Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Now that it is clear that Boehner is caving and allowing a vote on a continuing resolution that can pass the Senate (in other words, what he could have done 16 days ago to avoid this entire debacle), I wonder about the lasting effects of this whole fake crisis.

Despite the fact that it once again proved that following the lead of the tea party helps Democrats (is there any faction in the Republican tent that is stupider than the tea party?), I think there's a fair chance that faction will be strengthened not weakened because of the ridiculous cheerleading of the shutdown/debt ceiling debacle that the rightwing media over the past few weeks.

For example, not too long ago, everyone agreed that not raising the debt ceiling would spell economic disaster for the U.S. That is why the GOP thought they had leverage over the Democrats by threatening to do just that unless the Democrats were willing to give into their demands. But when they started threatening default, they got hammered by the fact that they were jeopardizing the national economy for political gain. That kind of charge can make the party look bad, so the wingers started claiming that crashing through the debt ceiling would not be a big deal after all.

That explanation, however, totally undermines the entire logic behind the GOP's gambit. If failing to lift the debt ceiling were not a big deal, then where is the Republican leverage? The only reason that the President would agree to defund or delay his signature accomplishment is if you told him something really bad would happen if he didn't agree to do it. If that something were not all that bad after all, then there's no reason for the President to ever agree. So if the debt ceiling wasn't that big a deal, then the GOP's entire threat was empty and could not work. If it were a big deal, then the GOP was being so irresponsible to prompts questions like these.

And yet, the damage was done. Thanks to the bullshit aired by Republicans trying to dodge responsibility for their irresponsibility, almost seventy percent of tea partiers think the U.S. could go through the debt ceiling "without major economic problems."

Consider for a moment how today's capitulation looks to them. If you believe that it wasn't a big deal to go past the debt limit, then Boehner's sudden switch makes no sense. Which means that they are going to go on a stabbed-in-the-back warpath. So what will the non-tea party faction of the party do? Will they follow the script they have been following since 2007 and kowtow to the ignoramuses faction of their political party? Or will they stand up to them and try to make sure that they don't drive the party into another political bloodbath? Maybe. I'm not yet convinced that we're living in a new political world now. Sure, it is totally in the GOP's interest to take on their crazies after what has happened. But it was in the party's interest right after the 2012 election too. And yet, here we are.