refreshing can of nothing.
Now they are joining forces—politically and in business—to urge their parties to tone down the negativity and personal attacks.Aw, that's so cute! Look, everybody, they're a regular Odd Couple! They will valiantly decide to work for you no matter what your goddamn opinion is on something. Want to cut your own taxes? They can help with that. Want to convince the folks in Washington that your history of anti-democratic corruption and human rights abuses in Africa is just totally overblown? Just get our names right on the check, pal!
“We’re not saying ‘Kumbaya,’” Steele tells me. “We’re not saying, can we all hold hands and sit around the campfire.” But he insists that “people have grown tired” of the daily demonization. “It’s boring. It’s not entertaining any more.”
In forming a lobbying, media, and consulting firm, Purple Nation Solutions, the two lawyers aren’t exactly merging their views into a centrist muddle. “I’m pro-choice, he’s not,” Davis says. “I’m for gun control, he’s not gun control. I’m in favor of increasing taxes--”
“And Lord knows I’m not,” Steele interjects.
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Now, I'm just going to go out on a limb here and guess that you already know how this plays out. A new above-partisanship effort is launched, premised on the notion that it doesn't matter what your political beliefs are, so long as you're not rude about it. Top partisans of the recent past see the error of their mean, mean ways and announce to the world that all our problems could be solved with some nice, bland civility, which they just incidentally happen to have for sale. So then, let's all fawn at the remarkable boldness of this new effort!
Their alliance might not have seemed unusual two decades ago. But Washington is currently in the grip of an unrelenting hyper-partisanship that makes cooperating with the opposing party a cardinal sin.And which is exactly balanced on each of the two sides, because saying anything else will cause the God of Media Bipartisanship to come down from Falseneutralityland and tear your eyebrows off with a cheese grater.
Steele and Davis are no strangers to self-promotion, of course, and the perception that they are courageously challenging their respective sides side gives them a certain marketability.In a world where "challenging your respective sides" consists of tsking at all the other people for being uncivilized, and wondering why the hell we can't all just get along and go cut grandma's Medicare benefits already like decent grownups should, Lanny Davis and Michael Steele are willing to boldly go where no end of ex-influential, sorely-looking-for-a-new-career political figures have gone before.
This is encapsulated in their business pitch, which is that clients can go purple instead of hiring, say, a Republican firm and adding a Democratic one for “insurance.”All right, hear us out on this one. We're our own insurance, get it? Why hire separate Republican and Democratic-leaning lobbyist firms when we can argue for either side just as easily? See, those other firms, well, they might not exactly have principles, but they at least try to maintain the perception that they have principles. Us? Pfft, we're all about not having principles, baby!
They met, in classic Beltway fashion, on a television show, when Davis was defending Bill Clinton against the GOP’s impeachment drive and Steele was Maryland’s lieutenant governor. They developed a green-room relationship, stayed in touch, and when Davis pitched the idea of forming a company back in January, Steele immediately grasped the concept.Oh my effing effing eff, please just shoot me in the head now. In the history of horrible villager stories about unlikely political friendships formed in the green rooms of television studios, this is ... well, this is another one of them. Christ. They're in green rooms so often I'm only surprised they haven't yet gone all Thelma and Louise in one yet, commandeering the damn thing and driving it halfway to Mexico.
“I get more heat and more vitriol from my side than from conservative Republicans,” says Davis. In Democratic politics these days, he says, “you’re not allowed to deviate from a purist, absolutist position. It disturbs me that people who are supposed to be tolerant of dissent are so venomous.”Mind you, if professional Fox News Democrat Lanny Davis gets more heat from his own side than from conservative Republicans, that might suggest something other than rampant, venomous absolutism on the part of the folks that don't like you, but—nah, never mind. What was I thinking.
Anyway, we'll likely be hearing more about this new venture into totally civilized, post-partisan lobbying. It'll probably be in the context of "can you believe these people got hired by so-and-so to advocate for such-and-such," and the people on the teevee will all be impressed that two bitterly partisan, not terribly effective, largely-discredited-in-their-own-ranks political people can so quickly turn all their previous rancor off as quickly as they turned it on, when dump trucks full of money are on the line, and we will all be scolded for not trusting the wisdom of letting Washington green room friendships run the world, as all true purple Americans know they should.