“Republicans have to show they can govern.” No, they don’t. Please stop saying that.

A reporter's wish masquerading as an accepted fact.

13 Nov 2014 5:23 pm 63 Comments

NPR’s Congressional reporter, Ailsa Chang, did it Wednesday morning. About Mitch McConnell, soon to be Senate leader, she said:

If he wants to see the Republicans retain the majority beyond 2016, he has to be able to prove that his party can be more than just the party of no. That means reasonable legislation that they can realistically expect the president to sign.

Peter Foster, Washington editor for The Telegraph (UK) did it too: Winning was easy: now Republicans must show they can govern.

To have a chance [in 2016] Republicans must use the next two years to show they are a party of government, not obstruction and ideology.

Jeremy Peters in the Washington bureau of the New York Times did it over the weekend. He reported that Republicans are in transition: “from being the opposition party to being one that has to show it can govern.”

These are false statements. I don’t know how they got past the editors. You can’t simply assert, like it’s some sort of natural fact, that Republicans “must show they can govern” when an alternative course is available. Not only is it not a secret — this other direction — but it’s being strongly urged upon the party by people who are a key part of its coalition.

The alternative to “show you can govern” is to keep President Obama from governing. Right? Keep him from accomplishing what he wants to get done in his final two years and then “go to the country,” as Karl Rove used to say, with a simple message: time for a change! This is not only a valid way to proceed, it’s a pretty likely outcome. Rush Limbaugh, certainly a player in the coalition, put it this way. The Republicans, he said, emerged from the 2014 election with

the biggest, and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era. And it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrat Party. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday.

Republicans were not elected to govern. How can you govern with a president that disobeys the constitution? How can you govern with a president that is demonstrably lawless when he thinks he has to be?

Limbaugh represents the populist wing of the party. How about the establishment? In a widely-cited editorial called “the Governing Trap,” National Review magazine was even more explicit.

The desire to prove Republicans can govern also makes them hostage to their opponents in the Democratic party and the media. It empowers Senator Harry Reid, whose dethroning was in large measure the point of the election. If Republicans proclaim that they have to govern now that they run Congress, they maximize the incentive for the Democrats to filibuster everything they can — and for President Obama to veto the remainder. Then the Democrats will explain that the Republicans are too extreme to get anything done.

Among the recommendations the editors had: “putting up legislation that Senate Democrats filibuster.” That’s not governing. That’s gridlock with intention.

As Paul Waldman noted on the Washington Post site, “this isn’t bad advice, politically speaking.”

After all, following the path of obstruction instead of governing has worked out pretty darn well for Republicans over the last six years. When Barack Obama took office, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress; now Republicans do.

Exactly. There is simply no factual basis for NPR’s Ailsa Chang to be telling listeners that Mitch McConnell “has to be able to prove that his party can be more than just the party of no.” He doesn’t have to do that.

Now keep in mind that for NPR correspondents like Chang, a “factual basis” is everything. They aren’t supposed to be sharing their views. They don’t do here’s-my-take analysis. NPR has “analysts” for that. It has commentators who are free to say on air: “I think the Republicans have to show they can govern.” Chang, a Congressional correspondent, was trying to put over as a natural fact an extremely debatable proposition that divides the Republican party. She spoke falsely, and no one at NPR (which reviews these scripts carefully) stopped her.

Similarly, Jeremy Peters of the New York Times has no business observing in passing that the Republicans are now a party “that has to show it can govern.” They don’t! They have other choices. It’s fine with me if the New York Times wants to loosen up and let reporters say in the news columns: “My take is that it’s going to be awfully hard for the Republicans to regain the White House if they don’t show they can govern during these two years.” But that’s not what Peters did. He went the natural fact route: the Republicans have to show they can govern because… because they do!

Why does this matter? Because reporters shouldn’t be editorializing in the news section? No. That’s not why.

Asserted as a fact of political life, “Republicans must show they can govern” is a failure of imagination, and a sentimentalism. It refuses to grapple with other equally plausible possibilities. For example: that declining to govern will produce so much confusion about lines of responsibility and alienation from a broken political system that voters can’t, won’t, or in any case don’t “punish” the people who went for obstruction. Behind a statement like Peter Foster’s: “Republicans must use the next two years to show they are a party of government…” is a prediction about price-paying that does not necessarily apply in a hyper-partisan and super-polarized era. Political journalists are supposed to know that. They are supposed to know that better than anyone else.

In raw ballot box terms, being against was successful in 2014. It could easily be successful in 2016. To declare otherwise is mushy, indulgent, insulated and lame. A reporter’s wish masquerading as an accepted fact.

After Matter: Notes, Reactions & Links

I had a frank exchange of views with NPR’s Steve Inskeep about this post. He accused me of withholding key facts from my readers.

Jonathan Capehart in the Washington Post:

This is vital for the GOP since it will have to run on a record of accomplishment at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue if it hopes to be entrusted with the keys to the White House at the other end.

No, it won’t “have” to. Stop saying that.

At NewYorker.com right now it says: “The Republicans figured out how to win. Now they need to show that they can govern.” Click that headline and you find that the piece by George Packer (from the Nov. 24 print edition) is slightly more nuanced. But that’s the point: “now they need to show they can govern” is a headset widely shared in journalism.

National Review likes this post. So does Digby. Need I tell you how rare an event that is?

The Brazilian press wants in on this. “Obama wants to leave a legacy and Republicans want to prove they can govern.” (Hat tip, Vinod Sreeharsha)

Associated Press, two days after the election:

Democrats suffered a drubbing in Tuesday’s midterm elections, and Republicans regained control of the Senate and widely expanded their majority in the House. In command in both chambers in January, Republicans maintained that they have to show they can govern or else voters will show them the door.

At least that one has Republicans saying “they have to show they can govern,” but I thought reporters are supposed to be more skeptical, more informed. As Politico observed the same day, the Republicans big win in 2014 “sets up a running argument within the party that’s sure to last through Obama’s final two years: Should Republicans prove they can govern? Or should they set up as many fights as possible, and settle them in the 2016 presidential election?”

Exactly. It’s a fight, not a fact.

Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog comments on this post: Republicans have no incentive to moderate or govern.

Frank Rich for New York magazine the day after the election: “Now that the Republicans have won Washington, they own it, and if it continues to be broken, they’ll be punished next time. As the maxim goes, they have to prove they can govern. Or prove they can do something other than bitch and moan.”

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) comments on this post. “This stuff gets past the editors because they share the reporters’ sensibilities. And because they like a formulation that puts an additional burden on the GOP.”

John F. Harris, the editor in chief of Politico, feels he must

ruefully acknowledge the reality: A lot of what political journalists write as we try to divine larger meaning from election results involves a whiff of bovine byproducts. At least, that is, when we issue oracular pronouncements about how one party or the other is either poised for either dominance or irrelevance ‘for the next generation or more.”

“Much of what is served up as political insight in modern media—as articulated by reporters, political operatives, academics and assorted gurus—is likewise B.S.,” Harris writes. Look, he said it. I’m just reporting what he said.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but political science research suggests that Republicans have a stronger incentive to ensure gridlock on economic issues ahead of the 2016 presidential election, rather than pass legislation that President Barack Obama is willing to sign into law.” —Talking Points Memo, Jan. 6, 2015


Ellis Weiner says:

Well said. Plus, they ignore the most obvious fact of all: after six years of proving that they “can’t govern,” Republicans were “punished” by…being elected in droves. Chang, the Times, and NR could just as easily have written, “Republicans have proved that nothing succeeds like obstruction, lying, demagoguery, and waste. Why WOULDN’T they produce more?”

richard40 says:

Your comment is only partly right. The lying, demagoguery, and waste came from the dems. I will admit the repubs obstructed that, and rightly so, and they were rightly rewarded for obstructing it.

David Leopold says:

Well done. My 12 year old son listened to the report and asked the same question. I don’t wear a tinfoil hat, nor am I a conspiracy theorist, but it is hard to trust the media these days. I relied on NPR and the Times for years, but over the last decade its been harder to understand what they are doing.

Victor Erimita says:

They are trying to manipulate the views of their readers/listeners. You can’t say they are merely bad reporters, because their omissions, misstatements and outright misrepresentations always go in the direction of the Left’s agenda. It is deliberate. They are not in the business of reporting facts. They are in the business of hiding facts they don’t want the public to know and misdirecting them with irrelevancies (“squirrel!”) or simplly ignoring the truth. A current example of the latter: none of the alphabet networks, the AP, the LA Times, nor to my knowledge the New York Times, have mentioned the now seven exposed tapes of David Gruber’s remarks on the fraudulent selling of Obamacare. NPR apparently has, and the Washington Post belatedly had, though days after they came out. This is not accidental or a case of incompetence. It is conscious manipulation.

