Yeah, theze guyz wuz really gonna do a heapa cooperatin' with Ooh That Damn Obama.
"[Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell's conciliatory statements are encouraging, but he's about to discover that he cannot persuade Republican Senators and Congressmen to cooperate on anything constructive. We're about to get two years of intense, horrifying stupidity. If you thought Benghazi was a legitimate scandal that reveals Obama's real plans for America then you're an idiot, but these next two years will be a (briefly) happy period for you."
"We have constitutional authority to do a string of things. [Impeachment] would be the very last option, but I would not rule it out.”
"The fact that there were no rape gaffes from Republican candidates this year doesn’t mean that the Party has moved toward the center. Instead, it has learned how to muffle its extremism. . . . But building a Republican Party that can entertain ideas and pass laws with far-reaching answers to the country's problems is harder than winning an election."
-- George Packer, in his November 24
"The Harder Part
If the story of the GOP response to the president's immigration initiative were accounted for honestly, it would go something like this: Republicans who felt obliged to pretend that they hoped to cooperate with President Obama have been gifted with an excuse why they don't hafta.
When I had my brief say Wednesday night about the announcement of last night's address ("As the president prepares to make his big announcement, we ponder what it means to be an American
"), I made fun -- or at least tried to -- of the anti-immigration zealotry of a natio of immigrants. I intentionally avoided wading into what would obviously be the No. 1 story, which was not immigration but That Damn Obama.
I didn't go into it because it was both preordained and obvious. You don't get a lot of surprises these days from people (and I use the term in the most inclusive sense possible, covering all life forms that can be shown to be genetically human) whose political agenda begins and almost ends with Ooh That Damn Obama. Well, there's also the business of freeing the predatory oligarchs to rape and pillage the economy and re-creating the social agenda of the Inquisition. But that's all wrapped up in Ooh That Damn Obama.
Naturally it has all played as we could have written it up Wednesday, or the week before, or the week before that. The only (mild) surprise is that, as the Washington Post's Robert Costa reports today
: "GOP hopes backlash doesn't backfire." Of course we can tell easily enough that our Robert has apparently spent too much time hobnobbing with Village types:
Just two weeks ago, Republicans handed President Obama a humiliating defeat at the polls, winning full control of Congress. But already, party leaders fear that the conservative uproar over the president’s immigration actions will doom any hopes for a stable period of GOP governance.
The moves announced Thursday night by Obama — which will protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation — have sparked an immediate and widening rebellion among tea party lawmakers that top Republicans are struggling to contain.
Despite expanded powers and some new titles, soon-to-be Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) remain sharply limited in their ability to persuade their most conservative members. The duo has been thrust back into the same cycle of intraparty warfare that has largely defined the GOP during the Obama years and that has hurt the party’s brand among the broader electorate.
Chief among these mysterious people who are reputed to have been fantasizing about "a stable period of GOP governance," presumably, is the soon-to-be Senate majority leader, the lovely "Miss Mitch" McConnell. Why is why I've plunked the quote from "GOPlifer" blogger Chris Ladd atop this post, with the note that it dates from November 10, and thus really isn't connected to the current immigration follies. Already Chris was pointing out that our Miss Mitch is "about to discover that he cannot persuade Republican Senators and Congressmen to cooperate on anything constructive."
(I should note that Chris's post on "GOPlifer" -- which appears on the Houston Chronicle's website
-- is called "This missing story of the 2014 election
," and insists that "this was a dark week for Republicans," arguing at some length and in considerable detail that his party, far from broadening its appeal, merely deepened
it, winning in places that seem already well served by the Republican congressional clowns who have provided a steady diet of "Climate denial, theocracy, thinly veiled racism, paranoia, and Benghazi hearings. Lots and lots of hearings on Benghazi" -- definitely worth a look. Daily Kos's murphthesurf3
has written a swell piece
about Chris's post.)
Have we already forgotten how much time (which is to say every minute of every working day) those glorious "leaders" Miss Mitch and "Sunny John" Boehner have devoted to destroying the Obama presidency? And gotten away scotfree? Did nobody notice that Sunny John already had no effective control over the House majority caucus in the last session of Congress? And that his new Class of '14 warriors are going to be even more wildly out of control?
Just for laughs, and perhaps a touch of nostalgia, I've put that new humdinger of a Steve "The Stupe" King quote at the top of this post. We've got incoming freshman Republican congresscreeps who may make The Stupe look like a statesman. Okay, maybe not like a statesman
, but you get the idea.
Ditto the new crop of GOP senators -- you know, the life forms who are putting Miss Mitch at the helm of the Senate majority.
Now how long do you think it would have taken these people to find a reason to rise in righteous dudgeon against the source of all evil, Ooh That Damn Obama.
