Senator Wyden Attacked For Actually Trying To Get Stuff Done, Rather Than Playing Partisan Politics

from the why-congress-has-such-a-low-approval-rating dept

We’ve written a lot about Senator Ron Wyden around here, mainly for his roles in pushing back against government surveillance efforts as well as his strong leadership in preventing bad internet regulations. But, it seems that he’s becoming a target within his own party. We’d already noted that with SOPA/PIPA, unfortunately, it seemed like many Democrats (Wyden’s party) were planning to stick with the bill, while it was the Republicans who had moved against it. So, despite Wyden’s leadership on the issue, his own party had abandoned him. Now, Politico is running a piece that seems like something of a hit piece on Wyden for daring to work with Republican Paul Ryan on Medicare reform — trying to work out a reasonable compromise that would give seniors more choices (something that seems like it might be a reasonable idea). But in a world of partisan politics, this is a problem. And it’s not a problem because the idea is bad… but because it makes it harder for Democrats to attack Ryan. It all comes back to partisanship over actually making the government run better. Seriously. Nowhere does the article discuss whether or not the plans make sense… just the fact that Dems wanted to bash the Republicans over this plan, and it’s more difficult now:

Though Democrats still have every intention of slamming Republicans who backed Ryan’s earlier plan, there’s sentiment in both parties that Wyden’s latest move gives the GOP at least some cover.

“It neutralizes the weapon,” Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in an interview.

From there, the article also suggests that Wyden’s efforts on SOPA/PIPA were similarly traitorous to Democrats, because (oh gosh!) he worked with Rep. Darrell Issa on SOPA/PIPA:

As if that weren’t enough, Wyden also teamed up with another favorite Democratic whipping boy, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), to tear up a carefully scripted anti-piracy bill backed by one of the Democratic party’s most loyal constituencies: Hollywood.

Of course, Politico’s narrative doesn’t work as well if you follow the real timeline — which was that Wyden was working against these bills way before Issa realized there was a problem with them. The two did team up, eventually, but not to mess up Democratic partisan politics — but to stop a really bad bill.

This seems like a quintessential example of the kind of inside baseball reporting that commentators like Jay Rosen complain about all the time. It’s reporting on politics like it’s a horse race, and the most important thing is which party is winning — not what they’re actually doing.

In fact, if you want to put the Politico article in context, I would suggest first reading this Bloomberg piece from a few months ago about Senator Wyden, called, Ron Wyden, Senator From Planet Where Congress Works. That article shows a Senator who isn’t focused on playing to what the party wants, but on actually getting important stuff done.

And I think most of us agree that, when it came to SOPA/PIPA, stopping those awful bills was a lot more important than some partisan politics. It’s pretty ridiculous to then use that as an example of how he’s messing up the game plan for Democrats. Perhaps the real lesson is that the Democrats have the wrong game plan. Millions of people lined up behind Wyden and against PIPA and SOPA. It had nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with what was the right thing to do. The reason why everyone hates Congress these days is because they’re all focused on purely partisan politics and how much they can hurt “the other guy,” rather than seeing if they can actually do something useful. That Wyden is attacked because he’s trying to do something useful (and ignoring the partisan gamesmanship in the process) seems pretty pathetic.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Senator Wyden Attacked For Actually Trying To Get Stuff Done, Rather Than Playing Partisan Politics”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, if you step back for a minute and consider what a “politician” considers his/her base, they’re NOT disconnected and that just further illustrates Mike’s point. In my opinion, they honestly believe their “base” is the lobbying money factory that passes for Beltway politics these days. As such, to them, this is normal and acceptable.

Further compounding things is the tendency by a lot of people to assume that if you support policy A which is favored by party B, you must automatically support all of the OTHER policies supported by party B. Unfortunately, that dumps us all back in the “us vs them” mindset and ends up with no forward progress.

To me, this is why the people of Oregon should count their blessings that instead of a farm animal (sheep), they’ve elected an actual human being in Ron Wyden and should continue to support him in his efforts to get this country back on track. If the housing market in my area was better, I’d even consider moving there just to vote for him myself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Trust me, we’re proud to have Wyden represent us. It’s so rare for me to actually like one of the choices we have in an election.

I think it also represents a disconnect in the Democratic Party. There are a lot of liberals in Oregon who are against the political influence of Hollywood as much as Wall Street.