The national outlets you’re accusing of liberal bias are actually giving the Republicans too much credit; that the GOP has any agenda besides dismanteling government by any means necessary.

richard40 says:

Considering about 30% of our present fed gov is total waste anc corruption, dismantling a good part of that is an excellent idea.

Jim Coffis says:

If “govern” means using all the tools, tricks and money available to make sure little if anything upsets the status quo – I’d say they already proved they can govern very well whether in the minority or the majority. They have been mostly unsuccessful at restoring feudalism completely but they are making progress.

richard40 says:

Actually, considering the status quo is waste and corruption like obamacare, the epa, the ed department, and the corrupt DOJ, I dont want the repubs to keep the status quo, I want them to reverse it. But if by preserving the status quo you mean preventing obama/reid from doing further damage, then I fully support it.
And the main feudalism I see is coming from the governing class, and the drones, like intellictuals and welfare dependents, who dempend on them for a living.

I agree. If political journalists want to claim in their reporting that a political party MUST, or SHOULD, act in a certain way, they should show their work to back it up … not state it as a axiomatic, known, fact.

Majority in U.S. Want GOP in Congress to Set Nation’s Course

The media are adopting a Democratic talking point. What else is new? They’re setting up the Republicans so they can later solemnly judge that the Republicans have failed to govern.

Let’s examine how this works. When Democratic bills are filibustered by a Republican Senate or fail to pass a Republican House, whose fault is it? Well, according to the media, that’s the Republicans’ fault. They’re being obstreperous. Is it an indictment of Democrats for being unable to govern? Not in the media’s view.

Now let’s consider that a Republican House and Senate propose legislation (e.g., repeal of Obamacare or enhanced border security without amnesty) that is filibustered by Democrats in the Senate or that is vetoed by the President. Whose fault will that be? Why, of course, the media will say the Republicans, because they failed to govern.

It’s a no-win situation for Republicans–if you believe the media spin.

And by the way, let’s not confuse failure to gain enactment of a party’s desired legislation with failure to govern. The United States Government will function just fine under present laws so long as it’s funded and the laws are faithfully executed. The former is a joint responsibility of the Executive and Legislative branches; the latter is the sole responsibility of the Executive branch.

The media are adopting a Democratic talking point. What else is new?


On NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s eyeing Obama’s job, said McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner should “sit down and decide what their priorities are and then sit down with the president. People want to get things done.”

And Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on MSNBC on Wednesday that his party should find “real, achievable goals that are simple, that we can define for the American people … work with the president, get those things done, repeat and repeat and repeat.”

Democratic party talking point… Really?

In command in both chambers in January, Republicans maintained that they have to show they can govern or else voters will show them the door.

“We now have the votes and we have the ability to call the agenda, so stop name-calling and let’s actually produce some legislation that helps jobs and the economy and moves our country forward,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in an interview. “I think the country has figured that out, and they’ve given us the mandate to do it, and we better produce, or they’ll kick us out too.”

Toshmann says:

Yes, really.

Reporters should not be editorializing nor displaying political bias. That NPR, AP and most of the dominant media outlets routinely do so — and blatantly side with the Democratic Party progressive left viewpoint … is not in any way “new” nor in dispute by objective observers.

Really, really can’t figure out what main point you were attempting to make here with your primary post, but politely suggest you ponder it a bit more and then state it plainly in one sentence (… for us dummies).

He’s making the point that it’s not accurate to label it simply “a Democratic talking point” when Republicans — especially leading Republicans like Christie and Priebus — are saying it, too. Dummy.

But again, that’s the point — one possible aim is stated as the only possible aim, and it happens to coincide with a Democrat talking point. Christie’s repetition is not much of an endorsement to the contrary; he represents but one faction within the GOP.

It is no different than if a reporter says that the president “has to” give amnesty to illegal aliens by executive order; there are Democrats who would certainly like him to do that, but it is far from mandatory.

mumubobby says:

I’m not sure the Rs are using ‘govern’ in the same way that Rosen is using it. I think the Rs consider ‘govern’ to mean ‘bipartisan’ legislation leaving the Congress while Rosen wants the Rs to consider whether the President will sign it. And within the Rs, what ‘bipartisan’ means will also vary.

