The Atlantic ran a good piece on Friday about GOP antics. Some choice bits:
The details are complicated, but please don’t lose sight of these three essential points:
- As a matter of substance, constant-shutdown, permanent-emergency governance is so destructive that no other serious country engages in or could tolerate it. The United States can afford it only because we are — still — so rich, with so much margin for waste and error. Details on this and other items below.*
- As a matter of politics, 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.** Outsiders to this struggle — the president and his administration, Democratic legislators as a group, voters or “opinion leaders” outside the generally safe districts that elected the new House majority — have essentially no leverage over the outcome. I can’t recall any situation like this in my own experience, and the only even-approximate historic parallel (with obvious differences) is the inability of Northern/free-state opinion to affect the debate within the slave-state South from the 1840s onward. Nor is there a conceivable “compromise” the Democrats could offer that would placate the other side.
- As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement,represents a failure of journalism*** and an inability to see or describe what is going on. For instance: the “dig in their heels” headline you see below, which is from a proprietary newsletter I read this morning, and about which I am leaving off the identifying details.
Think Progress offered their take with The Complete Guide to the GOP’s Three-Year Campaign to Shut Down the Government, which I think is a little off for not recognizing that the No-Compromise extortionist campaign had been pre-planned and sold to the Tea Party rank and file in its complete form by the end of February, 2011 at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit. Most notably, the strategy has worked remarkably well – the Tea Party has gotten what it wants – deep cuts in spending, tax cuts, and dysfunctional gridlock – an ongoing unofficial shutdown. An official shutdown is icing. In future their demands will get bigger as will the chunks of government they flick off along the way during their “failures.” What we’re seeing at play here is the grand master plan of attrition. Still, Volsky’s timeline does put the latest defunding debacle into some order. Probably worth a look.