The Power of False Lessons

Ballot BoxAll indications are now that the the current government shutdown and Debt Ceiling crises will be over shortly. At least they will for three months when the whole thing starts over. The Republicans have been chastened. It seems the Abba Eban’s comment applies especially well to the House Republicans, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”

Yesterday was fascinating. Boehner kept trying to find a bill he could pass that might lead to some face saving in this debacle. And you have to give the man credit. His ideas weren’t bad. But he was constrained by his caucus. Unfortunately for him, a large block of the Republican House members were only willing to accept total victory. But they don’t have the power to achieve that and so the only other option was total defeat. And that’s what it looks like we have today.

Of course, this is not how the Republicans will spin the deal. I suspect that Boehner will make a two-pronged (and contradictory) argument. First, he will say that he got Obama to negotiate and as a result they got the very important concession of income verification on the Obamacare exchanges. Second, he will say that Obama played unfair and that if the president cared about democracy, Obama would have given the Republicans all the things they requested—well, most, because Boehner is nothing if not reasonable. And the la-hand of the Freeeeee! And the hoooome, of thhhhhe, braaaave!

But what of the bitter enders? Have they learned their lesson? They haven’t. And they never will. The only way to get rid of this very dangerous element in Congress is to vote them out and replace them with more reasonable people. People who operate based upon faith will not respond to facts. When apocalyptic predictions turn out to be wrong, believers just rationalize them. In the case of the congressional bitter enders, they will likely just blame their leadership for not holding on until, well, the bitter end.

This is, however, a teachable moment. The Republicans did poorly at the polls after the 1995 government shutdown and many came away thinking the two were correlated. In fact, the correlation was fairly weak. But it’s all about perceptions. And if the Republicans do poorly at the polls next year, they too will likely perceive a correlation. Now we already know that shutdown or no, the Democrats are likely to do reasonably well next year. But a false connection in the minds of politicians and reporters could actually push the Republicans to behave more like a normal political party. And it wouldn’t hurt if they had fewer seats in Congress.

Election day is 4 November 2014. Mark your calendars!

Update (16 October 2013 3:24 pm)

Well, we got Boehner’s official statement. It was not the place for the full “Obama was mean to us” but it is implicit in “the legislative coalition the president has relied upon.” Overall, it is very weepy. As usual. I would feel sorry for him but I’m prejudiced against orange skinned people. Here is the statement, annotated by me:

The House has fought with everything it has [insanity] to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations [which he has begged to do over and over again but John Boehner has refused to do for the last 9 months] aimed at addressing our country’s debt [which is completely manageable but conservatives use it to push unpopular policies they want for different reasons] and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. [I guess he is implying something about the need to screw congressional staff.] That fight will continue. [That is, “I give up.”] But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. [That is, “We give up.”] In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington [because what the Republicans did is what they always do: stuff that the American people hate] to raise taxes again on the American people [just on the rich like before, but he won’t tell you that] and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act [which Republicans don’t like as much as Democrats] without replacing them with better spending cuts [ones only Republicans like]. With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies [which have made things marginally better, following the Great Recession which somehow didn’t happen under George Bush Jr], raising taxes is not a viable option [because they are only interested in screwing the poor]. Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law [given the law hasn’t really started, I don’t see how it can be a train wreck] will continue. [That is, “I give up.”] We will rely on aggressive oversight [That is, “We will do everything in our power to fuck up the law because we don’t like it.”] that highlights the law’s massive flaws [if you ask them, they’ll talk about the website] and smart, targeted strikes [the kind they have been incapable of up until now] that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon [AKA: the Democratic Party, which he is apparently mad at for being functioning unlike his own party] to force his health care law on the American people. [Because the American people spoke loud and clear by not electing Romney?]
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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

3 thoughts on “The Power of False Lessons

  1. Maybe the Republicans get their advice from movie Santa: "Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to." (Miracle On 34th Street)

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