And his point with the main post is that NPR, the Times et al, are indeed demonstrating bias, although, again, it is not simply bias in favor of Democrats, even if it may incidentally benefit them.

It is utterly opaque to me too, the original point that is. Since when did JR become an astute media critic? He berates New York Times and GOP, blah blah, praises billionaire Omidyar and Google ad infinitum.

This post is thinly veiled cynicism. I don’t know what all those “Really”s are supposed to prove.

“House majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R) of California – still pretty new on the job – is telling Republicans they have to show they can govern in the next two years if they want to have any hope of winning the presidency in 2016.” (Link.)

darth_inedible says:

In all fairness Kevin McCarthy barely counts as a RINO. Like Cantor he’s pure establishment placeholder one sneeze away from his inevitable Wall Street retirement.

He’s barely distinguishable from the Third Way Democrat block of Wall Street.

But when Reid filibusters for the third of fourth time in a month, is the press going to report it at all? And if they do, is it going to be told as “obstructionist”, or is it going to be told as “the only tool the minority party has at their disposal”?

Victor Erimita says:

No, dissent will once again be the highest form of patriotism.

Jay found an example of a Republican saying it, which means the media doesn’t overwhelmingly prefer Dem talking points. Well done, Jay.

In fact a rather convincing argument could be made that a significant faction of the Republican coalition is actually bent on demonstrating that “government doesn’t work” – hence, a key objective of this faction of the party is making sure that gridlock continues and that nothing gets done, thus proving their position correct. The term nihilism comes to mind…

Mendicant Optimist says:

Funny, for me the term nihilism comes to mine when I see people making the assumption that people are incapable of managing their own lives without guidance from an intrusive state.

richard40 says:

No, they are not devoted to proving that gov does not work, they are devoted to proving the present grossly bloated and inefieient gov does not work, and needs to be smaller. Although repubs really dont have to do much anymore to prove that, since obama is already proving it quite effectively, with each new disaster he presides over, and each new lawless power mad overeach he perpetrates.


Mendicant Optimist says:

Are you calling the Founding Fathers anarchists?


At least one GOP senator-elect has echoed this theme inpublic.

“I believe by working together republicans and democrats putting ideas forward on the president’s desk, ideas that the broad majority of American people support and showing that we can govern. Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence and if we do that in two years from now we’ll have a good result again with our nominee.”

Oh, many Republicans have said it. “We have to show we can govern,” or words very similar to that.

And as I showed, there are other Republicans saying: hell no.

That’s the whole point. It’s not a given. So it can’t be presented as one.

richard40 says:

Actualy I have no problem at all with the quote you just gave. It said they will put legislation before the presidents desk, it does not guarantee the president will sign it. The repubs definitely should pass legislation to show how they would govern without dem oposition. If the dems then oppose that, by either filibuster or veto, it only shows it is the dems who are the obstructionists who cannot govern.

Let’s be generous and try to justify that “have to govern” requirement:

There is one type of legislation that Congress is, indeed, obliged to pass: it must authorize spending to keep the federal government running. That actually is a “natural fact.” So, in that narrow sense, Chang and Foster and Peters and Capehart are correct.

During the last four years, with the Senate run by one party and the House run by the other, it has been impossible to ascribe the spending decisions that Congress has arrived at (mostly by automatic processes such as continuing resolutions and sequesters) to the Republican Party alone.

That is what has changed now. Now, any spending that the Congress happens to authorize will literally be the federal governing platform of the Republican Party, identifying what it actively supports, not just what it reflexively opposes.

But what if those budgets included these measures, for example?

— Defunding the EPA as long as it regulated carbon emissions
— Defunding the Affordable Care Act
— Defunding Homeland Security as long as immigration deportations are deferred
— Defunding the State Department if a nuclear deal is reached with Iran

These would be examples of the GOP making governing decisions — not instead of provoking gridlock with the White House, but in order to intensify it.

I agree with the assumption in this post that the passage of such a budget is not what Chang et al had in mind. Instead, they seem to imagine that the passage of obligatory spending legislation would perforce require the GOP to abandon radicalism and confrontation in favor of compromise and difference-splitting.

Yes, Congressional Republicans must enact governing legislation. No, that does not automatically end gridlock. It could make it worse.

You say the appropriation/authorization process will now be ascribable completely to Republicans and will become the federal governing platform of the party. You’ve come up with a formulation that, like that of so much of the media, is no-win for Republicans.

