The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Chances are that when the GOP inevitably capitulates, the vote to end the government shutdown will be surprisingly one-sided.

And what with 72 percent of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll saying they disapprove of the shutdown, the retreat almost can’t happen soon enough to save the Republican Party from the charlatanism of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and screwball allies like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Writing in the Washington Examiner, the well-connected conservative columnist Byron York estimates that as many as 175 of the 233 House Republicans are prepared to support a “clean” budget resolution stripped of references to the Affordable Care Act.

Embarrassing? Definitely. Beaten by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama, two weaklings they’d seen as sure to back down. An object lesson in believing your own bull…, well, your own propaganda.

However, there’s also safety in numbers. The fewer diehards holed up in the Tea Party’s self-constructed Alamo, the hollower their accusations of cowardice and treason will sound to sane GOP voters come the 2014 primary season.

For what it’s worth—the story is characteristically unsourced—Politico reports that “Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has privately warned House Republicans that they could lose their majority in 2014 as a result of shutting down the government.”

Well, no kidding. Parsing the Speaker’s evolving public statements, York suggests that he may be leaning toward allowing a vote on a clean resolution sooner rather than later—something Boehner could have done weeks ago if the gentleman had a spine.

Exactly how the third most powerful figure in the U.S. government found himself backed into this humiliating position is a matter of conjecture. With people throwing around Neville Chamberlin analogies of late—the British prime minister who bargained away Czechoslovakia to Hitler for an illusory peace in 1938—Speaker Boehner definitely qualifies for a dishonorable mention.

Because, you see, contrary to the hoary conventions of Washington journalism, this made-for-TV crisis has never really been a sign of “partisan gridlock” or any such thing. Even my own gibe about Republicans losing to Harry Reid and Barack Obama above is somewhat misleading.

The real fight hardly involves Democrats, one reason Reid’s had little trouble keeping the Senate majority in line. “As a matter of politics,” James Fallows writes in The Atlantic, “this is different from anything we learned about in classrooms or expected until the past few years. We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.

“This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican Party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.”

By attempting to use budgetary extortion to annul a law passed by both houses of Congress, found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and ratified by a presidential election, an inflamed minority inside the Republican Party is attempting something like a constitutional coup d’état.

Fallows: “there is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. It is radical, and dangerous for the economy and our process of government, and its departure from past political disagreements can’t be buffed away or ignored.”

Indeed, an increasing number of conscientious Republicans have grown alarmed. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson: “We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican “establishment”; this revolt is against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality. Conservatives are excommunicated not for holding the wrong convictions but for rational calculations in service of those convictions.”

The odds that Speaker Boehner fails to comprehend the radical nature of the Tea Party extortion threat, its nonexistent chances of prevailing, and the damage it’s doing to the GOP are vanishingly small. This is very far from his first rodeo. The suntanned golfer is an 11-term congressman who’s been involved in party leadership fights almost since arriving in Washington.

Even so, he’s caught in a trap of his own devising. Unwilling to allow any bill to reach the House floor that needs Democratic votes to pass—such as the current budget resolution—he’s found himself checkmated by 30 to 50 Tea Party zealots he needs to get anything done. To cross them would risk losing the Speakership. And that would never do.

Like many, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius sees Boehner as a total failure: “Unable to control his own caucus, negotiate effectively with the president or pass legislation, he flounders in office—a likable man who is utterly ineffective.”

More optimistically, Byron York depicts the Speaker employing a deliberate rope-a-dope strategy: “After another defeat or two, and under the pressure of a shutdown, Boehner will finally turn to the 30 and say, ‘We tried it your way, over and over. Now, the majority will pass a resolution.’”

Peace in our time.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Supreme Court

YouTube Screenshot

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was confronted over his support for the bipartisan bill addressing elements of gun violence, he defended his Second Amendment record, telling reporters: “I spent my career supporting, defending and expanding” gun rights, and stressing that he had “spent years” confirming conservative judges. McConnell made that statement in full confidence that the Supreme Court he packed with three illegitimate justices would do precisely what it did: ensure that sensible gun regulations anywhere would be eliminated.

The court decided the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen case Thursday in 6-3 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, striking down that state’s 108-year-old provision requiring anyone who wants to get a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show “proper cause” before being granted a permit. The Court’s extremists, Thomas writes, find that New York's strict limits on the concealed carry of firearms in public violates the Second Amendment. It essentially throws out the previous restrictions the Court upheld in its last big gun control case, the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller.

Keep reading... Show less

Matt Gaetz

YouTube Screenshot

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol concluded its fifth public hearing on Thursday and revealed that multiple Republican members of Congress – Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) – sought pardons in January of 2021 from then-President Donald Trump after they voted against certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in the Electoral College.

Not long after the bipartisan panel recessed, Gaetz, a fiercely loyal Trump ally and proponent of the Big Lie, took to Twitter to disparage his colleagues and their historic inquiry.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}