Thirteen years ago today, after 36 days of nasty skirmishing over Florida’s contested presidential vote,
The court acted late on the night of Dec. 12; within hours, Democratic nominee
Not that either Bush or his successor, President
"I am optimistic that we can change the tone in
Obama would use strikingly similar words eight years later, on election night 2008, before a raucous crowd in Chicago’s
"In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people," he said. "Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."
This week, there was at least a glimmer of a small cease-fire in the bipartisan war. Rep.
As each conflict comes to a head, debates rage over whether the partisan rancor that defines modern Washington is a new development or one that is always there, if occasionally masked by unity driven by events such as the Sept. 11 attacks. A Pew Research study last year provided convincing evidence that partisan polarization on the current scale is largely a new thing, exploding during the Bush and Obama presidencies.
The pollsters have measured dozens of “political values” over the years, trying to glean the breadth of separation between the nation’s two major political parties. They found that the gap between the views of
"Nearly all of the increases have occurred during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama," the pollsters wrote. "During this period, both parties' bases have often been critical of their parties for not standing up for their traditional positions. Currently, 71% of Republicans and 58% of Democrats say their parties have not done a good job in this regard."
Ironically, the presidential balloting has not reflected that growing partisan gap — then again, there was not much room to expand.
Now, however, some Republicans are seeking to make the budget deal a factor in the 2016 race, in part to punish Ryan for his role in the compromise. Florida Sen.
Ryan, for his part, was brushing off the criticism of him and of the notion of a pause in the perennial warfare.
"If I have to stop myself from doing what I think is right to become president, then I don't want to be president," the 2012 vice presidential nominee told ABC News.
The deal, he said, was the first time since 1986 that a divided
"I wouldn't say it's big in numbers. It's big in symbolism," Ryan said.