If they send the President authorization bills that he vetoes, that’s the Republicans, in your words, “provoking gridlock with the White House.” If instead they send him bills from which they’ve eliminated provisions that would cause him to veto the bills, that’s their new “governing platform,” showing what they “actively support.”

Would the media ascribe to the President responsibility for failing to govern if he vetoes–or threatens to veto–an authorization bill that, for example, prevented EPA from regulating carbon emissions? Of course they wouldn’t. Because the media happily adopt Democratic Party spin, and it’s always the Republicans who are responsible for gridlock, a government shutdown, whatever is the horror du jour. When Democrats take an unyielding stand, that’s a matter of principle, right? When Republicans do, it’s what you call “radicalism and confrontation.”

Anti-Republican spin is so ingrained in the media that even media critics can’t recognize it.

You misconstrue what I say.

The “radicalism and confrontation” you refer to was my characterization of the formulation of Chang et al, not my characterization.

I was merely pointing out that: yes, the Republicans will now be obliged to legislate; no, they will not be obliged to compromise.

For you to imply that it is beyond the wit of the Republican Party to frame an argument that makes a Presidential veto appear obstructionist — and that it is the power of the news media that is preventing them — is to underrate the GOP and to overrate the news media.

roger rainey says:

Yes, its akin to the media always calling the conservative Supreme Court justices ideologues, while the fact that the liberal justices vote in far more lockstep fashion is always ignored.

James Lo says:

(A) this article was not an argument for its point merely a dogged assertion that Republicans are fit to rule

(B) the headline is correct since the vast majority of politicians in the US are career politicians so have spent much of their adult lives on Capitol Hill – it is senseless to say that a Republican government wouldn’t know how to govern.

(C) it fails to address the reason why the media wonders this question. The media is asking this because for the past 6 years the only policies the world has seen from the Republican party has been negatively reactionary. It assumes that every policy from the govt is wrong and has tried its hardest to filibuster. Inagreeable clauses have been hidden in general legislation simply to cause a blockage. All the world has seen is a Republican party bereft of any ideas in any sphere, merely a party interested in winning for winning’s sake, regardless of the consequences.

(D) The sad fiction is that modern-day American democracy is worthwhile. Ever since lobbyists took over Capitol Hill, who by their very definition work for themselves (by way of bonus or commission from the companies or industries that employ them) American democracy is a fiction. Unfortunately, the Republican party has the greater share of the blame in this. With a thoroughly unprincipled redistribution of power from the hands of the many into the hands of the few, American democracy is ever more an oligarchic oligopoly than any sense of representation. Those who have brought this about should be ashamed. There was a time when American democracy was the pride of the world. Those days are gone. If the Republican party wins the next election, it is your duty as Republicans to ensure that the voices of each and every single American is heard. Until then, no-one from the rest of the world cares who’s President because the real government is made up of big oil, big pharma, big industry in general. And you need to realise that what is profitable for a company may not be beneficial for the individual.

this article was not an argument for its point merely a dogged assertion that Republicans are fit to rule.

I’m sorry, I’ve tried and I’ve tried but I do not see how you got there. I can’t find where I asserted even once that Republicans are the ones who are fit to rule, and so I was unable to get to the “dogged” part, which implies many more times than once.

roger rainey says:

no need to worry. the entire comment makes no sense.

Steve S. says:

It would all be so much better if the Democrats would stop obstructing the Republican agenda.

But the issue is never formulated that way, is it? Why not?

The media are Democrats with bylines,and should be treated as such.

teapartydoc says:

The message of the last election, as well as that of 2010 was simple: Democrats and their toadies in the media suck. If you think stick-in-the-mud-do-nothing-Republicans are bad take a look in the mirror, lefty. You suck. Your ideas suck. Anything you think is good sucks. You are Lennie petting his mouse. We don’t want your “love” or “compassion” because it is poisonous and destructive. Just leave us the hell alone.

Richard Aubrey says:


Agreed. The reporters in question also very likely have an idea of “govern”, which is to say pass more laws micromanaging more of our lives. The world’s greatest deliberative body must, must, I tell you, get back to the naming of a professional sports team. Which is, somebody said, going to drop “Washington” because of embarrassing associations.

As one commenter noted, the nation can be governed if the Congress does nothing but pass the usual spending bill. Would the reporters think repealing ACA “governing”? It would certainly be a Very Big Piece of governance, after all, right?