Melissa Ruhl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m also an Oregonian and I definitely agree that people here are proud to have Wyden speak out for such an important cause. The cynical side of me says SOPA/PIPA lost support not because the protests made politicians realize the problems with the bills, but because they worried about their image and electability. Yet the Internet does back people like Wyden who actually have integrity. That’s one of the big reasons Ron Paul has such strong support for young people and Internet communities.

Just to further add to the evidence that our political system is sick but has potential to mend, I’m currently assisting with a course at the University of Oregon called Internet, Society, and Philosophy and on Jan 20 our Congressional representative, Peter DeFazio, visited the course to discuss SOPA/intellectual property issues. Our local paper highlighted the applause Defazio received, “for noting wryly that unlike some of his colleagues, he has the ‘unfortunate habit’ of reading bills before deciding whether to support them.” I really believe that if we, the Internet, continue to act to support politicians and causes with integrity we can make some concrete change.

Oh Politico. I’ve had so much faith in you!

kj1313 says:

Don't compare Medicare with SOPA

Long time lurker here, but Paul Ryan is disingenous at best with his thoughts on Medicare and Wyden has opened himself up to be targeted by his brethren. The sooner we realize BOTH parties are working against us the better off we’ll be. Any sane politicians will always throw us a bone when we’re outraged. Example, Obama he signed NDAA but will still defend roe v wade (which is close to my heart as a woman). And the other side?!?!? Honestly this is when I wish I lived in Sweden.

Another AC says:


WTF do we need these parties for? Why do we need 2 sides of the aisle? Makes no sense, far left, far right, moderate? Cut the friggin crap already. Why is it we need bill after bill after bill proposed? How long can the world tolerate laws, stacking on top of laws? Why does everything need to be so damn reactionary? Blahblahblah happens and suddenly something MUST BE DONE? I am so sick of this entire process, unfortunately the people we have voted in have their personal livelihoods at stake so rest assured, nothing will change and we are simply on a downward spiral until rock bottom is reached at which point there will be mass rebellion or the dictionary of newspeak is actually written and adhered to. Thats my rant have a nice day. I wish Wyden my best and good luck to him to actually make a change, seriously.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Dump Political Parties Altogether

Along with previous suggestions to remove money from politics, and reiterate that corporations are not persons, I do believe that we need to eliminate political group speech as well. The Boy Scouts of America, religious organizations, unions,and political parties etc. are all funded by special interests. Those interests may not be the same interests as the actual constituency, and they are funded, giving them undue influence. The only way to get this right, is to eliminate All of the undue influence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dump Political Parties Altogether

Would you ban the NRA? Or would you just ban them from expressing an opinion on the second amendment?

You can’t just restrict speech of organizations like that. Otherwise Wikipedia would not have been able to do its blackout – that was political speech right there.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Dump Political Parties Altogether

I would restrict any paid speech, NRA included. My issue is that paid speech is contradictory to our system. I know it is the precedent, but look where that got us. I am not saying that any group is necessarily bad, we can have those arguments another day. I am saying that monetary influence is bad. This is a nation that is “For the people and by the people”, and that paid speech in any form does not represent the people, but just a few people.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“the Democratic party?s most loyal constituencies: Hollywood.”

I’m sorry you haven’t managed to push so far that corporations get votes yet. I suggest you decide the people maybe are the reason your there and when you start screwing us over for the big guys your just making sure it will not matter how much money they give you, we’ll vote you out.
We’ll get more of the same do nothing politics where 2 groups play chicken with everyone elses lives, but you will be tossed out and you won’t have time to magically double your personal wealth while in office.

In closing, DIAFIRL, you attacking what appears to be the only Democrat who thinks people matter more than pocketing contributions and other favors really highlights how corrupt and petty you fools are… and I guess that makes us the bigger fools for thinking you cared about us silly little voters other than at election time.

surfer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: agreed..

my solution came to me about 12 years ago. it was not resistance, it was total circumvention, and an absolute refusal to doing this ‘how they want’. albeit, they now mislabel this behaviour as ‘theft’, but, to me, it’s more about getting the value out of what I have spent over a lifetime to these leeches.

I am a bonafide file sharing ‘pirate’. I have been collecting HDDs and content for those past 12 years. now I have quite the media collection of over 12Tb of ‘stuff’, and I am quite content to revisit this library and forgo typical mainstream distribution channels, hell, I don’t even own a television/cable/dish/streaming device anymore. I use my 52″ LCD monitor as a television.

