Where is the evidence of the supposed partisan wrangling that we hear so much about? Just examine the question dispassionately. Look at every major Bush initiative, every controversial signature Bush policy over the last eight years, and one finds virtually nothing but massive bipartisan support for them — the Patriot Act (original enactment and its renewal); the invasion of Afghanistan; the attack on, and ongoing occupation of, Iraq; the Military Commissions Act (authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques, abolishing habeas corpus, and immunizing war criminals); expansions of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity; declaring part of Iran’s government to be “terrorists”; our one-sided policy toward Israel; the $700 billion bailout; The No Child Left Behind Act, “bankruptcy reform,” and on and on.
Most of those were all enacted with virtually unanimous GOP support and substantial, sometimes overwhelming, Democratic support: the very definition of “bipartisanship.” That’s just a fact.
Moreover, Bush’s appointments of judges were barely ever impeded, resulting in a radical transformation of the federal courts. Other than John Bolton and Steven Bradbury, not a single significant Bush nominee was blocked. Those who implemented Bush’s NSA program (Michael Hayden) and authorized his torture program (Alberto Gonzales) were confirmed for promotions. The Bush administration committed war crimes, broke long-standing surveillance laws, politicized prosecutions, and explicitly claimed the right to break our laws, yet Congress did nothing about any of that except to authorize most of it, and investigated virtually none of it. With regard to many of those transgressions, key Democratic leaders were briefed at the time they were implemented and quietly acquiesced, did nothing to stop any of it. Both parties are in virtually unanimous agreement that our highest political leaders should be exempt from accountability under the rule of law even for the grave crimes that have been committed.
As The Washington Post‘s Dan Froomkin observed at the end of last year: “Historians looking back on the Bush presidency may well wonder if Congress actually existed.” How much more harmonious – “bipartisan” – can the two parties get?