Even Paul Krugman — who is such a bitter, contemptuous partisan that I avoided running his columns at the newspaper — thought maybe he was going overboard a bit by calling the GOP’s maneuvers on funding Obamacare and the rest of government “crazy:”
In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.
I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past…
But aside from the typically Krugmanesque assertion that the GOP was stupid before it was crazy (everyone who disagrees with Krugman is stupid — just ask him; he’ll tell you), the economist really wasn’t going out on much of a limb in this instance.
He was simply stating something that seems to be emerging as a consensus across the political spectrum. Among people who have clue, that is.
While his language is milder, Gerald Seib, writing in that wild-eyed liberal publication The Wall Street Journal, is similarly dismissive of the sanity of GOP House members’ actions:
The list of conservatives who didn’t want the House to do what it did late last week—that is, pass a bill trying to defund Obamacare, at the risk of shutting down the government—is long and distinguished: Karl Rove, Rep. Pete King, Sen. John McCain, the editorial page of this newspaper, even the House’s own Republican leadership.
But House Republicans went ahead anyway, passing a bill tying the financing of government operations starting Oct. 1 with the removal of money for implementing the new health law. The bill won’t pass the Senate, and it won’t be signed by the president, but it may lead to a partial closure of the government that many believe would be politically disastrous for the Republican Party.
Which raises again the question that animates much of the conversation in the capital: Why do House Republicans do the things they do?..
He goes on to answer himself with a primer on what most of us already understand about House Republicans. Basically, that these people’s experience of government doesn’t precede the existence of the Tea Party, and that they are elected from districts that are so safe for a Republican that a GOP member need only fear a primary challenge. Stuff, as I said, we knew already. Although he reminded me of a fact I had forgotten if I knew it: That these districts are SO grossly gerrymandered that Republican candidates in the aggregate “lost the popular vote for the House in 2012 by more than a million votes nationally, yet kept control of the House by 33 seats.” (Although I see this writer disagrees that redistricting was the culprit.)
Then there is Judd Gregg, a Republican and former senator from New Hampshire, who writes for The Hill:
Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should.
The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree.
An approach to the debt ceiling that says one will not vote for its extension unless ObamaCare is defunded is the political equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers of the gun loaded. It is the ultimate no-win strategy….
… which almost makes Krugman sound temperate. Gregg continues:
You cannot in politics take a hostage you cannot shoot. That is what the debt ceiling is. At some point, the debt ceiling will have to be increased not because it is a good idea but because it is the only idea.
Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically…
He goes on to write about the destruction that defaulting on our debt would wreak on the world’s economy — something about which the babbling infants in the House (half of the GOP members have been there less than three years) and their fellow loony in the Senate, Ted Cruz, care not at all.
The people who elected them, and who will vote for someone crazier in a GOP primary if these individuals don’t act with gross irresponsibility, don’t know or care what sort of harm their actions could bring about, so they don’t know or care, either. This is apparently regarded, by at least one writer at RedState, as a good thing.
Here’s how James Taranto, whose standard tone in his Best of the Web Today column at the WSJ is every bit as dismissive of the left as Krugman is of the right, characterizes Ted Cruz’s effort to support the House GOP effort to defund Obamacare. After noting the commonsense fact that there is “no realistic prospect of enacting the House resolution,” he writes:
Instead of playing possum, a group of Senate Republicans led by Texas freshman Ted Cruz propose to play Otter: “I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!“…
Taranto then casts Sarah Palin in the role of Bluto, given her op-ed at Breitbart.com in which she essentially said, “We’re just the guys to do it.”
OK, so from the left and the right, we’re seeing such modifiers as “crazy,” “futile,” stupid,” and “appalling.”
To all of those qualities, let us add disingenuousness. Here is the entire text of a release that Joe Wilson, my congressman, sent out on Friday:
Wilson: Senate and President Must Act
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the House passed the Continuing Resolution which funds the government through December 15, 2013.
“Today, House Republicans have acted responsibly by passing a solution to keep the government’s doors open. Because of our efforts, American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law and hardworking taxpayers can rest assured that our nation will stop spending beyond its means.
“It’s time for the Senate and the President to act. Time is ticking. We have ten short days until the federal government’s funding will expire. Senate Democrats should follow our lead and join us in protecting the American people, rather than placing politics over policy and threatening a government shutdown,” Congressman Joe Wilson said.
Note that only a passing reference is made to the actual point of the resolution for House Republicans: “…American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law…” What an odd choice of words: “protected from.” He avoids saying what the measure does, which is deny funding to a program that is set in place by law — a law which he and his allies have demonstrated, an amazing number of times, that they are utterly incapable of repealing.
Then there is the really, truly cheesy dodge of making like it’s all on the president and the Senate whether the government is funded or not. Who are the children that Joe and the other Republicans who voted for this think will be fooled by that? Who will think, if the government shuts down, that anything other than the GOP obsession with Obamacare is to blame?
These guys are far gone. And everyone, on left and right, except them, seems to know it.