As Slate’s John Dickerson wrote this week, “It has always been hard to define bipartisanship in Washington.” Partisanship, on the other hand, can seem pretty simple, particularly when it looks like this: every member of one party voting against nearly every member of the other. That’s the political reality Barack Obama faces on an early bellwether vote in the House on his stimulus package. Only a postgame booze session at the White House saves the day from a whopping zero on the scale, for a score of five—out of 100—on the Change-o-Meter.
It’s certainly possible that, in the final House vote on the stimulus bill, at least a few Republicans will get onboard with Obama. For now, however, the GOP is sending a clear signal to Obama that it is not cowed by his high approval ratings. Most of the early analysis suggests that it’s as much tactical as it is philosophical. Obama has often decried this sort of canny political maneuvering, but his public efforts to court Republicans are, for now, looking fruitless. That said, the bill will probably pass the Democrat-controlled Congress. (Meanwhile, the House also shot down a proposal, which Obama supported, to delay the switch to all-digital TV signals.)
Assuming the stimulus bill does pass, the onus will be on the Obama administration to show that it is willing to make its contents clear and accessible, per its repeated promises of greater transparency and accountability. The Change-o-Meter was ready to award 10 points for recovery.gov, a site meant to do just that, but it had to subtract nine when we realized there was nothing on it. The other four points are awarded for the bipartisan cocktail party Obama is throwing for congressional leaders tonight, marking alcohol’s triumphant return to the negotiating table at the White House.
There’s a lot to cover, so we want to hear your thoughts on what the Change-o-Meter should be taking into account. No detail is too small or wonky. E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.