[I]n a McCain presidency Democrats would have faced the same political incentives Republicans face now — where it’s easier to blame a terrible economy on the president than to find ways to cooperate with him — with two added reasons to fight rather than to deal: First, they could have easily pinned the whole of the economic crisis on the G.O.P. (“the Bush-McCain Depression,” etc.), and second, they would have had a potentially unbeatable Hillary Clinton rather than a suspect Mitt Romney waiting in the wings for 2012.
Sorry, Ross, but this Sullivan reader has you nailed:
[The 2008 stimulus bill] passed with a majority of the Democrats supporting it, and a majority of Bush's own GOP *opposing* it! The same thing happened with the TARP bill in the fall of 2008; the Democrats were MORE supportive of Bush's emergency measures than the Republicans were.
When the foundational belief of the Republican Party is "government is the problem, not the solution," They are just not going to behave the way Democrats do. I can point to many instances where government has made things worse, not better (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two), but Democrats in the House and Senate tend generally to do what's right over what's politically better for their party more often than their GOP counterparts do.