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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 10, 2013

 
Six Week Makeover

by digby

It looks like Boehner got some cover to extend the debt limit for six weeks from the leaders of his party:
The conservative wing that has led Republicans into a government shutdown and to the brink of default has given its blessing to Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) proposal unveiled Thursday to lift the debt ceiling for six weeks.

Arch-conservative lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-OH) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) quickly backed the plan. Outside groups like Heritage Action and activist Erick Erickson of RedState said they wouldn't go after Republicans who voted for it. These conservatives have been calling the shots for the GOP during these crises.
[...]
The logic is these conservatives want the GOP to keep fighting to unwind Obamacare in a continuing resolution, or CR, to reopen the many federal services that closed on Oct. 1. They believe the CR is the better venue to fight the battle. It is a retreat after they initially insisted on extracting policy concessions for any hike in the country's borrowing limit ahead of the Oct. 17 deadline -- a sign that they view the shutdown as a lesser political risk for pressuring Democrats to accede to conservative reforms.

I don't know how they expect that to happen but I'm going to guess that John Boehner will be happy to let them think this will work in order to delay a default and try to come up with some kind of a human sacrifice that will either bring them back from the edge of the cliff or at least persuade a majority of the caucus to take a chance on defying the terrorists. It's quite a delicate game.

Meanwhile, it would appear they are going to refuse to re-open the government which the White House is saying is a non-starter, but which everyone assumes they'll go along with if it means avoiding the worldwide economic chaos of a default on the debt. And in any case it's smart for the White House to pretend to hate this deal and be fighting it every step of the way lest the Republicans balk simply because the White House wants it. (That's how they roll.)

So, here we are. With wingnut Don Quixotes' twisted logic saving us from catastrophe:

"It seems the GOP has taken a hint and will continue the fight on Obamacare by punting the debt ceiling discussion six weeks to Thanksgiving," RedState's Erickson wrote in a blog post. "But we must keep the fight on Obamacare. If the CR and debt ceiling were combined, we could not hold the line. This now lets us hold the line and get the conversation back to Obamacare."

... and liberal pundits rejoicing about the government shutdown that saved the world economy.

Is it too early to start drinking?

Update: it occurs to me that this is the perfect place to link to Perlstein's excellent piece today on Republican goal post moving:
Some thoughts today on the apocalyptic horror that envelops us this week, thanks to our friends on the right. Last week I noted that conservatives are time-biders: “The catacombs were good enough for the Christians,” as National Review publisher William Rusher put it in 1960. That’s their imperative as they see it: hunker down, for decades if need be, waiting for the opportune moment to strike down the wickedness they spy everywhere—in this case, a smoothly functioning federal government. “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years,” Grover Norquist said in the first part of the quote, whose more famous second half is “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Twenty-five years. Given that sedulous long-termism, conservatives are also, it is crucial to understand, inveterate goalpost-movers—fundamentally so. Whenever an exasperated liberal points out that the basic architecture of the Affordable Care Act matches a plan drawn up by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s, I feel a stab of exasperation myself—with my side. Theirs is not a clinching argument, or even a good argument. It means nothing to point out to conservatives that Heritage once proposed something like Obamacare. The Heritage plan was a tactic of a moment—a moment that required something to fill in the space to the right of President Clinton’s healthcare plan, an increment toward the real strategic goal of getting the government out of the healthcare business altogether… someday.

I am never more exasperated than when Barack Obama makes such arguments. He loves them! This week it was his observation, “The bill that is being presented to end the government shutdown reflects Republican priorities.” So why can’t they see reason?

Never mind the damage such pronouncements do to the president’s status as a negotiator, a point we’ve all discussed to death, though I’ll reiterate it anyway: even when Obamaism wins on its own terms, it loses, ratifying Republican negotiating positions as common sense. As that same conservative theorist William Rusher also put it, the greatest power in politics is “the power to define reality.” As I wrote last year, “Obama never attempts that. Instead, he ratifies his opponent’s reality, by folding it into his original negotiating position. And since the opponent’s preferred position is always further out than his own, even a ‘successful’ compromise ends up with the reality looking more like the one the Republicans prefer. A compromise serves to legitimize.”

Read the whole thing. Please. I beg you.

Well, just one more little taste:

I’ll close today with another quick gripe: the one about Democrats’ “winning” this hostage-taking horror show because the Republicans now have a 28 percent approval rating, lower than during the shutdowns in the mid-1990s. Well, in 1975, only 18 percent of Americans were willing to call themselves “Republicans.” Internally, the talk was whether the party should change its name. George Will said visiting Republican National Committee headquarters was like visiting “the set for a political disaster flick, a political Poseidon Adventure.” The bank holding the mortgage on the Capitol Hill Club, the private retreat where Republicans took their refreshment, was threatening to foreclose on the place. The party’s pollster, Robert Teeter, explained that a majority of Americans considered Republicans “untrustworthy and incompetent.” A desperate RNC commissioned a series of three TV programs called Republicans Are People Too!, which ended with a pitch for contributions. The second episode cost $124,000 to produce. It brought in $5,515. The announced third episode never ran.

They came back in 1978—too late for the political scientist Everett Carll Ladd to save face, for his book Where Have All the Voters Gone? had just come out, arguing, “The GOP is in a weaker position than any major party of the U.S. since the Civil War…. We are dealing with a long-term secular shift, not just an artifact of Watergate. The Republicans have lost their grip on the American establishment, most notably among young men and women of relative privilege. They have lost it, we know, in large part because the issue orientations which they manifest are somewhat more conseravtive than the stratem favors. The party is especially poorly equipped in style and tone to articulate the frustrations of the newly emergent American petit bourgeoisie—southern, white Protestant, Catholic, black and the like.”

They did pretty good in 1980, too. Don’t gloat.


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