‘the more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip thru your grasp’…

when they stop actually stealing from the public domain, and shorten copywrong to a legitimate time span, I will continue my skullduggery ways as a trade off, and I sleep well at night.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: um

You sound like King George in 1775. Thank goodness a few hardy ‘Mericans didn’t listen. Think again. Is there another 1776 coming?

NPR has a quote of King Georges diary every 4rth of July. The quote “Nothing much happened today”.

Yes I know, it took a couple of months for him to find out what happened. On the other hand, look how long it is taking the status quo to find out what is happening now, and we have the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: um

“Yes I know, it took a couple of months for him to find out what happened. On the other hand, look how long it is taking the status quo to find out what is happening now, and we have the Internet.”

They’ve had over 10 years and still pretend to be cute about “not understanding the internet” or wondering if anyone has “asked the nerds yet” (vs. “experts”). This is a classic case of “I’m-not-going-to-get-it-cause-I-don’t-like-it”, i.e. a two year olds tantrum, kicking and holding their breath until they turn blue.

Only 2 year olds grow up. Congress/Hollywood doesn’t.

Jamie (profile) says:

The democratic political system (not just in the US, but all over the world) is a shadow of what it should be.

The theory is that politicians are voted in by the people, and represent those same people. They do what is right for their constituents, and will get voted out if they do not.

The reality is that far too many politicians care only for their own political careers. They do whatever is needed to get into (or stay in) office, even if that means selling out. They listen to big companies and lobby groups, because those groups make a lot of “campaign contributions”. They don’t listen to regular people, unless there’s enough of a movement to threaten their election chances.

It’s selfish people in what should be a selfless role.

It’s great to see politicians like Wyden out there, because at least he and his kind seem to remember that they represent the people. If only they were the majority, not a minority.

Loki says:

Re: Re: Re:

Laws are not principles. Laws are merely structures meant to help codify principles. The principles we chose to adhere to are those set forth in the Declaration of Independence. As with the Articles of confederation before them, if the Constitution, or any other body of laws fails to uphold those principles, then the rules need to be changed.

AR says:


All democrats (and yes I am one, although a moderate) should be demanding our national party leaders shut up and resign. What are they going to do throw us out of the party??? If they do that then who is going to vote for them? Hollyweird??? I dont think these “persons” are actually allowed to vote!

Its bad enough fighting the super-rich and corporate interests built into the republican party, but now we have to do the same within our own???


Rapnel (profile) says:


Why, exactly, do you have a party?

Why does anyone? It would seem that it doesn’t result in much that is good or even reasonable anymore. To concentrate dollars to support the party to enable party people to get elected to hold the party line and fight the *gasp* other party? What’s the point of that? Just when do honest to goodness people people matter?

Besides the only thing they’re really preventing is progress..on things like who gets to have babies when, who gets healthcare when, who gets married to whom, whose business gets support and whose idea of a supreme being has more influence.

Gosh, I think that a president, once elected should be cut off from party and made to be the “presidential” party by the mere fact of being one and their original party should field another. But then that couldn’t earn the party more money now could it? I mean I get it, or I thought I did but, they’re really blowing it and it’s pretty far from getting any better any time soon.

Christ, the fucking POTUS can’t seem to comment on something regarding “law” enforcement but can authorize an assassination of a US citizen. Yeah, that’s good that.

The rule of law. WTF, what law? Law. A bit too selective these days that is. Fuck it, how about another? There are business that can’t get along without them and law makers not getting paid by those businesses. This is critical stuff folks, the beginning of an era. Strap in.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


Two excellent points in your rant. Once elected our officials should be cut off from “party” funds. That would, at the very least, create less of an incentive for corporations to fund parties directly ( they would have to work harder with individual bribes ). So it shouldn’t just be the POTUS but all of Congress as well that is cut off and forced into the “Presidential and Congressional” parties. It would also be harder to have an us vs them mentality when everyone in Congress is in the Congressional Party.

I also thought that the head of the Executive Branch, which is in charge of law enforcement could not comment on a law enforcement issue. It’s as if the White House petitions are asking for petitions about Congress, which the White House has no control over. “Ask me about their job so I can comment, but don’t ask me about my job.”

AR says:


Although I dont agree with the two party system, its what we have to work with at the moment. The system may have made some sense when they created it, it has lead to the corruption that we have now. Until that changes (short of a revolution and a new corrupt system), we have to work within the confines of what already exists. People with power are not going to give it up willingly. Until “we the people” are allowed to propose (vote on) and/or rescind these laws at the federal level the only recourse we have is to get in their faces and tell them to shut up and resign.

