Ed Driscoll

E.J. Dionne, Then And Now

Peter Wehner writes that the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Jr. “has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of bipartisanship in the Age of Obama. It is a trap that Democrats can easily fall into and be snared by, so E.J. has decided to use his column to warn of its evils. In his column yesterday, for example, he wrote this:”

Where did we get the idea that the only good health care bill is a bipartisan bill? Is bipartisanship more important than whether a proposal is practical and effective?… Trying to achieve full bipartisanship by squaring those two views [held by Democrats and Republicans] is a recipe for incoherence…

Of course, as Wehner notes, prior to 2009,  Dionne was writing passages such as this:

if the president were genuinely interested in a bipartisan compromise, he would put everything on the table – including his own tax cuts that have added to the budget deficit. (The Washington Post, 2/4/05)

Not to mention:

If ‘getting over’ the divisive and troubling endgame of the [2000] election is supposed to be in the national interest, doesn’t the president have an obligation to help? Is it unfair to insist that he pursue a more moderate course? (The Washington Post, 1/28/01)

Click over to Wehner’s post for many more examples of Dionne, then and now. As he concludes:

It turns out that Dionne was not terribly interested in bipartisanship for its own sake; what he was interested in was slowing down conservatism and advancing liberalism. During the Bush years, bipartisanship was simply a means to an end, a convenient club he could whack Bush and Republicans who were in power with. Now that Obama and Democrats are in control, bipartisanship is a useless and even a pernicious concept. It turns out that the arguments advocated by Dionne ad nauseam during the Bush years – that bipartisanship is a worthy end in itself, a salve necessary to heal a wounded country, a pathway out of our deep divisions and angry differences, a demonstration of admirable large-spiritedness – was a fairly elaborate fiction. In the memorable words of Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character Emily Litella, “Never Mind.”

We can all agree that intellectual fair-mindedness is a rare (and admirable) quality, and that double standards are common in politics, as well as in life. But it is not often that the double standards are this glaring, and even blinding, in a single person. Perhaps before Dionne writes his next column warning of the terrible dangers of bipartisanship and “nebulous cross-party comity,” he can explain to the rest of us why he was making precisely the opposite argument when a Republican was in office. And perhaps his readers can see Dionne’s columns for what they are: partisan advocacy pieces dressed up in whatever clothing suites the moment.

But then, there’s a lot of that going around these days.

Update (6/20/09): Welcome Fark readers!