Monday, October 7, 2013

How Radical Can They Be?

UPDATE VII:  Republi-con "elders, many of whom have been in denial about their party’s radicalization, seem especially startled. But all of this was predictable.

It has been obvious for years that the modern Republican Party is no longer capable of thinking seriously about policy. Whether the issue is climate change or inflation, party members believe what they want to believe, and any contrary evidence is dismissed as a hoax, the product of vast liberal conspiracies. . .

Unfortunately for all of us, even the shock of electoral defeat wasn’t enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble; it’s still a party dominated by wishful thinking, and all but impervious to inconvenient facts. And now that party’s leaders have bungled themselves into a corner."

Read The New York Times, The Boehner Bunglers

UPDATE VI:   How did the Republi-cons become so radical?

"It was Mr. Gingrich who pioneered the political dysfunction we still live with. His inflammatory rhetoric provided a model for the grandstanding guerrilla warfare of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. And his actions — particularly his move to shut down the government in 1995 and 1996 — undermined popular trust and ushered in the present political era of confrontation and obstruction.

But here’s the catch: Mr. Gingrich, of Georgia, rose to party leadership because he was the preferred candidate of the moderates themselves. They even sided with him against Robert H. Michel of Illinois, the House minority leader from 1981 until 1995, who, in his civility and willingness to cooperate with Democrats, embodied the moderate’s political sensibility.

Mr. Michel once reminded his fellow House Republicans that “we also have an obligation to the American people” to be “responsible participants in the process.” Talk of obligation and responsibility to the greater public good would quickly become obsolete in the Gingrich era of hyperbolic partisanship.

The problem for Republicans was that playing a “responsible” role appeared to consign them to permanent minority status. For a 40-year span beginning in 1955, Republicans were in a minority in the House and were in the majority for only six years in the Senate. By the early 1990s, even moderate House Republicans felt that the ruling Democrats had grown arrogant and corrupt.

As moderates came to believe that nothing was to be gained from cooperating with Democrats, they became more receptive to Mr. Gingrich’s argument that the way to dislodge the entrenched majority was to polarize the electorate while attacking Congress as an irredeemable and illegitimate institution. . .

The Republican Party won’t change course until the Gingrich strategy for winning House elections stops working."

Read The New York Times, The Moderates Who Lighted the Fuse

UPDATE V:  Republi-cons are "barking-mad pack of ideologues," with an approach that "places great value on zeal and combativeness and isn’t very concerned with success" and an idée fixe "that some sort of cataclysmic confrontation is inevitable."

"This is the reality that finally brought Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, two of DC’s most arbiters of political standards and practices, fastidiously sober, even-handed and high-minded, to finally just throw up their hands mid-last-year and say 'Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.'"

The party is "committed to a reckless, pointless budget brinkmanship, which creates a perpetual cycle of outrage and disillusionment among conservatives and leaves Washington lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next."

"[D]ivided government now looks like dysfunctional government.  And despite the political security created by the rigged system of redistricting, Republicans may suddenly find the congressional midterms a referendum on their ability to get things done.  The scorecard is ugly on that front, providing yet another reason for Democrats to accept a government shutdown, however painful.

There is the sense that maybe the stark stupidity of this conflict will break the hyper-partisan fever consuming our nation’s capital.  Republicans are realizing that the angry conservative populist forces they empowered to achieve power have turned on them and are now actively restricting their ability to be taken seriously as a governing force."

Read The American Conservative, Republicans, Over the Cliff.

The article quotes other conservatives, and concludes that the "Republicans cannot govern. These people aren’t conservatives. They are radicals."

UPDATE IV:  "What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule."

Read The New York Times, Our Democracy Is at Stake,.

The article notes that the "contempt for the democratic process" by a "superempower[ed] small political movements to act in extreme ways without consequences and thereby stymie majority rule" is the result, of among other things, "the rise of a separate G.O.P. (and a liberal) media universe — from talk-radio hosts, to Web sites to Fox News — [which] has created another gravity-free zone, where there is no punishment for extreme behavior, but there’s 1,000 lashes on Twitter if you deviate from the hard-line and great coverage to those who are most extreme. When politicians only operate inside these bubbles, they lose the habit of persuasion and opt only for coercion. After all, they must be right. Rush Limbaugh told them so." 

UPDATE III:  What are the Republi-cons risking by shutting-down the government to attack Obamacare?

"Right now, then, a kind of sour spot seems like a pretty plausible outcome for Republicans: A shutdown that lasts just long enough to convince swing voters that the G.O.P. can’t be trusted with the reins of government, but also ends with the party’s grassroots convinced that they’ve been sold out by their leaders once again."

Read The New York Times, Is Republican Intransigence Reasonable?   

UPDATE II:  "It is almost impossible to find an establishment Republican in town who’s not downright morose about the 2013 that has been and is about to be. . .

The blown opportunities and self-inflected wounds are adding up."

Read Politico, Eve of Destruction, which notes that the problem is that "pressure from conservative media only encourages their public voices to say things that offend."

UPDATE:  Republi-cons may soon "suffer a third straight crushing defeat at the Presidential level. Based on history and common sense, that will probably be enough to give the reformers the upper hand. With today’s G.O.P., though, you never can be sure. . .

A party that loses once can put it down to bad luck or the political cycle. A party that loses twice can blame a bad candidate. (That’s you, Mitt!) A party that loses three times can hardly avoid some navel inspection. . .

For now, the G.O.P. and many of its tribunes on Capitol Hill appear content to ignore this elemental fact of political life. Maybe things will change during the next few months, but I wouldn’t wager on it. More and more, it’s looking like it will take Hillary Clinton, or another Democrat, succeeding Barack Obama in the White House to bring about real changes in the G.O.P.

To put it another way, the great G.O.P. freak show still has a ways to run. From the point of view of the cynical heckler in the cheap seats, that’s just dandy: extremism and nuttiness makes good copy, and it keeps the Republicans out of the White House. The problem is that, diverting as it is, the show is paralyzing the government and doing great damage to the country."

Read The New Yorker, Why the G.O.P. Needs to Lose For a Third Time.

"When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate last August, conservatives rejoiced.

Ryan, after all, is known as a conservative’s conservative, having authored the GOP budget that contained trillions in spending cuts and major entitlement reform. By picking Ryan, the logic went, Romney was making a bold choice in the name of shoring up the GOP base.

But in today’s Republican Party, Ryan’s recent voting record is hardly one of the most conservative. And in fact, his votes over the past two years paint the picture of a middle-of-the-road conservative Republican rather than a rabble-rousing tea party crusader.

Whether that says more about the Republican Party or Paul Ryan is up for debate."

Read the Washington Post, In today’s GOP, Paul Ryan is middle-of-the-road

This is interesting because Ryan was (and I do mean was) a expected contender in 2016. Read the Washington Post, Rubio vs. Rand vs. Ryan, The race for conservative mantle in 2016

Even more interesting, "CPAC will have a hole in the line-up: Chris Christie, the outspoken governor of New Jersey, has not been invited to speak at CPAC, despite his massive popularity."  Read the Washington Post, Chris Christie’s CPAC snub.

Republi-cons just don't understand or accept that political extremism is a problem in the general election, even Romney, who was a relative liberal before the campaign, lost in 2012 to Obama and a bad economy.