A recent Ailsa Chang bio: political-class credentials down the line. Draw your own conclusions.


bflat879 says:

Sometimes people get it right, for all the wrong reasons. Yes, the Republicans have to prove they can govern, but not like the Democrats. Right now, the President wants to work around Congress on immigration. If he accomplishes that, the Republicans will show they’re incapable of governing, to the extent of using the tools of the legislative branch to stop a lawless President.

John Boehner was given the power of the purse, in 2011, and he squandered it by signing CR’s. If both Boehner and McConnell squander the power of the purse this time, why should we have Republicans running the place, they will prove we need a 3rd party to stop the Gruberization of the country and the Obamaization of the Presidency.

roger rainey says:

Your concept of “governing” is too limited and also influenced by your left-liberal cocoon. To many of us (many, many more than you are able to conceive), stopping or slowing this administration and suffocating government IS governing.

If this were a parliamentary system, the party with a majority of seats in the legislative branch would indeed “have to show it can govern.”

Ours is not a parliamentary system, yet whenever we have a Democrat president for some reason the media expect Republican lawmakers to do the governing — or at least, they blame Republican lawmakers for the Democrats’ inability to govern.

When, that is, they’re not complaining that the country is simply “ungovernable.”

Maybe the solution is simpler: the electorate ought to stop electing Democrat presidents?

We sent the Republicans to Washington to stop Obama. No more, no less.
Governing can come after he’s gone.

Countrylawyer says:

The lead editorial in the November 8 edition of The Economist (which used to be pretty useful reading, but over the past 20 years has slid into an entirely predictable left-wing cheerleader/advocate) illustrates the dynamic nicely. Its headline and substance are to the effect that, the Republicans having just about run the table in an election in which Dear Leader himself claimed his policies were on the ballot, it’s now time . . . for the Republicans to compromise with him. Do what (as we say around here)? If you accept Dear Leader’s premise (and there’s every reason to do so based on how these Congressional and state-level races were actually fought out), and if you look at how un-close so many of the Republican victories were, then who is it who needs to step back from his barricades to check in with the people? But no, it’s just *obviously* time for the party that won, and won big, to back down from the positions that got them across the finish line so far ahead of the other guy.

It may not be the entire truth, but it would be closer to the truth, to say:

“To retain their majorities in both houses of Congress, and to win the Presidency in 2016, the Republicans must show they can govern OR they must set up easily understandable conflicts with the President, on issues in which the voters favor Republicans over the congressional Democrats & President Obama.”

But such a statement – written in a more elegant manner – should still be in an “analysis,” not “news” story.

It looks like Republicans are taking the later course, BTW, as McConnell has intimated that he will use various procedural techniques to bypass the filibuster and send popular bills to President Obama, to receive the expected veto.

Agree, and we already have an example with the Keystone pipeline:

We will see governing in the form of a CR or omnibus bill by December 11, or a “shut down.”

We will see governing in the form of health care/ACA regulatory reform driven by political pressure and court decisions.

The Master Narrative used to frame these governing choices and results (voting, filibuster, veto, signed) in “news” and “analysis” will represent a political bias in “the media.”

We’ve certainly seen that the democrats are incapable of governing.

It’s just media advocacy for the Dems by undermining the GOP

Ray Nant says:

The distinction that would make a difference in these comments would seem to be that is Ok to call out other reporters for non-factual bias but it is not professionally acceptable to criticize their partisan bias.

I have a different take on why the’prove they can govern’ meme is false. Governance has always been overwhelmingly in the executive branch in our system. Congress can’t “govern” in any direct sense. In fact congress can only disgovern, to invent a word. Obstruct a president.

To a small extent they can pass laws that get signed that have small effects that otherwise the president would prefer hadn’t been but those cannot honestly be called governing.

D.C. al Fine says:

The leftist attempt to degrade the brands of Drudge and of what they smarmily call “Faux” News are not working other than to cocoon their own already committed and in-the-bag supporters. The independent middle reviews it all with an open mind, makes case-by-case judgments about credibility of articles and reports, and assesses plausibility or not of big-picture hypotheses underlying the polemics. They know that NONE of the secondary sources that “report news” is objective, and so they are not deterred from considering what is brought to the table by any such source. And it turns out that the independent middle often finds the distorting biases of so-called mainstream sources of which the party of the left approves less credible than alternative understandings of reality. They certainly so found in this year’s election cycle.

