THE VIRTUES OF OBSTRUCTION. Over e-mail, Midterm Madness contributor Ben Adler has a smart response to my earlier post on Sebastian Mallaby:

In addition to Ezra�s sharp fact-check on the A-Pox-on-Both-Their-Houses section of Sebastian Mallaby�s column, it�s worth noting the common, but silly, assumption underlying Mallaby�s analysis. He accuses the congressional Democratic leadership of �hav[ing] mastered the art of obstructionism but [being] light on policy proposals.� That assumes that Democrats and Republicans share broad agreement about what problems the nation faces in most areas. But, on many issues, the parties disagree not merely about means but about ends. Republicans think the tax code is too progressive, Democrats think it�s too regressive. So yes, Democrats attempt to �obstruct� efforts to make the estate tax repeal permanent and offer no �alternative.� But what�s wrong with that? The Dems are simply holding their principles.

Anyway, obstructionism or lack of ideas is not a fair accusation to throw at a minority party particularly under this ruthless brand of majority leadership. It is not as if the Republicans, particularly in the House, will give the Democrats� bills a fair vote. So, even if Mallaby�s assertion, were factually solid (it is not), it would be an illogical point anyway.

Indeed. When a merciless majority is pushing destructive legislation and impeding all minority proposals, effective obstruction may be the best idea of all...

--Ezra Klein