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Back in March, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that “trying to put Obamacare on [a continuing resolution] risks shutting down the government. That’s not what our goal is.”

Well, maybe that wasn’t his goal back then. But after Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) spent the summer telling the Republican base that they could and should defund Obamacare before the health care exchanges opened on October 1, a shutdown became inevitable.

Some argue this shutdown has been a Republican plot since at least March, but this assumes that everyone in the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Bush I, Bush II, Cheney, McCain, Palin and Cruz agrees with the Suicide Caucus in the House of Representatives who are willing to risk anything — even the U.S. economy — to stop the Affordable Care Act.

A relatively small group of extremists has been able to drive the government to its first shutdown in almost two decades. And these Tea Partiers are in revolt “against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality,” according to The Washington Post‘s Michael Gerson.

Other Republicans, however, have a slightly firmer grasp on that reality. Here are five Republicans who are blaming their fellow Republicans for this $300-million-a-day shutdown of the nation’s largest employer.

John McCain

John McCain

The Republican nominee for president in 2008 has been one of the most vocal critics of a shutdown, warning his party that the story has become “Republicans are fighting Republicans. That’s not helpful.

“It’s very important that we understand that Americans don’t like government. They don’t like Congress. They don’t like government. But they don’t want it shut down,” John McCain told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “When, in ’95, when we shut down the government last time, we had already passed a number of appropriations bills. So the impact of a shutdown of a government, since we haven’t passed a single appropriations bill, will be more immediate and will be more impactful.”

The irony, of course, is that the movement Ted Cruz capitalized on to build his “Defund Obamacare” effort was sparked in part by the person McCain chose to be his running mate in 2008 — Sarah Palin.

Still, the senator is trying to make his fellow Republicans aware of how unpopular their actions are by tweeting terrible poll numbers for the GOP:

 

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

Peter King

peterking

Who should be blamed for the government shutdown? Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has a very simple answer: “Ted Cruz should be blamed and anybody that follows him.”

The congressman has been ranting against the junior senator from Texas and “40 Ted Cruz Republicans” in the House for most of the week. And he probably won’t stop until the government reopens.

Susan Collins

Copyright by World Economic Forum. swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger.

The senior senator from Maine called Cruz’s defunding scheme “a strategy that cannot possibly work.”

In a statement released before the government shutdown on Monday evening, Collins said, “I voted against Obamacare and have repeatedly voted to repeal, reform, and replace it, but I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government…”

Collins, like McCain, is willing to speak against Republican orthodoxy. However, both tend to vote with their party over and over again.

Photo: Remy Steinegger via World Economic Forum

Devin Nunes

Devin Nunes

No Republican has been more outspoken in his opposition to the idea of tying defunding Obamacare to a government shutdown than Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who called it “moronic” and compared his colleagues to “lemmings with suicide vests.”

“They have to be more than just a lemming,” he said. “Because jumping to your death is not enough.”

The congressman makes no secret of his disdain for the prevailing “with us or against us” politics, saying, “You have this group saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re with Obamacare. If you’re not with their plan — exactly what they want to do — you’re with Obamacare. It’s getting a little old.”

Nunes’ district has voted Republican consistently since 1980 — but he is from California, where patience for Republican Party intransigence is disappearing faster than the few moderates left in the GOP.

GOP Governors and Gubernatorial Candidates

Cuccinelli
Republican governors — much as George W. Bush did in 1999 — are using an unpopular Republican House to position themselves to run for the White House.

Chris Christie (R-NJ), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Scott Walker (R-WI) have all argued vaguely against a shutdown and for a compromise… that they wouldn’t actually have to make.

“My approach would be, as the executive, is to call in the leaders of the Congress, the legislature, whatever you’re dealing with and say that we’re not leaving this room until we fix this problem,” Christie said on Monday. “Because I’m the boss, I’m in charge.”

This sounds more like Chris Christie fan fiction than reality — especially as it assumes the opposing party actually respects the president’s authority, which is not the case here — but it shows how Republicans are attempting to distinguish themselves from President Obama and distance themselves from House Republicans.

Perhaps no Republican has more to lose from a shutdown than the GOP nominee for governor in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli. The state’s economy is severely dependent on the federal government, especially the Department of Defense — which is, of course, headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.

So “Cooch,” who recently appeared at an “interesting” Tea Party rally, is forced to thread the needle and criticize “both parties.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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