the national interest

Beltway Sleazeoids Concerned About Partisanship

Lanny Davis, a supporter of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), speaks during a taping of
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

There’s an old saying, “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” but patriotism’s scoundrel-cleansing abilities have worn off with time. The newest refuge is surely bipartisanship. Thus, deposed Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele and disgraced lobbyist Lanny Davis have formed their own firm. Howard Kurtz reports — or, at any rate, writes down — that Steele and Davis are pitching their firm dedicated to urging people to “tone down the negativity and personal attacks.”

A more specific sense of what they’re after can be gleaned by comments such as this, from Davis: “I get more heat and more vitriol from my side than from conservative Republicans.” In Democratic politics these days, he says, “you’re not allowed to deviate from a purist, absolutist position. It disturbs me that people who are supposed to be tolerant of dissent are so venomous.”

In other words, they want less negativity against them. The firm is a nice way for Steele and Davis to reframe criticism of themselves as mean-spirited opposition to bipartisanship. In reality, people like Steele and Davis get attacked not because they break from party dogma but because they are, respectively, a buffoon and a sleaze-merchant. (To be fair, Davis is a buffoon as well.)

Beltway Sleazeoids Concerned About Partisanship