EDITORIALS: Are Christie’s words on bipartisanship only empty promises? More editorials and opinion at READ modernhealthcare.com/editorials
Christie’s comments on bipartisanship sound more like empty promises
So the Republican Party had its time in the sun last week in Tampa, Fla. Once Isaac left town, that is. The GOP’s national convention didn’t disappoint when it came to large helpings of rhetorical red meat to feed the party’s base. Speaker after speaker took whacks at the Obama administration’s handling of just about everything, notably the economy, budget deficits, education policy, foreign relations—and, surprise!—healthcare.
The choicest invective seemed to be held in reserve for savaging Obama care (does anybody call it the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act anymore?).
Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan served us a litany of the law’s alleged sins—“More than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country,” adding that the law is also the biggest threat to the future of Medicare. Those words were preceded the night before by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s vow that the Republicans would repeal the reform law, ending “the debacle of putting the world’s greatest healthcare system in the hands of federal bureaucrats.”
Maybe because of all the carefully choreographed stagecraft of the convention, much of that content seemed quite predictable and overly tele-prompted. A lot of it has been heard before in stump speeches or as part of interviews with the talking heads.
But there actually were a few parts of Christie’s address during the first evening of the gathering that were somewhat surprising. Multiple times during his remarks he employed the words “compromise” and “bipartisan,” and actually seemed to cite them as good things his party should be striving for.
Did we really hear it right? Was he really speaking for the Republican establishment? For Mitt Romney’s campaign? For the House majority? After all, he was giving the keynote address.
For example, at one point he was contrasting what “we” believe— “we” being the conservative GOP good guys—with what “they” believe, “they” being the liberal Democrats wearing black hats. Christie said this: “We believe it’s possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stick to conservative principles.” Moments later: “When there are people in the room who care more about doing the job they were elected to do than about winning re-election, then it’s possible to work together to achieve principled compromise and get results for the people who gave us these jobs in the first place.”
Well said, governor. But forgive us if we still have doubts, especially based on the track record of the current Congress.
And we’re also reminded that Christie represents the party of Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Richard Lugar.
Soon after Mourdock’s primary victory this spring, he noted: “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view. If we (win the House, Senate and White House), bipartisanship means they have to come our way.”
It’s also the party of Grover Norquist, who is on record as seeing the role of a President Romney as someone “with enough working digits to handle a pen” so he will automatically sign any legislation coming out of a GOP-led Congress. No questions, no compromises.
A few questions for Gov. Christie: Will you actively push for a more conciliatory approach? Is this embrace of bipartisanship and compromise conditional? Is it in effect immediately, so there might be movement before the November election toward solving some looming crises, such as that nasty ‘fiscal cliff’ dead head?
Anyway, now the table is set for the Democrats’ gathering in North Carolina this week. And, just like with the GOP, it’s a sure thing that the rhetorical fare there will not be vegetarian.