At this point I'm going to turn the floor over to The New Yorker
's George Packer. In his "Comment" piece, "The Hard Part
," in the November 24 issue, the tizzy Republicans were thrown into in 2012 by President Obama's reelection. Much as the Democrats did after their
midterm congressional whupping in 2010, George writes, Republicans in 2010 "ask[ed] themselves what went wrong."
They wrote earnest opinion pieces, organized soul-searching retreats, formed high-minded study groups, and launched reformist efforts such as the Growth and Opportunity Project, which published a scathing report about the dire state of the Party.
On November 4th, it all seemed to pay off. Political offices around the country, from governorships and state legislatures to Congress, are now decisively red. Even given the Republicans’ advantages in electoral geography and turnout, their sweep should be more chilling to Democrats than the Tea Party triumphs of 2010, because it came in a period of partial economic sunshine, with Republicans statistically less popular than Democrats. The Party that has spent the past six years doing everything in its power to prevent the President from stimulating growth, boosting wages, improving infrastructure, controlling health-care costs, and regulating Wall Street was rewarded with clear majorities in both houses. The only prize left is the big one in 2016.
Republican leaders, determined to prove that they can build as well as destroy, have made a mighty effort not to seem high on victory. “There will be no government shutdowns,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader-elect, promised. Cory Gardner, the Senator-elect from Colorado, warned, “If Republicans don’t prove that we can govern with maturity, that we can govern with competence, we’ll see the same kind of results two years from now, except it will be a wave going back a different direction.” Senator Rand Paul, a potential candidate for the Presidency, said, “You know, I think the gridlock is going to end.” He sounded like a patient trying to talk his way out of rehab.
There are reasons to be skeptical that the Party has really turned a corner on its chronic obstructionism. Within ten days of the election, McConnell was sounding like himself again. After China and the United States announced common goals for reducing greenhouse gases, he accused Obama of sending “a signal that he has no intention of moving toward the middle”—a place, apparently, where the two parties agree on limitless carbon emissions from coal plants, like the ones in McConnell’s home state, Kentucky. The House Speaker, John Boehner, concurred: “The President intends to double down on his job-crushing policies no matter how devastating the impact.”
The recent, utterly alarming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got through to the Chinese leadership, but not to the G.O.P.’s. The probable next chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, who has called global warming a “hoax.” He’s joined in ignorance by Senator Ted Cruz, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, and Senator Jeff Sessions, who will likely chair the Budget Committee. The Republican leadership is determined to prevent or undo any executive action by Obama on greenhouse gases, as well as on immigration reform.
When the Republicans talk about proving that they can govern, they don’t mean that they intend to solve the country’s core problems. The bills that the leadership has vowed to bring to the floor include corporate tax reform, fast-track trade agreements, construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a repeal of the tax on medical devices. Most of these proposals are marginal enough to betray a tactical mind-set: the purpose is not to address important issues but to corner the President with bipartisan votes and improve the G.O.P.’s image ahead of 2016.
In a post-election editorial, the conservative National Review dismissed the whole idea that congressional Republicans need to mature, arguing that the “desire to prove Republicans can govern” will only divide the Party between its establishment and its extremists, play into the hands of opponents in the Democratic Party and the media, and perhaps even persuade voters to keep government divided by electing a Democratic President in 2016. The editorial urged the Republican leadership to dedicate itself to one goal: winning the White House—an extension of McConnell’s stated determination in 2010 to make Obama a one-term President. In both cases, the main objective is power. You can hear the voice of the Party’s enablers: why sober up now that the bad behavior is paying off?
A party that dedicated itself to extreme policy positions and a strategy of legislative intransigence won’t find reform easy. Some moderate Republicans studied the résumés of the midterm candidates and decided that the Party was returning to its respectable self of the Eisenhower years—the party of Rotarians, prudent business owners, patriotic veterans. This is wishful thinking. That party no longer exists, and neither does the political consensus of the postwar years. It was based on a wide distribution of economic rewards, a high degree of civic participation, and respected national institutions, including the federal government, which the modern Republican Party has done everything it can to discredit (with help from feckless Democratic ideas and actions, not least the rollout of Obamacare).
The fact that there were no rape gaffes from Republican candidates this year doesn’t mean that the Party has moved toward the center. Instead, it has learned how to muffle its extremism. The Growth and Opportunity Project’s withering assessment had no new policies to propose—it seemed wary of the very notion of ideological debate. The report was a strategy plan—a guide to using messaging, polling, technology, fund-raising, and other “campaign mechanics,” in order to reverse the Party’s growing isolation as a bastion of the older, rural, white electorate.
By the standard of the midterms, the report was a success. But building a Republican Party that can entertain ideas and pass laws with far-reaching answers to the country’s problems is harder than winning an election. It might even take losing another one.
Labels: Barack Obama, Boehner, crazy extremists, George Packer, House GOP, obstructionist Republicans, Senate