Comment: Ryan avoids answering the question. He indulges in "bipartisan" rhetoric, while laying out a framework for what his side wants done. But whether that framework can be accomplished depends on details -- for instance, which loopholes and deductions get eliminated. If he's not going to provide those details, he needs to give a good reason for not doing so.
RYAN: "This is a plan that’s bipartisan. It’s a plan I put together with a prominent Democrat senator from Oregon."-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden.
BIDEN: "There’s not one Democrat who endorses it."
Comment: Ryan is indulging in "bipartisan" rhetoric, here, which poses several problems. First, though Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) did collaborate with Ryan to craft a plan for Medicare, Wyden doesn't support the current plan proposed by the Romney-Ryan ticket. Second, even if Wyden did support it, that's only one Democrat. Is that really sufficient to call it "bipartisan"? Third, who cares if a plan is bipartisan? Being bipartisan is no guarantee that something is a good idea.
There is a quote out there that sometimes get attributed to Republican Senate Leader Everett Dirksen and sometimes not. The quote is that there two parties in Washington — the stupid party and the evil party. Every once in a while the stupid party and the evil party get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. In Washington, that is called bipartisanship.-- Pundit Erick Erickson, “It’s What Happens When the Stupid Party and Evil Party Get Together,” April 12, 2011.
Congress passes the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (Pub.L. 111-312, 124 Stat. 3296, H.R. 4853). In the Senate, 43 Democrats and 37 Republicans voted in favor, and 13 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted against. One independent voted in favor, and one independent voted against. In the House, 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans voted in favor, and 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans voted against. The bill extended the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush for another two years, as well as extending unemployment benefits and cutting payroll taxes.-- December 16, 2010. President Barack Obama (D) signed the bill into law the next day.
Comment: Both the support and opposition for this legislation was bipartisan (in the Senate, tripartisan).
Congress passes the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, Pub.L. 107-243, 116 Stat. 1498, H.J.Res. 114). In the Senate, 29 Democrats and 48 Republicans voted in favor, and 21 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against. One independent voted against. In the House, 82 Democrats and 215 Republicans voted in favor, and 126 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted against. One independent voted against.The bill authorized the U.S. to take military action against Iraq.-- October 11, 2002. Known as the "Iraq War Resolution", President George W. Bush (R) signed the bill into law on October 16, 2002.
Comment: Was the support for this legislation bipartisan? The opposition to it?
(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)