Sunday, April 30, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Bloggers: or Who, Whom?

Here is a little back-and-forth between two anonymous bloggers, ctkeith and Genghis Conn, on a popular Connecticut blog.


ctkeith said...

GC Wrote,
“What's interesting about this is that in the past, Rell has been able to make compromises break her way. Stem cells, civil unions, public funding of campaigns and even the recent transportation bill have somehow ended up making the governor look good.”


Can you tell me which one of those issues made REPUBLICANS happy?

11:56 PM, April 29, 2006
Genghis Conn said...

To Republican partisans and social conservatives? None of them. In fact, most of the Republicans in the legislature didn't support those initiatives.

Legislative Republicans are irrelevant, and Rell doesn't really care what social conservatives think. This leaves her trying to pass her own agenda all by herself. She may be most effective when she's proposing compromises to Democratic plans.


That exchange pretty much says everything needful about Rell, compromise, the Republican Party, and the nature of reporting in Connecticut.

Most reporters in Connecticut would agree with ctkeith that Rell’s positions on stem cell research, civil unions, public funding of campaigns were arrived at by way of compromise. Gengis Conn lodges an objection: Look, he says, Republican partisans and legislators supported none of these positions. But legislative Republicans, a dwindling minority, are irrelevant, and Rell doesn’t really care what social conservatives think. So, she is trying to pass her own agenda all by herself. And then Gengis Conn adds: “She may be most effective when she's proposing compromises to Democratic plans.”

What do the words “effective” and “compromise” mean in this context?

Now, a compromise is an arrangement between two disputants both of whom give a little to get a little. As titular head of the party, Rell presumably represents the interests of Republicans, while Democrat leaders in the House and Senate represent the interests of Democrats. If Rell gave way to Democrats on the matters mentioned – stem cell research, etc. -- certainly her position on these issues cannot be described as a compromise: At least on these issues, she gave to Democrats everything they wanted and received nothing in return. “Surrender” might be an more accurate word to describe this transaction.

But, Gengis Conn says, since legislative Republicans are unimportant, and since Rell does not care what social conservatives think, she finds herself alone on the wine-dark political sea attempting to fashion an agenda all by herself . And, Gengis Conn adds, She may be most effective when she's proposing compromises to Democratic plans.

What meaning should we here attach to the word “effective?” If Rell’s service as titular head of her party lies only in her ability to edit Democrat plans, in what sense is she effective?

Effective for what – other than accomplishing Democrat Party goals? And effective for whom?
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