“The Republicans aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
So goes the legendary quote… so legendary that many who know it do not know it comes from a TV show. In 2001, when he said it, The West Wing’s Leo McGarry concluded, “Those days are over.” Is he saying that the Senate is the opponent and the Republicans have become the enemy? Can two tweets in anticipation of the State of the Union (#SOTU for those of you who speak hashtag) shed any light on this?
Prior to the President’s arrival in the House chambers, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joked about his sitting next to fellow freshman senator Democrat Tammy Baldwin (WI). In the wake of the Arizona State Republican Party censuring Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for being too liberal, Flake suggested his sitting with “the enemy” might escalate the situation.
While it might end up a whereas clause in a AZ GOP censure resolution, I will sit next to Democratic Sen @tammybaldwin at tonight’s SOTU
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) January 28, 2014
Flake and Baldwin sitting together is a continuation of a deliberate practice begun in 2011 by Senators Mark Udall (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to symbolize the reality that Congress makes national policy, while representing local constituents. Both realities must be considered when legislating.
Meanwhile, in the House, Republican Representative Randy Weber (TX) tweeted an entirely different sentiment.
On floor of house waitin on “Kommandant-In-Chef”… the Socialistic dictator who’s been feeding US a line or is it “A-Lying?”
— Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) January 29, 2014
Let’s leave aside his inability to spell and focus on his mastery of the dictionary. I am not sure Rep. Weber actually knows the definition of “socialistic” or “dictator.” He certainly isn’t using them correctly in this tweet.
Is Weber being the enemy? Are Senators Flake, Baldwin, (Udall and Murkowski) simply being opponents seeking different solutions to the same problems?
It is not that simple. The Senate seems to have better embraced the notion of working across the aisle than the House (better, as in not nearly as toxic). So the Senate has seemingly embraced the notion that the other party is the opposition. But Weber’s comment suggests the reason the House now considers the Senate the enemy is because House Republicans see the Democrats as the enemy. And any hint that Senate Republicans are willing to compromise with Senate Democrats makes them also the enemy.
My enemy’s friend is my Senator enemy.
How much can we extrapolate from these tweets? Certainly, we know that Senate Republicans have taken opposition to the edge of enemy (filibusters, backroom orders to obstruct, etc.). But they have passed a compromise budget, a compromise immigration bill and a compromise farm bill.
The House Republicans, on the other hand, have voted in vain to repeal the Affordable Care Act nearly 50 times. Stories of Republican House Members chastising their colleagues for having a laugh with a Democrat in the hallway abound. They clearly see all Democrats and the Senate as the enemy.
Take a look at what Members of Congress are tweeting and draw your own conclusions. Post your thought here in the comment section.
Follow these lists for all the tweets from Congress: