Congressional Republicans are expressing a lot of sorrow these days over the death of the bipartisanship they have so earnestly pursued. Sure, they spent an entire eight years seeking to block every legislative initiative that was ever even a twinkle in President Obama's eye, but that was two presidents ago.
Just because nearly all of them sold their constituents lies of widespread voter fraud in 2020 and then most of them joined a lawsuit en masse to overturn the election, it doesn't mean they aren't willing to work across the aisle. Just because a mob of rabid Donald Trump supporters hopped up on GOP lies tried to violently overthrow the seat of the U.S. government and block a peaceful transfer of power, it doesn't mean they harbor any ill will toward President Joe Biden himself. Certainly, if the tables were turned, they wouldn't question the integrity of a party in which nearly 150 congressional members voted to deny certification of the results rendering Biden the rightful winner of the election.
But now that Biden is president, Republicans have a lot of feelings about the importance of bipartisanship. As Biden's speech to a joint session of Congress approached, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana—who voted against certification and became the sole member of GOP leadership to join the baseless lawsuit—offered, "What he says is going to be important, and I hope his speech is more focused on unifying as opposed to just having a go-it-alone strategy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who tried to talk Georgia officials into throwing out ballots in order to benefit Trump, just can't understand where it all went wrong.
“The first 100 days have been about executive orders and reconciliation,” Graham said, noting that Biden used to be known as “a Steady Eddie” in the Senate. “I just thought, with Joe, he would turn the heat down a little bit. I don’t see the heat turned down at all.”
Who woulda thunk it, says a guy who literally tried to steal the election out from under Biden.
In the GOP response to Biden's address on Wednesday, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina repeatedly invoked bipartisanship and lamented how divisive Biden has been in his view.
"President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. He promised to unite a nation. To lower the temperature. To govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted," Scott said. "Three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart."
In some ways, GOP protestations of Biden are starting to feel a lot more like sour grapes over the way the president has redefined bipartisanship. The truth is, Biden has been governing for "all Americans." Unlike Donald Trump, Biden rolled out an aggressive vaccination plan to every region of the country, no matter their partisan lean. Last year, Trump literally played politics with people's lives as the pandemic took hold of the nation.
Biden has also offered a series of proposals that continue to draw an astounding amount of bipartisan support. In fact, all three of his major proposals have typically polled in the 60s and 70s, often drawing solid support from Republican voters. So Biden has effectively written Republican lawmakers out of his playbook for essential governing.
The truth is, Biden, of all people, would likely be open to setting aside Republicans' repeated efforts to delegitimize his win and deny his presidency if they had any good ideas. In fact, he said as much in his address.
"I wanted to lay out, before the Congress, my plan before we got into the deep discussions," Biden said. "I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different — they think are better. I welcome those ideas. "
Then, in a nod to the fact that the Republican Party is fundamentally bereft of ideas, Biden added, "But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option."
Of course, doing nothing is exactly what congressional Republicans excel at—that’s kind of a killer where bipartisanship is concerned.