The Clock Is Ticking

We keep hearing that now is not the time for partisan politics. When would be a good time?


"It's time for leadership, not petty partisan politics," declares Courtney Lynch, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Virginia. She raises an interesting point, albeit unintentionally: When is it time for petty partisan politics rather than leadership? If now is not a good time, when would be?

Not last January, that's for sure. Back then, President Obama gave a speech outlining his plan to prevent terrorism. "Now is not a time for partisanship," he declared. "It's a time for citizenship."

Never let it be said the president does not know what it is the time for, and what it is not the time for. In September 2008, he told the Democratic National Convention that "now is not the time for small plans." The following January, he observed that while there was a time for profits and bonuses on Wall Street, "now is not the time." In mid-July this year, he warned Republicans: "Now is not the time to play games."

On the other hand, during the debate over health care last March, Obama noted that there were "plenty of folks in Washington who've … argued now is not the time for reform. … My question to them is: When is the right time? If not now, when?" He's a sharp one, that Obama!

Yet despite the president's skill at time-telling, some people still think he needs help. The Illinois GOP, for instance: "The chairman of Illinois' Republican Party contends this is not an appropriate time for President Obama to hold a Chicago fundraiser," news stories reported the other day.

Not long before, Matthew Norman, a columnist for the London Telegraph, suggested Obama needed to man up. "Now Is Not the Time for a Pacifist President," he wrote.

Norman is not alone. In June, erstwhile GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty told the Council on Foreign Relations that "now is not the time to retreat from freedom's rise." How about in, like, half an hour?

Who else knows what time it is? House Speaker John Boehner certainly does. In January of last year, Boehner said it was not the time to debate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A month later, a Boehner spokesman wondered why Obama "thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation."

After Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts, Boehner tweeted that with Nancy Pelosi determined to push health-care reform, "[now is] not the time to give up." A couple of weeks ago, Boehner declared that "now is not the time to increase taxes in any way."

Virginia's Eric Cantor agreed: "I insist again that now is not the time for us to be considering tax hikes," he said. Last March, Cantor told the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee that "now is not the time to be picking fights with Israel."

Just to be clear, that means now is the time for neither a pacifist president, nor one who picks fights—nor one who retreats from freedom's rise. Talk about having to walk a fine line.

What else is it not the time for? A carbon tax (Sydney Morning Herald), judging Tiger Woods (Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports), cutting critical government programs (Richard Cizek, The Hill), Phillies Fans acting like insufferable jerks (NBC Philadelphia) or energy-starved India to increase nuclear dependency (The Guardian).

It's also not the time for cities to aim lower (Sam Newburg,, fiscal restraint (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), a voter-ID bill (South Carolina state Sen. Yancey McGill), a new Mideast peace plan (Rahm Emanuel), greed in the NFL (Honolulu Star-Advertiser), a war on Libya (Florida Rep. Chris Gibson), or for Congress to oppose creating jobs in Montana (Montana Sen. John Tester).

No wonder nobody ever seems to get anything done. It's never the right time for anything!

The now-is-not-the-time meme is a variation of the straw-man argument, in which you state a position nobody actually endorses and then knock it down. The president loves that trick. "There are those who suggest that nothing government can do will make a difference," he has said—along with "there are those who would continue and intensify this failed status quo," "there are those who would perpetuate every form of intolerance," "there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science" and many more. Yet he never actually says who the "who" in There-Are-Those-Who are.

Unlike There-Are-Those-Who-Say, Now-Is-Not-the-Time may reflect the other side's actual position. After all, there are (in fact) those who say taxes should be raised, gays should serve in the military, and so on. Rather than confront such an argument head on, the pols invoking Now-Is-Not-the-Time try to dodge the merits of the question by implying the issue might be worth exploring—someday.

But just try to set up a date.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: Obamacare, Government Insurance Exchanges, & The Coming Price Explosion

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  1. It’s never a good time for partisan politics, especially when Team _Fill_In_The_Blank_ has some monstrosity to pass and wants the other side to shut up.

    1. “We ignore politics most of the time.”

  2. We keep hearing that now is not the time for partisan politics. When would be a good time?


    “When we’re winning.”

