Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bill Clinton endorses divided government. Sort of.

The December 10 Multi-President Press Conference

While preparing our latest divided government compilation, the Dividist found a prominent divided government reference that previously escaped his notice.

The December 10 White House press conference was notable for a lot reasons, but mostly for the sublime weirdness of watching the embattled current President handing the popular former President off to the White House press corp as if it was a tag team professional wresting match. Depending on partisan proclivity, perception of the multi-president press conference performance ran the gamut including: helpful, awkward, bizarre, a mistake, weird, show-stealing, an abdication, an education, nostalgic, and awesome.

As usual the most perceptive and entertaining coverage of the event was found on the Daily Show and from Taiwan's Next Media Animation studios - The two media outlets now setting the Gold Standard for political journalism:

Who is that crawling under the desk?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Leaves Bill Clinton in White House Briefing Room
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook
Obi-Wan is back.

Lost in the spectacle and general bemused astonishment - this common sense explanation by the former President outlining why divided government works as well as it does:

Q: "Thank you, Mr. President. Beyond this pending tax deal, there are enormous issues of importance that are unfinished, from education to energy, the deficit. And this is still a very divided country. Do you think the American people want a President to compromise with the opposing party? And is that a message that you think Democrats are going to have to accept?"

"Yes, but I also believe that it’s a message Republicans are going to have to accept. Keep in mind that many of the -- the really interesting thing was -- is that a lot of the hardcore conservatives think the Republicans gave too much. Read Charles Krauthammer’s column in the Post today. He’s a brilliant man, and he pointed out that they got the divisive tax cuts, but most of them were targeted to middle-class working people -- that's what the payroll tax cut is -- that the unemployment benefits were extended, which some of them did not want to do, and that the American people, by two to one, support them both.

So there are some conservatives who don't believe in the economic theory I just advanced to you; who believe that the President and Democrats got more out of this than the Republicans did.

So I think that's healthy, too, because everybody has got to give a little.

Yes, I think the one thing that always happens when you have divided government is that people no longer see principled compromise as weakness. This system was set up to promote principled compromise. It is an ethical thing to do. In a democracy where no one is a dictator, we would all be at each other’s throats all the time, and we would be in a state of constant paralysis if once power is divided, there is no compromise."
Well said Mr. [ex-]President. If the electorate truly wants the moderating influence of bi-partisan compromise in our federal government, they can get it it by never giving either party all the keys to the castle. Pretty simple really. But then... is it ever really that simple with Bill Clinton?

In 2012, the Republicans are likely to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives, and will be in a strong position to retake the Senate majority. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, the divided government vote in 2012 will be a vote to reelect Barack Obama. You don't suppose that Obi-wan is already preparing the ground for Obama's 2012 campaign do you???

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.

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