Addicting Info had a rather interesting piece the other day. When I read it, I felt a little bit of vindication for what many of us have been saying on this and like blogs for a couple of years: The GOP as it exists now cannot continue further down its current path.
That verdict was delivered by no one other than MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, he of the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. Video is below.
Nathaniel Downes, the piece's author, makes several points that aren't news to most of us. But what's interesting is that an MSNBC host known as a GOP apologist had, at least on that morning, sounded the GOP's death knell. What occasioned Scarborough's crie de coeur was the GOP leadership not allowing a vote on Sandy relief after passing the fiscal cliff deal. If you recall, GOP congress members from the affected areas unleashed a torrent of abuse upon the leadership for that act of cowardice and malice. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was—unfortunately—lauded for tearing into the House Republican leadership for failing to act. (I say "unfortunately" because it started a mini-boomlet in Christie flogging for 2016. He may have told the truth in that news conference, but at the end of the day he remains a Republican, and a self-serving one.) I pull a couple of Scarborough quotes from the Downes piece:
I will tell you, the seeds are being planted right now for the destruction of the House Republican majority. They are being planted before they are sworn in today.And:
We haven’t even talked about Sandy Hook. We haven’t talked about being wrapped as the party of Wayne LaPierre instead of the party of Ronald Reagan. The extremism that is going to be wrapped around this party, the men and women being sworn in today start – behind the 8 ball – they are already on their way to making Nancy Pelosi the next speaker of the House … They better turn this ship around quickly or we’re going to have a Democratic monopoly in Washington D.C. on January 4, 2015.Now, of course, what's rich is that Scarborough was the equivalent of the Tea Party during the Gingrich Revolution. But even that exercise in radicalism pales in comparison to what is going on now. What we have in the GOP is a party which is unelectable unless they gerrymander themselves into power, and that works only for the House, and only for so long. For those who wail at the odds stacked against the Democrats retaking the House in 2014, with estimates that Democrats would have to win the popular vote by 7%, a little bit of history: Democrats won the popular vote over the Republican Party by 52% to 44.1%, a winning margin of 7.9%. To say that a 7% margin is unattainable is to live in a state where losing is much easier than doing the work to win. The political climate is similar to 2006, with voters fed up with a "do nothing Congress", Republican favorables in the teens, and a sense that the country is fundamentally broken due to GOP intransigence. I'm not downplaying the difficulty in achieving this; but we've been down this road in the not too distant past.
Obviously, Scarborough finds the idea of Democratic domination in 2015 unpalatable, to say the least. But even he realizes that the course on which the Tea Party has set the GOP is untenable. All the gerrymandering and dirty tricks available will not suffice when the Republicans are seen as dangerous ideologues who have no concern for the needs or demands of the majority of Americans.
Of course, as we've been saying, it's been patently obvious that it has been President Obama's main goal—or one of his many goals—to turn the GOP into a spent force. It was patently predictable that his election and his policies would engender a last-gasp backlash.
Although I had moved to L.A. by then, I remember watching the mayoralty of New York's first black mayor, David Dinkins, from afar. The backlash against his administration was almost immediate, and led to going on 20 years of Republican mayors. But, Barack Obama is not David Dinkins; he knew the backlash would come; the only question was how to turn it to his advantage. The fruits of his patience are now coming to bear. Greg Sargent had a piece yesterday on what might be the Tea Party's last stand:
Now, even more so than the fiscal cliff battle, this year’s debt ceiling fight is shaping up as a kind of epic final confrontation — perhaps the Tea Party’s last chance to force Obama to do what the American people emphatically declared in the election that they don’t want, i.e., solve the country’s fiscal problems primarily by dramatically shrinking government, unraveling the safety net, and sparing the rich more sacrifice. And while we should reserve judgment until we see what happens in the end, Obama is certainly behaving like someone who is determined to break the Tea Party once and for all.Consider this: the Tea Party has been the only source of enthusiasm and energy on the Republican side since the 2008 election. "Moderate" Republicans by and large no longer exist in nature, as they're too frightened of a Tea Party primary challenge to stand up to the radicals. But there is still the split between what passes for "establishment" Republicans and the Tea Party brown shirts. And the establishment Republicans have been given their marching orders:
A conservative activist group backed by the industrialist Koch brothers is urging Republicans to show restraint during US debt ceiling negotiations, representing a shift in position by the usually hardline Americans for Prosperity....Shorter Charles & David Koch: "Pay the damned bills".
The change comes amid heightened concern among big business groups about the economic impact of dysfunction in Washington....
Mr Obama has taken a far more aggressive posture on the debt ceiling this year than he did in 2011. He said this week that he would not negotiate over the US borrowing limit and that Republicans should not expect to receive a “ransom”.
While Mr Boehner is publicly calling for a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar raised in the debt limit, the pivot by AFP could help soften the position of conservatives opposed to any increase in the debt ceiling.
As Booman states,
I hesitate to even say this out loud because I don't want to clue the Republicans into what is happening. But, they are about to see their Speaker break his promise not to put any more bills on the floor that don't enjoy the support of the majority of his caucus or that haven't gone through the normal committee process. He is going to do it to raise the debt ceiling. If his caucus would listen to reason, Boehner wouldn't have to renege on his pledges, but they won't listen to reason.There is going to be a crackup in the Congressional Republican caucus between the rump establishment Republicans who are there to look out for the interests of those that pay them, and the Tea Party true believers who want a hard rain to come and cleanse the Republic. It's not that the establishment GOP has the best interests of their fellow citizens at heart; no, nothing so touchy-feely. But they do have the interests of the Kochs and Waltons at heart, and a situation in which the US defaults would be catastrophic to everyone, not just we of the 99%. It's all well and good to fill the shock troops with visions of glorious revolution; but real revolution is messy, and uncontrollable, and that's what the establishment GOP is discovering to its horror: the Tea Party wants to push the country into default, because it really doesn't understand how the world works. It just sees it as a chance to defeat Obama and his creeping socialism; no price is too great to pay for that.
And that is where we stand today: the GOP on the verge of splitting, and Democrats, if they're smart (and with Obama leading, they will be) ready to capitalize on the Right's chaos. The debt ceiling will be raised, with a minority of Republican votes, and the Tea Party will go into a full revolt.
The paymasters of the Right sowed the wind; now they will reap the whirlwind.