Who’s tired of the government shutdown? It really is boring. All we see is Republican talkers repeating the same old talking points, “They won’t negotiate!” On the left, it is a bit more nuanced, but the truth is, it seems to be mostly the Republicans doing the talking. And it’s amazing that the Democrats are doing so well, because most of the media continues its knee jerk response: can’t you both just compromise? For the umpteenth time: there is no compromise with extortion. And that is especially true when the extortioners are as clueless as the Republicans seem to be.
This morning, Jonathan Chait wrote a very depressing article, How Republicans Failed to Understand the Democrats’ Debt-Ceiling Logic. He argues persuasively that it isn’t that Republicans are just pretending to not understand the Democrat’s position, they really don’t understand it. I wouldn’t go quite that far. Certainly John Boehner understands what’s going on. But as we’ve seen time and again, a lot of high profile Republicans (including Congressmen) are as ignorant as the base.
I was very interested to read this morning that Antonin Scalia reads only the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times—two very conservative newspapers. He said he used to read the Washington Post but it was so “shrilly, shrilly liberal.” That’s funny because the Post is now known as a fairly conservative paper. We can thank God that maybe some actual news articles get through to him from the WSJ, but I suspect he concentrates on the editorial pages more than anything. He also listens to at least one conservative radio ranter. So if a Supreme Court justice is getting informed about the world from such biased sources, what can we expect from some Representative from Oklahoma?
As we approach a government default, the Republicans continue to ask for even more concessions. The government shutdown isn’t working, but they act as though it is a done deal and now all Obama must decide is exactly what he wants to give up in exchange for Boehner raising the Debt Ceiling. At one time, I has relieved to hear Boehner say that he wouldn’t allow a government default. But all that really seems to mean is that he is positioning himself to blame Obama once a default happens.
Paul Krugman’s column this morning argues that the Republicans just don’t know what they are doing, The Boehner Bunglers. I don’t think that’s quite right. I think it is more that Republicans don’t know what to do. They are flailing around. This goes back to my idea that the Republicans are practical nihilists. Most of them came into office promising everything. And they truly believe that they can get what they want through pure force of will. Now that this is shown to be a delusion, they don’t know what to do. It’s like at the end of Terminator 2 where the T-1000 tries various forms hoping that one of them will work.
Meanwhile, we wait as the government shutdown goes on. And we wait for a government default. But most of all, we hope that soon the Republicans will figure out that no minor tweaks of their extortion attempt will work. Then we can got back to our usual political system with the normal dysfunctional GOP. That’s a lot more fun and lot less dangerous.