Tipton, Pace offer clear choice between gridlock, progress

Just as Rep. Scott Tipton was explaining to state Rep. Sal Pace, his opponent for the 3rd District House seat, that his participation in Republican obstructionism was a principled defense of conservative ideals, Vice President Joe Biden blew away any GOP pretense to either ideals or principle.

According to investigative reporter Michael Grunwald, Biden said that, during the transition period between the Bush and Obama administrations, “he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. ‘I spoke to seven different Republican senators, who said, `Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ he recalls. His informants said [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell had demanded unified resistance. ‘The way it was characterized to me was: For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’ Biden says.”

Biden has not revealed his sources, even to the president, according to Grunwald’s new book, “The New New Deal,” in which the story first appeared. But former Sens. Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania “both confirmed they had conversations with Biden along these lines,” according to Grunwald.

This report also is consistent with a recent book by Robert Draper: “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.” Draper described a private meeting of congressional Republicans the night of President Obama’s inauguration. Assembled by GOP strategist Frank Luntz, they were charged with planning the Republican response to Obama’s victory.

Intimidated by the new president’s great popularity, the Republican leaders agreed it would be unwise to attack him personally.

“It’s got to be about ideas,” Draper quotes Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia as saying.

Another GOP representative added, “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

It was in this context that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated on Oct. 29, 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

To achieve their goal of retaking the presidency and Senate in 2012, Republican leaders played a charade of defending conservative values. Evidence shows that their only interest was power and their only goal was to discredit President Obama.

This is not to suggest that Tipton, and others like him, necessarily knew their stand on principle was a sham created by congressional Republican leaders. Blinded by their own ideology, Tipton and his fellow House tea partiers drank the Kool-Aid ladled out by their leaders in the House and Senate.

Forced to defend his rigidly partisan record in his first debate with Pace, Tipton made the case that Republican obstructionism was about ideas rather than politics. But, as we saw from Republican planning and plotting, just the opposite seems to be the case.

Finally, Tipton resorts to the weak claim that he was not sent to Washington to “get along” with people.

Since the American public is fed up with legislators who can’t “get along” with others to negotiate, cooperate and compromise, this defense seems more a confession of failure than a proclamation of success.

Reviewing the debate in a retrospective press release, Pace comments, “People are tired of inaction. They are tired of nothing getting done even though people agree on so much. That’s the biggest contrast I wanted to make last night: I’m more interested in getting things done instead of continuing the rigid ideology and gridlock.”

In contrast to Tipton’s inability to “get along” with others, Pace claims his ability to work across the aisle as one of his strengths. Despite a deeply divided state House, he was able to pass four of the five bills he introduced, even though he was running for office.

While Pace wants to go to Washington to get things done. Tipton wants to continue to obstruct progress if Obama is re-elected.

Ironically, the scheme devised by Republican insiders to make Obama a one-term president may backfire to bring them just what they most feared: four more years of President Barack Obama.

And Sal Pace as a new Colorado Democrat in the House of Representatives.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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