I have been mulling over this fevered form of insanity that has settled over the U.S. Capitol. I have found some salient nuggets of wisdom from even the more conservative corners of the punditocracy. Call it a matter of even the blind squirrel getting a nut every now and then, or the broken clock being right twice daily, if you will, but lately I have found as much illumination from the likes of David Frum and Andrew Sullivan (perhaps more) as from dedicated lefties like John Aravosis or Rachel Maddow.
Thanks to a high school debate partner and Facebook friend for observing that the entire Republican argument for adding Obamacare to the October 2013 Federal Budget Continuing Resolution is premised on the theory that all those arguments and battles about the Affordable Healthcare Act during 2009 and 2010 never really happened. She pointed out that David Frum observed at the time of the Republicans' defeat in 2010 that they BLEW their chances for getting half a loaf in their Quixotic quest for the whole damned bakery:
I keep seeing conservatives claim that House Republicans are trying to compromise but Senate Democrats and President Obama are refusing. It's like the world started last week. The time for compromise on health care reform was 2010. It's a great time to revisit the prescient words of Republican David Frum in a column he called "Waterloo."A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.
Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.
All of that is interesting, of course, in a macabre, study-the-flesh-eating-bacteria sort of a way. The propensity of the party represented by an elephant to completely purge its collective memory of anything that drops out of rotation in the latest Fox News cycle is both ironic and fascinating, but it is well-documented.
For me, the real rub lies in the fact that the Grand Old Mujahideen Party has turned over the keys of the federal Caddy to a bunch of Thelma-and-Louise wannabes who are celebrating the fact that they get to drive the damned thing off the cliff. Or as MSNBC reporter Suzy Khimm tweeted from one member in the back seat:
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) calls the Cruz wing of party "lemmings with suicide vests...because jumping to your death is not enough."— Suzy Khimm (@SuzyKhimm) September 30, 2013
I have had this feeling all week that somehow I have stepped into an alternate universe, one of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone episodes. You know, where suddenly up is down and time flows backwards and the laws of logic have been upended. Because Very Important People keep telling me that somehow we have to find a way out of this bit of a pickle in which we find ourselves. There just has to be a way to sit down and discuss calmly how we can continue to fund that which the one group doing all the demanding in one party that lost the last elections have said they will strangle in the bathtub.
This is what we are expected to discuss:
Ezra rattles off the demands the GOP is making if they are not to destroy the US and global economy:Call me crazy and obstructionist. Call me a wild-eyed "lib" with no sense of morality or a Commie with whom one cannot reason. But I kinda, sorta, feel REALLY DAMNED FIERCELY that belief in SOME level of government and agreement to govern by a common set of rules (aka, a "Constitution") ought to be the sine qua non for being an elected representative in the first place!
In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a yearlong delay of Obamacare, Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan, the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, rewriting of ash coal regulations, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget, repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare, repeal of the Public Health trust fund, and more.Why not demand president Obama’s resignation while they’re at it?
What the sheer gob-smacking scale of these demands means is that the GOP effectively wants to nullify the last election entirely (except of course for their gerry-mandered, no-popular vote House majority). The staggering thing about this party as it now exists is that it views the governance of the other party as always effectively illegitimate. Elections do not matter. Only their agenda matters. No compromise is possible, even when this kind of catastrophic default is hanging over our heads. In fact, the danger of catastrophic default is something they relish in order to undo the basic principles of democratic government.
This is not a bargaining position; they already voted for the budget that requires us to raise the debt ceiling. It is a bald attempt to reverse elections as the mark of a democracy and replace them with endless blackmail until they get their way. This isn’t conservatism. It’s pure constitutional vandalism.
As it stands now, because the Republicans have said to the Tea Party anarchists, "Hey, you lot, you seem to have a lot of fiercely held ideas. We'll let you speak for all of us in our collective seats at the grown-up's table in Congress," and because the rest of us have said, "hey, we have to demonstrate that we are REASONABLE and can discuss things RATIONALLY when we break bread with our Republican brethren - all for the sake of comity, of course," the entire nation has let the very people who have said they will blow up the government for the sake of saving it do just that. So we're all sitting here calmly acting as if someone rational and committed to the GREATER GOOD OF THE COUNTRY has said something VERY IMPORTANT and now we must all NEGOTIATE over what to do next.
What to do next?!!! Are you kidding me? Greece showed us all what to do when lunatics somehow find their way into the government: