This call to a high-minded spirit of compromise was utterly absent in the winter of 2009, when it seemed that the Democrats would carry all before them. When newly inaugurated Barack Obama airily spurned Republicans who objected to aspects of the stimulus bill with the reply "I won," the Post did not pull its chin about the problem of polarization. Nor did the great stewards of bipartisanship turn a hair when Speaker Pelosi declared, during the health care debate, that "a bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes."
The Post is expressing a slightly more refined version of the broader liberal assault on conservative activism. In this construct, massive rallies for Obama are a sign of hope and human progress, but massive rallies against Obama's health care plan are evidence of "fringe sentiments" (Gov. Jennifer Granholm) or "fear" (Rep. Steve Driehaus), or are "un-American" (Rep. Steny Hoyer). When Michael Moore asked, during the Bush administration, "Dude, Where's My Country?" that was social commentary. When tea partiers say similar things, they are proto-fascists.
But the greater weakness in the liberal cant about meeting somewhere in the middle is this: The great domestic question of our time is whether we can restrain and even reverse the catastrophic expansion of government debt before it is too late. And until just yesterday, Republicans were AWOL. Or, to put it another way, they were just where the great conciliators of the Washington Post claim they should be. They had abandoned limited government and were reconciled to tinkering with huge federal entitlements to make them slightly less bankrupting than they otherwise would be.
The advent of the Obama administration, with its pell mell rush to transform us into Greece, is transforming the Republican Party as well. Grassroots activists are reasserting the virtues of limited government, personal responsibility, and public accountability. Our best hope is that tea party principles will prevail. Those are the very principles that can save us from Europe's fate.
We've done what the Post recommends. We met in the "middle." It didn't work out very well for Republicans or for America.