DrEvil007 says:

Democrats have proven that they cannot govern and they deserved to lose control of the Senate and become even less powerful in the House. Unfortunately, the only choice the electorate had was to replace the Democrats with Republicans who in the past proved that they were only slightly less horrible than the Democrats. In a few more years the electorate will realize that the Republicans can’t govern and will replace them with Democrats who will be equally bad if not even worse. We’re just trading one horrible group of professional politicians for another horrible group of professional politicians.

The Reynolds line is performance art. Congressional Republicans are being set up to fail by being expected to govern!

The reality is that if/when Republicans fail to govern, the Washington Post is already gearing up to blame it on Obama.

Something I’m finding more and more true is the saying that “the fundamental question of the Web is ‘Why wasn’t I consulted?'” These reporters seem to believe that simply by virtue of their station they were consulted, and thus that they can present their take as the already-established conventional wisdom. It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy since this is how the CW is created in the first place, of course. This post shows the cracks in the structure.

richard40 says:

“he has to be able to prove that his party can be more than just the party of no. That means reasonable legislation that they can realistically expect the president to sign.”

No, it means passing reasonable legislation the majority of the country wants to see become law. But reasonable is determined by what the country wants, not by what obama/reid are willing to support. Whether the dems filibuster the legislation, or the president vetoes it, only proves the dems cant govern, it says nothing about the repubs ability. In fact since the whole mandate from this last election was clearly opposed to obama and reid, if the repubs distort their legislation to please obama/reid it is actually only proving the new repub majority is no better than the dems they replaced. So yes, I want to see the congress pass bills, so we can see what a repub majority would actually do, once obama/reid can no longer stop them. But if obama/reid then block that legislation, it is their problem, not the repubs problem.

Another point. Whle press people like this are constantly asking whether the repubs can govern (with governing according to them being defined as agreeing with obama/reid), somehow you never hear them asking whether obama/reid will compromise with the new majority enugh to prove that the dems can govern, no “governing” is always defined by mow much repubs compromise, never by how much dems do.

…it means passing reasonable legislation the majority of the country wants to see become law. But reasonable is determined by what the country wants…

Wrong! Majority support certainly does not determine reasonableness. The majority is certainly capable of unreason. The minority occasionally has reason on its side.

…whether the Dems filibuster the legislation, or the President vetoes it, only proves the Dems can’t govern…

Wrong! Blocking legislation one disagrees with is no proof of an inability to govern. The only thing it proves is that one has the ability to effectively oppose that legislation.

…if Obama/Reid then block that legislation, it is their problem, not the Repubs problem…

Wrong! The point of passing legislation is so that it can become the law of the land. If Republican legislation is successfully blocked, the problem belongs to those who want it passed (the GOP), not those who oppose it (Obama/Reid).

…“governing” is always defined by how much Repubs compromise, never by how much Dems do…

Wrong! Not “always.” The whole point of this post was to point out that it is not a natural fact that the Republicans are now obliged to govern by compromising. So here, at least, is one example of the “always” not being true.

“Blocking legislation one disagrees with is no proof of an inability to govern. The only thing it proves is that one has the ability to effectively oppose that legislation.”

The “party of no” meme seems largely based on filibuster/cloture counts in the Senate. Is that correct?

And if so, how do cloture counts relate to governing, “reasonable legislation,” or election results? If we went from single digits to double digits between 1970 and 1971 what does that tell us? If we went from double digits to triple digits between 2006 and 2007, what does that tell us?

I think the “party of no” meme fails upon scrutiny and tells us more about the person saying it than the party at the receiving end.

It’s very simple really, with their funds being continually cut they have to rely on donations. Were do you think they get them? The Koch brothers, Monsanto, Chevron, etc., and these corps are now controlling the content.

Makes me want to scream whenever I hear about the “liberal media”! The same corporations that own the republican party now own most of our media outlets. sigh

delia ruhe says:

What’s surprising is that Frank Rich can be added to the list of people insisting that the GOP must now govern. Here’s what Rich said the morning after the election:

“Now that the Republicans have won Washington, they own it, and if it continues to be broken, they’ll be punished next time. As the maxim goes, they have to prove they can govern. Or prove they can do something other than bitch and moan. The shelf life of all Obama-hatred all the time as a party message expired this morning.”