Anonymous Coward says:

Trying to work with Republicans on non-partisan IP issues is very different from trying to work with Republicans to dismantle Medicare as we know it (to replace it with something much, much worse). As important as I think copyright is, Medicare is a much bigger deal to the vast majority of Americans.

Yes, Politico’s writing and analysis is bad. Is that a surprise? Here’s less incoherent attack on Wyden for this.

Anonymous Coward says:

…trying to work out a reasonable compromise that would give seniors more choices (something that seems like it might be a reasonable idea). But in a world of partisan politics, this is a problem. And it’s not a problem because the idea is bad… but because it makes it harder for Democrats to attack Ryan.

If it didn’t seem like a reasonable idea, it wouldn’t be so dangerous. The problem is that empirically it’s known that the economics of the healthcare industry doesn’t behave much like the economics of practically any other industry, so ideas that sound reasonable based on your experience with other industries are not necessarily reasonable here.

This particular idea is horrible, and the fact that conservatives managed to trick Wyden into supporting it may help convince other moderates who respect Wyden to do the same.

Many of the Republicans in this debate are not arguing in good faith: they know quite well that their ultimate goal is to dismantle Medicare entirely (along with the rest of the “welfare state”), but can’t do so directly because of how popular and successful Medicare is. Gullible moderates like Wyden do indeed give them “cover” for these plans.

BeeAitch (profile) says:

“This seems like a quintessential example of the kind of inside baseball reporting that commentators like Jay Rosen complain about all the time. It’s reporting on politics like it’s a horse race, and the most important thing is which party is winning — not what they’re actually doing. “


Politics is no longer a matter of serving the public interest: it is more a game. Just like baseball, football (soccer or American style), cricket,etc.

Just. A. Fucking. Game.


Edward Teach says:

Arr, mates, this was a long time a comin'!

Shiver me sides, why ye be surprised at attacks on Wyden?

Between pushing for the Feds to say what their “secret interpretation” of the ill-named PATRIOT Act, and fighting SOPA and PIPA, he’s as much as painted a target on the side of his sloop, and paraded it in front of a cannonade!

Nay, Wyden will not get re-elected, he’ll be goin’ on th’ account next cycle! Welcome aboard, Ron!

Tigger Two (user link) says:

Democrats Are Playing 'Partisan' Politics?

This article accuses the Democrats in Congress of playing partisan politics, all because Senator Ron Wyden has broken ranks with his fellow party members in his opposition to SOPA/PIPI and for working with Republicans on other pieces of legislation. What a crock! The GOP has done nothing BUT play partisan politics and obstructionism ever since Obama became president. So a couple of Republicans are working together with Wyden to stop SOPA/PIPI. Big whoop. IMO, it’s rather hard for President Obama and the Democrats to work with people who refuse to compromise or budge on anything proposed by the White House. Just because TechDirt, along with the GOP, has been vehemently opposed to SOPA/PIPI, and the Democrats wanted to stick with the bill, you’ve decided to vilify them and call them partisan. Refresh my memory here, but isn’t it the GOP who’s the least popular with the electorate, and aren’t they called “The Party Of NO?” The Republicans wouldn’t know the meaning of bipartisanship if it jumped up and bit them on their conservative behinds. And obviously, neither would TechDirt.

Figment says:

Wyden is wrong on Medicare

I proudly voted for Wyden, and was glad he worked against bad bills for the internet. But Wyden, and the author of this article, need to understand the massive difference in what he is doing with Medicare. Paul Ryan’s plan is to end Medicare and replace it with the private insurance system that was so dysfunctional the nation had to spend decades arguing over how to fix it and an entire year trying to get a reform passed.
Wyden is off the deep end on this one if he actually believes that the Paul Ryan, that would rather see America default on his loans that compromise with the President, is going to make serious compromises to improve Medicare. The plan Paul Ryan released ends Medicare, and now he has an overly trusting Dem saying he may be willing to end Medicare too.

Zane Stuart (profile) says:

re: Senator Wyden Attacked...

It’s shameful that both main parties are such wrecks that, what should be normal conditions in Congress, is so abnormal it becomes news. We’ve grown so accustomed to their inaction (except their quest for job security via special interest dollars) that we’re taken aback by any of them actually doing the job we gave them. In today’s vernacular – “That’s fucked up”.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...