    1. Winning the FUTURE, that is!

  3. Ever notice that accusations of “partisan politics” seem to go only one way?
    When Democrats have power and Republicans don’t go along with uncompromising Democrats, then the Republicans are accused of “partisan” politics.
    When Republicans have power and refuse to compromise with Democrats, then the Republicans are accused of “partisan” politics.

    Just like tolerance, inclusiveness and equality, it only goes one way.

    1. Because when democrats refuse to compromise they are taking a principled stand, but republicans are just being obstructionist.

      1. “The politics of failure have failed; we need to make them work again.”

        1. We must move forward not backward; upward not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling toward freedom.

          1. kang/kodos 2012

            1. Don’t blame me – I voted for Bill & Opus.

            2. I think I voted for the “giant douche” or was it “turd sandwich”. I can’t remember.

      2. When did democrats refuse to compromise? Or are you defining compromise the way the GOP does–giving them everything they want and shutting up?

          1. I won.

            1. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

        1. Your Team behaves like their Team, Tony.

          Besides, “compromise” brought us hogshit likr NCLB and McCain-Feingold. It’s waaay overrated.

          1. One team is the “Party of Stupid” and the other team is the “Party of Evil”. Sometimes they get together and come up with something both stupid and evil. We call that “bipartisanship”.

      3. TEAM RED whines about “media and culture bias”; TEAM BLUE whines about “partisan politics” and “corporate influence”. They have very specific whines.

        1. Your whine is quite specific as well.

          1. How’s that smartphone data plan working out for you?

          2. Your whine is quite specific as well.

            Oh, you mean when he says something true over and over? Yes. That is specific. Thank allah you noticed.

  4. Has there ever been a time when the US didn’t have partisan politics? Why is now a good time to dispense with it?

    1. When Washington was elected president? Partisanship took hold as soon as they started filling the other positions.

      1. Partisanship is a problem when it becomes bigger than the country or even the constituency. Which happened in this country long ago, around the time we decided to let the federal government out of its constitutional shackles.

        1. [quote]decided to let the federal government out of its constitutional shackles[/quote] This. Partisan politics are as old as the political system itself, it is just part and parcel of living in society. The problem now is that rather than arguing over whether or not the US should have a gold or silver standard like they did in the 1880s, we now argue over which facets of our lives the government gets to run.

  5. Free Translation Service

    “It’s time for leadership, not petty partisan politics” -> “Just do what we say, motherfuckers.”

  6. WTF does partisan politics even mean?

    Parties are just proxies for issues. If you’re accusing politicians of voting with their parties–so what? That’s what they’re generally SUPPOSED to do. It’s expected and correct.

    If you’re accusing politicians of refusing to ever compromise, just call them uncompromising–it’s much more descriptive and correct.

    1. Shorter slutmonkey: “RAH RAH TEAM!”

  7. I actually watched Ron Paul’s speech at the fair in Iowa (where each candidate got 20 minutes)–usually not much for watching speeches. Anyway, one of the things I enjoyed was him trashing the “accomplishments” of bipartisanship.

    1. Bipartisanship has gotten us into the mess we are now in

      People keep on blaming the radicals but its the middle of the road types who have been in charge. It was the middle of the road types who voted for the bailouts and the subsidies. They also voted for the wars and the rest of our “bipartisan” foreign policy

      1. bipartisanship is simply code word for, you let me sneak this thing I wnat in this bill and I will let you sneak that thing you want in that bill. Case and point, when congress made it legal to carry in nation parks they snuck that little nugget in a bill about credit cards. As much as I am in favor of the sentiment, I hated how it was passed.

        1. Compromise and you get the Missouri or 3/5ths entrenching slavery. What’s not to like?

  8. Caption: How do you like these chimp ears???

    1. “No, really, see how hard I’m listening to your grievances?”

    2. “Hey, Macarena, all right?”

      1. “Let me be clear: I hear you, I just don’t give a damn.”

        1. Now is not the time

          1. Jug eared jesus WTF

    3. “… while, offstage: The Man in the Yellow Hat beamed admiringly.”

    4. “And the man in the back said, ‘Everyone attack!’, and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz.

