New York Times, You Spelled “Accountable” Wrong

Eyeglasses with newspaper and coffee cup

Did you know holding politicians accountable is “downright threatening?” According to Francis Clines on a New York Times blog, it is:

When it comes to flexing political muscle, Tea Party zealots don’t hesitate to be downright threatening, as in their warning to Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee that he’d better retire from office because “our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous.” The warning was in an open letter from a score of Tea Party groups, most of them county operations in the senator’s home state. They said he would face a right-wing primary challenge if he should opt to run next year for a third term.

Clines declared in his piece that it “is remarkable” that compromise and bipartisanship are considered “a shortcoming in a politician.” He then cites two examples of Senator Alexander’s bipartisan credentials:

Mr. Alexander played a major role this year in several Senate compromises, notably helping to break the impasse over student loan rates and supporting the Senate’s immigration reform measure. If nothing else, the Tea Party letter is a worthy trophy for him from the Republicans’ intramural war.

And therein lies the problem with Clines’ whole position: bipartisanship for its own sake is laudable, consequences be damned. Clines is clearly willing to accept that subsidizing student loans increases the cost of higher education, but since the bill in question was bipartisan it must be worth supporting.

Now faced with the Senate Amnesty Bill, Clines seems willing and able to ignore the immigration bill’s high costs, lax border security, and inconsistent application of law.

According to Matt Collins, a Republican activist who wrote the letter, Clines’ criticisms ignore reality. “When politicians talk about compromise, it usually means they are compromising our liberty, our property, and our money. I oppose that.”

It’s not just Tennessee-based Tea Party organizations that take issue with Senator Alexander’s record. According to, Heritage Action ranked the Senator at a 55% in 2011/2012, the Club for Growth gave him a 53% in 2012, and his American Conservative Union lifetime ranking is 78%.

Is compromise ever acceptable? It should be means to an end goal of good policy, not an end in and of itself – and should never compromise the natural or Constitutional rights Collins spoke of. As this blog wrote in January on budget compromises:

“Compromise” takes place when one negotiator gets part of what he or she wants and the other side gets part of what they want. However, the Washington inclination to call entitlement reform “compromise” and spending cuts “compromise” ignores the simple truth that spending is the problem, and anything that does not directly address this problem makes things worse.

Clines should learn what compromise is, not what he and the Beltway treat it as. ”Go along to get along” is what got us here in the first place.