Chris Matthews asked me to appear on Hardball to discuss my endorsement of President Barack Obama’s reelection. In the course of the five-minute interview, David Brooks’ recent article on the election outcome came up. Like Matthews, I have misgivings about Brooks’ thesis that Romney could get more done because he would be able to persuade Republicans to work with him and therefore, by extension, with the Democrats. Does this mean we have to vote for a presidential candidate so that his party won’t obstruct the governing ability of his opponent?
Brooks also advances the notion that Mitt Romney would be able to count on his party’s full support because Republicans would not want to “destroy a GOP president.” I think that Brooks misreads the fervor of some of the newest Republican members of Congress. He also fails to note the continuing impact of the pledges many of them signed, which committed them to never raise taxes. History tells us that those who have an ideological world view are often dogged and uncompromising. While the issue was different, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy nevertheless wreaked havoc in American life during the late ’40s and early ’50s and spared no one, including President Dwight Eisenhower, a member of the senator’s own party.
Finally, Brooks takes it as a given that in this atmosphere the Democratic Senate would be malleable to compromise. However, there may be no incentives to cooperate with the Republicans if they think Romney could be subject to a primary fight within his own party in 2016.
The country will continue to suffer if this zero-sum game continues. No matter who is elected, cooperation and compromise will be required. Americans should select for president the man who best represents their views. It is up to Congress to act like a Congress should: to take their responsibilities seriously and get their jobs done. This includes giving the president — no matter who he is — a chance to govern.