      And THAT’S why we need to stop the Elimunashunist Rhetorick.”

  9. Petty. It’s petty partisan politics we object to.

  10. OT:…..34853.html

    Holy fucking shit.

    1. Isn’t that Obama’s pastor?

      1. I sent a hat in solemn tribute.

    2. Thank you for ruining my day.

    3. Unbelievable.

    4. Now is not the time.

    5. He is clearly a violent teabagger and was encouraged/forced into this by the lack of government health coverage to ease the finacial burden of the disabled child which combined with the tebagger violent rhetoric is actually responsible for this tragedy. I hope you’re all happy now.

      1. Spoof improvement noted.

      2. Tony, I want to believe you’re being sarcastic–in which case you’re genius at it–but your other comments force me to remain unsure.

        1. Oh, come on. Even the real Tony isn’t THAT dumb.

    6. Some things you can’t un-know. I wish I never read that. It is going to take a while to get over that one. He gives Armin Meiwes a run for his money on the “sickest human alive” list.

    7. No death penalty? Ever?? Really??

      1. Yes, none. Ever. Really.

        Which is a better punishment?:
        1. Spend millions of dollars (really) to put this guy out of his misery.

        2. Spend a few thousand dollars to lock this guy up for the rest of his natural life in a hole where he’ll have to live with the fact that he killed his own son.

        1. 3. Handle it Old West style:

          Have the trial in the morning and the hanging the same afternoon.

          Cost: about $40 for a pine box.

      2. “No death penalty? Ever?? Really??”

        Do you really want to yield to the state the power of taking a life based on who is the better bull-shitter in front of 12 random people?

        1. Some people deserve to die. Timothy McVeigh is a great example, no doubts he was guilty of a monstrous crime. That man deserved to die. Doesn’t men there aren’t problems with how its run now.

  11. Well, those guys really seem to know wwhat the deal is. Wow.

    1. What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

  12. Looking at that photo, I am compelled to ask the age-old question:

    “What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it’s all about?”

  13. I kind of like partisanship, for this reason:

    It guarantees that no matter who is in charge, around 1/3 of the country will be skeptical of him, if not outright opposed to him.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    1. It guarantees that no matter who is in charge, around 1/3 of the country will be skeptical of him, if not outright opposed to him.

      I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      2/3rds being skeptical would be better.

      1. Why would that be better? Nothing could be accomplished!

        1. which is exactly what an anarchist would hope for

        2. Doing nothing is doing something. There are many examples of the world being a better place if nothing had been done instead of doing something.

          Just think of the last three Starwars movies.

          Or everything Justin Bieber has sung.

          Or anything said, written or even thought by Thomas Freedman

          1. FFS, can you stupid libtards just drop the fucking activity = inactivity BS already? You asshats have a one-track mind.

        3. Nothing could be accomplished!

          By government….plenty would still be accomplished by peaceful and voluntary private interaction.

        4. Why would that be better? Nothing could be accomplished!

          You say that like it would be a bad thing.

          Congress’ job is to write laws, and if they aren’t writing laws, they’re seen as not doing their jobs. But is more laws always the answer? After more than two centuries of Congress passing laws, aren’t we at least near enough governance?

        5. EXACTLY!

        6. According to Obamacare supporters, even inactivity is activity.

      2. 2/3rds being skeptical would be better.

        I’ll take what I can get.

  14. There is a difference between protesting and governing. What’s tiresome is that no matter how absolutely insane one side becomes, the other side, no matter their position, is assumed to be engaging in an equal and opposite insanity, a ubiquitous fallacy in both the mainstream media narrative of politics and the flawed “pox both houses” attitude.

    1. the “pox on ALL houses” attitude?

      1. Please do not feed the sockpuppet.

    2. Govern me Tony!! God yes GOVERN ME!!!!

      1. *fap**fap**fap**fap**fap**fap**fap*

      2. God(Flying spaghetti monster, Allah, fill in your preferred deity) bless you, that almost made me expel food out of my nose!

        1. Would you govern me? I’d govern me; I’d govern me hard!

          1. Not even with my dick.

    3. Hey Tony if you want a hard put your face face in the pillow governin…..

      Europe is all hard and ready for you!


