It finally happened. I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see it, but somebody finally, in a major paper, took a blowtorch to “Both Sides Do It!”:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
Not only did they lay the bulk of the blame where it belongs, they also called out their own (emphasis mine):
“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization.
…a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.
Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann thoroughly expose the myths masquerading as fact that have dominated press coverage of both the GOP and our politics as a whole. One may wish that they had spoken up sooner, or that others would show the same recognition of reality, but for a start (and let us hope it is indeed a start and not a one-off), this isn’t bad.