And Never the Two Shall Meet

If you missed it last week, Daniel Henninger’s Thursday column makes some interesting points:

It has been argued in this column before that the origins of our European-like polarization can be found in the Florida legal contest at the end of the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential campaign. That was a mini civil war. With the popular vote split 50-50, we spent weeks in a tragicomic pitched battle over contested votes in a few Florida counties. The American political system, by historical tradition flexible and accommodative, was unable to turn off the lawyers and forced nine unelected judges to settle it. So they did, splitting 5-4. In retrospect, a more judicious Supreme Court minority would have seen the danger in that vote (as Nixon did in 1960) and made the inevitable result unanimous to avoid recrimination. A pacto. Instead, we got recrimination.
From that day, American politics has been a pitched battle, waged mainly by Democrats against the “illegitimate” Republican presidency. Some Democrats might say the origins of this polarization traces to the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton. After that the goal was payback. To lose as the Democrats did in 2000 was, and remains, unendurable (as likely it would have for Republicans if they’d lost 5 to 4).
Politics of its nature is about polar competition. Opposed ideas should compete for public support. Withdraw all possibility of contact or crossover, however, and “politics” becomes just a word that euphemizes national alienation. That, effectively, is what we have now.

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george
george
14 years ago

what a short sighted and bias view. It started when the Republican’s couldn’t stand the fact a democrat was in power and tried to impeach and convict Clinton on what was at best specious reasoning. Then when they had full control of the government they still blamed the liberals and the left for all the problems they faced despite the fact they were in power.
If anyone is to blame for the this “civil war” its the Republicans.

dick tuck
dick tuck
14 years ago

Specious reasoning? Like perjury
in a federal court matter. We need a moonbat test for george and his ilk. The “war” started when the slimocrats discovered they’re usual tactics and associates wern’t winning for them any more and it has been man the crap buckets for them ever since. The actually believe they are “entitled” to win, and for 4 years with the help of the unions and their buthole buddies in the media they did. No more, georgie
it is gonna be WAR every time.

dick tuck
dick tuck
14 years ago

40 years sorry.

george
george
14 years ago

Yah “perjury”, if that is what helps you sleep at night then believe that.
If we want to go back further, Republican’s brought this “civil war” when Gringrich told his party not to talk to Democrats their first 60 days in power in 1994.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Actually, George, Bill Clinton committed perjury under a law he enacted. So he himself must not have thought it was “specious”.
But some of us agree with you that his impeachment was mishandled, inasmuch as a far bigger crime that he committed – his handing over our nuclear technology to our enemy, China – was left out of the articles of impeachment.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

It’s taken me some time to get to a keyboard, but I wanted to thank George for jumping right in and proving the short-sighted and biased point. I am a bit concerned about the lingering passion for Bill Clinton, though. Don’t you think it’s about time to find another mysogynistic sleaze to rally behind?

George
George
14 years ago

So you are now just ignoring my point about Gringrich in 1994. Was Clinton sleazy, sure on one disputes that. Did he deserve to be impeached? No.
The author is talking about the polarization of American politics. It didn’t start in 2000 it started in 1994 with Gringrich. If you want to ignore what your party has done over the past 12 years then I can’t stop you. However, to say its the fault of the left is absurd.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Your point is silly. For one thing, you haven’t cited evidence that you’re not misinterpreting, or otherwise distorting, Gingrich’s actions. More importantly, Henninger allows that “Democrats might say the origins of this polarization traces to the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton.” Clearly “who started it” isn’t the salient point here. You’ve gone back to the GOP takeover of the House. I could go back Democrats’ talking down the economy during the previous election in order to fool people in believing that things were worse than they actually were. It’s pointless and, moreover, an urge that perpetuates the national alienation that is Henninger’s central topic.

george
george
14 years ago

So then what is the point of posting it? If Henninger’s point is that both parties are to blame than he did a poor job pointing it out. If you think both parties are to blame then say so. As it stands it looks like you blame the left and ignore what the national republican party has done for the past 12 years.

Andrew
Editor
14 years ago

For the record, many conservatives/Republicans would cite the opposition to the 1987 nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court as the point where the spiral down into hyper-partisanship began in earnest.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Well, we hadn’t well-what-about-ed our way into the ’80s. It we’re going to break that barrier, we ought to expand the left/right measurement outside of government and note the shameful demonization of Ronny.
Not that I’m participating in this game…

dick tuck
dick tuck
14 years ago

Yup the slimocrats were just oozing
bipartisian good will while they were in power for 40 years. They talk about voter fraud and ignore Mayor Dailey and the voting machines in the river in ’60. Hey maybe there were some GORE votes on those things!

George
George
14 years ago

“Yup the slimocrats were just oozing
bipartisian good will while they were in power for 40 years. They talk about voter fraud and ignore Mayor Dailey and the voting machines in the river in ’60. Hey maybe there were some GORE votes on those things!”
Not to feed the troll here but that has nothing to do with what we are talking about now. For as much of that stuff that was going on Nixon and Kennedy treated each other with some civility.
Couldn’t it be argued that even before Bork the parties were being polarized when Roe v. Wade was passed?

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