    4. What’s tiresome is

      “… Me.”

    5. It’s not a flaw. Being skeptical is important.

      The alternative is to blindly follow and be an obedient drone.

      Like you, Tony.

  15. On further reflection, perhaps this is more appropriate:

    “It’s just a JUMP to the left!”

  16. Obama is absolutely right! Now isn’t the time for partisan politics and it IS time for putting the country first. That’s why he should immediately give up all his leftist policy demands and adopt the House conservative GOP’s policies. He should also insist that all Democrats do the same.

    1. in other news, the teaparty declares the sun rises in the west. just accept it

      1. in other news, the teaparty declares the sun rises in the west that something which can’t go on forever, won’t. just accept it

        1. but but we’ve always been at war w oceania…which takes alotta money

          1. Don’t mistake Me for Oceania.

    2. If Obama wants to actually put the country first, he would immediately work to completely repeal Obamacare.

      1. u mean no insurance regs at all? none?

        1. Is that what you think it was like before obamacare passed? bwaaaahahhahahahahahaha

          1. so u want pre-existing conditions to NOT be covered?

            1. “so u want pre-existing conditions to NOT be covered?”

              Yes, bozo. Ever hear of a thing called “insurance”?

              1. exactly my meaning slutmonkey. obamacare regs require pre-existing conditions to be covered.

            2. Not covering pre-existing conditions may seem harsh, but it does make sense. Otherwise, you get a lot of people who won’t bother to get insurance at all until the day they realize they’re dying of cancer. When that happens, all the rest of us are the ones paying for their treatment as our premiums go through the roof.

              ObamaCare’s answer to that potential problem is mandated insurance coverage for everyone, even the wealthy who don’t need insurance because they can afford to pay out of pocket. Even though I have health insurance, I still don’t like the idea of anyone (except for my wife) telling me I *will* have that coverage. It also doesn’t strike me as proper that the government is mandating that all Americans must patronize a specific industry – must be nice to have the government saying people *have* to buy your product, whether they want it or not.

              1. Exactly Dave. People who argue that insurers must cover pre-existing conditions are basically failing to understand what insurance is. But don’t count on O2 or Orin or whatever he calls himself to understand this. Out of all the Reason trolls he is perhaps the least intelligent. Makes Tony look like freaking Roger Penrose.

  17. Nothing could be accomplished!

    Oh, HORROR!

  18. Watching Obama in the news footage of him engaging that Tea Party activist in Iowa, saying he wants an end to the rhetoric when it’s his people referring to the Tea Party as “terrorists” … the hypocrisy of this guy is tiresome.

    As someone else noted, how is it that when the Right stands firm on something, they’re being obstructionist, but the Left is taking a principled stand? The Tea Party was just a bunch of terrorists holding the economy hostage, but I don’t recall the Left (notably, the president) doing much bending, either.

    Granted, it goes both ways. Be it Team Red or Team Blue, “partisan politics” seems to always be what the other guy is doing when they won’t let me have my way. It’s tiresome.

    1. As someone else noted, how is it that when the Right stands firm on something, they’re being obstructionist, but the Left is taking a principled stand?

      Because when the Right stands firm, generally they are trying to stop the Left from creating more government.
      And when the Left takes a principled stand, they are standing up for more government.

      Remember that in their mind if government doesn’t do it, if it is not backed up with force or threat of force, that it will not happen.

      So if you oppose to something being done by government, you oppose to it being done at all.

      1. Which is exactly why I’ll never cast a ballot for Team Blue. the Government, at any level, has consistently proven to have the anti-Midas touch — everything they touch turns to shit. And the higher up the food chain (local, state, federal), the more shit per touch. And yet Team Blue is still convinced for some odd reason that Government is the solution to all our woes, even though they’re actually the cause of most of them.

        The Government breaks something, Team Blue gives them more power in hopes they’ll fix what they broke, and instead they break even more stuff. And that dog just continues to chase it’s tail. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t all the rest of us that were getting trampled on in the process.

        1. I vote team red because, at least rhetorically, they stand for smaller government. However, to be fair, there are some issues that team red, because of its coalition with evangelical christians, allow government to intrude upon.

          1. —“I vote team red because, at least rhetorically, they stand for smaller government”—


          2. I vote team red because, at least rhetorically, they stand for smaller government.

            Pay no attention to what they say; pay attention to what they actually do.

          3. Team Red grows government just as much as Team Blue when they have the reigns of power.
            The only discernible difference is that they prefer to pay for it with IOUs.

            1. And not because of team Blue’s fiscal responsibility. They add “taking money from rich people” to their view the rightful role of government. This is not simply a means to revenue for them, it is an end to be pursued for its own merit.

              Between them and the team red theocrats who want to use the police power of the state to govern the use of your genitalia etc. we’ve got a nice path to a dystopian future….

          4. Oh don’t worry, I’ve got my issues with Team Red, as well. Even as a devout Christian myself, Bush’s efforts to get a marriage ammendment passed that would keep gays from being able to marry turned my stomach — legislated bigotry. However, I’m not gay; I am a taxpayer, though, so I find the stench of the GOP’s shit to be at least somewhat more tolerable than the Dems.

          5. Iraq

          6. “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”

            1. “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”

              Pretty much sums it up, yes.

  19. Everything is going to be OK. We have the makings of a new department.


    1. Fucking great. Now I’m going to spend all day raging. Bureaucracy, if it doesn’t work, it just needs to be expanded and reorganized!

      1. Bullshit! You can just thank god that President Camacho had the foresight to think up the Department of Jobs…….n’shit!

  20. Since I’m in the mood for a dopey analogy-

    The past eleven years have been like a wild teenage house-party binge while Mom and Dad are in Europe. It’s anything goes, until a few obstructionist assholes say, “No. Let’s NOT put the couch on the garage roof and set it on fire. Let’s NOT drive the Mercedes into the swimming pool.”

    What a bunch of spoilsports those Fiscal Terrorists are!

    1. 11? try 80.

  21. Great picture.  As if his ears weren’t big enough already.  Racist.

    1. his ears are racist?

  22. When I say Hillshire you say Farms!


      1. *ahem*

  23. Where do people get the idea that only TEAM RED is accused of partisanship? How odd.

    1. I would say that Democrats are accused less of partisanship because they tend to be MORE partisan, calling them partisan is like accusing a hat of being overhead. And I consider that a bad thing on the part of Republicans, who are more likely to betray their conservative constituents.

      1. In other words, partisan is neither bad nor good. It depends on your side of the issue.

      2. I hear this kind of thing A LOT, so much as to make the proposition ridiculous.

        Heck, I get accused of being a partisan even though I am a moderate independent. The “we’re the victims – they’re picking on us” thing that people of both parties play is tiresome. Both sides take shots at each other and both sides are accurate in depicting their opponents as partisans.

    2. Where do people get the idea that only TEAM RED is accused of partisanship? How odd.

      Gee, I don’t know….

    3. Re: Neu Mejican,

      Where do people get the idea that only TEAM RED is accused of partisanship? How odd.

      I don’t know, Neu. All I know is that TEAM RED is accused of being racist, homophobic, fundamentalist and dumb terrorists who want to take food from the hands of children and take grandma’s Medicare; but other than that, well….

  24. Anyone who uses the phrase “now is not the time….” means the same thing: “when I say jump, you ask how high.”

  25. Video: Obama Ag Secretary says rise in food stamps is putting people to work

    Do. Not. Allow. These. Simps. Another. Four. Years. To. Wreck. Everything. Further.

    1. “The other team says the exact same thing!”

    2. We can’t waste time worrying about something like that, dammit! Some conservative somewhere actually said Jesus! In PUBLIC!11!!!

      1. Oh, the horror of it all!

  26. Now is not the time for me to be leaving a comment.

    1. Holy shit, they’re evolving.

  27. I am thinking that now is the time for Eric Cantor to be learning not to be using gerund linked to to-infinitive phrases.

  28. would say that Democrats are accused less of partisanship because they tend to be MORE partisan, calling them partisan is like accusing a hat of being overhead
    Nike Air Free Run + couple Running Shoes – White/Red
    Nike Air Free Run + couple Running Shoes – White/Black

  29. Now IS the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.

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